Dogwood Download: Things You Should Know For Tuesday, March 9

By Brian Carlton

March 9, 2021

A straw poll highlights Virginia candidates, VCU professors want a raise and a lawsuit gets filed in the parole board case.

Daily Number

5— We go back to the Civil War for this one. In the water right off Hampton Roads, on March 9, 1862, the first battle of ironclads took place. What’s an ironclad? Pretty much what it sounds like. It’s a steam-powered ship with iron or steel armor plates. The USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia fought for five hours, a battle that ended in a draw. 

A New Look at the Virginia Races 

Over the weekend, we got another look at how Virginia residents see the statewide elections. Dranesville, a place of 11,921 people within Fairfax County, held its March Madness Straw Poll Saturday. This covered all Democratic candidates for the three statewide races. 

Here’s what that looked like: 


✅ Jennifer Carroll Foy 40.7%

◾ Jennifer McClellan 24.2%

◾ Terry McAuliffe 21.6%

◾ Lee Carter 8.8%

◾ Justin Fairfax 4.6%

Lieutenant Governor

✅ Sam Rasoul 44.7%

◾ Sean Perryman 18.8%

◾ Elizabeth Guzman 12.7%

◾ Hala Ayala 12.7%

◾ Mark Levine 5.1%

◾ Andria McClellan 4.6%

◾ Xavier Warren 1.5%

◾ Paul Goldman 0%

Attorney General

✅ Mark Herring 57.7%

◾ Jay Jones 42.3%

More Virginia School Districts Reopen Classes

Today is Opening Day in many ways for students in Fairfax County and Alexandria City Schools. Both districts welcome back a number of students today.

In Fairfax, this is the second part of their reopening plan. The district brought back 25,000 students March 2, including kids from grades 8, 9 and 12. Now, most of the remaining groups will follow suit. Students in grades 1,2, 6, 7, 10 and 11 come back to in-person learning. The final group from grades 3, 4 and 5 will return March 16.

Meanwhile in Alexandria, it’s the first day of in-person study today for some students in grades 6 through 12. Special education students in grades K-5 returned March 2 and all other students will return March 16. Now Alexandria’s schedule will be a bit different, due to a hybrid plan that includes two days of in-person instruction and three days remote.

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McClellan Celebrates International Women’s Day

After submitting her petitions to officially be included on the ballot for governor, State Sen. Jennifer McClellan took part in a tribute on International Women’s Day.

VCU Professors Call For Pay Raise 

Last week, Dogwood’s Jakob Cordes reported on the struggle university faculty and staff face in Virginia when they want to form a union. They’re concerned about what they see as inadequate pay, unstable contracts and delayed responses to the pandemic. 

Now some of those faculty are taking action. More than 100 instructors from Virginia Commonwealth University delivered demands to VCU President Michael Rao right before the weekend. They want: 

  • A meeting with Rao March 19 
  • Then a response by March 30
  • A base pay raise from $1,100 to $3,000 per credit hour
  • One year contracts for adjunct instructors
  • $1,000 compensation for all canceled classes 

Most classes at VCU are three credit hours. That would translate into $3,300 currently per class. If the demands are met, salaries would hike to $9,000 per most classes. 

“We simply want to ensure that we are able to survive on the pay that we

receive in return for our delivery of quality instruction,” the group said in a letter to Rao. Rao has not responded, either personally or through his office. 

What Does The Police Data Say?

What does the data say about police stops in the District? The D.C. chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union wanted an answer to that question, so they filed a lawsuit. Last year, the police department promised it would release the data. It finally came out Monday. 

The information will come into play later this week, as the City Council decides if it plans to follow Virginia and create civilian oversight boards. These boards range in size and authority, depending on the area. They can issue recommendations or, in some places, determine that an officer needs to be fired after reviewing a case. 

But the focus Monday was on traffic data, as police stops have become a red flag issue here in Virginia. D.C. police made 81,000 stops in 2020. Out of those, 55% resulted in a ticket and 24% led to an arrest. Just at 15% involved physical contact between the officer and the person he or she pulled over. 

The biggest takeaway for groups like the ACLU, however, came later in the report. It showed Black individuals accounted for 74% of all stops made by D.C. police in the first half of 2020. The data wasn’t available yet for the six months after that. 

“Understanding sources of that disparity so we can appropriately focus resources to solve it continues to be a top priority,” D.C. police said in a statement.

Question of the Day: Do Endorsements Matter?

Investigator Files Lawsuit Over Virginia Parole Board

An employee of Virginia’s government watchdog agency filed a lawsuit Monday seeking whistleblower status. She claimed she faced retaliation after coming forward with details of perceived wrongdoing arising from an investigation of the state parole board.

Jennifer Moschetti, an investigator with the Office of the State Inspector General, was tasked with looking into complaints about the board. She says in her lawsuit that she was put on “pre-disciplinary leave” Friday. The lawsuit alleges the move came days after she sought to come forward to state lawmakers as a whistleblower by providing documents related to her work on the investigation.

You can read more about the investigation right here.

Power Goes Out in Amherst County. We Don’t Know Why.

Amherst County students and parents got a surprise Monday morning. Class has been in-person for a while there now, so parents didn’t expect to get messages stating the schools would be shutting down at noon.

No it wasn’t due to COVID-19. No, there weren’t any health issues. Instead, all the schools were some of the 1,051 customers in the area without power. According to Appalachian Power, one single issue that happened at 9:18 a.m. caused the problem. However, company officials have not provided any more information beyond that statement.

The only other thing they said was that the power got restored by 2:30 p.m. Students are expected back in class today.

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