Feb 24 • 11M

February 24, 2022: Virginia legislators condemn Russian invasion of Ukraine

Plus: The Jefferson Madison-Regional Library teams up with the NAACP to offer a paid internship

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Sean Tubbs
Regular updates of what's happening in local and regional government in and around Charlottesville, Virginia from an award-winning journalist with nearly thirty years of experience.
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No European nation has attacked another for decades but as I write this, Russian forces have spent much of the past 18 hours been advancing on multiple sites across Ukraine, a country on the Black Sea just to the south of Russia. In the days to come, the shockwaves will reach every part of the globe in ways we do not yet know. This is a pivotal day and it will affect the region covered by Charlottesville Community Engagement. I’m your host Sean Tubbs. 

On today’s program:
  • Responses to the invasion from Virginia’s elected officials as well as President Biden

  • Jefferson Madison Regional Library and the Charlottesville Albemarle NAACP are teaming up with a paid internship program, and the Community Read kicks off this week

  • Unemployment claims are down sharply since this time last year 

  • The Center for Politics to hold a panel discussion on Ukraine tomorrow

Shout-out to supporters of Town Crier Productions

In today’s shout-out, a shout-out to the shouters-of out! I want to thank all of the individuals and entities that have supported this newsletter and podcast through a $25 a month Patreon contribution or through some other combination of support. Thanks to the Charlottesville Jazz Society, Code for Charlottesville, LEAP, the Rivanna Conservation Alliance, Lonnie Murray and his penchant for native plants, WTJU, the Albemarle-Charlottesville Historical Society, James Madison Regional Library, the Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards, Cville 350, Piedmont Master Gardeners, and of course, the Valley Research Center. Learn more at Information Charlottesville.

Invasion update

Local and regional government continues today with several meetings about land use and transportation. I’m recording all of them, as decisions made at the local level are crucial.

But I’ve spent today trying to learn more about what is happening in Ukraine, where Russian forces have attacked multiple places. President Joe Biden addressed the nation this afternoon. (watch the briefing)

“The Russian military has begun a brutal assault on the people of Ukraine without provocation, without justification, without necessity,” Biden said. “This is a premeditated attack.” 

Biden said in the day and weeks and months leading up to last night, over 175,000 troops were mobilized on Ukraine’s border based on propaganda and mistruths.

“And at the very moment that the United Nations Security Council was meeting to stand up for Ukrainian sovereignty to stave off invasion, Putin declared his war,” Biden said. “Within moments, moments, missile strikes began to fall on historic cities across Ukraine.”

At his briefing, Biden announced new sanctions separate from ones being considered by member states of the European Union, but that the United States is not acting alone. 

“For months we’ve been building a coalition of partners representing well more than half of the global economy,” Biden said. “Twenty-seven members of the European Union including France, Germany, Italy as well as the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and many others, to amplify the joint impact of our response.” 

To follow that response, there are many other sources. Here are some that I’ve been following today:

This is a newsletter about the Charlottesville region as well as Virginia. 

Governor Glenn Youngkin issued a statement via Twitter condemning the invasion 

“Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is an assault on a sovereign nation and will have devastating consequences for Ukrainian citizens,” Youngkin wrote. “This senseless, unprovoked attack undermines democracy worldwide and we must hold Russia accountable. And we pray for the Ukrainian people and for peace.”

In January, Senator Tim Kaine was one of many co-sponsors of the Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act of 2022 which is intended to place sanctions on Russian financial assets. 

“America’s commitment to Ukraine is absolute and has the steadfast, bipartisan support of Congress,” Kaine wrote in a release today. “Make no mistake: Russia’s aggression will continue to have significant consequences, including through additional crippling economic sanctions.”

Senator Mark Warner is the chair of the Senate Intelligence Chair and he told Axios that he’s concerned about the role cyberattacks may play in the coming days. 

Fifth District Congressman Bob Good also condemned the invasion, but also took aim at President Biden. 

“We have a president who claimed with great bravado on the campaign trail that Putin feared a Biden presidency,” Good wrote in a subtweet. “Now it is clear to everyone, perhaps even to the President Biden, that Putin does not fear or respond to him.” 

Seventh District Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger has called for unity in fighting what she called Putin’s war.

“In the hours and days ahead, he must feel the sting of unprecedented sanctions from the United States and our partners around the world,” Spanberger said. 

In his comments, Biden pointed out that world markets have turned against Russia in these early days of an uncertain war. 

“We’ve already seen the impact of our actions on Russia’s currency, the rouble, which earlier today hit its weakest level ever, ever in history,” Biden said. “The Russian stock market plunged today.” 

The next installment of Charlottesville Community Engagement will get back to the usual topics. 

Center for Politics to hold panel discussion on invasion 

Tomorrow at 3 p.m., The Center for Politics at the University of Virginia will convene a panel discussion of experts on Eastern Europe to provide background for what’s happening in Ukraine.  (register)

The program will be conducted in partnership with the UVA Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies and the UVA European Studies Program. The title is “Crisis in Europe: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine.” Here are some of the questions the program seeks to cover:

“What does Putin want? Are Russia’s grievances with NATO and the U.S. legitimate? How should Ukraine respond? How does this affect the United States and the rest of the world? How should President Biden react?”

The program is free but you must register with EventBrite to gain access. The moderator is Chris Krebs, a Resident Scholar at Center for Politics who is the former director of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. 

Panelists are: 

  • Dr. Alina Polyakova, President and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA)

  • Professor Jeff Rossman, Director of the UVA Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies 

Unemployment filings at pre-pandemic levels in Virginia

It’s been nearly two years since the early days of the pandemic shut many sectors of the economy down completely. Today the Virginia Employment Commission released data for the week ending February 19 and 1,610 people filed new claims, a decrease of 363 over the previous week. 

“Over half of initial claims that had a self-reported industry were in administrative and waste services, health care and social assistance, retail trade, professional and technical services, and manufacturing,” reads the press release

The total number of claims was 7,258, and included a category called “continued claims” which refers to people who have continued to file for unemployment insurance during the pandemic. 

A year ago, the number of continued claims was 64,575, making this an 89 percent decrease over last year.

JMRL and NAACP team up to offer paid internship

The Jefferson Madison Regional Library and the Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP are teaming up to offer a paid internship for local Black students to encourage them to consider library work as a profession. Students are asked to write a 300-word essay on literacy and education as well as academic information. The deadline to apply is April 15, 2022. 

“The program offers 200 annual hours of library work experience and a stipend of $3,000,” reads a press release. “In addition, Interns are eligible for an annual scholarship of $2,000 to be used toward completion of an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Master’s degree.”

Electronic copies must include the subject “NAACP/JMRL Program” and be submitted to director@jmrl.org. Paper copies may be submitted to Library Director, Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, 201 East Market Street, Charlottesville, VA 22902. 

The funding comes from a grant from the Friends of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library.

On Sunday between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library will kick off the Community Read on the steps of the Central Library’s front porch. This year’s book is We Are Not Free by Traci Chee, and free copies will be available at that time. 

“A National Book Award finalist for young people's literature, We Are Not Free (2020) is the collective account of a tight-knit group of young Nisei, second-generation Japanese American citizens, whose lives are irrevocably changed by the mass U.S. incarcerations of World War II,” reads a listing on JMRL’s Same Page website. 

There will be take-and-make craft activities, BINGO with prizes from the One Small Step program uput on by StoryCorps and the UVA Democracy Initiative. For more information, visit https://jmrl.org/samepage