Around the Novahood


The Catholic Diocese of Arlington, which incudes 70 parishes throughout Northern Virginia, has established a 14-member council to advise its Bishop on racism and determine “actionable” ways to right the wrong of systemic racism and promote the well-being of all. Its mission is to be guided by the 2018 pastoral letter against racism by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops entitled “Open Wide Our Hearts, The Enduring Call to Love,” which challenges the faithful to overcome racism and to love one another equally. “We know what we have to do,” the Bishop said. “We have to acknowledge that this is an evil. We have to be attentive; we have to listen to the stories of people who have been part of this. We have to accompany them in their pain.” 

The Bishop expects the council to develop concrete plans to ensure all people are treated with respect and that all schools and parishes do not tolerate bigotry and discrimination. “It’s not a think tank; it’s not a strategic plan that’s going to sit on the shelf. It’s a call to implementation and action to address the evil of racism,” he said.

At the same time, Pope Francis recently declined a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has criticized the Vatican for not being hardline enough with China. The Pope said that meeting just before a U.S. election would be inappropriate. While P45’s campaign seeks to appeal to anti-abortion Catholics, the nomination of Catholic Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is another whistle to right-leaning Catholics. Republican heavyweights from NOVA spearheaded the renewal of Catholics4Trump earlier this year.


“You are going to get your a– whooped,” said the trooper to the motorist, before forcefully removing the man from his car. According to Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano, “Although this officer’s demeanor does not conform to what our community would hope to see from law enforcement officers, our review is limited to issues of criminal liability; . . . the officer’s request for the individual to leave his vehicle and the amount of force used were legal.”

Video of the April 2019 incident on Interstate 495 in Fairfax County was shared widely on social media and gained national media attention. The driver filmed the encounter with his cellphone. The motorist was stopped for having an expired inspection decal, according to state police. Another trooper said she smelled marijuana coming from the car and wanted to search it. 

The state police superintendent said the department was beginning an internal probe of the incident. The officer is on administrative leave. “Even though criminal charges are not being brought forth in this incident, [the trooper]’s conduct is still inexcusable and not reflective of our department, our personnel, or our standards of conduct,” said the police superintendent.

Ah, the sweet smell of marijuana! Puhleeze!

In an opinion piece in the Virginia Mercury on October 9, Roger Chesley points out that race is often the factor in traffic stops: Driving While Black is a thing. As he states, “Such stops … can be humiliating for drivers and their passengers. They’ve done nothing or little wrong, yet they can be placed in handcuffs or forced to ‘assume the position,’ possibly with frightened children in tow…. That’s why the Virginia General Assembly’s recent passage of legislation to end police stops for minor infractions, including the dubious and questionable detection of marijuana in passing cars, is smart and just. The bill now goes to Gov. Ralph Northam, and it’s a safe bet he’ll sign it.” 


The most recent 129-acre plot donated to Middleburg-based nonprofit Land Trust of Virginia contains over 5 acres of wetlands and 72 acres of forest, housing extensive wildlife and now protected from development. The donor said that some of her neighbors were ready to sell their land for development, and she wanted to ensure that her land did not follow that pattern.

While nothing is publicly known about the detailed tax implications of this transaction, generally, when owners donate a conservation easement, they surrender part of the value of the property — often a family’s most valuable asset. Tax incentives offset some of that loss in value, making conservation a viable option for reducing property taxes. Donating a conservation easement can be a prudent way to preserve the land forever and to realize significant federal and state tax savings. The land trust is responsible for making sure that a landowner adheres to the conservation terms of the easement. 

First enacted temporarily in 2006, the tax incentive was made permanent in 2015. It increases benefits to landowners by (1) raising the deduction a donor can take for donating a conservation easement to 50%, from 30%, of annual income; (2) extending the carry-forward period for a donor to take a tax deduction for a conservation agreement to 15 years from 5 years; and (3) allowing qualifying farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100% of their income, increased from 50%. 

The benefits to the public are inestimable as the growing populations of the Commonwealth and the nation continue to consume real property. Greater pressures are exerted in NOVA as expanding economic behemoths such as Amazon and data centers compete for real estate.





Categories: Brief Cases, CIVIL RIGHTS, crime and punishment, Issues, Local, National, police, POLICING, State

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