James Hingeley (left) and Joe Platania speaking via Zoom.
Speaking at the January 2021 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia, Commonwealth’s Attorneys from Albemarle and Charlottesville, James Hingeley and Joe Platania discussed the recent changes in law as passed by the 2020 General Assembly and some of the proposals being put forward for the upcoming Session.
The men agreed that their backgrounds led them to better understand why crimes were committed and addressing those challenges would reduce criminal behavior. They see their roles as prosecutors as balancing the safety of the community with the rights of the defendants. They are both known as “progressive prosecutors” and hope that their philosophy will lead to criminal justice reform.
Hingeley and Platania reviewed new laws passed in the 2020 General Assembly including the banning of police from executing unannounced warrants, using choke holds, or conducting searches based on the smell of pot. Other new laws include empowering localities to form police civilian review boards with the power to subpoena and impose punishments. Juries will decide guilt or innocence, but no longer be imposing sentences. Judges will assume sentencing as they can have more knowledge and a better understanding of the law. Also, in certain categories, prisoners can earn good time credit and reduce their sentences.
In response to questions about the effect of the pandemic, both men agreed that trying to reduce jail population has been a goal. A collaborative group including attorneys, jail personnel, judges, OAR, and clerks as well as program services providers are working together to find alternatives to serving jail time. Other topics included: Prosecuting pot infractions, judges deciding sentences rather than mandatory sentencing for convictions.
The two spoke at the Wednesday January 13, 2021 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV President Jeff Gould.
Thomas Frampton (top left), Chief Ron Lantz (top right) and Chief RaShall Brackney speaking at the December 2020 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia.
Charlottesville Police Chief Dr. RaShall Brackney and Albemarle Police Chief Ron Lantz explore current policing issues in this podcast from the Senior Statesmen of Virginia.
Lantz explained that since 2012 the county has been divided into two geographic based districts with each staffed by its own officers in order for the community and officers to get to know each other better. As a result, there has been a 30 percent decrease in crime and police response times, and there is increased trust between the police and community. Brackney emphasized relationship building with citizens in order to determine what they want, need and deserve.
The effect of COVID-19 on police policy has both departments relying more on phone or online reporting from citizens which has been beneficial in some instances and may be used more in the future. There has been a decrease in violent crimes and traffic stops. On the other hand, there have been concerns about increases in domestic violence, homicides and suicides as well as an illicit underground economy with so many unemployed.
The two spoke at the Wednesday December 9, 2020 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by Thomas Frampton, University of Virginia Law professor and expert on criminal law and constitutional procedure.
From the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME), administrator of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, Michael Skiffington Director of Policy and Al Christopher director of the Energy Division, spoke at the November 2020 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia on the goals and implementation of the Virginia Clean Economy Act passed by the Virginia legislature in 2020. By 2050 Virginia targets to be 100 percent clean power. After an explanation of the role of DMME, the speakers focused on the implementation of the Clean Economy Act. There are benchmarks to be met along the way to a 100% clean power economy with penalties for failing to reach them. For example, by 2030, 30 percent of energy must come from renewable resources and any new building has to account for the cost of carbon pollution. Penalties are administered by DMME.
Past legislation has tried to address the problem of pollution, but in recent years there has been renewed interest, New to this legislation is the requirement that there can be no negative effect on disadvantaged communities. Wind and solar power are additional areas that offer opportunities to reach the 2050 goal. Twenty-seven miles offshore of Hampton Roads there are three wind turbines that could produce enough energy for 5,000 homes with many more turbines in the works. The two also spoke about the economic opportunities for business in Virginia such as research and development and job training. Virginia is involved in regional cooperation in this venture as well as “cap and trade” efforts with northeastern states.
There are two major companies affected by this act, Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power with separate goals for each one.
The two spoke at the Wednesday November 11, 2020 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV board member and past president, Bob McGrath.
Christopher Ambrose (left), Brian Cannon (right) and Bob McGrath (below)
Christopher Ambrose, an opponent of the proposed constitutional amendment #1 on this year’s ballot, and Brian Cannon, a proponent of the amendment spoke at the October 14, 2020 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. Both men agreed on the problem: The need to remove the legislators from the drawing of district lines while each had a different vision of how to get there.
Brian Cannon (Fair Maps VA) supports the amendment. He believes that this is a “good government” issue and agrees that it is not perfect. He believes that there is a hybrid commission of one-half legislators and one-half citizens that are evenly balanced by parties, is transparent and makes racial gerrymandering illegal. This amendment has a lot of support from independent organizations who have fought for redistricting reform around the country.
Christopher Ambrose (Fair Districts VA) opposes the amendment. From his perspective the amendment trades one type of gerrymandering for another. His ideal is to get legislators totally out of the process. His objections include that though judges pick citizens for the commission, but they are picked from a list provided by legislators. His compromise would be to have some legislators on the commission. New Jersey passed a similar amendment and results have been the incumbents there have an advantage and voter turnout is diminishing.
The two spoke at the Wednesday October 14, 2020 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV board member and past president, Bob McGrath.
Allison Wrabel (top left), Bob Good (top right) and Cameron Webb
On September 9, 2020, the Senior Statesmen of Virginia held a Candidate Forum for the two candidates for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District. Participating in the forum were Democratic candidate Cameron Webb and Republican Candidate Bob Good.
Our podcast begins with Jeff Gould, president of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia.
00:00 - Introduction from Jeff Gould
01:30 - Moderator Allison Wrabel introduces the candidates
04:45 - Democratic Candidate Cameron Webb
18:30 - Republican Candidate Bob Good
30:30 - Webb is given change to rebut Good's concluding statement
32:00 - Question #1 - The 5th District encompasses different kinds of area from rural to small cities. There can be a difference in ideology among those constituents. If elected, how in any specific way would you bridge that gap?
37:00 - Question #2 - What will both of you do if elected to address environmental conditions and climate change?
43:00 - Question #3 - Which specific actions are you going to take to get broadband to the 5th District
48:30 - Question #4 - Can you each discuss your views on health care?
55:40 - Closing statement from Good
59:00 - Closing statement from Webb
The June Senior Statesmen of Virginia program recaps the recently concluded session of the Virginia General Assembly with reports by our local legislators. Present at the meeting were Del. Sally Hudson (D) of the 57th District, Del. Chris Runion (R) of the 25th District and Sen. Creigh Deeds (D) of the 25th Senatorial District.
The two delegates are both first session members of the General Assembly and Sen. Deeds is completing his 29th year in office. The members spoke about the successes and disappointments of the session. All three were pleased with the passage of the budget on March 12,2020 and concerned about the anticipated $2.2-3 billion deficit (2% of total budget) anticipated because of the COVID virus. The unknown effect of COVID-19 was an overriding concern of all three.
The members were asked questions on their primary goals. Deeds said education, healthcare and safety, Hudson replied budget with both more equitable taxation and less spending, and Runion listed non-partisanship, redistricting, agriculture, clean energy, and broadband to rural areas. All three agreed on the concern and responses of government to the Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
Deeds emphasized the need to reform policing and stressed importance of training for de-escalation skills and implicit bias training. Hudson said racism should not be a separate issue, but a consideration in every decision made. Runion agreed with his colleague’s goals but said the conversations on the topic were important though the solutions each have may differ.
Asked about the Confederate statues Deeds replied that local government control made sense and Hudson pointed out that the legal aspect of removing statues is determined by different laws in different locations. Other topics of conversation centered around redistricting, on-line v. mail voting, clean energy, gun control. and the agenda for the August session.
The delegates spoke at the Wednesday June 10, 2020 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by Meg Heubeck, Director of Instruction for the Youth Leadership Initiative, UVA Center for Politics.
Mike Signer speaking to Senior Statesmen of Virginia members via Zoom.
The deadly invasion of Charlottesville, Virginia, by white nationalist militias in August 2017 is a microcosm of the challenges facing American democracy. No one is better placed to tell the story of what really happened, and to draw out its larger significance, than Michael Signer, then Charlottesville’s mayor. His new book, Cry Havoc: Charlottesville and American Democracy Under Siege, is a vivid, first-person chronicle of the terror and mayhem of the August 2017 Unite the Right event that reveals how issues of extremism are affecting not just one city but the nation itself.
Mr. Signer sets the events on the ground-the lead-up to August’s “Unite the Right” rally, the days of the weekend itself, the aftermath-into the larger context of a country struggling to find its way through the Trump era.
Mike confronts some of the most pressing questions of our moment. How do we:
Reconcile free speech with the need for public order?
Maintain the values of pragmatism, compromise, even simple civility, in a time of intensification of extremes on the right and the left?
Address systemic racism through our public spaces and memorials?
Do something about the widespread disaffection with institutions and a democracy that seems to be faltering and turning on itself?
The siege of Charlottesville shows how easily our communities can be taken hostage by forces intent on destroying democratic norms and institutions. But Mike concludes with a stirring call for optimism, pointing out, with evidence drawn from Charlottesville and work it has spurred since, that even this tragedy contains an opportunity to bolster democracy from within and defend our very ability to govern.
Mike Signer served as the mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia, from 2016-2018 during the Unite the Right rally of 2017. The Washington Post wrote that he was “one of Trump’s strongest critics.” Afterward, he founded and chaired Communities Overcoming Extremism: the After Charlottesville Project, a bipartisan coalition including the Anti-Defamation League, the Ford Foundation, the Charles Koch Institute, the Fetzer Institute, and New America. National Public Radio featured Mike’s work “sharing painful lessons from the fight against hate.”
Mike is VP and general counsel of the country’s largest independent digital design agency, where he sits on the firm’s executive committee. He has also taught for the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech. He is the author of three books: Cry Havoc: Charlottesville and American Democracy under Siege (PublicAffairs, 2020), Becoming Madison: The Extraordinary Origins of the Least Likely Founding Father (PublicAffairs, 2015), and Demagogue: the Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). He has written for the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and Time, and has been interviewed on Meet the Press, Face the Nation, The Rachel Maddow Show, AC360, and NPR.
He is a recipient of the Levenson Family Defender of Democracy Award from the Anti-Defamation League, the Courage in Political Leadership Award from the American Society for Yad Vashem, and the Rob DeBree & David O’Malley Award for Community Response to Hatred from the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Forward Magazine has named him one of 50 most influential Jewish leaders in America. He is an Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow. He has been profiled by the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, CNN, and the Guardian.
He lives with his wife and their twin five year old boys in Charlottesville. In his spare time, he enjoys running, reading, cooking, gardening, and being a jungle gym for his boys.
Mr. Signer spoke at the Wednesday May 13, 2020 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV Board Member Peyton Williams.
Peter Thompson speaking at The Center in Charlottesville.
The Center at Belvedere, opening April 18, 2020, will offer all the key ingredients for aging well including programs to promote social, physical and intellectual wellness. In this podcast, The Center Executive Director Peter Thompson shares his plans for the new facility.
Peter Thompson joined The Center in 1999. A resident of Charlottesville for more than 40 years, he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and his MPA with a concentration in nonprofit management from VCU. While serving from 2006-2012 on the National Institute of Senior Centers (NISC) Delegate Council, a part of the National Council on Aging (NCOA), Peter chaired a national task force on New Models of Senior Centers; the resulting report was published in the Journal for Applied Gerontology. He serves as a NISC accreditation reviewer and standards trainer. Recently, he worked with a small group of his peers to found the Virginia Association of Senior Centers within the Virginia Recreation and Parks Society. This association gives senior centers a greater voice in helping Virginia and its localities prepare for the age wave. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UVA, and Madison House. He was a founding director for the Virginia Network of Nonprofit Organizations (VANNO), serving two years as chair, and for the Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE) in Charlottesville. In 2010, the United Way Thomas Jefferson Area selected Peter for the Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership award.
Mr. Thompson spoke at the Wednesday March, 11 2020 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held at The Center in Charlottesville. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV President Jeff Gould. A copy of Mr. Thompson’s slides can be found here.
Annie Marrs speaking at The Center in Charlottesville.
Alzheimer’s Association Family Services Director Annie Marrs spoke at the February meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia about the more than 5 million individuals who are living with Alzheimer’s and 16 million are serving as their unpaid caregivers in the United States alone. The disease is a global crisis that impacts numerous families right here in our community. Alzheimer’s is not normal aging and no one has to face this disease alone or without information.
The Alzheimer’s Association has created an education program covering the basics of Alzheimer’s and dementia to provide a general overview for people who are facing a diagnosis as well as those who wish to be informed:
Explores the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Examines what happens in a brain affected by Alzheimer’s.
Details the risk factors for and three general stages of the disease.
Identifies FDA-approved treatments available to treat some symptoms.
Looks ahead to what’s on the horizon for Alzheimer’s research.
Offers helpful Alzheimer’s Association resources.
Annie Marrs is the family services director of the Alzheimer’s Association, Central and Western Virginia Chapter, celebrating over 12 years with the organization. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Annie serves individuals impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in many ways. Annie provides direct services such as facilitating support groups, presenting in the community and to our first responders, as well as providing family and individual care consultations to help navigate the progression of this disease. Annie also provides volunteer training and support to new volunteers joining the Cause to share their own gifts of support, public speaking, event assistance, and more.
Annie lives in Louisa with her husband and two young children. She enjoys a good cup of coffee, taking photographs, and hiking through our state and national parks.
Dick Whitehead speaking at The Center in Charlottesville.
Hurricane Camille arrived in Virginia on the night of August 19, 1969, one of only three category five storms ever to make landfall in the United States since record-keeping began. One of the worst natural disasters in Virginia’s history, the storm produced what meteorologists at the time guessed might be the most rainfall “theoretically possible.” As it swept through Virginia overnight, it seemed to catch authorities by surprise. Communication networks were not in place or were knocked out, leaving floods and landslides to trap residents as they slept. Hurricane Camille cost Virginia 113 lives lost and $116 million in damages. It also served as a lesson that inland flooding could be as great a danger as coastal flooding during a hurricane.
By ten o’clock on the night of August 19, Camille stretched from West Virginia all the way to Fredericksburg, Virginia, and areas to the north and east of the center of the storm were experiencing very heavy rainfall. The rain landed on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains, rapidly swelling creeks and exacerbating the effects of the storm. Overnight, rainfall accumulations were measured at about ten inches between Charlottesville and Lynchburg, with Nelson County receiving the brunt of the storm with at least twenty-seven inches of rainfall. So much rain fell in such a short time in Nelson County that, according to the National Weather Service at the time, it was “the probable maximum rainfall which meteorologists compute to be theoretically possible.”
Dick Whitehead, PG, is the resident project representative with Wiley|Wilson, a 100% Employee-Owned engineering firm in Lynchburg. His father, Bill Whitehead, was the Nelson County sheriff during Hurricane Camille. Dick was a teenager during Camille and helped his father look for the bodies of the missing. He will present what he witnessed during and after Camille, and will present archived photos and videos to better convey the massive devastation.
The Honorable John Henry Hager speaking at The Center in Charlottesville.
Former Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, The Honorable John Hager, talks about his career in politics.
John Henry Hager is an American entrepreneur and politician who served as the chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, assistant secretary of the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, and the director of Virginia’s homeland security under Governors Jim Gilmore and Mark Warner.
Hager was born in Durham, North Carolina. He started a neighborhood newspaper in 1945. While an undergraduate at Purdue University he ran a vending machine business, was an active member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and was a member of ROTC. One term, his course load was 25 credit hours – about two thirds more than normal. He graduated with a BSME (mechanical engineering) in 1958. Hager earned his MBA at Harvard and subsequently served in the United States Army, rising to the rank of captain.
In 1973 he contracted polio when his son was vaccinated for the disease with live virus vaccine. As a result, he uses a non-motorized wheelchair for daily ambulation – and competes in wheelchair races.
After his active duty military service, Hager began work for the American Tobacco Company in Richmond, Virginia. The company retired him after his bout with polio, but he returned – beginning at the bottom again. At American Tobacco, he served as a government affairs representative. Hager was forcibly retired from the American Tobacco Company after the company’s sale in 1994.
Hager is married to Margaret Dickinson “Maggie” Chase and they have two sons, John and Henry. Henry is married to former President George W. Bush’s daughter, Jenna.
Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine and District Engineer for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Culpeper District John Lynch talked about transportation policy in Central Virginia at the November meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia.
Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine (left) and District Engineer for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Culpeper District John Lynch speaking at The Center in Charlottesville.
Shannon Valentine was appointed by Governor Ralph Northam in January 2018, and oversees a $5 billion multimodal transportation system crossing seven agencies with more than 10,000 employees. As secretary, she also serves as chair of the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB).
Valentine is a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates, serving on the House Transportation and Courts of Justice Committees. Her legislative priorities focused on transportation, economic development, education, and ethics. She led bipartisan efforts to create transparent government, expand clean energy production, and invest in intercity passenger rail service for the first time in Virginia’s history.
Following an assignment as a director of the Transportation Policy Council in 2013 for then Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe’s transition team, Valentine was appointed as the Lynchburg District representative to the CTB in May 2014. During this time she created the first Regional Connectivity Study in Virginia that correlated transportation decisions with workforce, business expansion and recruitment and investment, covering eight modes of transportation. For more than 25 years, she worked to create economic opportunity through housing, education and transportation. Valentine was named 2017 Transportation Woman of the Year by WTS Central Virginia Chapter. She has been honored with the Humanitarian Award by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, Democracy in Action Award by the League of Women Voters, Freedom Fighter Award by the NAACP, Woman of the Year in Government by the YWCA, and the Commonwealth Autism Services Award.
She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Virginia in economics. She graduated from the Sorensen Institute at UVA, and completed Education for Ministry, a four-year theology course through Sewanee University’s School of Theology. Secretary Valentine is married to Dr. Mike Valentine, and has three children, Catherine, Jack and Brooke.
John Lynch is the district engineer for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Culpeper District, a position he has held since June 2013. He is responsible for VDOT’s construction, maintenance and operations programs in nine Piedmont Virginia counties, from Fauquier south through Albemarle. Lynch has successfully led the development and delivery of several major highway improvement projects, including the $250 million Route 29 Solutions program in Albemarle County.
Before coming to Culpeper Lynch served as regional transportation program director for VDOT’s MegaProjects Office in Northern Virginia. In that role he was responsible for administration and oversight of a transportation program valued at more than $5 billion, including the I-95 and I-495 Express Lanes projects and the extension of Metro Rail to Dulles Airport. From 2008 to 2010 he was assistant district administrator for construction in the Northern Virginia District, providing oversight for the largest construction program in the Commonwealth. Prior to that Lynch served as the Northern Virginia District location and design engineer from 2003 to 2008. Before joining the Virginia Department of Transportation in October 2003, Lynch worked in the private sector for over 20 years as a department head, section manager, project manager and design engineer for several consulting engineering firms. He started his career with Caltrans in the Los Angeles area. Lynch received his Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Delaware and completed a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from George Mason University in the spring of 2004. He is a licensed professional engineer.