Week of 10/12/12
Va. escapes worst of recession but new fears ahead
(The Associated Press/Washington Post, October 14, 2012)
Amid scenic horse farms, vineyards, Civil War landmarks and quaint shops tucked in historic red-brick buildings, signs of prosperity are plainly visible. The anxiety about the economy, less so - but it's here.
Talk to the husband and wife who opened a used bookstore last year, and they reveal they first signed one six-month lease, then another, not wanting to lock into anything longer until they were sure they had a viable business.
Or the construction consultant who realized government budgets were shrinking and a full-fledged economic recovery was years away, so it was time to change careers. ...
The cuts could impact federal workers, defense firms, the state's many military installations and beyond. Virginia is home to the Pentagon, the CIA, Naval Station Norfolk, Fort A.P. Hill, Langley Air Force Base, Marine Corps Base Quantico and more. By one account, more than 200,000 jobs could be vulnerable - more than those lost in the recession
"This would be a punch in the face for the whole state," says James Koch, an economist at Old Dominion University. "People here have looked at other states such as Florida, Ohio and Nevada and said, 'Oh, they have it worse.' Now the worm could turn a bit." (More)
It's time for everyday Virginians to enter the debate
(The Virginian-Pilot, October 15, 2012)
The teacher from Las Vegas. The couple from Appleton, Wis. The autoworker from Toledo, Ohio.
Who are these people? And why do the presidential candidates keep talking about them?
In the first presidential debate, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were quick to gab about nine everyday Americans they've met on the campaign trail. Not surprisingly, most of those folks live in swing states.
But for all the candidates' talk and for all their visits to Virginia, none of the name-dropped were from the commonwealth. Maybe that will change Tuesday night as both candidates try to win over Virginia voters.
We asked four political scientists for their best guesses to describe the Virginians most likely to be name-checked at the debate. Here's what they said:
The demographics A retired military member employed by a defense contractor who fears losing his or her job. This person might work in northern Virginia or in Hampton Roads.
How this person will get pulled into the debate Most likely during a discussion of sequestration - the automatic budget cuts triggered by politicians' failure to reach a budget-deficit deal that would include substantial reductions in defense spending.
Suggested by Jesse Richman, assistant professor of political science at Old Dominion University (More)
Who really pulls the strings on America's economy?
(The Virginian-Pilot, October 14, 2012)
Economists seem to agree: Things are finally getting a bit better.
Unemployment rates, nationally and regionally, dipped in the past month. Local home prices are bouncing back. Average incomes and regional economic activity have been edging up, too. ...
Whoever takes the oath of office on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 21 might have a sharp effect on the local economy. The reason: Hampton Roads' considerable reliance on defense spending.
With 46 percent of its economy tied to the military, according to Old Dominion University's recently released State of the Region report, looming defense cuts imperil Hampton Roads' recovery. ...
If the president and Congress don't act by January, the defense budget will be pared by more than $500 billion over the next decade, as part of about $1 trillion in federal reductions. That would be on top of an already-approved $487 billion military cut.
The deadline for averting "sequestration" is before the presidential inauguration. But the matter could still fall on the agenda of whoever is elected. ODU economist Vinod Agarwal said Congress's answer may be "to buy some time."
Romney has spoken more frequently of the dangers of sequestration and also has pledged to undo the previously adopted defense cuts. During a speech last week at Virginia Military Institute, he said: "If I am elected, I will restore funding to our military budget." Romney did not provide specifics. In their debate Oct. 3, Obama said Romney wants to spend money "that the military hasn't asked for."
Historically, Republicans have presided over the sharpest increases in military spending. Local defense spending rose the most during the presidencies of Reagan and George W. Bush, according to data from the Old Dominion report. The study said the local total was expected to hold steady this year - at $20.75 billion - for the first time in more than a decade. (More)
Schapiro: Politicians duck details of Virginia's economy
(Opinion, Richmond Times-Dispatch, October 14, 2012)
Because there are few coincidences in politics, the Virginia economy was teed up as a talking point for Mitt Romney two times in as many days ahead of the Republican presidential nominee's latest visit to this battleground state.
On Wednesday and Thursday, before the Romney appearance Friday in Chesterfield County aimed at fattening his presumed majority in the state's conservative heartland, Gov. Bob McDonnell played to the anger and anxiety of Republican and independent voters.
First, McDonnell made public a letter to Barack Obama, urging the president to head off automatic, across-the-board budget cuts - sequestration - that politicians in both parties claim could cripple the state. More than a quarter of its economy is attributed to federal spending, military and civilian, and is concentrated in the vote-rich Northern Virginia-to-Hampton Roads corridor. ...
Hampton Roads is seeing the outlines of recovery, though it fears defense cuts. The military, tourism and a vast natural harbor remain the underpinnings of the region's economy. But this lack of diversity, warns a state-of-the-region report by Old Dominion University, means reductions by the Pentagon could hit especially hard. (More)
Around the world without ever leaving East Beach
(The Virginian-Pilot, October 14, 2012)
The Globe, one of two charity houses at Fall Homearama in East Beach, promotes world peace and understanding.
A tour during the 16-day parade of custom homes also will get your geographical synapses popping as you take in all the globes and maps strategically positioned throughout the house.
The theme aptly suits the house, proceeds of which will benefit Old Dominion University's Global Friendship House, a proposed 33,000-square-foot residential and activity building for international students who attend ODU in Norfolk.
Just four days before Homearama's global-themed preview party, Kathy Hardison, who spearheaded the ODU building and is its director, proclaimed the charity house "amazing."
The Globe is one of 10 showcase homes on display during Tidewater Builders Association's bi-annual, home-show extravaganza, running from today through Oct. 28. (More)
ODU rugby player's spirit still lifts his teammates
(The Virginian-Pilot, October 14, 2012)
For 22 years, the Old Dominion University men's rugby club has started each game with the same spirited chant to memorialize a teammate, Steve Morrison, whose life has been an inspiration for every team since he died.
"16 together, ODU."
As those who follow rugby know, each team fields 15 players. But after Oct. 19, 1990, when Morrison collapsed and died during practice, the ODU team has adjusted its "15 together, ODU" cheer to a lasting tribute to Morrison and the lesson his life continues to offer, even to people who have never met him.
The chant begins each rugby match, and it also was a special salute Saturday afternoon when former and current players presented Morrison's family a framed jersey bearing "Morrison" and the No. 16.
His mother, Judy Beall, had not known of the tradition until last week when Morrison's former teammates tracked down his family to invite them to a scrimmage game Saturday between current players and alumni. Beall heard the chant for the first time Saturday, an experience that renewed both her grief and pride.
Morrison was born in 1969 with a defective aortic valve, and by the time he died at the age of 20, he had already endured two surgeries to repair and replace the valve. As he was learning to navigate the rugby field in his first season in 1990, his body was outgrowing the valve. (More)
Governor Patrick's trips for Obama draw fire
(The Boston Globe, October 14, 2012)
Over the blasting horns of a marching band, Brian Moran, the chairman of the Virginia Democratic Party, yelled into the stands. It was minutes before kickoff at Hampton University's football stadium on Saturday.
"Governor Patrick from Massachusetts is here!" Moran bellowed, as Deval Patrick waved and the fans stared, or nodded. "He's here getting the vote out!"
This is the glamorous life of Patrick, campaign surrogate for his friend, President Obama.
On a swing through two college campuses in this battleground state on Saturday, the governor spoke to small crowds, shook hands at Obama campaign offices, and posed for photographs. ...
In an interview Saturday, he insisted he can govern and handle his political duties at the same time.
"I know what my day job is, and I do it, and I've continued to do it while I've been on the road," Patrick said after giving a pep talk to about 30 Obama volunteers at Old Dominion University in Norfolk. (More)
Future ticket mates? McAuliffe, Northam in Norfolk Saturday
(The Virginian-Pilot, October 12, 2012)
Neither Terry McAuliffe or Ralph Northam have officially declared themselves candidates for statewide office next year, but already the two are making campaign-style stops as if they're running on the same ticket.
One such joint appearance comes Saturday when the likely Democratic hopefuls for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively, are set to tailgate around 1 p.m. at Foreman Field in Norfolk as Old Dominion University's football team plays Villanova University.
McAuliffe, a businessman and prominent political fundraiser, has given strong indications he'll again run for Virginia governor after failing to win the party nomination in three-way race in 2009, though he's waiting until after Nov. 6 to announce.
Northam is seen as a contender for lieutenant governor in 2013, an office the Norfolk state senator initially said he wouldn't seek before recently reversing course. (More)
ODU summit links military families and education
(The Virginian-Pilot, October 12, 2012)
Old Dominion University will host an education summit, "Let's Talk Education: Connecting Military Families, Schools and Communities," Nov. 1 at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.
The event is co-sponsored by the Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Child and Youth Region School Liaison Office and the Joint Military Services School Liaison Committee. Guest speakers and breakout sessions will focus on support services available to help military children cope with repeated transitions and extended deployments.
Among the topics to be explored are bullying, dealing with divorce and understanding grief.
The free program runs from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Those who want to attend should register by Monday at www.discovermwr.com/educationsummit. (More)
Live from ODU tonight: local undecideds on CNN
(The Virginian-Pilot, October 11, 2012)
As the presidential race goes into its final month, a thin sliver of voters finds itself in the battling candidates' crosshairs: undecideds in swing states like Virginia.
Tonight, a group of undecideds from Hampton Roads will sit down with a news crew from CNN at Old Dominion University to watch the nationally televised debate in Danville, Ky., between Vice President Joe Biden and his Republican opponent, Rep. Paul Ryan.
CNN anchor Erin Burnett will chat up the local voters and share their reactions with the cable news channel's audience after the debate, which runs from 9 to 10:30 p.m. (More)
CNN's VP Debate Coverage to Feature Fact Checks, Focus Group, Time Clock
(CNN.com, October 11, 2012)
CNN will air the debate between Vice President Biden and Rep. Ryan on Oct. 11, with special coverage beginning at 7 p.m. In Washington, Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper and John King, will lead the network's coverage with Soledad O'Brien inside the debate hall in Kentucky and Erin Burnett live from Old Dominion University in Virginia, where she will be joined by a group of undecided voters. Oct. 16 presidential debate moderator Candy Crowley will join the network's coverage from Washington to provide insight as to what she'll be listening for during the debate. (More)
ODU professor a finalist for National Book Award
(The Virginian-Pilot, October 10, 2012)
"Fast Animal," a collection of poetry by Norfolk writer Tim Seibles, was named a finalist for the National Book Award on Wednesday.
Seibles, an associate professor of creative writing at Old Dominion University, was one of five finalists in the poetry category.
"Fast Animal" was published by Etruscan Press in February. It was Seibles' fifth full-length collection of poetry. He has served as a fellow for the National Endowment of the Arts.
Finalists receive $1,000. The winner will be announced Nov. 14 and be awarded $10,000. (More)
At Work With | Michael J. Seiler, ODU real estate specialist
(The Virginian-Pilot, October 8, 2012)
- As told to Pilot writer Sarah Kleiner Varble
I've got a doctorate degree in finance. My wife is a marketing professor who works in real estate as well. So we're in different disciplines, but we've come together to do a lot of papers in real estate. From the marketing perspective she always brought in the psychology and things like that. And from the traditional finance perspective, we never considered those things - it's all mathematical-based.
So she and I came together and decided to do what's called behavioral real estate, and no one else was really doing that. It became a specialty for us.
If you were just to assume that we're all robots and we all maximize our wealth, that's what current models do in finance. We don't care about our fitting into a social network; we don't care about anything other than money. If all you care about is money, then the traditional models work just fine. But if you care about being treated with respect, and you care about fairness, and you care about friends and family, then we need a more inclusive definition.
We are trying to quantify things that historically have been avoided because they're too difficult to quantify. You can say we take a more holistic or inclusive approach to people's decision-making process. (More)
Report: Less income inequality here than in New York
(The Virginian-Pilot, October 8, 2012)
The next time you get waylaid by a Northeastern snob, tell him what James Koch told hundreds of folks at a breakfast meeting in downtown Norfolk last week:
"The average person in Hampton Roads is much better off than the average person in New York City."
Koch, a professor of economics and former president of Old Dominion University, was outlining the highlights of the fact-packed 13th annual State of the Region report. The study, released by ODU, covers such wide-ranging topics as the area's ever-so-slow economic recovery (illustrated in the report by a photo of a turtle) and the growth in the local home-schooling movement.
Another topic: "income inequality" throughout the region. There, the report offered mixed news.
"New York has considerably more inequality than we do," Koch, the editor of the report, said in an interview Thursday, "but, on the other hand, it is growing dramatically in our region."
Income is more evenly distributed throughout the region than it is in New York or nationwide, the report said. "We don't have as many lows or as many big highs," Koch had said two days earlier at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott in a program sponsored by LEAD Hampton Roads, an initiative of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. (More)
Regenerative medicine could be 'next big thing' for Va. biotech
(Richmond Times-Dispatch, October 8, 2012)
Regenerative medicine, a field that didn't exist 20 years ago and contains techniques seemingly straight out of science fiction, could be the next big thing in Virginia's biotechnology sector.
That's the opinion of Roy Ogle, an expert in the field who works at Old Dominion University as head of its new school of Medical Diagnostic and Translational Sciences.
So what is regenerative medicine? Simply put, it's the process of re-growing human cells to repair damaged tissues and organs.
In a meeting Thursday hosted by the Virginia Biotechnology Association, Ogle and Brian Pollok, principal of Rapidan BioAdvisors, discussed one of the field's newest developments: induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs.
Let's go back to high school biology: Perhaps you remember embryonic stem cells. These cells can differentiate into different types of cells - skin, blood, bone, muscle - before a baby is born. But their use in scientific research has become controversial and difficult.
So scientists needed a new way to develop stem cells. iPSCs are already formatted cells that are "induced," or returned, to their original state as a stem cell. Then that stem cell can be reprogrammed to become a different type of cell. For example, a researcher can take a red blood cell, turn it into an iPSC, and then turn that into a muscle cell. (Yeah, our jaw dropped at this point, too). So you get most of the benefits of an embryonic stem cell without the controversy. (More)
Prescriptions we need to fill
(Opinion, The Virginian-Pilot, October 7, 2012)
Jim Koch isn't that kind of doctor. Still, the lack of an M.D. hasn't stopped him from being the keenest diagnostician of the region's ailments.
For 13 Octobers now, the former Old Dominion University president has produced an annual State of the Region report, a shiny collection of that year's most interesting conclusions of who we are, what we want and what's keeping us from getting it.
Several hundred people showed up at the Norfolk Marriott before 8 a.m. last week to hear the good economist (his doctorate comes in the form of a Ph.D. in economics from Northwestern) provide the highlights from this year's report.
Think about that. Hundreds upon hundreds of people crowding probably the biggest conference room in the city, paying real money to listen to an economist talk about - well - anything.
That's how crucial Koch's work has become to our sense of identity and purpose, to our policy and practices. It's how completely the soft-spoken, rail-thin Montana man has captured Hampton Roads, both as a place and as a people. And it's how good he is at explaining it all.
By now you've read the headlines from the 2012 report: The local economy is slowly recovering, attorneys are in trouble, homeschooling is huge. Oh, and pending defense cuts could spin this region into a horrendous recession. Maybe even a localized depression.
The report is much deeper than the headlines, of course. (More)
Battleship offering haunted tours
(WAVY-TV, October 2, 2012)
Do you believe in ghosts? After spending the night on the Battleship Wisconsin, a group of Old Dominion University Ghost Hunters say they have proof they exist.
The team says video evidence suggests something is making a racket on board the ship docked in Norfolk. Could you be the legendary ghost of a crew member who died aboard the Wisconsin in 1951? You can decide for yourself.
Just in time for Halloween, Nauticus is offering a first-of-its-kind haunted experience. Follow the ODU team's path into areas of the Wisconsin never before opened to the general public.
October 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28
Doors open at 6 p.m. Tours begin at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets cost $15 ($10 for members) (More)