Briefly Noted

A WALK ON TRUMP AVENUE

A town councilman proposed renaming a thoroughfare in Front Royal, Virginia, to Donald Trump Avenue to honor the Trump supporters who live there. Voters in Warren County favored Trump over Biden two to one in November. He proposed the idea on the eve of President Biden’s inauguration, saying,  [This is] “honoring people who have had a rough few months but feel overall that they were part of something positive and that the Trump presidency was something positive that we can look back on.”

Even Republicans on the Council were hesitant. Said one, “This could potentially open up a door that [we] are not prepared to walk through.” 

Some cynics wished to know whether one might shoot someone on Trump Avenue without consequences. . . . 

VA PRISONER SPENT 10 YEARS IN SOLITARY FOR ILLITERACY

A convicted murderer at one of Virginia’s most restrictive prisons was held in solitary confinement for a decade because he did not fill out a journal in English, a language he does not speak, his attorneys said. Last week, Virginia agreed to pay the man $115,000 and set up a system for ensuring that non-English-speakers in the prison system are not isolated for lack of ability to communicate. A native of El Salvador, he does not understand English or read in any language.

No effort was made to find a way to accommodate his inability to speak English. Due to the language barrier, he missed meals, showers, outdoor recreation and phone calls to his family because the prison ignored him or failed to communicate in a way he could understand. Twelve years went by before, with his lawsuit pending, he was moved into less-restrictive housing.

The Virginia Department of Corrections argued that “solitary confinement” did not describe the conditions of any inmate at the prison because prisoners in isolation have access to staffers and reading materials, and that the program this individual was in was intended to be therapeutic. The settlement, said a spokesman, will mean a centralization of language policies already in place.

No comprende? No mas, for $115,000. Too bad when such therapies don’t work.

SICK BAY

Who is in sick bay? The Chesapeake.

Two years after its last assessment of the Bay’s health, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has found little overall improvement in the nation’s largest estuary*, despite reductions in nitrogen and phosphorus pollution and the shrinking of the bay’s dead zone, an oxygen-deprived area where species are unable to survive. 

“The Chesapeake Bay system is still dangerously out of balance, but there’s hope for improvement,” said the Foundation’s president. Nevertheless, the nonprofit environmental group, which has played a leading role in the Chesapeake Bay’s cleanup, awarded the bay a D-plus grade in both its 2018 and 2020 biennial State of the Bay reports. He called the grade “a sober reminder that the road ahead remains steep and the clock is ticking.” State of the Bay scores are based on 13 indicators related to pollution, habitat, and fisheries.

He attributed the lack of improvement in the bay’s overall health to rollbacks of federal environmental protections by the Trump administration as well as weak cleanup plans from Pennsylvania and New York that fall short of the reductions needed to meet the 2025 goals of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. 

Sittin’ on the dock of the bay, wastin’ time. . . .

*An estuary is a partially enclosed coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries form a transition zone between river environments and maritime environments.

WATER SECURITY WARFARE

Quantico, Virginia, the only town in the country located within a military base, is about to have its water shut off by the U.S. Marine Corps, says its mayor. The town of Quantico comprises about 40 acres, surrounded on three sides by the Marine base, which totals about 60,000 acres. The fourth side faces the Potomac River.

A long-running dispute between the town and the surrounding military base over water and sewer service has reached crisis level, according to the city’s mayor, with the base threatening to shut off water if the two sides don’t reach an agreement on a new contract by Feb. 1. The mayor also said that town officials have been trying for eight years, since he was elected, to negotiate a “more equitable” water and sewer agreement with the Marine Corps.

Due to the current arrangement, in which the base charges the town regular customer rates, Quantico officials can’t address the $2 million to $4 million in repairs needed for its antiquated water distribution system, the mayor said. He went on that the last water service contract he could find between the town and base dates back 90 years, when the base first began providing water. Back then, the water rate was set at $0.10 per kilo gallon. Recently, the base has been charging the town $4.35 per kilo gallon. But for the past two years, the town has been readjusting the water bills and paying the base the 1930 rate.

After escalating this matter to the highest levels of U.S. Marine Corps leadership, local and state officials, and its representatives in the United States Congress, the town opted to hold the Marine Corps to the original water agreement from 1930. In December, the town received a letter revoking the current water and sewer agreements. The letter also demanded that the town agree to a new service agreement by Feb. 1 or face having water service to the town cut off.

The population of the base is 4,450. The population of the city is 480. An Alamo of water warfare.

 

 



Categories: AROUND THE NOVAHOOD, Issues, Local, politics, State

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