In the News

Event: The Singing Policeman to visit Salvation Army on Sunday
Local News: Board seeks nominees from low-income population to oversee grants
Local News: Nighttime closures on I-81
State News: Bill makes moot suit on free speech at polls
State News: D-Day Memorial a national park? 

 

Event: The Singing Policeman to visit Salvation Army on Sunday

The Salvation Army – Staunton Corps will host The Singing Policeman, Danny Figgins, in its morning worship service at 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 14 at The Salvation Army Corps Community Center, located at 1700 W. Beverley St., Staunton.

The public is invited. There is no charge, but a freewill offering will be taken.

 

Local News: Board seeks nominees from low-income population to oversee grants

The Community Action Partnership of Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro seeks nominations for board representation on its advisory board. CAP-SAW is the newly formed agency which will oversee Community Services Block Grant funds which have recently been awarded to these localities to serve the needs of the area’s poor. Funds to be distributed, including support from the three localities, will total over $711,000 for fiscal year 2009-2010.

CSGB funds will allow local governments to support a broad range of activities, both those already existing and new initiatives. Funds will be distributed after July 1, 2009,

The advisory board is made up of representatives of governing bodies of the three localities, local business people, and representatives of the poor. At this time, nominations are needed from area groups that are primarily (51 percent) made up of low-income members. Membership of these organizations must actually be primarily low-income and cannot merely work with low-income people. Nominees do not have to be low-income individuals themselves, but they must be democratically elected by the organization that nominates them which must be at least 51 percent low-income.

Organizations which qualify and are interested in nominating a representative should contact Carol Blair or Judith Shuey at the Central Shenandoah Office on Youth by calling 540-942-6757 or e-mailing blaircl@ci.waynesboro.va.us.

The deadline for applications in July 1, 2009.

 

Local News: Nighttime closures on I-81

Interstate 81 will have nighttime northbound lane closures from mile marker 205 to 207 as part of a paving project near the Rockbridge and Augusta County line. The closures will be 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. on the nights of June 8, 9, 10 and 11. The passing lane will be closed to allow for guardrail installation.

This location is between exit 205 at Route 606 near Raphine and exit 213 at Route 11 near Greenville.

 

State News: Bill makes moot suit on free speech at polls

Three Virginia-based free speech organizations filed papers in federal court yesterday seeking dismissal of their lawsuit challenging the Virginia State Board of Elections’ policy which interpreted state law to prohibit voters from wearing political messages in polling places. The policy, adopted shortly before the November 2008 elections, drew widespread criticism from both voters and constitutional rights organizations.

The lawsuit became unnecessary recently when Governor Kaine signed into law a bill preventing voting officials from “prohibit[ing] a person who approaches or enters the polling place for the purpose of voting from wearing a shirt, hat, or other apparel on which a candidate’s name or a political slogan appears or from having a sticker or button attached to his apparel on which a candidate’s name or a political slogan appears.”

The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, The Rutherford Institute and the ACLU of Virginia had argued that the Board of Elections’ policy violated the First Amendment rights of voters and was inconsistent with Virginia’s electioneering statutes.

“The Virginia General Assembly brought the Commonwealth to its senses by reversing this unnecessary restriction on political free speech. This shows what the average citizen can do by standing up to the government and speaking truth to power,” said John W. Whitehead, President of The Rutherford Institute. “It is my hope that barriers to freedom of speech will not be erected by the Commonwealth of Virginia again.”

“The objectives of the lawsuit have now been met,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis, “so there was no need to pursue the case. We’re still trying to figure out how the State Board of Elections missed the target so badly on this one. The General Assembly’s quick and decisive response shows that the Board of Elections’ interpretation of the law was just plain wrong.”

“Our only concern now is that the new law does not technically take effect until July 1,” added Willis. “We’re urging registrars to follow the new law during the Democratic Party primaries next week, as it simply makes no sense to enforce an interpretation of the law that served no useful purpose and that was overwhelmingly rejected by the General Assembly at its first opportunity.”

The lawsuit was filed last December on behalf of voters Jill Borak of Fairfax County and Charles Epes of Richmond, who wore Obama campaign paraphernalia to the polls on Election Day 2008 and were told to remove them or cover them up.

In a separate case, the ACLU represented a Madison County voter who was arrested for wearing a McCain T-shirt to the polls. The county prosecutor dropped the charges after the General Assembly passed the new law.

Adopted by the State Board of Elections on Oct. 14, 2008, the policy on campaign paraphernalia in polling places was an interpretation of an existing state law against “exhibit[ing]… campaign materials to another person” near or in a polling place as a ban on voters’ attire that expresses a view on particular candidates or political parties. Prior to the adoption of the SBE policy, some registrars viewed the law as prohibiting such attire, while others did not.

Guidelines issued by the Board of Elections on Oct. 23 created confusion for election officials and voters alike. According to the guidelines, the measure was “not intended to keep a qualified voter from voting.” Yet election officials were instructed to ask voters to remove or cover political statements that are worn as part of their attire. Voters who refused were to be allowed to vote, but in such instances the registrar was expected to file an incident report with the local Commonwealth’s Attorney. It was this directive that led to the prosecution of the Madison County voter who refused to remove her McCain t-shirt.

Telephone calls to the three organizations indicated that the policy was enforced inconsistently by jurisdictions across the state, with election officials having widely varying interpretations of what the policy required.

Complaint available at: http://www.acluva.org/docket/pleadings/borak_complaint.pdf.

 

State News: D-Day Memorial a national park?

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Jim Webb today introduced legislation that would authorize the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to study whether the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, can be added to the U.S. National Park System. The nonprofit National D-Day Memorial Foundation recently announced that it does not have enough money to sustain operations through the end of the year.

If approved, this legislation would direct the Department of Interior to conduct a feasibility study on incorporating the Memorial into the U.S. National Park Service, allowing the Park Service to take charge of day-to-day operations at the Memorial. Similar legislation, H.R. 2689, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week by Virginia Reps. Tom Perriello, Rick Boucher, Jim Moran, Glenn Nye and Bobby Scott.

“While we have monuments and memorials in big cities like Washington or Richmond, I think it also is appropriate to have memorials located in our smaller communities across America,” said Sen. Warner. “The story of Bedford’s overwhelming sacrifice on D-Day is representative of many small towns across the nation, and Park Service stewardship of the Memorial will ensure that this sacrifice continues to occupy a permanent and prominent place in the story of America.”

“As one who grew up in the military, was privileged to serve, and who remains proud of the service of my son and my son-in-law, I share the commitment of stewardship felt by so many in Bedford for the sacrifices made on D-Day,” said Sen. Webb. “It is my hope that this study will put the National D-Day Memorial, which is an important part of both Virginia and our nation’s cultural history, on track to be a part of the U.S. National Park System.”

Congress designated Bedford as the site of the nation’s National D-Day Memorial in 1996 in recognition of the 19 Virginia Army National Guard members from Bedford who died in the first wave that landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. With a 1944 population of 3,200 people, Bedford is believed to have suffered the highest per-capita loss of life of any American community on D-Day.

The D-Day Memorial was dedicated on June 6, 2001, by President George W. Bush. Since then, the Memorial has attracted over one-million visitors – 50 percent of them visiting from out of state – and more than 10,000 students participate in the Memorial’s educational programs each year.

“The foundation is extremely gratified that on the 65th anniversary of D-Day, our legislators have seen fit to introduce a long overdue measure to place the National D-Day Memorial under the umbrella of the National Park Service,” said Col. William A. McIntosh, president of the National D-Day Memorial Foundation. “This memorial is national in scope—indeed, over half its annual visitation is from outside Virginia—but it remains an important chapter in the history of Central Virginia, the region in our nation that experienced some of the severest losses of World War II.”


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