Charlottesville Breaking News

30 arrests: Ultrasound protest brings riot police to Capitol

A grassroots protest of a controversial women's health care bill recently approved by the state Senate brought hundreds to the state Capitol grounds in Richmond March 3 and ended with the arrest of 30 people on the Capitol steps.

"This is like Star Wars," said one attendee of the black-clad, shield-carrying  Virginia State Police officers, who lined up to keep people away from the building that houses Virginia's General Assembly.

The demonstration was in response to a bill that originally required a transvaginal ultrasound for women seeking abortions– and which quickly became a national controversy and target of derision among satirists including Saturday Night Live.

After Governor Bob McDonnell signaled his discomfort, House Bill 462 was modified to require a less-invasive abdominal ultrasound and passed the Senate this week and awaits McDonnell's signature.

Supporters say the measure helps women make a more informed decision; opponents say the ultrasounds are medically ineffective, a thinly-veiled attempt to thwart a woman from obtaining an abortion.

Organizers from a group called Speak Loudly with Silence, which led an estimated 1,200 women in silent protest on the Capitol grounds nearly two weeks earlier, estimated the crowd of Saturday's attendees at 900.

"This is a diverse group- they're not from any one political group," said organizer Molly Vick. "I think [the General Assembly] went so extreme, they brou...

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Huguely's violence: UVA victim wants emphasis off alcohol

Although the 26-year sentence recommended for convicted murderer George Huguely may be winning acclaim, other aspects of the recent trial have dismayed a high-profile victim of violence at UVA, and she's speaking out about it.

In Commonwealth v. Beebe, Liz Seccuro pressed charges after one of the men who allegedly raped h...

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Unsatisfied: Hunger strike ends with mixed messages

After a hunger strike lasting up to 13 days and following a statement from UVA administration declining to raise the minimum wage at UVA to $13 an hour, activists for the Living Wage Campaign at UVA suspended the strike on March 1– but they're declaring victory nonetheless.

"The administration was forced to acknowledge this Campaign," says former hunger striker Tim Bruno, "and, more importantly, the crisis of low wages and the invisibility of contract workers on our campus."

A grad student who went 11 days without eating, Bruno points to national media attention and University-wide emails sent by President Teresa Sullivan and V-P Michael Strine as evidence of impact.

"We have engaged the UVA student body in an unprecedented way," Bruno notes in an email to a reporter. "We have educated it in an unprecedented way."

A statement on the website of the Living Wage Campaign promises a coming escalation: "To this administration, which has so far failed to provide moral leadership to our University, we have only this to say: get ready, because we are already here. We will hold you accountable for your promises."

UVA laid down its position on February 29 in a statement by Stri...

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Cuccinelli kibbosh: Supreme Court denies Mann demand

The Virginia Supreme Court rejects Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's demand for UVA to turn over records relating to climate scientist Michael Mann's work. The Roanoke Times has the story.

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Crunching numbers: City omits short sales, foreclosures in averages

In a recent press release, the City of Charlottesville reported that 2012 assessments are down 1.22 percent overall, with existing residential properties declining an average of 3.08 percent. So how do we square this the city data to the Nest Realty 4th Quarter Market Report for 2011, which shows the average list price of a single-family home in the Charlottesville area decreasing 32.1 percent year-over-year?

Assessments, which are used by local governmentsto establish tax value, provide snapshots of property values as of January 1st. And tax value, a fixed figure unaffected by changes in interest rates or inventory, is determined in part by examining sales that have occurred within the market area.

A reporter decided to make a random sampling of 20 sales taken from the multiple listing system (MLS) for the period of May-October 2011, and the result reveals some intriguing information.

Seven of the MLS transactions reflect sales prices in excess of the current assessments, while the remaining 13 transactions show sales that occurred below the assessed values, all of them larger than the 3.08 percent government-noted residential decline. 

A closer look at...

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