Michael Lee Pope

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Michael Lee Pope is an award-winning journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and Northern Virginia Magazine. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. Pope is the author of four books.

Recent Stories

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Expunging the Record

Democrats are divided on how to clear charges and convictions.

House Democrats and Senate Democrats are deadlocked over how people accused of minor crimes should be able to clear their records, a clash that has stalled action for now on one of the most important criminal-justice reform efforts on the agenda for Democrats now that they have seized control of the General Assembly.

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Thanksgiving Through the Years

From war and pandemic to claptrap and taffeta, the evolution of the holiday in Alexandria.

The story of Thanksgiving is fake news riddled with misinformation and fraud.

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Being There

Advocates for open government worry about too much virtual participation. Virginia Press Association executive director Betsy Edwards says the law is designed to make sure the public and the press have an opportunity to ask members of the Planning Commission why they voted against a zoning change and or why the mayor voted for a bike lane. She worried that unlimited virtual participation would limit availability to the public and the press to ask questions and get answers.

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The Pandemic Election

Virginia voters support Biden, Warner and a new redistricting commission.

Twenty years ago, Virginia was a red state. Republicans scored Virginia's electoral votes in every presidential election since LBJ was reelected in 1964. Republicans held both U.S. Senate seats. The Grand Old Party had all the statewide offices, a majority of the congressional delegation and both chambers of the General Assembly. That was the environment when Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both Democrats, ran for governor and lieutenant governor.

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Myth-busting the Vote

A look at how the election will really happen in Alexandria

For most Alexandria voters expected to cast a ballot this year, Election Day has already come and gone. The unprecedented spike in early voting comes at a time when the city is battling a deadly pandemic and a whirlwind of misinformation. Here are a few myths about the election this year and why they are wrong.

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Civilian Oversight

City Council members to consider creating citizen board to investigate police

Last spring, disparities in law enforcement created a groundswell of support for a new civilian review board in Alexandria, a group that could investigate excessive use of force and abuse of authority. Since that time, the General Assembly passed a new law giving these kinds of bodies authority to subpoena documents and witnesses as well as make binding disciplinary determinations. Now members of the City Council are about to consider several options for what kind of civilian review board they want to create.

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Hiding at the Top of the Ticket

Race for Senate features two-term incumbent versus first-time candidate.

When Mark Warner ran for governor in 2001, opponents knocked him for wanting to be governor without having ever run for office before.

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Limiting Neck Restraints

Lawmakers negotiate behind closed doors on how to curb police use of chokeholds.

When lawmakers began their special session on criminal justice reform in August, hopes were high that the General Assembly would send the governor a bill that banned police from using chokeholds. But now that the protesters have gone home and the lawmakers have moved behind closed doors to negotiate in a secret closed-door conference committee, advocates for criminal-justice reform are worried about what will emerge in the conference report that will be presented to the House and Senate.

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Alexandria’s Failed Experiment with Wards

Del Ray forced a ward system on Old Town. It didn’t end well.

Del Ray was furious. The Alexandria City Council was dominated by members from Old Town, and they took action in the interest of Old Town. People in Del Ray felt neglected and unheard. The elected members of council did not include one single solitary member from their neighborhood, and so people there were demanding the city abandon its at-large system of representation on the City Council and adopt a ward system similar to the one the city had before adopting the city manager form of government.

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An Election about Elections

Voters to determine how redistricting works next year.

When Republicans were in charge of drawing political boundaries for the General Assembly and Congress, Democrats supported an amendment to the Virginia Constitution creating a new mapmaking commission. The idea was to take the power of political gerrymandering out of the hands of the majority and hand it over to a group that wouldn’t be quite so focused on screwing the opposition. But then Democrats seized control of the General Assembly, and most House Democrats flip flopped on the issue.

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