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Parking Ticket Amnesty has Ended, Pay Up or get the Boot

The program was started due to the impact of Covid-19. The impact has lessened for some but certainly not gone away. Regardless, the city has decided it wants it’s money, now.

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From Richmond Department of Public Works.

On Monday, August 31 at 5 p.m. the parking amnesty program for overdue citations will end and the city will begin booting vehicles with outstanding past due tickets. The program was initiated as a result of the immediate impact COVID-19 had on those living and working in the city.

Now that amnesty is ending those who received tickets on or after March 16 must pay the original ticketed amount by Monday in order to have any additional fines and penalties waived. Those owing money for parking tickets and overdue penalties prior to March 16 had the amounts due frozen and were not accruing additional fines and penalties during the amnesty period.

Those frozen amounts must now be paid by Monday. DMV related hold fees were not included in the amnesty program. For additional information, please call 3-1-1. For more information on City services please visit www.Richmondgov.com.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Richmond Region Tourism launches Tourism Master Plan during annual meeting

The Master Plan, “Richmond Region 2030, A Strategic Direction for the Richmond’s Visitor Economy,” was developed in 2019 with extensive feedback and input from the community. Consultants asked questions of key stakeholders during 115 interviews and surveyed 1,000 visitors and 2,100 residents, and hosted 50 people in visioning workshops. 

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At its Annual Awards and Meeting program last Friday, Richmond Region Tourism introduced its tourism master plan, a 10-year strategic vision to enhance the region’s visitor experience while balancing the quality of life for residents. The virtual event, organized via Zoom, also included an awards program and updates from national expert Adam Sacks on tourism trends and COVID-19 economic recovery predictions.

The Master Plan, “Richmond Region 2030, A Strategic Direction for the Richmond’s Visitor Economy,” was developed in 2019 with extensive feedback and input from the community. Consultants asked questions of key stakeholders during 115 interviews and surveyed 1,000 visitors and 2,100 residents, and hosted 50 people in visioning workshops.

The 10-year plan aims to responsibly grow the region’s tourism industry while supporting quality of life for all residents. It includes three initial focus areas:

  • Experience development: Enhancing and developing tourism experiences within the Richmond region that meet the needs of contemporary travelers.
  • Infrastructure and investment: Investing in facilities and infrastructure to maintain, refresh, and upgrade the existing tourism experience, addressing gaps and capitalizing on future growth opportunities.
  • Industry advancement and advocacy: Devoting capacity, influence, skills, and resources to projects aligned with the mission of marketing the region as a destination, while at the same time advancing initiatives that improve the destination experience for visitors and residents.

“The Richmond Region 2030 plan takes a strategic and community-based approach to defining an overarching vision and competitive positioning for our region as a destination,” said Jack Berry, president and CEO of Richmond Region Tourism. “This is an exciting roadmap for the future of our region. We look forward to actively engaging and listening to the community as we move forward with the plan and its priorities in the years to come.”

Richmond Region Tourism’s annual meeting also showcased local leaders for their contributions to tourism and the economy.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Director Alex Nyerges and former Hanover County Administrator Cecil R. “Rhu” Harris Jr. received the Tourism Impact Award, the highest honor given each year. Both were recognized for their long-term and significant impacts to the region’s tourism industry.

Members from the BLK RVA Action Team – Enjoli Moon (chair), Josh Epperson, Amy Wentz, and Free Bangura – were honored with the Chairman’s Award, given to a person or organization who has made the greatest contribution during the previous year. BLK RVA is a collaborative initiative between Richmond Region Tourism and an advisory board of community members focused on developing unique ways to attract tourism while highlighting Richmond’s Black culture and businesses.

As part of the meeting, Adam Sacks, president of research firm Tourism Economics, highlighted data trends and economic rebound strategies to support COVID-19 economic recovery.

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College Republicans discuss future of GOP in Virginia

Young Republicans say this is a crucial time in the country’s history amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the country facing a reckoning in its relationship with racial justice and an open Supreme Court seat.

Capital News Service

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By Brandon Shillingford

Young Republicans say this is a crucial time in the country’s history amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the country facing a reckoning in its relationship with racial justice and an open Supreme Court seat.

Many of the Generation Z Republican and conservative voters, ages 18-23, are participating in their first or second presidential election and are ready for their voices to be heard.

Cameron Cox, vice president of campaigns for the College Republicans at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, sees the pandemic as a priority that must be at the forefront of the government’s concerns, but it shouldn’t be handled by shutting the economy down. Cox is no stranger to politics. His father Del. Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, has served in the General Assembly since 1990 and is considering a run for Virginia governor.

“At a national level, this means continuing to give states the guidance and tools they need to effectively manage their people,” Cox said in an email. “It means helping, not hindering the market, in aiding our nation’s economic recovery. It means empowering people to get back to work and provide for their families.”

Andrew Vail, chairman of the College Republicans at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, believes COVID-19 and racial injustice are challenges for the country which will eventually pass.

“People organize and politicians make laws and, you know, social movements go on,” Vail said. “At some point, the world will calm down.”

Vail thinks that cities in Virginia had less of a challenge containing Black Lives Matter protests compared to New York City, Portland, Seattle, and Washington D.C., where protests attracted tens of thousands of people and often saw conflicts between opposing groups.

He said the protests throughout the commonwealth were “pretty normal protests” with people utilizing their constitutional rights.

Courtney Hope Britt, the southern regional vice-chair for the College Republican National Committee and chair emeritus to the College Republican Federation of Virginia, was disappointed with responses to the protests in Richmond. Painting murals and taking down Confederate statues “don’t change the day-to-day reality of Black people in our state,” Britt said in an email.

More schools are shedding Confederate names, but Britt doesn’t believe those moves will effectively deal with educational disparities between Black and white students.

“These problems are complex and incredibly deep-rooted in our systems, and so it will take time to rework things,” she said. “I don’t really see that being done right now.”

Britt also disagrees with Gov. Ralph Northam’s handling of the pandemic. A poll conducted by Northeastern, Harvard, Rutgers, and Northwestern universities found 59% of respondents agreed with the governor’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak in July but only 46% echoed that sentiment in August.

Virginia’s rate of 2.2 COVID-19 tests per 1,000 residents puts it at No. 29 in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Britt said that while testing has improved, “we’re still lagging way behind where we should be.”

“Governor Northam is a medical doctor; he should have been as well prepared to respond to the pandemic as anyone and yet he did worse than almost everyone,” she said.

Cox said the Democratic majority in the Virginia General Assembly needs to address the state’s projected $2.7 billion shortfall. He also said that reopening schools safely are issues that need to be resolved. There needs to be “safe, in-person learning for students, as well as resources for kids not in the classroom to avoid being left behind,” he said.

“Education is at the center of entities affected by the coronavirus,” Cox said. “As school systems handle their students in different ways, it’s important for the state to help, not hinder, schools in this process.”

Vail and Britt, a recent graduate of The T. C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond, said that there is plenty of ideological diversity between the younger and older members of the Republican Party. Britt said the Republican Party has been better about “intentionally recruiting greater diversity into the party.”

“I’m really proud of that,” she said.

Vail echoed this sentiment.

“I’ve seen that a lot of conservatives lean more in a Libertarian direction, and most Republicans in their ’40s and ’50s are sort of your George Bush brand of conservative,” Vail said.

Richard Anderson, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, sees young Republicans as invaluable assets that will serve the nation for years to come. He said they play a crucial element in campaigns through door knocking, phone banking, and registration of new voters.

“Many will go on to serve in local, state, and federal offices,” Anderson said. “In that capacity, they have vital roles to play in shaping public policy today and in the future.”

Many millennials and Gen Zers who recently have become active in the Republican Party are prioritizing issues that may be considered more liberal. According to a Pew Research study, almost half of millennials and Gen Z Republicans are more likely than their older counterparts to say climate change is not doing enough to lessen the impact of climate change.

Rather than just being against the Green New Deal, young conservatives are working on their own climate proposals like the American Conservative Coalition’s American Climate Contract and the Declaration of Energy Independence, according to Britt. The movements seek to fight climate change and provide clean energy to Americans.

“We are beginning to address issues that have often been left to the Democrats with positive arguments,” Britt said.

There are younger conservatives who do not support President Donald Trump and who want to see a new Republican platform grounded in Constitutional principles but “more conducive to an evolving American landscape.” A Georgetown University graduate launched gen z GOP in July to reach younger voters and establish a “palatable alternative to the left.”

Britt views Trump positively, however. He has brought an invigoration and excitement to the party that hasn’t been seen before, she said. This makes her excited and optimistic about the party’s future.

“I’m excited for us to continue building on that for the next four years and beyond,” Britt said.

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More than 200,000 Virginia voters cast ballots in first week of early voting, Virginia Department of Elections says

Virginia voting is off to an active start, with tens of thousands of people hitting the polls during the 45-day early voting period. 

Capital News Service

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By Joseph Whitney Smith

Virginia voting is off to an active start, with tens of thousands of people hitting the polls during the 45-day early voting period.

Over 164,000 citizens have voted in person, while more than 926,000 absentee ballots have been issued as of Sept. 25, said Andrea Gaines, director of community relations and compliance support at the Virginia Department of Elections. Over half a million people returned absentee ballots in the 2016 presidential election, according to the department.

Breaking the traditional custom of voting on Election Day, the governor and other top officials hit the polls when they opened Sept. 18. The General Assembly earlier this year removed restrictions to vote absentee and allowed early, in-person voting until Oct. 31. The move allowed individuals to cast their ballots 45 days early.

“While the pandemic has made this an unprecedented election year, Virginia voters have several safe and easy ways to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a press release. “Voting is an essential part of our democracy, and I encourage every Virginia voter to know their options and make a plan for safely casting their ballot.”

About 20 people were lined up, six-feet apart, to vote Friday morning at the Henrico County registrar’s office. Carrington Blencowe was one of the voters. She said that voting early is more convenient for her family.

“This makes it a lot easier than trying to vote the day of because it gives people more time and we’re a working country,” Blencowe said.

Voters do not have to fill out an application to vote in person early. They just head to their general registrar’s office or satellite voting location, show ID and cast a ballot.

Stephen Farnsworth, director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, said previous early voting and absentee ballots were much more inconvenient.

“It involved signing a statement saying you had one of a range of acceptable excuses, they included military service, being away at college, travel plans, working from out of county, or disabilities,” Farnsworth said. “When you think about how much easier it is to vote via mail-in, my guess is that it will remain popular after the COVID-19 crisis has passed.”

The last day to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 23. The Virginia Department of Elections recommends that applicants return their ballot as soon as possible due to the high number of ballots issued. In 2018 and 2019, 90% and 85% of requested absentee ballots were returned, respectively.

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