A Garden for Everyone

Posted March 10th, 2022 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

The Botanical Garden of the Piedmont is in the design phase, however much has been done already.  The community is welcome to visit.  Building a public botanical garden is not an easy feat. Botanical Garden of the Piedmont (BGP) has been driven by the Charlottesville community’s input, aspirations, and desire to be a place of beauty, education, healing, and unity.  The input phase of the garden design process is ongoing.  Through our continuous outreach, we hope to ensure that the built garden will represent the hopes and dreams of the entire community.

This presentation by executive director Jill Trischman-Marks outlines what has already been achieved toward building this garden, and gives insight into the road map ahead.

A video of this presentation can be found by clicking here.

A podcast of the presentation follows.

Jill Trischman-Marks is a landscape architect with almost 30 years of experience in the Central Virginia area. Jill holds a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Virginia. Projects she has worked on include the five original gardens at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, the Thomas Jefferson Parkway in Charlottesville, and the Poplar Forest entrance road and trails in Forest Virginia.

The program was moderated by SSV board member Norman Dill.

Program Summary

The 14-acre site near Charlottesville High School is in its early planning stages and is actively recruiting input from the citizens. Modern botanical gardens embed themselves in their community to deal with urban challenges. The mission of BGP is to invite community members to engage in nature, to educate and inspire through beauty and importance of plants, to advance sustainability and to promote human environmental well-being.

Already an award winner of its master plan from the American Society of Landscape Architects. The completion of the site analysis has identified needs such as a bus stop to improve access. Input from the community desires native flora, trails, amphitheater, visitors center, aquatic discovery area near stream and a canopy walk. A specific planting design has not yet been developed, but the guiding principles are established.

What is happening now: Invasive plant and garbage removal has opened an area for outdoor space during COVID allowing for groups to gather and the stream to revive. Garden Guardians, a group of volunteers, meet twice a month to maintain the site. Another volunteer group, Garden Guides, provide free tours two Saturday mornings a month. In addition, there are grant writers and even a drone operator who provides pictures and videos used by designers in planning stream restoration. BGP is making a concerted effort to develop a garden for the whole community to embrace and enjoy nature and each other.

The Botanical Garden of the Piedmont is free and open daily from sunrise to sunset. There is a community survey on their website for individuals to participate in. For more information: piedmontgarden.org, or email info@piedmontgarden.org

Moving Forward with Equity in Our Community

Posted February 10th, 2022 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

We were told how the University of Virginia and Albemarle County are addressing equity in our communities. We learned the difference between equity and equality, and how equity can improve the well being and quality of life for all community members.

A video of the Zoom meeting can be viewed by clicking here.

Listen to the podcast below.


Program Summary

Elizabeth Beasley is in the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion where she is director of community partnerships. In addition she is a member of the President’s Council on University-Community Partnerships and cochair of its Public Health Work Group. She began her presentation answering the question, “What is the difference between “equal” and “equity.” Equal implies that there is a one size fits all resolution to an issue. Equity is different in that it is an intentional way of equalizing responses according to the needs of the recipients. The goal of the President’s Council is to build partnerships with the community such as using local vendors, improving public health and public housing. Practicing good neighbor ethics, pursuing actions with mutual benefits and building authentic partnerships are ways of achieving equity between UVA and the local community.

Putnam Ivey de Cortez from Albemarle County’s Office of Equity and Inclusion coordinates programs for the county government. The mission statement of this program is to improve the well being and quality of life for all community members. In order to accomplish this goal, understanding the issue more thoroughly is essential so, the speaker presented several demographic studies. For example, factors affecting health were found to be 20% clinical care, 30% health behaviors, 40% socioeconomic factors and 10% physical environment. These statistics provide the foundation for determining the work the staff is trained to do. Currently the county is revising their comprehensive plan and soliciting a broad selection of its citizens to give their input. If you are interested learn more and apply at engage.albemarle.org/AC44workinggroup.

Bob Beard moderated the program. He is an SSV board member and a former news anchor with CBS 19 in Charlottesville and a longtime reporter in Washington, D.C., including CNN, NBC and Reuters.



Marijuana: Medical and Adult Use In Virginia

Posted January 14th, 2022 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

Ngiste Abebe provided a two-part program: medical marijuana, and adult use marijuana (legalized/decriminalized recreational use).  She answered many questions from the Zoom audience.  The program was moderated by SSV Vice President Peyton Williams.

A video of the presentation can be accessed by clicking here.

You can listen to a podcast of the presentation by clicking below.


Ngiste Abebe is vice president of public policy at Columbia Care, one of the nation’s leading medical cannabis companies. She serves as the president of the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association and on the board of the District of Columbia Cannabis Trade Association. Prior to that, she was co-founder of Undaunted Ventures, a political consulting firm which specializes in innovative narrative, training, and leadership coaching services, and which grew out of her work training progressive organizations and working on campaigns across Virginia. She is the co-founder and co-director emerita of New Leaders Council Virginia, a progressive leadership institute. Ngiste holds a BA in Public Policy from the University of Chicago and a Masters in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University. She’s a NORML board member, vice president of Public Policy for Columbia Care (industry-leading medical marijuana dispensary) and newly appointed by Governor Northam to the Cannabis Public Health Advisory Board. She happily gives and receives recommendations for sci-fi novels and board games.

Program Summary

Ngiste Abebe’s presentation focused on the medical marijuana program and adult legalized use in Virginia. The original legalized use (2018) of cannabis in Virginia was for pediatric seizures. Currently its primary use is for pain, anxiety and insomnia as prescribed by a certified practitioner. Registration at the Board of Pharmacy is necessary for individuals or medical personnel to prescribe the drug. Unless registered, health care providers can talk to patients about the drug but cannot prescribe it. Lack of resources, including basic knowledge and locations to buy the drug, prevent having easy access to legal cannabis for medical use. The nearest available resource to Charlottesville is Salem, Virginia. In addition, complying with state regulations is challenging for sellers and growers to accomplish.

Legal adult recreational use is now up to one ounce and four individual cannabis per adult in Virginia.  Because marijuana is illegal at the federal level, one cannot buy cannabis for recreational use through providers where medical marijuana is sold legally in Virginia. In other areas where pot is sold legally it is a strictly cash operation. Business owners cannot use banks (federal law) and are subject to robbery and excessive security costs. (The illegal pot industry is an estimated $2 billion.)  In spite of all the challenges, legalization of marijuana in Virginia has bipartisan support in the General Assembly. Ms. Abede suggests the following links for more information:

Virginia NORML: https://www.vanorml.org/
Weekly Facebook Live on Fridays at 4pm:
Action alerts:

Cannabis certification provider: https://www.vanorml.org/doctors

How to register with Board of Pharmacy: https://www.vanorml.org/register


Becoming an Age-Friendly Livable Community

Posted December 9th, 2021 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

A discussion was held of the eight elements that contribute to an age-friendly community, and how the Charlottesville Area Alliance (CAA) is advocating to ensure these are included in area comprehensive plans. Through evaluation, planning, education, advocacy, and engagement, the Alliance hopes to create a community that fosters happier, healthier residents of all ages.

A video of this session can be found by clicking here.

Upload or listen to the podcast.

These are the participants.

Peter Thompson has served as executive director of The Center since 1999. The Center positively impacts our community by creating opportunities for healthy aging through over 100 programs and scores of partnerships. The Center at Belvedere recently received the American Institute of Architects Merit award for design in aging and has won the Pinnacle Award as America’s premier community center as well as numerous local and state awards. It is the first national accredited center in Virginia, achieving this highest standard every five years since 2001. Peter received his B.A. in History from UVA and his MPA in Nonprofit Management from VCU. Recent community service includes the board of directors of OLLI, Madison House, Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce, and the Center for Nonprofit Excellence. He is Virginia’s representative to the National Institute of Senior Centers Leadership Council and he helped found the Charlottesville Area Alliance where he serves as Chair of the Transportation Work Group.

George Worthington is the dementia services coordinator with the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services Division for Community Living Division. The Dementia Services Coordinator position was established in 2013 in response to Goal 1, Objective A of Virginia’s first Dementia State Plan, published in 2011: “Create a position and obtain specific funding to hire a full time Dementia Services Coordinator (DSC) to coordinate the services provided to persons with Alzheimer’s disease and Related Dementia working in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Commission.” George oversees Virginia’s dementia-capability by recommending policy and coordinating statewide data collection, research and analysis; and training and awareness efforts in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Commission.

Kim Volker is the manager of Central Virginia with Care is There, a Geriatric Care Management Company.  She works with lifestyle coordinators, clients and referral sources and enjoys being able to service the agency’s clients and families as they navigate through the process of aging.  She always told her father that he was committed to her continued education and she was privileged to be allowed to take care of him. Kim can now serve others from that experience.

Sue Friedman, SSV Vice President, moderated the session.





Program Summary

The December SSV meeting began with our annual meeting with reports from the committees and the elections of officers for the new year: President Sue Friedman, Vice President Peyton Williams, Secretary Grant Brownrigg and Treasurer Jim Peterson. Annual dues remain at $20.00 per year and are now payable on the SSV website by credit card via PayPal, in addition to mailing a check.

Peter Thompson presented an overview of CAA whose mission is to lead the advancement of an age friendly community which is good for everyone. CAA has been accepted as a partner in the WHO/AARP age-friendly network, which gives the group access to a global network of advisors and groups working toward similar goals. There are eight standards for successful communities such as outdoor space, transportation, housing, social inclusion and health services. George Worthington spoke on age and dementia friendly perspective working together and including a dementia friendly aspect to its plans such as dementia friends’ initiative to keep individuals involved in the community. He also presented information of the CAA’s social participation action plan to increase participation and education to foster the understanding of aging and dementia and CAA’s housing efforts. Kim Volker provided information on CAA’s new alliance: citizen advocates to increase the engagement of citizens in legislative priorities identified by CAA. The final topic was the CAA goals for transportation such as bus stop improvements. Questions were then taken from the audience. There is a lot of local government support for the goals of CAA and currently it is networking successfully with many different organizations in the central Virginia area.

Virginia and Climate Change – Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050

Posted November 12th, 2021 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

William Shobe, a professor at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Policy at the University of Virginia and director of the Center for Economic and Policy Studies, reported on what studies tell us about the likely technology mix needed for a transition to carbon neutral by 2050, and the likely costs and benefits of getting there. Some of these studies model decarbonization of just the electricity sector, commensurate with the requirements of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, while others look at economy-wide decarbonization. He also discussed some of the key roadblocks that need to be addressed if the decarbonization goals are to be achieved at a reasonable cost.  The program was moderated by Bob McGrath, past SSV president.

The virtual session was recorded and the video can be seen here:  https://youtu.be/kbYp674SF8M

Below is a podcast of the session.

Program Summary

Professor Shobe spoke on the energy transition initiative that Virginia reduce electricity carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 and the pathways to reach this goal cost effectively. He discussed not only the opportunities to accomplish this, but also the roadblocks to getting there.

In 2006 Virginia reached the peak of carbon emissions and there has now been a considerable drop off. The reason behind this decline is the decrease in coal use and the increase in natural gas. After years of minimal usage of renewable energy sources, there is now a growing interest in hydro, solar and wind energy production. Since 2010 the importation of electricity into Virginia has decreased reducing carbon emissions. Since 2016 solar production has become increasingly popular. Currently the cheapest new resource to build is solar. In 2021 Virginia has produced the same amount of energy from solar as coal.

It was noted that the planning of these solar projects all started before the Clean Air Act was passed.

Professor Shobe stressed the importance of regional cooperation. Virginia belongs to PJM (named for the first three participating states, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland) a group that shares energy consisting of neighboring states. East coast states developing offshore wind energy will have to work together as well as local and state governments needing to develop policies to encourage building of new facilities. To the last point, for local governments to be willing to support new plants, they want to be able to tax at the same rate as other development projects, not the current reduced rate.

The biggest roadblocks to reaching the 2050 goal are reducing carbon emissions in transportation, buildings, and industrial. Progress has already been made as in decarbonizing electricity.

Professor Shobe is hopeful that costs will come down in some energy sectors and new technologies will be available to make products more affordable. In the end, he feels with advance planning and cooperation a zero-carbon emission goal may be accomplished.

Virginia 57th and 59th Districts Candidates Forum

Posted October 17th, 2021 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

Incumbent Sally L. Hudson (D) and challenger Philip Andrew Hamilton (R) are seeking election to the 57th House District. Incumbent Matt Fariss (R) and challengers Dr. Benjamine A. Moses (D) and Louis V. Scicli (I), are seeking election to the 59th House District. All five candidates spoke at this Senior Statesmen of Virginia Candidates Forum. Topics include: improved broadband access for Virginia, more money for education and health care workers and COVID vaccination mandates.

The program was introduced by SSV President Jeff Gould and moderated by SSV member Bob Beard, a former news anchor with CBS 19 in Charlottesville. The forum was streamed on Zoom and a video of the event can be accessed by clicking here.  A podcast of the forum follows.


From left to right: Bob Beard (Moderator), Matt Fariss, Philip Andrew Hamilton, Sally Hudson, Dr. Ben Moses, Louis Scicli

Program Summary

The candidates gave two-minute opening statements and then replied to questions asked by moderator Bob Beard as well as questions submitted by the Zoom audience. COVID vaccination mandates were challenged or supported and were the most contentious of the topics. Each participant was asked their legislative priorities if elected. Hudson would work for more money for education and health care workers, Hamilton would focus on term limits, laws forbidding cities from removing monuments and more funding for police. Fariss wants to focus on healthcare, eldercare, police and schools. Moses wants improved broadband access with the goal of improving healthcare, schools and business opportunities. Scicli also stressed improving broadband, schools and police. Other questions were about candidates’ positions on gun control, abortion, waitlist for services for Medicaid disability waivers, and how each person would plan to work with their colleagues from the other party.

Candidates Forum – Charlottesville City Council

Posted September 18th, 2021 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

The four candidates invited were Brian R. Pinkston (D), Juandiego Wade (D), Nikuyah R. Walker (I), and Yas Ariel J. Washington (I) and they accepted the invitation to participate in a Candidates Forum to be held on September 8. The four were running to fill two seats for the Charlottesville City Council. The forum was planned to be in-person at The Center at Belvedere and simultaneously broadcast via the Zoom internet platform. Ten days before the program, Ms. Walker notified SSV that she would participate via Zoom but not in-person. Then, the morning of the program, she announced that she had withdrawn her candidacy and therefore would not participate.

Once the forum began, the audio for the in-person audience was good, but unfortunately the audio signal going out for the Zoom audience was so severely corrupted as to be indecipherable. Also because of this, no recording was available to produce a podcast or video of the event. Isabel Cleary, multimedia journalist with WVIR NBC29 News, covered the entire event and generously provided the SSV media team with copies of her files, but still there was insufficient audio to produce a complete record of the event.

The program was moderated by SSV member Bob Beard. Bob is a former news anchor with CBS 19 in Charlottesville and a longtime reporter in Washington, D.C., including CNN, NBC and Reuters.

Program Summary

The forum was covered by both WVIR NBC29 and The Daily Progress.  Their summaries of the meeting follow.

Ms. Cleary’s NBC 29 News coverage can be viewed by clicking on this link: Charlottesville City Council candidates gather for forum (nbc29.com)

Here is the text of her coverage:

Charlottesville City Council candidates gather for forum

Isabel Cleary, WVIR NBC29 News multimedia journalist

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) – Charlottesville City Council has two of five seats up for election this November and on Wednesday, September 8 candidates gathered to discuss important issues for the city including Police Chief RaShall Brackney’s firing and vacant business on the Downtown Mall.

While each candidate did not really get into their own opinion on Brackney’s firing, they each said new leadership in the department is necessary.

Over the past three to four years Charlottesville has seen four police chiefs. I believe we would like to have one that is going to be in it for the long run and one that can uphold ethical policing, make sure that they are attending trainings,” candidate Yas Washington said.

I would not want to venture to speculate to what took place, I do know that if elected I will work with the City Council and the public to hire a police chief so that we can move the city forward,” candidate Juandiego Wade said.

I am optimistic that we are going to find someone that will be a better fit for our community. The change in management is really hard and its hard to move an organization from one state to another state, particularly when in something like policing. There are a lot of cultural changes that need to happen,” candidate Brian Pinkston said.

Another issue candidates addressed was vacancies on the Downtown Mall and how to support businesses.

We need to support them because they not only are bringing tax revenue but they employ our residents, they employ us and so we are all in this together,” Wade said.

If we want to do the things around equity that we keep talking about then we have to have that private sector and do all we can to support programs,” Pinkston said.

The forum also received extensive coverage by the Charlottesville Daily Progress and that can be viewed by clicking on this link:

City Council candidates talk equity, major issues facing the city at candidates forum | Latest News | dailyprogress.com

Here is the text of Ms. Bixby’s coverage:

City Council candidates talk equity, major issues facing the city at candidates forum

Ginny Bixby. The Daily Progress city reporter

Charlottesville City Council candidates discussed the firing of Police Chief RaShall Brackney, school reconfiguration, the Future Land Use Map and other issues affecting the city during a candidates forum on Wednesday afternoon.

The forum, held at The Center at Belvedere auditorium, was hosted by the Senior Statesmen of Virginia, a nonprofit that aims to keep seniors informed about the work of the local and state government and various political issues. The forum was simultaneously broadcast via Zoom webinar.

Democratic nominees Brian Pinkston and Juandiego Wade and independent candidate Yas Washington participated in the forum. Mayor Nikuyah Walker was previously slated to participate but withdrew from the election earlier in the day.

The debate was moderated by Bob Beard, a former news anchor with CBS 19 and a longtime reporter with CNN, NBC and Reuters. Members of the audience could submit questions both in person and through Zoom.

Beard opened the forum by asking the candidates for their thoughts on the sudden termination of Brackney’s contract.

The candidates were hesitant to offer an opinion on Brackney’s termination, saying they don’t have a full understanding of the situation, but they offered their perspectives on how the police department should move forward.

Washington, an entrepreneur, said she believes it is important to reimagine policing in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and the death of George Floyd, including ensuring representation for communities of color.

We need to make sure individuals are represented,” Washington said. She said she wants the city to hire a police chief who will “enforce ethical policing for the long run.”

I don’t want to speculate on what took place,” said Wade, a current school board member. He said he has had positive experiences working with Brackney.

If elected, I will support the City Manager and City Council in hiring a police chief … That’s one of the critical leadership positions that the city needs to hire,” Wade said.

Pinkston, a project manager, pointed out that all three candidates are supportive of the existence of the Police Civilian Review Board and that he thinks it is an important resource moving forward.

I think that Chief Brackney was trying to make some important changes,” Pinkston said. “But I am optimistic that we’re going to find someone that would be a better fit for our community … There’s a lot of cultural changes that need to happen.”

Beard asked each candidate what they felt were the most important issues facing Charlottesville.

Washington said she feels the most strongly about environmental sustainability, public safety and affordable housing. “We’ve seen an increase in the population, we’ve grown as a city. Now is the time for development to take place,” Washington said.

Pinkston said he’d prioritize positive relationships between councilors, affordable housing and equity. “We really need to have a stable government in city hall … having the City Council functioning as a team,” Pinkston said. “Disagreement is an important part of the democratic process. But internal disagreement in this council has had some negative effects.”

Wade said his top three issues are leadership and stability, economic development and public safety. “We have to get our hands around public safety … and that’s going to take working with the police department but also community nonprofits and individuals,” Wade said.

All three candidates voiced their support for affordable housing being worked into the Future Land Use Map.

Pinkston acknowledged how controversial the map has been from many different perspectives, and commended the Cville Plans Together team for trying to “thread the needle” between these contrasting views. He wants to address the legacy of redlining in the city.

In Charlottesville … we care for one another. Homeownership is so tied into the equity conversation for persons of color,” Pinkston said. “I don’t support density for density’s sake,” Pinkston said. “But I think density should be tied into affordability.”

Wade said he thinks it’s important to address concerns about redlining but also be realistic about the need for affordable housing. “I know people on both sides of the issue … This is a big issue,” Wade said. “I don’t know the answer.”

Wade said he wants to figure out a way to address the rising prices of housing in the city. He would like to see more of a variety of home prices and types as opposed to a stark divide between single family homes and public housing complexes.

We need to look at what affordable housing looks like,” Washington said. Similarly to Wade, she said it’s important to have different types of affordable residences available, and that seniors and families need different things, for example.

All three candidates supported reconfiguration of Charlottesville City Schools.

Wade cited his 16 years on the school board and said he looks forward to making improvements for Charlottesville students. He said it’s important for the City Council and school board to compromise. “We’ve been talking about this for all my 16 years,” Wade said. “There needs to be some modernization … The plans for what we want to do could be really spectacular, amazing work.”

Pinkston said he supports reconfiguration but feels the city needs to determine a practical way to fund it. “We need to minimize the number of transitions … and look at this from an equity perspective as well,” he said.

Washington said she supports reconfiguration but wants sustainability to be prioritized. She also said she supports working a charter school system into the reconfiguration to give students more opportunities.

The City Council election is Nov. 2. Early voting will begin Sept. 17 at the Department of Voter Registration and Elections and will run Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until Oct. 29.

CANDIDATES FORUM – House of Delegates Districts 25 and 58

Posted August 16th, 2021 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

All four candidates for House of Delegates Districts 25 and 56 were invited to attend the Senior Statesmen of Virginia biennial Candidates Forum. Challengers Jennifer Kitchen (D-25th House District) and Sara Ratcliffe (D-58th House District) came and participated in the forum and discussed their positions on the issues facing Virginians, and also responded to questions from the audience. Incumbents Chris Runion (R-25th House District) and Rob Bell (R-58th House District) declined to participate.

The program was moderated by SSV member Bob Beard, who is a former news anchor with CBS 19 in Charlottesville and a longtime reporter in Washington, D.C. including CNN, NBC and Reuters.

The forum was held in-person at The Center at Belvedere and also streamed on Zoom.

Click here to see the event.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Program Summary

In their opening statements Jennifer Kitchen stressed her position that rural areas interests are underrepresented in the legislature as the major reason for wanting to run for office. Sara Ratcliffe stressed her position that after 30 years in politics it was her belief that the state level is where the work is done. Both candidates felt that their interests lay in supporting the rural communities and the importance of collaboration in making good policies to resolve the problems of their communities.

The remainder of the session was used for taking questions from a wide range of topics from the audience, e.g. budget surplus. Both stressed the necessity of getting broadband to their areas. Ms. Ratcliffe added that this would benefit small business, healthcare, childcare and educational interests. Ms. Kitchen said that service to all citizens should be mandated no matter how remote. Both women support promoting trade education for high school students to increase the awareness for good jobs. Both candidates support repealing the right to work law. Concerning mental health issues, Ms. Kitchen felt the goal was to destigmatize the topic and work with criminal justice groups to help resolve the situation. Ms. Ratcliffe emphasized collaboration among police, healthcare individuals and legislature to make the best policy.

Both candidates agree that Governor Northam, following the guidance of science, has done a good job dealing with the pandemic.

Broadband And Internet Access in Virginia

Posted June 10th, 2021 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

Evan Feinman, chief broadband advisor to Governor Ralph Northam, spoke at our June meeting. The following topics were covered.

· WHAT are the plans to expand high-speed Internet to every Virginian?

· WHAT are the greatest challenges?

· WHERE are the least served areas?

· HOW can broadband access to the Internet be accomplished?

· WHO will make this happen?

· WHEN will this be done

The meeting began with Jeff Gould our president.  Then SSV Board Member Norman Dill introduced our speaker. A video of the meeting can be accessed here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UO3Tlgpeyfs

If you would prefer an audio podcast, click below.


Jeff Gould, SSV President – Norman Dill, SSV Board Member – Evan Feinman, at bottom

Evan Feinman is both the executive director of the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission and Governor Northam’s chief broadband advisor. He was previously deputy secretary of Natural Resources, deputy policy director for the Governor McAuliffe’s transition team, and the McAuliffe campaign’s policy director. Evan has worked on multiple campaigns at the state and federal level, and at the Commonwealth Institute, a budget and fiscal policy think tank in Richmond.

He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia, spent two years on a fellowship focused on energy and transportation policy, and then received his law degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law. A Lynchburg native, Evan currently resides in Richmond with his wife, Annalisa Feinman, an attorney with the Richmond Public Defender’s office.

Program Summary

Evan Feinman presented an excellent talk on Broadband and Internet Access in Virginia. In 2018 Governor Northam set an ambitious, but achievable, 10-year goal to reach universal coverage of broadband to all Virginians. There were three main reasons for this top priority of the governor. The first is economic. Businesses are not interested in relocating to areas with no access to broadband costing Virginia an estimated potential loss of $16 billion/year in growth, mostly in rural underserved areas. The second is social and political demand. Currently there are 660,000 with no access, and for this group that is their top priority for government. Third reason is the moral and social responsibility of government to its citizens in a vulnerable section of the population: children for schooling needs; elderly for the goal of staying in place as they age; and the large number of veterans in rural areas.

To accomplish these objectives, a plan developed by the Broadband Committee has been to make policy changes so that changes can be made to promote broadband development, e.g., letting electrical companies have larger cables that allow them to lease extra space to Internet providers for access to underserved areas; to work with local governments for planning support at no cost; and by creation of the Commonwealth Connect Coalition, a group of 125 organizations that is fully committed to the concept and funding for universal broadband coverage. The grant programs have provided internet access to over 140,000 homes at a cost effective support between partnerships of government and private corporations.

Virginia General Assembly Report

Posted May 14th, 2021 by Administrator
Categories: Programs

The annual General Assembly wrap-up meeting was held on May 12 with five local representatives participating: Senator Creigh Deeds and Delegates Rob Bell, Matt Fariss, Sally Hudson and Chris Runion. The program was moderated by SSV Vice President Sue Friedman.  Topics included: Criminal justice reform, broadband access, the pros and cons of Zoom including changing role of lobbyists, the death penalty, redistricting, and passenger rail.

Click here to see a video of the meeting – https://youtu.be/qZGRoKCsGCU

Listen to the podcast here:

Program Summary

The Zoom session started with a four-minute opening statement by each presenter on their impression of significant and essential issues of the session. Bipartisanship and collegiality were often described. Among those mentioned were a new license plate stating, “I have difficulty communicating,” criminal justice reform, broadband access, pros and cons of Zoom including changing role of lobbyists, death penalty, redistricting, and passenger rail.

Following the initial portion, questions were asked from the audience with each representative having a chance to reply. Topics were varied. Involvement of the minority party in decision making (21 D and 19 R in the current session) focused on informal discussion and learning from each other. Is it time to rescind the state of emergency? This is the governor’s job, but all were encouraged by decreasing COVID cases and increasing vaccine rates.

That there is no redistricting representation from the Charlottesville-Albemarle area will not be adjusted until next census, but there is plenty of opportunity for local citizens to participate in hearings, which they were encouraged to do. Passenger rail service was enthusiastically received and encouraged by the panel with all pleased with federal funding assistance. The final question dealt with the legalization of pot and was the most divisive among the speakers. Emphasis is that the bill currently is a work in progress and the public health concerns will be studied over the next three years.