News in review

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Tuesday, April 4
Getaway-seeking Yankees set to converge on state
If, over the course of the season, you see a bunch of cars bearing New York license plates clogging our lovely highways and byways, blame the New York Post. Today the histrionic tab-loid featured Charlottesville (and other Virginia destinations) for history- and wine-seeking travelers. Chief among Charlottesville-area attractions? Barboursville Vineyards.

All the little ants are shopping
E! Online reports that Dave Matthews Band put its entire catalog online today after making a deal to sell its music through the iTunes store. Meanwhile, the band is in town laying down tracks for their next album, a repeat venture with producer Mark Batson (who made everybody feel good again with his work on last year’s Stand Up). As Matthews told Rolling Stone, there’s no deadline for the new record: “We’re just sitting in a room, making noises, then we’ll see what fuckin’ happens.”

 

Wednesday, April 5
George Allen urges discredited soldier’s promotion
Writing to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on behalf of a discredited Army officer, Virginia Senator George Allen urged him to promote Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin and appoint him to be the new head of the Army’s Special Operations command. That move could be seen as Allen’s overt appeal to the conservative Christian flank of the Republican Party, according to analysis in today’s Virginian-Pilot. Boykin has been on the down-low for a couple of years after comments he made about a Somali warlord were interpreted as anti-Muslim. Reportedly, Boykin told a church congregation in 2004 that, apropos the warlord, “I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.” Allen may be among the small group of Boykin supporters, but he’s getting no assistance from the senior Senator from Virginia, John Warner, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee. Boykin “would not be among those whom I would recommend for this position,” Warner said in a statement.

 

Thursday, April 6
Film festival comes to Jesus

As it wanders out of the desert of its adolescence, like so many before it, the Virginia Film Festival (now entering its 19th year) has found the Lord. That, more or less, was today’s an-nouncement from VFF Director Richard Herskowitz. The official theme for the four-day October event: “Revelations: Finding God at the Movies.” The films will address “the growing tension between secular and religious cultures worldwide,” Herskowitz said in a news release. In addition, for the first time in the festival’s history, organizers will invite the public’s sug-gestions for programming. Visit vafilm.blogspot.com if you simply must testify your love for Jesus Christ Superstar.

 

Friday, April 7
With friends like these…

The Get-to-Know-Mark-Warner-The-Best-Alternative-to-Hillary campaign continues. First The New York Times Sunday Magazine splashed him, rather unflatteringly, across its cover. Now The Atlantic Online, in its May issue, dubs him “The Man with the Golden Phone.” The headline refers to the former governor’s 10-year ascent to the Millionaire’s Club during the infancy of the cell phone industry. Through sheer pushiness, he became a leading broker of cellular licenses, according to reporter Paul Starobin. Charlottesville venture capitalist James Murray, a onetime Warner business partner, describes him thus: “Mark has a way of being almost offensive in insisting on what people ought to do. He can intimidate, badger, cajole, whine—whatever is necessary to get the buyer to buy and the seller to sell.”

 

Saturday, April 8
More nurses means more space

WCAV reports on today’s groundbreaking ceremony for the new education building at UVA’s School of Nursing. The $20 million project will accommodate the 25 percent increase in en-rollment that Dean Jeanette Lancaster expects by 2008.

 

Sunday, April 9
Mild temperatures portend bad summer fortunes

The hundreds of families enjoying local parks and fields today, with temperatures rising into the 60s, no doubt kept the ominous implications of all this nice spring weather far from their minds. Despite power-disrupting thunderstorms intermittently on Friday and Saturday, the area remains extremely dry. Normal precipitation to date should be close to 12"; so far, we’ve only seen 5.31" of rain. If this keeps up, veterans of the 2002 drought know where we’re headed: baby-wipe “showers,” dirty cars and fine dining on Chinette.

 

Monday, April 10
City Council “cabal” decoded

In today’s “Letters” section of The Daily Progress, former City Councilor Kay Slaughter takes a not-so-subtle shot at incumbent Republican Rob Schilling, who is seeking re-election May 2. Last month Schilling used the word “cabal” to characterize another Councilor’s budget discussions with the City manager, raising hackles and spawning plenty of derision directed at Schilling. Slaughter says today, “A City Council member must spend many hours outside of the public process looking at the details of departmental expenditures… In our form of repre-sentative government, we elect Council to undertake these detailed tasks. Yet the information is available to anyone in the public who wants a closer look.” Slaughter ends her letter with a predictable endorsement for the Democratic City Council ticket: Dave Norris and Julian Taliaferro.

 

Aching to build?
DEVELOPER BUYS LARGE TRACT OF LAND FROM UVA
Charles Hurt has no plans for Viewmont Farm …

yet In 2001, billionaire John Kluge gave UVA just what it needed: more land. The present of 7,379 acres, valued at more than $45 million, encompassed 10 separate properties scattered along Route 20S all the way to Scottsville. The core property, Morven Farm, was intended to be kept by UVA and used for educational purposes; the rest of the land could be sold off.
In early February, UVA finally unloaded the last of the properties their generous benefactor had earmarked for sale when it sold Viewmont Farm, a 787-acre property located on Route 20S halfway between Charlottesville and Scottsville, to local heavyweight developer Charles Hurt, of the Virginia Land Company, for $7,375,000. This brings the total sum UVA has gotten from the Kluge properties to $26,670,000.
Viewmont, however, is not the sort of property one imagines Hurt would want among his holdings, because the current development possibilities are limited. According to an agreement between UVA and the owner of the adjoining property, Feather Ridge, the 180 acres of Viewmont within view of Feather Ridge cannot be developed, and an additional 600 of Viewmont’s acres can only be divided into four 150-acre lots. The difference, 66 acres, is the only acreage currently open to development without restriction.
There is, however, one intriguing aspect to the current agreement: It’s what’s known as a “restricted convenant,” so the deed restriction could be lifted by whoever owns the adjoining property at anytime; what’s on the books is in no way a permanent restriction.
Does Dr. Hurt know something the rest of us don’t? He could not be reached for comment by press time. According to Albemarle County, no plans have been submitted for the property, yet. However, Viewmont is certainly a parcel to watch.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Look both ways
COUNCIL APPROVES CAR CROSSING ON MALL
One-year study will determine effect on businesses

City Council has voted to open the Downtown Mall’s Fourth Street to southbound car traffic, a move that has some vendors delighted and others concerned about more cars on the Mall.
The opening is in conjunction with a study to determine if the crossing helps traffic flow between Market and Water street parking garages. A survey will try to see if east-end vendors enjoy increased business, which they’ve complained has been suffering since the closing of East Sixth and Seventh streets due to construction on Presidents’ Plaza.
Some vendors see the crossing as a dream come true: “I think it’s wonderful,” says Joan Fenton, owner of two Mall stores and co-chair of the Downtown Business Association. “I think it definitely will be a positive effect for the whole Mall.”
But other vendors aren’t so sure. Jon Bright, owner of the Spectacle Shop, says he is not “for or against” crossing the Mall, but he’d like to see traffic changes that are “all part of a grander scheme.” Opening Fourth Street “doesn’t seem like it’s part of an overall plan,” he says. The crossing will be opened May 1, once traffic is rerouted.—Meg McEvoy

 

Traffic talk
HILLSDALE COULD SPUR NEW BUILDING
Rotgin contemplates redevelopment in Seminole Square

With the goal of reducing traffic along the Route 29 corridor, the Hillsdale Drive Extension has been in the works for five years as a one-mile addition that will connect Greenbrier Drive to Hydrau-lic Road. The recommended route will take the road from Pepsi Place through Seminole Square Shopping Center and along Zan Road, before slicing through the Regal Cinema 4 parking lot and connecting with Hydraulic Road. With the alignment now agreed upon, the design phase of the road and landscaping can begin.
Planners expect 8,000 cars to use the two-lane, low-speed road each day. One planner, Darin Simpson, the First Cities program manager for Charlottesville, says, “It will help the rede-velopment of Seminole Square and offer something complementary to Albemarle Place.” (First Cities is an advocacy coalition of 15 of Virginia’s oldest cities.) Albemarle Place is the up-scale retail complex planned for the intersection of Hydraulic Road and Route 29. Charles Rotgin of Great Eastern Management Company owns Seminole Square, the shopping center currently anchored by Giant, and he says that when the road is finished in 2010, it could create opportunities for redevelopment within Seminole Square.
This probably isn’t good news for the nearby Senior Center, which has long opposed the Hillsdale Extension because of concerns about traffic and safety. “With a booming senior popu-lation, safety has to be the paramount concern,” says Senior Center director Peter Thompson. According to Thompson, drivers are already speeding through the residential areas and running stop signs. “We are working with the City and State to enhance lighting, crosswalks and sidewalks, all presently inadequate in the neighborhood,” he says.—Jay Neelley

Another lost bypass
SUPES DISMISS PARKWAY
Road backer Van Yahres is bummed

In what seems to be a death knell for the proposed Ruckersville Parkway, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted unanimously on Wednesday, April 5, to remove it from the transportation options being considered for the Route 29N corridor under the Places29 Master Plan.
Originally proposed by Bern Ewert, the former Deputy City Manager who is now running for the Democratic nomination for the Fifth District Congressional seat, the two-lane, truck-free, 35-mph parkway would begin at the new North Grounds connector on the 250 Bypass and end in Green County, just north of Ruckersville. With a price tag in excess of $150 million, Super-visor Dennis Rooker, who represents Albemarle on the Metropolitan Planning Organization, says “no way” to the proposed road.
“The reality is, it just isn’t going to happen,” Rooker says. “I don’t even think the BOS has ever had a presentation on it. This project would never qualify for federal funds, and the County gets just $3.5 million a year in secondary road funds.”
Mitch Van Yahres, Charlottesville’s former State Delegate and another proponent of the parkway, says he’s disappointed that the Supes aren’t interested. Considering Albemarle’s widespread opposition to a similar road, the now-dead Western Bypass, maybe there are more reasons than just money for the board to steer clear of the road.—Esther Brown

High-tech home
LOVE ME, BUILD ME, CHAPTER 5
Another empty building fulfilled Town Center One in the UVA Research Park

Address: 1000 Research Park Blvd.
Area: About 18,000 square feet
Empty since: 2001
Owner: UVA Foundation Real Estate Foundation
Price: Full-service lease for $19.25 per square foot

The status: UVA built Town Center One in September 2000 for Qual Choice, an insurance company now called Southern Health. When Southern Health downsized two years ago, it va-cated 30,000 square feet, and new high-profile tenants, such as TIAA-Cref, Northrop Grumman IT and Angle Technology, moved in to some of the space. The space is now completely filled, with PRA International, Batelle Memorial and Athena Innovative Solutions joining the mix.

 

Motor skills
COUNTY COPS GET SOME DRIVER ED
Brushing up at the new Shenandoah Speedway

I’m speeding backwards in the passenger seat of a Dodge Intrepid, weaving in and out of orange cones at 25 miles per hour. My weight is thrown right! Left! Right! Left! My stomach feels a little queasy. When driving instructor Todd Lytton finally pulls out of the “Backwards Slalom” course, I get out of the car with a crick in my neck and wobbly legs. The police officers gath-ered nearby laugh, since it was just 10 minutes earlier that I’d cavalierly jumped in the vehicle saying, “Me? Seasick prone? Pshaw.”
For the first time in three years, the Albemarle Police Department recently began a driver training course to make sure officers are up to date with the latest tricks of the highway. Every Wednesday for 10 weeks officers will spend a day at the track, located at the shiny new Shenandoah Speedway near Elkton, channeling Dale Earnhardt Jr. Well, maybe not Dale—in reality, the driving is way more stop-and-go than the Daytona 500. The morning session is spent on three courses that test skills such as backing up, maneuvering in tight quarters and making three-point turns. The second half of the day is spent concentrating on swerving and lane changes at higher speeds, simulating, for example, the effect of a deer darting into the road.
“Probably the most important thing we try to stress is normal, everyday driving,” says Lt. James Bond, who is in charge of the program. “In a sense [police officers] are professional drivers. They could be driving eight to 12 hours a day and encounter many unusual situations [throughout the course of] each day.”—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Taking it to court
UVA PATENT FOUNDATION SUES NASCENT PHARMACEUTICALS
Tiff over unpaid patenting costs leads to $100,000 suit

Things are never pretty when the bills don’t get paid. And things are sure getting ugly between the UVA Patent Foundation and Nascent Pharmaceuticals. A suit recently filed in Albemarle County Circuit Court by the Patent Foundation claims that the Chapel Hill-based pharmaceutical company owes UVA nearly $100,000 in unpaid patent costs.
According to court documents, in June 2001 the Patent Foundation granted Nascent exclusive rights to certain patents assigned to a number of its products. The patents were Nascent’s to use and develop—provided the company covered patent costs both prior to and after the date the rights were granted. In the suit, UVA alleges that Nascent never paid them anything, and that by September 2003 Nascent had an outstanding debt to the tune of $67,400.
At this point, UVA and Nascent agreed on a two-year grace period to give Nascent more time to secure financing for the projects. However, when that two years was up, Nascent terminated the license agreement and, UVA alleges, still did not settle their debt. Thus, the Foundation has taken Nascent to court to recover those outstanding monies, plus interest, bringing the amount owed to nearly $100,000.
“I have no evidence that a suit has been filed,” says Nascent Chief Executive Officer Clive Reading, sounding surprised by the news. “It certainly has not been served…and I cer-tainly don’t have any comment. I need to see what they’ve actually sent me. Once I’ve seen that I’ll have to address it.”
The Director of the Patent Foundation was out of town at press time and could not be reached for comment.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

“’Cuz I’m the prez, dat’s why”
PROF DEFENDS BUSH WIRETAPS
Chief exec limited only by his sense of “prudence”

The water just keeps getting hotter for President Bush these days. While critics contend the president has overstepped his bounds with unauthorized wiretaps on U.S. citizens, UVA law professor Robert F. Turner says history tells us Dubya can do just about anything he wants when it comes to national security. Turner is co-founder of the Center for National Security Law at UVA, and he recently testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary in a hearing on “Wartime Executive Power.” An edited transcript of his interview with C-VILLE fol-lows.—Catherine English

C-VILLE: Do you think President Bush broke the law in this surveillance issue?
Robert Turner: The answer is “no” because the supreme law is the Constitution. I’m not prepared to say [the president] has violated the language of FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act). FISA cannot take away independent presidential power. Every court to consider it has said that the president has a statute to do this [wiretapping.] It is an impeachable offense for the president not to have done this.
Does Congress have the ability to limit the president’s surveillance power? We have to have a general who is empowered. [Quoting John Jay] “There are cases where the most useful intelligence may be obtained, if the persons possessing it can be relieved from apprehensions of discovery. [The president] will be able to manage the business of intelligence in such manner as prudence may suggest.”
How can we be sure that the only people being monitored are terrorist threats? Can we trust the government?
There are hundreds of people involved in the National Security Agency. If something really evil were going on here, somebody would be blowing the whistle on it.

 

No child’s play
13-YEAR-OLDS FOUND GUILTY IN BOMB PLOT
Ruling on motion releases limited information

Following a closed hearing on Wednesday, April 5, a clerk confirmed that two 13-year-olds charged with plotting to blow up area high schools have been convicted. The 13-year-olds were tried along with a 15-year-old—who was also found guilty in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court; the outcome for the 15-year-old became public a week earlier, when the trial had ended. A 16-year-old also charged pleaded guilty from the outset.
Because the trial for the two 13-year-olds and the 15-year-old had been closed, prosecutors and defense attorneys were initially under the impression that talking publicly about the case was off limits entirely. No one was saying whether the teens had been convicted, or even if the case had ended.
The lack of information fueled an uproar among parents, teachers and students wondering how safe they could—or should—feel in the County schools. In response, Albemarle Common-wealth’s Attorney Jim Camblos filed a motion with the court to find out precisely what information was allowed to be released. Camblos would not comment on Wednesday’s ruling, other than to refer this reporter to the court for information.
The 16-year-old’s sentencing hearing was also scheduled for April 5. However, his defense attorney, Llezelle Dugger, asked to postpone the hearing in order to have more time to look into treatment options. His sentencing was rescheduled for April 19. He faces detention until he turns 21.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Chased down
COUNTY POLICE ARREST MAN CHARGED WITH SODOMIZING 13-YEAR-OLD GIRL
Suspect attempted to flee, first in car, then on foot

On Saturday, April 8, after a car chase that ended at a farm on Hansens Mountain Road with the suspect abandoning his vehicle and trying to flee on foot, County cops (with a little help from their K-9 companions) arrested Albemarle resident Joseph Osborne on charges of breaking and entering, forcible sodomy and assault and battery. According to the County, the po-lice had responded to a call for a sexual assault on Ridgeway Lane, east of Pantops. Osborne allegedly broke into the house and sodomized the 13-year-old victim. The girl described her attacker in detail, and police used this information to identify the suspect, who they believed they saw fleeing the scene in a red Honda. A chase ensued, ending with Osborne’s apprehen-sion. He is currently being held at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional jail without bond.—Nell Boeschenstein

Raising the bar
BOV SEEKS TO RAISE RANK
Board seems ambivalent about “playing the game”

Over the next few years, UVA’s Board of Visitors intends to sink more money into improving the school’s rank on lists that rate colleges, such as the annual posting by U.S. News and World Report.
Though most college experts caution prospective students to ignore these flawed lists, the Board of Visitors acknowledged at its regular meeting last week that a high rank is good ad-vertising. UVA isn’t doing well, said Ariel Gomez, UVA’s Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies. “Some say the rankings are imperfect,” Gomez told the BOV. “But they are here to stay. So how can we influence the rankings?”
The short answer is money. Gomez says the key to higher rankings is hiring and retaining professors who win big awards or write research papers that get cited by other scientists. Specifically, Gomez says UVA should try to identify those departments likely to be highly ranked, then throw money into new buildings and better faculty for them. In general, Gomez says UVA should “foster a culture of high-impact research publication.” Publish or perish, indeed.
The Board is particularly keen on raising UVA’s profile on a list called the “World University Rankings,” which emphasizes the quality of a school’s faculty and research. UVA would like to climb into the Top 50, but it’s currently listed somewhere between 100 and 152.
Aerospace engineering professor Houston Wood, chair of UVA’s Faculty Senate, says some professors—particularly those in the humanities—worry that their departments will dwindle as the Board puts more money into science and research. “That’s not the Board’s intent,” says Wood. “I have confidence that this Board understands that it can’t be a zero-sum game. To do this requires more resources.”—John Borgmeyer

 

Talking points
MCDONOUGH’S LAUGH LINES
King of the green scene preaches to his choir

Bill McDonough, the former dean of UVA’s architecture school and the man who made “green design” palatable to the likes of Ford and Nike, pulled out his PowerPoint presenta-tion and addressed students at the A-School last week. Aside from a tacky comparison between a 1928 Mies van der Rohe design and “a gas chamber,” it was easy to see how this,
his standard speech, has launched a thousand fawning articles (garnering its presenter, and his cause, international acclaim in the process). McDonough’s refrain on Thursday, April 6, was “We need a new design.” As he made his way through descriptions of his various projects, chemical formulas and catchy catch phrases (e.g. “Waste is food” or “Being less bad is not being good”), he interspersed theory with sound bites that drew impressed murmurs, and occasional laughter, from the audience. Here are just a few of the zingers that had the audience eating out of McDonough’s hand.
– “Eighty percent of what goes through a Wal-Mart ends up in a landfill or incinerator within two months.”
– “With global warming, the oceans could rise as much as 20 feet by the year 3000. Say goodbye to Florida!”
– “It took us 5,000 years to put wheels on our luggage. We’re not that smart.”
– “Who’s rebuilding New Orleans? We aren’t raising taxes. We’re selling debt. Who’s buying the debt? China.”
– “People ask me why I’m working with Ford and Nike. Who am I supposed to be working with?”—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Lawn chairs
LAWN UNDERGRADS CHOSEN
Rooms so selective, they’re harder to buy than the presidency

In a tradition nearly as old as UVA itself, a new class of the best and brightest students have received their Lawn acceptance letters. This mean now they really know they’re better than their fellow students.
We can only speculate as to what great heights the 2006-07 Lawnies will reach after they’ve taken their last bathrobe-clad walk down the Colonnade walkways of the Academical Vil-lage. But we do know that they will be walking a path taken by many notable names.
The most dominating athlete in the history of UVA, Ralph Sampson, lived briefly at #6 East Lawn. Having grown nervous after receiving countless calls, guests and uninvited knocks at the door (UVA co-ed #459: “Hey Ralph, I heard you really work it in the low post.”), Ralph moved out.
“Today Show” anchorwoman Katie Couric was head resident of the Lawn in 1978-79, although her producer at “Today,” Tom Touchet (a 1988 graduate) was not a Lawn-dweller. Forced to work for an inferior classmate, it’s no wonder Couric is jumping ship for the “CBS Evening News.”
Edgar Allan Poe spent 10 months at UVA in 1826. He originally lived on the West Lawn but moved to the West Range, known as “Rowdy Row,” where his gambling debt forced him to leave school. The jury is still out on whether Poe picked up the opium habit on the Lawn or the Range.
Another media star, political pundit
Larry Sabato, lived at #16 East Lawn in 1973-74, but the announcement was anti-climactic, as Sabato had predicted the achievement 12 months prior with his first-ever “Crystal Ball.”
The Lawn’s list of notables could go on for pages, and includes high-ranking figures in politics, medicine and the arts. One notable alum who did not make the cut: Marvin Bush. It goes to show how seriously UVA takes its Lawn selections when George H.W. can buy Junior the presidency, but the other other son can’t even get a drafty room with no shower.—Steven Schiff

 

Other people’s money
STUDENT INVESTMENT CLUB RETURNS 34 PERCENT
Four-page memos put Wall Street pros to shame

While most college students watching Fast Times at Ridgemont High probably pick up a few zingers (“People on ‘ludes should not drive”), UVA junior Michael Vellucci apparently spent his time snagging investment ideas from the iconic teen flick instead. Vellucci is president of UVA’s McIntire Investment Institute (MII) and his push to add to the club’s 17-stock portfolio the kind of company that Jeff Spicoli would dig helped MII post incredible gains last year. With a portfolio currently valued at $521,000, MII beat the market by a mile in 2005, with returns of 34.2 percent, compared to 3 percent for the Standard & Poor’s index and even less for the Dow Jones and the NASDAQ.
Vellucci’s choice stock? Volcom, a company that makes surfer clothes. MII, with nearly 60 members and nine fund managers, took a 5 percent position in Volcom at $26. It crested at $40 per share before settling back to $35. Dude!
That performance was typical for MII. The fund managers are feeling so flush they’re even going to donate $75,000 back to UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce this year.
How do a bunch of college students pull off the kind of investment success that eludes professionals on Wall Street? “Value-added research,” says Eric Weiss, who was MII president last year. “It’s going beyond reading [investor reports] and coming up with something creative.” To research Intuitive Surgical Robotics, for instance, Weiss called a couple of UVA surgeons to take their pulse on one of the company’s devices. When they raved, he presented his four-page research to MII. The club bought in at just over $26; recently shares have traded at $117.
Not that MII has an unfailing Midas touch. The club shorted Netflix (that is, they borrowed shares, which they then sold, with the expectation that the price would drop and they’d make a pile on the company’s declining value), only to watch the company’s stock skyrocket. Though that didn’t work out, Vellucci and Weiss are still sold on MII’s basic philosophy. “When we invest we’re buying the company, not the stock,” Vellucci says.—Cathy Harding

The walls have eyes
CHS TO GET 40 SECURITY CAMERAS
Cameras catch, but may not deter, bad behavior

Charlottesville High School teachers and administrators will have a set of fresh eyes to help monitor the campus next year; specifically, 40 security cameras. This is the first comprehen-sive camera surveillance system in City schools, but it may not be the last. Nationwide, cameras in schools are the latest attempt to curb violence, although there’s no conclusive evidence they actually deter incidents in school.
About 30 percent of all schools have at least one camera, says Dennis White, a research associate and planning analyst at George Washington University’s Hamilton Fish Institute on School and Community Violence. White says that, while he regularly fields questions about cameras’ effectiveness in deterring incidents, there is little far-reaching information available, and it frustrates him. “It would be fairly straightforward for the Education Department to include this [question] as a part of their regular surveying,” White says.
Despite the lack of information, last month the Charlottesville School Board approved Acting Superintendent Bobby Thompson’s request to spend $70,000 on the devices, which will re-cord activity in hallways, courtyards and the cafeteria. The expenditure may prove unnecessary, however, as states can use grant money from the federal No Child Left Behind Act to buy surveillance cameras, as well as to buy and install other security devices, such as metal detectors and electronic locks.
Lou Bograd was the lone dissenting vote on the School Board. The former civil liberties lawyers says he comes at the issue as a “civil libertarian,” and that he’s concerned about the es-calation of security measures, especially since CHS was already subject earlier this year to searches by drug-sniffing dogs. Another important factor, he notes, is the effect on school cul-ture.
“One of the things we all say we want to accomplish in our schools is to create a culture of trust and respect, in order to create an environment in which discipline is significantly less of a problem,” Bograd says. “Security cameras in the high school is inconsistent with that goal.”
Moreover, there’s not much reason to think that security cameras will deter the kinds of aggressive behavior seen in some City schools this year. “What’s confusing to me,” Bograd says, “is that the problems that have gotten the attention this year—which have involved some increase in fighting and disrespectful behavior toward teachers and administrators—are precisely not the sort of things that will be addressed by security cameras. They’re the kind of thing that take place in plain view, right in front of teachers.”—Esther Brown, with additional reporting by Will Goldsmith

 

Moral dilemma
COUNCIL WRESTLES WITH BUDGET ETHICS
Should the City pay for nursing homes?

Budget debates usually include a lot of talk about running government like a business. Budget numbers are more than just business deals, though—the figures reflect the community’s values.
City Council confronted the ethical nature of budget deliberations on Monday, April 3, as they discussed how to whittle down a $121 million budget. Federal and State agencies have usually assumed most of the burden of caring for the poor and elderly, but years’ worth of cuts in those areas have left many city governments with an dilemma that crystallized last week in Council Chambers: Residents from Mountainside, a Crozet nursing home run by the Jefferson Area Board for Aging, pleaded to Council to add $25,000 in funding to the Council’s FY07 budget.
Four years ago JABA took over the facility and asked the City to kick in $150,000, in one-time funds. The City recognized the value of Mountainside’s work and wrote the check. But now the nursing home is asking for more in an effort to keep residents who have no money and nowhere to go.
Councilor Rob Shilling questioned what motivated the City to deny Mountainside’s request, yet grant $25,000 to the Charlottesville Community Design Center, a self-styled liaison between architects, developers and the public. Shilling’s view: The moral core of the budget rests in distinguishing between wants (CCDC) and needs (caring for the old and sick when they need it). In the end, the Council passed a resolution giving Mountainside the $25,000 from the Council Reserve Fund, with the stipulation that Mountainside submit quarterly re-ports to Council (an obligation which Mountainside failed to meet previously).
Councilor Kevin Lynch was alone in voting against the Mountainside proposal, cautioning Council that taking on State responsibilities sets a perilous precedent. Funding assisted-living programs is “just not a City responsibility,” said Lynch.—Amy Kniss

 

Money talks
PHILANTHROPY GROUP ANNOUNCES RECORD YEAR FOR 2005
Foundation filled in public gap, gave away $3 million

As the local government bitches about their budgets, it’s nice to hear that there’s someplace ‘round here where divvying up funds is a happy affair. When it comes to funding local non-profit social service and arts organizations, the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation picks up the slack where the City and County might flounder—by helping local rich people de-cide exactly where and how to allocate their community giving. The Foundation recently announced that in 2005 it gave away $3 million in grants; that amounts to 20 percent of the total funds it has given away in its 29-year history.
According to Kevin O’Halloran, director of donor relations for the CACF, the 2005 generosity was unusual…but not unusually so. He attributes the spike in part to residual tsunami giv-ing, as well as to the outpouring of donations that came in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. However, O’Halloran does say that regional giving has been on the rise for the past 10 years as more and more affluent people relocate to Charlottesville. By way of illustrating this point, he mentions that in 1995, CACF had $6 million in assets and made grants totaling $150,000. A decade of growth yielded $35 million in assets and six consecutive years of giving away $2 million. In other words, the CACF’s assets have grown by 480 percent in 10 years; grant giving has grown by 1,200 percent.
Looking ahead, “Will we make it to $2.5 million in 2006?” asks O’Halloran. Only time will tell.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Don’t be school bored
MEET YOUR SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATES
You asked for ’em, so go vote on May 2

Hey, Charlottesville! Ready to elect some School Board candidates? You better be: City voters overwhelmingly requested an elected school board in a referendum last November. The following six candidates submitted petitions with the requisite 125 signatures, and they’re asking for your vote on Election Day, May 2.
While we won’t go so far as to publicly endorse a candidate, we have to commend incumbent Ned Michie for being the only candidate with a sense of humor about his high school year book entry.—Will Goldsmith

Vance D. High
Age: 48
Occupation: Semi-retired (small business owner)
Previously applied to School Board? No
Lived in Charlottesville: UVA grad student, 1986-1991; moved back permanently in 1998
Campaign spending to date: $20
In your high school yearbook, you were: “Most Studious”
Top 3 things that are working in our schools:
1. Great orchestra program
2. Highly capable teachers
3. Highly capable principals
Top 3 things that need improvement:
1. Socio-economic disparity in the student population
2. Larger alternative school for those students who require special assistance (i.e. unruly and violent students, students needing special curriculum)
3. District policy to inform parents when their children’s grades slip

Leah W. Puryear
Age: 52
Occupation: Upward Bound director at UVA
Previously applied to School Board? 2004
Lived in Charlottesville: Since 1983
Campaign spending to date: $300
In your high school yearbook, you were: “Most Likely to Succeed”
Top 3 things that are working in our schools:
1. Fine Arts
2. Advanced Placement courses
3. Numbers of out-of-district students
Top 3 things that need improvement:
1. Achievement gap
2. Properly evaluating programs and personnel
3. Safety of everyone in our buildings

Juandiego R. Wade
Age: 40
Occupation: Transportation planner,
Albemarle County
Previously applied to School Board? No
Lived in Charlottesville: Since 1999
Campaign spending to date:
Approximately $300
In your high school yearbook, you were: “Most Likely to Succeed”
Top 3 things that are working in our schools:
1. Commitment and dedication of teachers and principals
2. Music and art
3. Engaged students
Top 3 things that need improvement:
1. Academic achievement for all students
2. Outreach to parents and community
3. Rewarding teacher initiative

Ned Michie
Age: 46
Occupation: Attorney
Previously applied to School Board? 2000; 2004, appointed to School Board
Lived in Charlottesville: Entire life (except college and law school)
Campaign spending to date: $21
In your high school yearbook, you were: “Most Likely to Be a Circus ‘Thin Man’”
Top 3 things that are working in our schools:
1. Staff members throughout the division
2. Average SAT score of 1,100 in 2005 (70 points above the state and national average)
3. Band, orchestra and fine arts
Top 3 things that need improvement:
1. The achievement level and graduation rate of a large number of struggling students (i.e. achievement gap)
2. Parental involvement
3. Need to adopt best practices, division-wide, for consistent proactive handling of behavioral issues, as well as improve and probably expand the alternative school

Sue Lewis
Age: 69
Occupation: Retired
Previously applied to School Board? 1986, then almost every year that there has been an appropriate opening since 1994
Lived in Charlottesville: 35 years total
Campaign spending to date: $44.14
In your high school yearbook, you were: “Witty and Clever”
Top 3 things that are working in our schools:
1. Fine arts programs
2. Programs and activities for high achievers
3. Preschool program
Top 3 things that need improvement:
1. Race relations
2. Disciplinary responses
3. Community relations and communications

Charlie Kollmansperger
Age: 38
Occupation: Owner, technology solutions business
Previously applied to School Board? No
Lived in Charlottesville: In this area since 1997; moved to the city in late February
Campaign spending to date: $200
In your high school yearbook, you were: “Most Likely to Be Involved”
Top 3 things that are working in our schools:
1. Strong core of skilled, hardworking teachers, principals and support staff committed to the success of our students
2. Large group of parents, mentors and other individuals who volunteer to improve our community through their work in our schools
3. Variety of ongoing programs (Book Buddies, Mother/FatherRead, Jumpstart, Abundant Life, EDGE, and CLASS to name a few) that provide expanded educational opportunities
Top 3 things that need improvement:
1. Achievement levels and overall success rate of African-American students
2. Relationship between our School Board and the community it represents
3. Utilization of school and community resources

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Tuesday, March 28

Buford not as bad as some say

City school parents Lois Wallenhorst and Syd Knight write in today’s Daily Progress in support of Buford Middle School, lately the subject of much controversy because of threatening incidents involving some students. But most of the 612 students deserve praise and recognition, Wallenhorst and Knight say. "The truth is that the overwhelming majority of studentsÉare there to learn, and there is a process in place for dealing with the disruptive few. To define Buford by these events is mistaken."

"Many people who criticize conditions at the school seem to forget that kids come to Buford reflecting all of the disparity and inequity among Charlottesville’s racial and socio-economic groups," they continue. "These are community problems, not Buford problems alone."

 

Wednesday, March 29

Cluster luck

The road to a successful vintage is littered with discarded grape vines and garden-variety good fortune. So recounts Dennis Horton, the Gordonsville vintner who is the subject of a front-page article in the Food section of today’s Washington Post. "I’ve torn up more vines than most people have ever planted," Horton tells the paper about the early years at his eponymous Vineyards. "The pinot noir I made tasted like something that ought to run my car." Nowadays, Horton Vineyard’s Viognier, a peach and vanilla-flavored white wine, ranks among 40 of the greatest wine-making successes in the United States, according to people who track this sort of thing. Why did Viognier (pronounced VEE-on-yay) take when other varietals didn’t? It can withstand Virginia’s unpredictable spring.

 

Thursday, March 30

Dispatches from the Department of Inadvertent Bad Taste

Liesel Nowak, in this morning’s Daily Progress, commenting on developments in the case against four local teens who allegedly plotted to bomb two County high schools: "The case started with a bang and it’s ending with a whimper." She doesn’t mean that the way it sounds, right?

 

Friday, March 31

Fewer of us unemployed in February (but we still can’t afford to live here)

The Virginia Employment Commission reports today that Charlottesville’s unemployment rate dropped in February to 2.5 percent from 2.7 percent in January. A year ago, unemployment in Charlottesville was 3.1 percent. Overall, the state was stable in February at 3.3 percent, same as January, besting the national unemployment rate of 5.1 percent. The area with the least unemployment? Loudoun County.

Former Cav lighting up MLB with his all-star attitude

If these quotes in a Washington Post story today about Ryan Zimmerman, starting third baseman for the Washington Nationals, are any indication, great things are ahead for the former UVA baseball star: "He doesn’t look like a kid up there," hitting coach Mitchell Page said, of Zim’s .347 spring training batting average. "Defensively," General Manager Jim Bowden said, "he’s very, very special." People are already talking Golden Glove when they mention Zimmerman’s name.

 

Saturday, April 1

Man, you are so busted!

Following No. 11 George Mason University’s storied journey through the NCAA Tournament, students at the Fairfax school hit the road to follow the team’s climb to the Final Four, where, sadly, they lost today to Florida, 73-58. The Washington Post reports, in pregame coverage today, that among the loyal fans making the Midwestern pilgrimage during the tournament was Matt Helt, a GMU senior from Charlottesville. Before heading to the first round of the tournament in Dayton, Ohio, he underwent knee surgery. There, the Post reports, "he got a frantic phone call from his mother, who spotted him on television jumping up and down on his recently repaired knee."

 

Sunday, April 2

Local institutions battle for crown on next-day blues

It’s a toss-up as to who’s more tired this morning: the 1,900 people who completed the Charlottesville Ten Miler yesterday, or the 300+ who attended the 30th anniversary party for C&O restaurant last night. Wait a minute, we’re all tuckered out today, due to the start of Daylight Savings Time. "Spring" forward, indeed.

 

Monday, April 3

Cornell mourns kid who drank himself to death on UVA visit

The Ithaca Journal reports that there will be a memorial service today on the campus of Cornell University for freshman Matthew Pearlstone. The 19-year-old engineering student died on March 17 in Charlottesville. He was visiting a friend at UVA and imbibed a fatal amount of alcohol, according to the State medical examiner’s toxicology report. Pearlstone’s funeral was held on March 23 in St. Louis, his hometown.

 

Mixed-use mania!

New buildings slated for downtown

Developers Atwood and Woodard have submitted plans

Developers Bill Atwood and Keith Woodard have both submitted tentative plans to the City for two separate mixed-use projects Downtown. Atwood’s project is planned for the lot that straddles Water Street and South Street (now owned by fellow developer Oliver Kuttner) that is the current home of Eloise, Sidetracks, and a parking lot. Woodard’s plans involve developing the old Wachovia buildings on the Downtown Mall (directly opposite the C-VILLE offices), which he bought in July 2003 for $1.8 million.

Atwood, who is also an architect, has the more flushed-out plans of the pair. He has submitted a formal application for approval to the City, though City planner Mary Joy Scala says the City will probably expect more detail before final approval is granted. Atwood’s design has something of a Jekyl-and-Hyde quality, striving to meet the City’s demands for a building that is sensitive to its architectural neighbors on both Water and South streets. The Water Street facade rises 10 stories and—in a display of big-city style—features bright splashes of red paint. In contrast, the facade on South Street is a series of three-storey brick townhouses that mirror the style of the surrounding single-family dwellings.

Woodard, head of Woodard Properties and a major student-housing landlord, says his plans for the old Wachovia buildings (so named because they adjoin the Wachovia Bank office tower) are still in the preliminary approval stages; Scala says Woodard is seeking demolition approval. Woodard is planning to preserve the current facades on the Downtown Mall, but the building will rise nine stories behind those fronts, making for a towering face on Market Street. Designed for retail, office and residential space, the most enticing part of the design is the parking. Woodard plans to use underground parking, accessed by a group of three-car elevators, to magically make vehicles disappear from crowded Downtown streets. Whee! Even more fun (for City officials, anyway) are estimates claiming that Woodard’s project could add $100 million to Charlottesville’s taxable real estate.

Contacted for comment, both Atwood and Woodard acknowledged that they have plans in the works, but declined to say anything further about the projects while their respective developments remain in the early stages.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Pray for rain

Dry weather has officials worried

Spring showers on local officials’ shopping list

Local water officials aren’t using the "D" word just yet, but they acknowledge that rainfall is "well below normal" for 2006. The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, along with the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County, are currently writing a drought-management plan that could go into effect if April showers don’t soon come to the rescue.

RWSA Director Thomas Frederick says the new drought management plan would make for a more coordinated response to water shortages than what we saw in 2002. "We needed a better plan," he admits. Four years ago, the City and County seemed caught off guard by plunging reservoir levels; the City and County often had different responses to the drought, and critics said some of the measures (like the City’s closing of commercial car washes) seemed more symbolic than practical in reducing water use.

"It was just too confusing," says City Public Works Director Judith Mueller. "We want to make sure we’re in sync with Albemarle County, that we’re all doing the same thing."

Mueller is still working on the City’s plan. The County, on the other hand, revamped its plan right after the drought, in November 2002. The County’s plan provides a list of "phase one" restrictions that would penalize those who hose off driveways or parking lots, for example, or water plants. "Phase two" restrictions would require businesses to implement their plans to reduce water consumption by 20 percent (you know—those plans that government asked businesses to draft in 2002). You business owners still have those, right?

Let’s hope we don’t need them. As of Friday, March 31, Central Virginia had received less than 5" of rain for the year. Currently, the area’s four reservoirs are full, but water officials say they are particularly troubled by low water levels in the local streams that feed groundwater supplies. In a report Frederick gave to the RWSA board on Monday, March 27, he said citizens should recognize that "there is a higher-than-average probability that this year could be a drought year."

On a related note, the RWSA will hold a public meeting on April 18, at 7pm in the Monticello High School auditorium, to announce plans to expand the local water supply.—John Borgmeyer

 

Hey, what’s that smell?

Woolen Mills, the poem

The city’s most fragrant neighborhood, in verse

Last week several Woolen Mills residents addressed the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, protesting the odor that comes from the nearby Moore’s Creek Wastewater Compost Facility. That’s where the RWSA collects and treats "biosolids" (a public relations term that refers to, uh, human solid waste) and turns them into compost for sale to local green thumbs. Touched by their nose-pinching plight, C-VILLE’s resident poet composed a limerick in their honor.

Ode to Woolen Mills

Sadly, strolling to the east from Downtown

May induce a wee wrinkle-nosed frown.

Scents unthinkable oft

In Woolen Mills do waft—

Hate to say it, but it smells ratherÉ brown. —J. Alfred Poopfrock

 

Where’s the drawbridge?

Virginia Counties among fastest growing

More bad drivers coming to your neighborhood soon

Virginia is home to seven of the 100 fastest growing counties in the United States, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. Three Virginia counties grew so much in 2004 that they made the Top 10: Loudoun, near Washington, D.C., and, a bit farther south, King George and Caroline. While Albemarle didn’t grow fast enough to make the Top 100, several nearby counties did: Culpeper, Louisa, Spotsylvania and Fluvanna.

That’s bad news for local drivers fed up with traffic, because all of those new residents will likely be looking for work in Charlottesville.

For instance, while Louisa’s location is an asset in attracting new residents, most of those newcomers work outside the county, with many of them commuting to Charlottesville. "Given the number of building permits we’re issuing, I think we’re going to see at least a few more years of this rapid growth," says Louisa County Administrator C. Lee Lintecum.

What’s the take-home message, in that case? When you’re sitting in traffic, itching to honk your horn at the moron in front of you, chill out. That moron may not only be new to the neighborhood, but up for that plum position as your new supervisor.

Below is a list of Virginia’s fastest-growing counties, their national rank on the new Census report and their current growth rates.—Esther Brown

 

Paging Clara Barton…

School of nursing seeks big money

Asking for $12 million to expand programs

"Doctors treat disease. Nurses care for the people who have the disease." This is how School of Nursing Dean Jeanette Lancaster describes her profession. At a time when for-profit medicine seems more dehumanized than ever, Lancaster hopes big donors will buy into the idea of greater compassion through nursing.

The Commonwealth has already chipped in $6 million to expand the School of Nursing, and Lancaster is seeking $12 million more in private donations for a new building and an expansion of McLeod Hall, the school’s current home. Lancaster hopes the campaign will raise nursing’s profile as the profession approaches a crossroads: Statistics indicate a shortage of young nurses, even as hospitals rely more heavily on these medical professionals for patient care. The School of Nursing is just the latest facility at UVA to hit up donors for big capital improvements. However, with nurses earning starting salaries of around $43,000, Lancaster acknowledges that she’s probably going to have to work harder than, say, the School of Law or Darden to reach her goal.—John Borgmeyer

 

The need for SPEED

Performance without Steroids

High-tech gym makes you bigger, faster, stronger

There’s an exciting development in athletic performance-enhancement underway in Charlottesville—so new that Barry Bonds hasn’t even heard of it yet. A new clinic called SPEED (an acronym for Strength, Power, Endurance, Education and Development) has opened under the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the UVA Health System.

The clinic is designed to be a high-performance resource for endurance athletes with one goal in mind: to make you faster.

SPEED is one of two centers in the country that employ a high-tech method of comprehensive bio-mechanical analysis to help tailor an individual program for each athlete to maximize performance. It’s a mouthful, but here’s what it looks like: Athletes run or pedal a bike on a treadmill (one of two in the world that constantly analyzes motion in three dimensions). Meanwhile, 10 high-speed infrared cameras bounce light off of as many as 50 markers stuck into an athlete’s joints. This data is sent to a computer, which creates a vector model of the athlete’s motion. SPEED engineers analyze it and show the athlete the changes that will improve his performance and prevent injury. This complex set-up is worth more than $1.5 million, and according to SPEED Director Jay Dicharry, "Unless you have access to an Olympic training center, you simply don’t have access to this type of equipment."

What does this mean for the average weekend warrior? If you’ve never felt quite right since that ACL sprain five years ago, SPEED can rebuild you. Better than you were before. Better, stronger, faster. (Cue echoey jumping sound effect.)

With steroids soaking up media attention in both professional and, increasingly, amateur sports, Dicharry emphasizes SPEED is not simply steroids without the Congressional investigation, It’s not a quick fix, he explains—though it is personalized remedy. "I’m not just giving out candy here," he says with a chuckle. "This is a legal, legit edge that everyone has access to. We’re not just saying we can make a difference, but we can quantify it. I just hope people understand what we have here, because it’s absolutely amazing."—Steven Schiff

 

Puff puff bounce

Chronic problems for football

Mary Jane suspected in player cuts

Without an explicit explanation, UVA head football coach Al Groh dismissed linebacker Ahmad Brooks, defensive end Vince Redd, and cornerback Tony Franklin from the team last Tuesday, one day before spring practice. "It’s a privilege, not a right, to wear a Cavalier jersey and to represent our University community," said Groh.

Why were a junior and two seniors—all probable defensive starters—given the boot? Speculators on message boards put it like this: "They had chronic issues." Pun definitely intended, according to a post on the website Sabre.com. Reportedly, Brooks and Franklin have both been charged with possession of marijuana during their Wahoo careers; last season, Groh gave one-game suspensions to Franklin and Redd for breaking team rules. Brooks, who was All-ACC in his sophomore year, was suspended after failing a drug test in February, following his announcement that he would return for his senior season rather than enter the NFL draft.–Will Goldsmith

For more on UVA athletes gone wrong, see Courts and Crime News on page 15.

 

Foot in the grave

Celebrating dead presidents

Casteen mum on timetable for kicking the bucket

Look out, John Casteen! The Board of Visitors is already planning your funeral.

When the board meets this weekend, they will likely approve a new perq for, shall we say, "outgoing" UVA presidents. The Building and Grounds committee will consider establishing up to 24 "Presidents’ Plot" graves for ex-presidents and their spouses at the University Cemetery, located on campus at the corner of McCormick and Alderman roads. No word on how quickly UVA aims to fill the holes, and Casteen could not be reached for comment about when he might take advantage of the new benefit.—Meg McEvoy

 

Exemplary behavior

Honor system works— or does it?

Students differ on whether expulsion is tough love or simply cruel

UVA’s Honor Court, much maligned for its soft touch, has finally expelled someone. An open honor trial concluded last week and found Steve Gilday to be guilty of act, intent and seriousness when lying to his professor about an allegedly doctored take-home exam.

The pros and cons of UVA’s single-sanction honor system is an oft-debated topic on campus. Here’s what some Wahoos had to say in the aftermath of the open trial.

A Cavalier Daily editorial published March 27 declared that the trial restored confidence in the system:

"The accused student on the whole received a fair trial—one which gives students a reason to feel better about the effectiveness of their honor system. The accused student should be thanked for opening himself up to scrutiny in order to further transparency and awareness of the honor system."

But some students just don’t have the stomach for expulsion, especially given the special circumstances of the case. (Gilday admitted to lying in an e-mail to his professor, but not to cheating on the exam.) Senior Ashok John wrote to the Daily: "To me, the case exhibits how rigid and unforgiving our entire community seems to be concerning the issue of making mistakes in the academic realm. Gilday apologized to the person he admits he had wronged within hours of the incident. After such an apology, regardless of whether this act is made official, it is simply unmerciful and cruel to take such harsh punitive action."

Gilday filed an intent to appeal, which, if granted, could take months. If not, perhaps Gilday can get an honorary degree in "Being an Example."—Meg McEvoy

 

Case closed. Period.

Gag order issued for teen bomber case

By order of judge, no information can be released

Tuesday, March 28, marked the end of a long third day in the trial of three county teens accused of plotting to blow up area high schools. The case that began with a much-hyped press conference took a different turn when Albemarle Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Camblos emerged from the front door of Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court to announce: "Under court order [the case] is completely closedÉ I can’t tell you what happened. I’m not trying to be rude. I’m not trying to be mean. I just can’t talk about it." He then walked off towards his Court Square office as one Richmond TV reporter yelled after him, "Can you just tell me whether I need to come back to Charlottesville for this?" In the meantime, defense attorneys for two of the kids, David Heilberg and Rhonda Quagliana, slipped out the back door and had "no comment" on the case.

By Friday, however, two Media General newspapers, the Richmond Times Dispatch and The Daily Progress, had reported that the 15-year-old (there are two 13-year-old defendants, too) had been convicted. When contacted for comment, Camblos confirmed this, adding that the boy’s sentencing date has been set for April 12 at 3pm.

Judge Susan Whitlock’s decision prevented Camblos and all others connected with the case from discussing whether a verdict had been reached, what that verdict might have been, or even whether another court date has been set. The order was intended to protect the privacy rights of the juveniles, particularly those of the 13-year-olds whose trial had been joined to that of the 15-year-old. A 16-year-old also charged in the case pleaded guilty from the outset—he’ll be sentenced in early April.

The fact that so little information about the case has been made available has not eased the concerns of many parents, teachers and administrators asking questions about safety in County schools. In response to such concerns, Camblos has filed a motion with the Judge Whitlock to find out what information, exactly, is covered by the gag order. He expects an answer April 5.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Free fallin’

The tumbling walls of justice

Renovations set back as J&DR court collapses

Ooops! Construction workers toiling over the renovation project of the old Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on High Street were a tad surprised on Thursday, March 30, when an entire back corner wall of the building just up and collapsed into a pile of bricks. The structural failure, while unexpected, was not catastrophic, and no one was hurt by the falling debris. The building, constructed in the 1890s, has been undergoing renovations since 2004, and this mishap is sure to delay that project (originally scheduled for completion in 2008). As of now, officials have no new time estimates, however. In the meantime, J&DR cases are being held across the street at the old Levy Opera House on Court Square. At press time, City inspectors were still determining the cause of the collapse.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Fight for your right to party

UVA jocks arrested for B&E

Students are currently out on bail

Adding to the recent spate of college athletes allegedly shunning law and order (for more, see UVA News, page 13), two UVA athletes were arrested here last week. Eighteen-year-old Michael Giallombardo, a soccer player, and 19-year-old football player Michael A. Brown were apprehended by City police on March 27 on charges stemming from a frat house brouhaha earlier in the month. Both are charged with breaking and entering with intent to commit assault, and trespassing with intent to damage property in the Delta Upsilon incident. Giallombardo and Brown each posted $2,500 bond and are currently still on the roster with their respective teams.

In response, the University’s Executive Associate Director of Athletics, Jon Oliver, released a brief statement: "We’re aware of the charges. We’re going to meet with both student-athletes and the head coaches from both programs to determine what happensÉ pending the outcome of the criminal process. Until we do that, we haven’t taken any action with the student-athletes."—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Nabbed!

Local arrested in July abduction

Suspect apprehended in New York

Charlottesville resident Kiheem Byers was picked up by New York police on March 29 on charges stemming from a July breaking-and-entering incident in Charlottesville. According to the City, three residents of Robertson Avenue house had just come on the scene when they saw a man climbing in the window of their home. The three went inside to see who was breaking into their house, at which point the perpetrator held them at gun point, threatened them and shot the gun, missing his intended victim. Byers is charged with abduction (abduction is automatically charged whenever someone is held at gunpoint), felonious assault, breaking and entering, and use of a firearm to commit a felony. At press time he was in New York awaiting extradition to Charlottesville.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

We’re all immigrants

The human view of immigration

Local attorney says think "people," not "policy"

As the 2006 Congressional elections get hot, the issue of immigration has become the preferred pedestal for political grandstanding. Amidst all the overheated rhetoric, a local attorney reminds voters to think of immigrants as people, not policy.

The issue was front and center at a conference called "Welcome to America: Immigration, Families, and the Law," held at UVA’s School of Law on March 30 and 31. Speaking at a panel on Thursday, Doug Ford, an immigration attorney for Charlottesville’s Legal Aid Justice Center, tried to humanize the issue.

Ford recounted the story of a single mother struggling to provide for two teenage daughters. While some politicians (like Charlottesville’s Republican Congressman Virgil Goode) talk about immigrants as potential terrorists, Ford says the story of a woman’s plight to save her family is the more typical immigrant narrative. It’s an age-old tale: a parent making sacrifices for the sake of her family. "She came here looking for a better life," Ford says. "It is the stereotypical story of the American Dream." A dream, he estimates, that 7.5 million Latin American immigrants are currently struggling to realize.

Legislation now pending in the Senate would legalize immigrants already here—provided they are working, pay taxes and agree to learn English. A House bill passed in December takes a different tack: It would declare that all current illegal immigrants are felons.—Amy Kniss

 

Your tax dollars at work

City and County craft spending plans

Growth is both sickness and cure for local budgets

This month City and County officials will approve their budgets for fiscal year 2006-07. Both jurisdictions lament the cost of "urbanization challenges" that they say drive big jumps in spending.

City Council and City Manager Gary O’Connell have come under fire recently for a budget that has doubled since 1996—to $121.2 million this year from $59.5 million a decade ago. With a fixed boundary of 10 square miles, the City must rely heavily on the rising assessments of existing real estate to pay for growing expenses, prompting backlash from homeowners tired of rising tax bills. On Wednesday, March 29, Coun-cil tried to answer critics with proposed budget cuts that would lower the proposed real estate tax rate 4.5 cents to $1.005 (per $100 of assessed value) from the current rate of $1.05.

The County’s budget has also more than doubled in 10 years. The County did its business with $123.8 million in 1997, compared to this year’s $259.3 million spending plan. However, prodigious commercial and residential construction in 2005 allows County officials to increase spending (up 11 percent from last year) while holding steady the County’s real estate tax rate of 74 cents. In the county, like the city, rising assessments mean homeowners see higher tax bills, even if the rate remains fixed.

County growth means more tax revenue, but it also costs money. "We’re at a critical point where we need to build roads and add police and libraries and fire stations," says spokeswoman Lee Catlin. "Money invested now will save the taxpayer money in the long run. County growth also has costs for Charlottesville, says City spokesman Ric Barrick. "People from the county come into the city seeking services," he says, and drive up costs for public safety and jails.

For local officials, growth is also a cure for budget ills. The City, for example, is trying to encourage condos and "mixed use" development to take the pressure off single-family homeowners. O’Connell says the plan is working; in 2005, the City exceeded $100 million in annual economic development for the first time.

Discussion of the City and County budgets continues this week. If you’re curious about what those government officials do all day, and why it costs so much freakin’ money, you can check out the budgets at www.charlottesville.org and www.albemarle.org. The City will likely approve a final budget on April 11, and the County will vote on the budget on April 12.—John Borgmeyer

 

Rock the vote

CHS student co-chairs City council campaign

Brian Bills can’t vote, but he loves politics

Brian Bills, a junior at Charlottesville High School, was recently named co-chair of the Get Out the Vote effort for the Democratic City Council campaign. The 17-year-old also is the founder and president of the Young Liberals at CHS, and coordinated the Young Liberals of Central Virginia. During Tim Kaine’s gubernatorial campaign, the YLCV made 2,600 phone calls and knocked on 2,000 doors. Bills recently sat down with C-VILLE and disproved the myth of widespread youth apathy. An edited transcript follows.—Nell Boeschenstein

C-VILLE: Why do you want to co-chair this campaign?

Bill Brian: It’s really the same reason I’m involved in politics at all: I feel like I can make a difference. Especially with a local election, it’s all about voter turnout. No candidate has ever lost for City Council who’s gotten 3,900 votes. Now think about it: It’s not really that many people.

What are some of the issues that will determine the outcome of the election?

I think it’s interesting the slogan that’s been chosen for the Democratic City Council candidates: "Yes to Charlottesville." I feel like [Republican incumbent Rob] Schilling is often viewed as being the way Democrats are viewed nationally—always saying "No" to people and to suggestions, and not really having any constructive solutions of his own.

People think that Democrats’ complacency is the reason Schilling won last time. How are you going to remedy that? Is the complacency still there?

Absolutely not. We take Rob Schilling very, very seriously as a candidate. The Democratic Party has been waking up to the fact that we’re going to need to run a very serious campaign.

What gave you this fire in your belly to begin with?

I, personally, like to trace it back to The Lorax, a book Dr. Seuss wrote about environmental destruction. I’ve always been really motivated by injustice. I see something that’s wrong in the world and I’m just like, "Wait. What is this? What’s going on here?" If I don’t do anything about it then I don’t have any right to complain. And if I can’t vote in the City Council election, why not try and convince somebody else to?

 

Get a job

Good enough for government work

101 ways to join the establishment

If you have to whip up one more double nonfat, no-whip, extra-hot, attitude-infused caramel macchiato, you’re going to go apeshit. It’s time for you to get a new job with slightly less annoying customers: schoolchildren.

While their office coffee may not be as tasty as your java joint, Albemarle County and the City of Charlottesville have a total of 101 positions currently available—and you can even apply online! The biggest need is for bus drivers that can pass a drug screening and are willing to work for between $11 and $13 an hour. (Apparently bus drivers burn out really quicklyÉ wonder why?)

If you crave abuse from kids without all the driving, you can be a "school bus aid," getting paid to ride around on the bus helping the driver cling to his last frayed nerve. Or, if you’re ready to dish it out on the little darlings, the County is looking for classroom teachers and a principal. Or maybe you’re ready to get physical. If so, Western Albemarle High School needs an assistant and head coach for the junior varsity wrestling team. Admit it—landing a good pile driver is a helluva lot more fun than serving a latte.

If your interests run closer to seersucker than spandex, no problem, there’s a job for you, too. Apply to be a City golf-course attendant, a la Bill Murray in Caddyshack. Starting salary is $9.36 an hour, but at least you can smack those gophers upside the head without getting sued.—Esther Brown

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News in review

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Tuesday, March 21
Super Bowl’s loss is wage-workers’ gain

Approaching retirement from the big chair at Harper’s Magazine, patrician editor Lewis Lapham is interviewed in the Style section of today’s Washington Post. Perhaps best known for his sometimes impenetrable essays that lead off Harper’s each month, Lapham reveals his old-school method of assigning work to writers, which, in the case of Charlottesville author Barbara Ehrenreich eventually led to Nickeled and Dimed, one of the decade’s most celebrated works of nonfiction. He likes to find out what interests writers deep down and then gets them to scribble about that. In 1998, Ehrenreich told the Post, “I wanted him to send me to the Super Bowl to study fan behavior. And the conversation went to welfare reform, and I said I wondered how these women were going to make a living on jobs that pay $6 or $7 an hour. I said, ‘You should send somebody out there to get those jobs and try to live on that money.’ And he said, ‘O.K., Barbara, go out and do it.’”

 

Wednesday, March 22
What’s to blame for an early spring—pollution or cars?

The early bird might catch the worm, but what’s getting the robin up so early to begin with? That’s the question posed by a Virginia Commonwealth University biologist, as reported in today’s Virginian-Pilot. Charles Blem, who belongs to a group that advocates stricter controls on carbon dioxide emissions, says that climate change is leading to earlier-blooming spring plants and an acceleration of frog and bird mating behavior. But UVA climatologist Pat Michaels, as usual, dismisses such notions. Instead, he says, development and road-building have increased temperatures in urban areas. “Changes in land use, I would argue, is having much more of an impact in Virginia than global warming,” he told the paper.

 

Thursday, March 23
But we still don’t understand what they do

CFO.com reports in its “M&A Roundup” that GE Fanuc, the automation firm based on Route 29N, has agreed to buy SBS Technologies for $215 million. According to GE Fanuc, SBS Technologies is “a designer of open-architecture embedded computer products that enable original equipment manufacturers to serve commercial, communication and government customers…The combination of SBS Technologies and GE Fanuc Embedded Systems will create a broad presence in the industry, offering an extensive line of products ranging from embedded boards in multiple form factors, bus architectures, and fabrics to fully integrated systems available in a range of environmental grades.” Huh?

 

Friday, March 24
And if God wore tight jeans, we’d probably believe, too

Though Rolling Stone this week crucified former Fluco Chris Daughtry’s taste in music (“terrible”), fans of the “American Idol” contestant, who is still alive in the Round of 10, are untroubled. “If he was God, I would believe,” “dockenangel” wrote today on Daughtry’s “Idol” message board.

Nobodies of Comedy ensure they’ll never get invited to the Pavilion

Performing at the Paramount this evening as one of four “Nobodies of Comedy,” comic Andy Campbell offered the following observation of Dave Matthews: “He’s proof that if you have an acoustic guitar, you can say anything. ‘Hike up your skirt a little more and show your world to me’? I’d get slapped if I said that to someone.”

 

Saturday, March 25
OBX to be free of local families for last two weeks of summer

The Daily Progress reports today that summer will be even shorter than before for local public school students. They’ll have to sharpen their pencils in time for an opening day of August 21. Officials expect the next school year to run through at least June 6, 2007.

 

Sunday, March 26
Jaquith declines party putsch strategy

Cvillenews.com posters are on fire today with theories as to why the Democratic party has such a stranglehold on Charlottesville politics, with the discussion focussing, momentarily, on the question of competition. The Republicans are a discredited party, writes site-meister Waldo Jaquith, a onetime hopeful for City Council candidacy, so strong candidates don’t align themselves with the GOP, leaving the Dems free to dominate. Eager for change (and apparently a big fan of Jaquith’s), Perlogik writes, “Waldo, why don’t you and 15 friends go to a Republican meeting, take over the party and run your own candidate?” “Because,” Jaquith replies, “I’m a Democrat.”

 

Monday, March 27
Bagworms have it in for local trees

Elizabeth Donatelli of WCAV, the local ABC television affiliate, reports this morning on an avaricious pest that threatens Albemarle’s bucolic character. Bagworms—gross, slimy things that live all winter in pods that hang from trees (especially Leland Cyprus varieties)—are getting ready to hatch. When they do, Donatelli reports, they can defoliate a whole tree, leading to premature death. Say it with us now: Yucky!

 

AccessUVa grows 187 percent
233 low-income students get loan-free education

According to President John Casteen’s annual report, with 3,100 freshman and 300 transfer students, the 2005 entering class is “the most socioeconomically diverse entering class in [UVA] history.” The class also boasts a record-high number of participants in AccessUVa: 787.

When AccessUVa (which provides grants covering tuition, fees, books, meals, etc.) was introduced in 2003, any student with a household income one-and-a-half times the federal poverty level (or less) qualified for the program. Now, with the recent expansion of AcessUVa, families with annual incomes below $37,700 (give or take) qualify for the grants, which are valued at $16,714 per year for in-state students and $33,414 for out-of-state students.

This expansion helped increase the number of qualifying students nearly two-fold, bringing the number of entering students receiving full support to 233—nearly 7 percent of the class.

While UVA pledges to meet 100 percent of any admitted student’s demonstrated need, for many students the aid still comes in the form of student loans. However, AccessUVa has improved participants’ financial picture by capping loans at approximately 25 percent of UVA’s in-state cost, and funding the rest with grants. In addition, both in-state and out-of-state students are given the same low cap level for loans—a welcome surprise for out-of-state applicants.

In 2005 the UVA Board of Visitors, the University’s governing body, allocated an additional $2.1 million for AccessUVa, bringing the annual commitment to the program to $13.3 million for this fiscal year. According to the Casteen’s report, when fully implemented in 2009, AccessUVa should count on receiving more than $20 million annually. —Esther Brown

Mike Ballard keeps it loose
Major-league hopeful rebounds from Tommy John surgery

Mike Ballard was agitated. Not exactly a familiar feeling for the Cavaliers’ usually loose, free-spirited staff ace. But on this particular Sunday, in the top of the third inning, with No. 2 Clemson ahead 2-1 in the final game of three-game series, the senior southpaw had just given up a four-pitch walk to the leadoff batter, prompting a coaching visit to the mound. The whispered advice proved temporarily effective, but, two batters later, Clemson left fielder Tyler Colvin slammed a 400-foot homer just over the right centerfield fence of Davenport Field.

Luckily, Ballard’s teammates were up to the challenge, responding with three runs in the bottom of the eighth, thereby lifting the Cavs to a sweep of their ACC foes (their 14th consecutive home win).

Ballard may not have played the hero (this time), but he doesn’t let it bother him—just as long as UVA gets the win. “It’s a game,” he says with a shrug. “A lot of guys pump it up, but I just try to have fun. I love being at this school and around these guys.”

It’s this love for the game that keeps Ballard’s spirits high during the trying times—like 2003, when he underwent an operation on his elbow (a procedure baseball fans call “Tommy John” surgery, after the pitcher who first had the operation 30 years ago). Once rare, this procedure is now commonplace: nearly one in nine major-league pitchers sport the distinctive “Tommy” elbow scar, and they usually come out throwing just as hard—if not harder—after the operation. Of course, Ballard’s post-op success comes as no surprise to UVA head coach Brian O’Connor.

“The first couple days in July 2003 I’d come in at 7:30am and see Mike coming in or leaving the training room. It’s not surprising to see the results he’s getting,” O’Connor says. “You’re going to be concerned [about any surgery], but with Mike’s work ethic, I knew he’d come back.”

And come back he did. Starting against Wake Forest last Saturday, Ballard pitched only the second complete game of his career, striking out a season-high eight batters and helping to lift the Cavs to second place in the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division.

Following last season, Ballard was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 47th round. But, after much consideration, Ballard decided that he needed one more season at UVA to get stronger, earn his degree in American Politics, and have a little more fun with his teammates. For UVA players and fans alike, the feeling is definitely mutual.—Steven Schiff

More room for menorahs
Jewish center set to expand
Alumni donations net $6 million for renovations

UVA’s Jewish student center announced plans last week for a $4.5 million addition, an improvement that is long awaited and well deserved, says Hillel Director Brian Cohen.

On University Circle off Rugby Road, Hillel’s current building—a converted house—was built in 1914, and blends nicely with the quiet charm of Charlottesville’s newest historic district.

But, with its peeling paint and drafty old windows, the dilapidated building has been “in dire straits for 20, 30, 40 years,” Cohen says. It is also far too small for the estimated 2,000 Jewish students at UVA.

Plans from Charlottesville-based Bruce Wardell Architects aim to more than double the building’s size. The renovation includes a new addition that will add a larger worship space, dining room, game room, computer lab, library, galley kitchen for student use and a media room (complete with plasma TVs). Plans also include a $1.5 million expenditure for maintenance.

But don’t expect to be seeing this swanky face-lift anytime soon—Hillel’s renovations will be covered entirely by private donations, so the construction timetable is a bit up in the air. Cohen says “significant amounts of money” are now rolling in, and he hopes to break ground on the project in Summer 2007.

The building will be named for lead donor Dan Brody, whose father was one of UVA Hillel’s founders in 1941. Another alum, Edgar M. Bronfman of Seagram’s fame has agreed to give one dollar for every three raised up to $500,000.

Cohen says the impact on the University Circle neighborhood, where residents are touchy about development, should be positive. “We’re not putting in a huge blacktop parking lot…it’s not a monstrosity.”

He says the renovations will be in keeping with the charm of the neighborhood. “I don’t think we ever really considered starting from scratch. Because it is such a great historic building we wanted to keep that intact.” —Meg McEvoy

What’s In Your Backpack?
Exploring the hidden life of UVA

Name: Matt Shields

Age: 30

Major: First-year Ph.D. student in Education

What’s in your backpack? iPOD, Laptop, PDA, TI89 graphing calculator, Teacher Man by Frank McCourt, Bible, carabineer, blinking light, Nalgene bottle, camping knife, Nutri-Grain bar (mixed berry), Snoopy key chain, mix CD, loose change

 

 

Traffic study underway for biscuit run
Don’t worry, say developers, more roads coming to fill the need

As Hunter Craig and his investors continue the delicate process of shepherding the huge Biscuit Run development south of town through the County’s red tape, one of the biggest concerns of the skeptical public is what the project means for traffic.

Craig’s lawyer, Steven Blaine, says a traffic study now underway will help developers estimate the impact of Biscuit Run. Not only that, the study will be so broad, it’s likely to be of use to the County and other jurisdictions, he claims.

Funded by the developer at a cost Blaine pegs at “six figures,” the study, conducted by Ramey Kemp and Associates and the Timmons Group, will take traffic counts from 34 intersections around the development. In addition, it will project future traffic using computer models. State and County engineers will review the results. The County Planning Commission has scheduled a work session for April 18 to address Biscuit Run’s traffic issues, but Blaine says the study will probably not be ready by then.

To ease people’s concerns, Blaine points to the County’s “Southern Urban Area B” Study, which contains optimistic forecasts for new roads in fast-growing southern Albemarle (If you’re having trouble sleeping, check it out at www.albemarle.org).

Other roads are planned for the area near Biscuit Run, including a privately developed road linking Fifth Street Extended and Avon Street north of I-64. A “Southern Parkway” is planned to link those same roads south of the Interstate. Also, County plans call for another road that will connect Sunset Road with Fontaine Avenue, designed to ease pressure on Old Lynchburg Road between Fifth Street Extended and Jefferson Park Avenue. As development mushrooms in southern Albemarle, the question of whether the cash-strapped State transportation department will actually be able to build those roads anytime soon is sure to make locals nervous.—John Borgmeyer

Loudoun clear

Backlash brewing
Is Loudoun County our canary in the coal mine?

Last week The Washington Post carried news that Northern Virginia’s Loudoun County—one of the fastest-growing regions in the country—could roll back development restrictions aimed at preserving its last bucolic regions. As frustration with some of Albemarle County’s growth policies continues to mount, could there be a similar backlash brewing in our own backyard?

The County’s growth policy, adopted in the late ‘90s, is designed to channel new development into designated areas where it must adhere to the “Neighborhood Model.” The idea is to steer development away from rural areas, and to create compact regions where people can live, work and play without driving. Good idea, say critics, but the County’s growth policy looks increasingly like a road to hell.

Developers have long complained that County regulations actually make it easier and cheaper to build in the rural areas, where they can throw up low-density subdivisions with much less oversight. Now, Albemarle Supervisor Ken Boyd has organized a task force to investigate those complaints.

Other points of contention about the Neighborhood Model: Does anyone really believe that throwing a Starbucks in the middle of a massive subdivision will reduce traffic? And while planners focus on how well huge projects like the Biscuit Run development in southern Albemarle correspond to the Neighborhood Model, is anyone looking at how all these new “neighborhoods”—including Hollymead Town Center and Albemarle Place—affect the County overall?

“It’s as if someone trying to control his weight counted every calorie in his portion, but didn’t pay any attention to how many portions he eats,” says Jack Marshall, a growth opponent and president of Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population.

If there is a backlash, says Jeff Werner of the Piedmont Environmental Council, it could take the form of opposition to the high-density Neighborhood Model, which encourages up to 24 dwelling units per acre compared with four units per acre in rural areas.

“It’s interesting,” says Werner, “when I talk to people in Charlottesville about development, they talk about the water supply, the watershed, alternative transportation—it’s a more pure environmentalism. Whereas in the County, people are tired of traffic, and I’m hearing a lot of this absolute terror over density. The backlash I worry about is an unfortunate demand for low density.”

Werner urges that enviros and planners look at cross-county development instead of focusing on specific projects. “Making Biscuit Run go away will not solve the problem. Making it a model development won’t solve the problem, either,” he says. “The City and County need to get together on the big picture.”—John Borgmeyer

 

Meadowcreek Parkway FAQ
Why the MCP is such a big freakin’ deal

On Thursday, March 23, public discussion on the Route 250/McIntire Interchange kicked off with a presentation from State officials. The interchange will connect the to-be-built Meadowcreek Parkway with the 250 Bypass, and some environmentalists see the interchange debate as their last chance to thwart the controversial Parkway. What’s with all the tumult? We thought you might ask (if you’re not already rolling your eyes with accumulated disgust), so this week we answer your Frequently Asked Questions.

What is the Meadowcreek Parkway?

The Meadowcreek Parkway has been in the governmental pipelines for 39 years and counting. It would extend McIntire into Rio Road, creating a north-south corridor between Route 29 and I-64 that cuts through the eastern edge of McIntire Park.

How much will it cost?

About $70 million, mostly paid for by federal and State funds.

Why all the fuss over one road?

In many ways, the Meadowcreek Parkway epitomizes the local conflict about growth. To many detractors, the Parkway will send more county drivers through the city while encouraging retail sprawl on Route 29N. To many supporters, Meadowcreek opens up growth opportunities and alleviates existing traffic problems on Route 29 and Park Street.

Is the Meadowcreek Parkway a done deal?

The plans are approved, and the State is currently buying rights-of-way for the road. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2008, but keep in mind that the now-dead Western Bypass was even closer to reality before local opposition and State budget shortfalls killed it in 2002.—Will Goldsmith

 

Make your voice heard
Check out these upcoming meetings on local development

Thursday, March 30: Public hearing on proposed improvements to Jarman Gap Road in Crozet. Western Albemarle High School, 5pm.

Friday, April 7: Meeting on Albemarle’s proposed Mountain Overlay District. County Office Building, Room 235, 7pm.

Tuesday, April 18: Biscuit Run planning work session (tentative). County Office Building, Room 241, 6pm.

 

What’s red and white and green ALL OVER?

Crozet dwelling is set to make history

Out on Burchs Creek Road, west of Crozet, there’s a bright red house. The workers and vans outside suggest that the house is still under construction, even though—with its double front porch and rabbit-shaped weathervane—it looks like one of those old Virginia farmhouses that have been there a century or more. If Doug Lowe, the house’s owner, weren’t there to say so, you might never realize you were looking at a landmark of sustainable construction.

Lowe’s house has a good shot at becoming the first LEED-certified house east of the Mississippi. LEED stands for Leader in Energy and Environmental Design; the certification program, run by the U.S. Green Building Council and currently in its pilot phase, awards points in areas like renewable materials, indoor air quality and rainwater management. Currently, only one house in the nation is certified, and it’s in Oklahoma.

 “For me, [getting certified] is a natural extension of what we do anyway,” says Lowe, referring to his company, Artisan Construction. Artisan builds eight to 10 custom homes per year, and Lowe says he pushes customers to go green whenever possible. “It really is not that difficult,” he says. “You just have to do some planning on the front end.” Lowe also points out that many green features, like low-emission paints and high-performance insulation, don’t necessarily cost more than standard materials; he expects as much as a 70 percent savings on energy in a green house compared to one that only meets regular building codes.

So why spend the extra $3,000 for the LEED certification? Lowe acknowledges the house will be useful as a showcase for potential Artisan clients. “The consumer is ahead of the builder” in terms of green-building awareness, says Lowe. He hopes that through the LEED certification and similar programs, other local builders—even those that crank out hundreds of homes a year—will be encouraged to get greener. As the LEED program grows and more inspection agencies become available, the certification cost will go down.

Katie Swenson, executive director of the Charlottesville Community Design Center, thinks green construction is a smart business strategy for a company like Artisan. “With national home builders coming down, some of the local home builders have to distinguish themselves,” she says, referring to companies like Ryan Homes and Toll Brothers.

As he leads visitors through his house, which Lowe will occupy along with his wife Megan and four (soon to be five) children, Lowe is a fountain of information. From the underground storage tanks that collect and filter the runoff from the gutters (then send it inside to supply drinking water), to the 150-year-old heart pine flooring that was reclaimed from a Pennsylvania factory, the house is packed with features that will earn Lowe points with LEED. The construction process itself is also designed to be less wasteful: Drywall scraps are mixed into the soil instead of sent to a landfill.

Lowe expects both certification and move-in day within a month. His family should be very comfortable there, with Blue Ridge views, sunny rooms and an extra-large shower with two shower heads in the master bathroom. Lowe estimates the house is worth $800,000, including its two-and-a-half-acre site.

Lowe’s enthusiasm for green building is obvious, but it doesn’t seem to stem from a trendy, long-haired environmentalism. “I’m a practical environmentalist,” he says. “If there’s a better way, why not do it?” Practical indeed to offer green construction services in an area like ours, where demand for all things eco gets stronger with every passing day.

“I totally respect what he’s doing,” says Swenson. “He’s way out ahead of the pack.”—Erika Howsare, with additional reporting by Cathy Harding

 

 

Council candidates come out swinging
Dems fall behind in battle for yard space

Charlottesville voters will elect two City Councilors on May 2. Last week, the three candidates stepped to the mic and kicked off the campaign season.

Democratic challengers Julian Taliaferro and Dave Norris held a press conference Wednesday, March 22, to announce that they would run hand-in-hand, emphasizing education, affordable housing and fiscal responsibility. The pair also introduced their campaign logo: “Taliaferro & Norris” in a white, sans-serif font on a blue background, with the slogan “Yes to Charlottesville” and a tag urging the faithful to “vote Democratic.”

While the two candidates kept their message upbeat, party spokesman Tom Vandever knee-capped Republican incumbent Rob Schilling in a press release, accusing him of “continually saying no to critical programs that will improve the quality of life for Charlottesville residents.”

Schilling, meanwhile, beat the Dems to the punch on mounting yard signs—perhaps the most important campaigning tool in local politics. Schilling’s red signs avoid party affiliation, but proclaim his “Common Sense Leadership.” It’s a slogan Schilling repeated when he addressed Young Republicans and other students at Piedmont Virginia Community College on Wednesday, March 22. Schilling cast himself as a nice guy trying to serve “the public” amidst the slings and arrows of his fellow Councilors. “People like that I stand up for what I believe,” he said. “I have been targeted for removal by other Councilors.”

Schilling acknowledged it would be tough for him to win again in this heavily Democratic town, and the Dems’ attacks signal that they don’t want to repeat the complacency that led to Schilling’s victory in 2000. If that’s so, then where are their yard signs, noticeably absent around the city? (Reports that they have been abducted by GOP-sympathetic space aliens could not be confirmed by press time.)

“Ten or 15 years ago, the Republicans and Democrats agreed that nobody would put up yard signs until 10 days before the election,” says Vandever. “Obviously, that has been breached.”—John Borgmeyer

 

George Orwell’s Richmond Vacation
A war of words in the battle for transportation taxes

On Monday, March 27, Virginia lawmakers returned to Richmond for an extended legislative session to resolve the 2006-08 State budget. Governor Tim Kaine hopes to bring moderate Republicans into his coterie of Democrats to pass a four-year, $4 billion tax increase to pay for roads and other transportation improvements. Conservative Republicans in the House of Delegates, however, would rather cut programs from the budget than raise taxes. Last week, Kaine and his opponents launched a campaign-style advertising blitz that confirms George Orwell’s observation that political language is “designed to make lies sound truthful…and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

Kaine’s political action committee is called “Moving Virginia Forward.” Everyone wants to go forward, right? Orwell would have especially enjoyed visiting the PAC’s website (www.movingvirginia forward.com) where the party faithful can compose letters to the editor by clicking on ready-made arguments like “Virginia needs a long-term, reliable source of revenue to fund transportation projects.” Hey, it’s easier than thinking for yourself!

While Kaine and the Dems couch taxes as investments, House Republicans describe taxes as nefarious drains on the paychecks of hard-working Virginians. Last week a group called Americans for Freedom and Prosperity—a title of truly Orwellian poetry—launched their own campaign. Although affiliated with right-wing think tanks and business interests, the group calls itself “grass roots” and offers its own form letter opposing taxes in the name of “Virginia families.” You’re in favor of families, aren’t you?

It could be a long session.—John Borgmeyer

 

Region Ten Project still churning
Director’s ouster from social service agency doesn’t ease building fears

The recent dismissal of Region Ten’s executive director, Philip Campbell, has done little to assuage tensions between the organization and the residents of Little High Street, where Region Ten is building a housing development called The Mews. As previously reported by C-VILLE, the project, which could house as many as 40 Region Ten clients, has been plagued by controversy since at least the fall. Little High residents concerned about the looks and management of The Mews blame Region Ten’s internal confusion and lack of constructive dialogue.

In operation since the early ’70s, Region Ten takes it as its mission to “create and provide accessible cost-effective services of the highest quality for persons with addiction, mental health and mental retardation needs, so that they may achieve more independent, satisfying and productive lives.” But the reality of providing care facilities for those contituencies is not quite so easy.

Members of the Little High Area Neighborhood Association told City Council on Monday, March 20 that while the potential benefits of the project may be great, Region Ten and its development arm, Community Services Housing, Inc. (CSHI) have not taken the neighborhood’s concerns seriously. Mark Haskins, head of the Little High neighborhood group, asserted that good intentions do not justify the project continuing to be “pushed forward by Region Ten’s middle management with little apparent knowledge of issues relating to community planning and development.”

Haskins says the neighborhood is concerned both about the appearance of The Mews and Region Ten’s “policy to create diverse and integrated housing for the client.”

CSHI representatives, for their part, addressed anxieties by showing landscaping plans that include greenery and a community vegetable garden. Additionally, Region Ten’s leaders addressed Council’s questions about site management and residents, saying the situation is urgent. “The delay we may be looking at really does leave people homeless,” interim director Caruso Brown said, promising Council that Mews’ residents would be “highly functional” neighbors with plenty of support from Region Ten in the event of mental health relapses.

Council postponed a vote on The Mews.—David Goodman

 

Blue Ridge Home builders join swarm of growth watchers
Seeking “government affairs officer” with high tolerance for boredom

With development politics heating up in Charlottesville and Albemarle, the local home builders association needs another pair of eyes to watch what local leaders are up to.

The Blue Ridge Home Builders Association is reviewing applicants for a “government affairs” job. The paid position will assist the all-volunteer Board of Directors with monitoring legislation on a local level and keeping members informed when government wants to make things hard for them. The Virginia Home Builders Association (one of the richest, most powerful political groups in Virginia) handles lobbying and legislation on the State level.

The BRHBA represents the five counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Madison and Nelson, as well as the City of Charlottesville. Their new government affairs officer will join the growing spectrum of note-takers—from development skeptics like Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population and the Piedmont Environmental Council to the more neutral Charlottesville Tomorrow to pro-growth cheerleaders like the Free Enterprise Forum—who endure weekly public meetings on new developments and regulations. Not surprisingly, the BRHBA tends to oppose restrictions on development.

BRHBA Executive Officer Katie Hayes expects the position to be filled by May.—Dan Pabst

 

 

Woman faces her alleged rapist for first time in 22 years
Former UVA student describes, in detail, the night of her alleged rape

On Friday, March 24, Elizabeth Seccuro, the 39-year-old Greenwich, Connecticut, woman who filed rape charges in December for an event that allegedly took place at a UVA frat party nearly 22 years ago, recounted, in minute detail, the events of that night. After hearing approximately two hours of testimony from Seccuro, Judge Edward DeJ. Berry found probable cause and certified the case, which will continue to a grand jury on April 17.

Seccuro’s alleged attack-er, 40-year-old William Beebe, was going through Alcoholics Anonymous last fall when he contacted Seccuro, as part of his re-covery process, to apologize for a sexual encounter that occurred between the two at a 1984 frat party. In the ensuing contact between them, it became clear they saw things differently. As a result, Seccuro filed charges with the Char-lottesville Police Department late last year.

In describing the encounter on the stand in Charlottesville Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, Seccuro cried intermittently.

“It was almost like when a turtle is on its back but really is not going anywhere… I remember looking out the window and wondering if anyone could hear me. I remember thinking, ‘I’m going to die here in this room and my mom and dad aren’t going to find me.’ Then I lost consciousness and the rape was continuing… I was seeing stars from the pain. I remember thinking, ‘O.K., you can just let go and go to sleep.’”

For the most part, Seccuro, wearing a fitted suit and impressive stock of jewelry, studiously avoided looking at Beebe. When she did, she either noticeably shuddered, or narrowed her eyes in his direction.

In cross examination, defense attorney Rhonda Quagliana asked Seccuro about the length of her skirt that night. Seccuro bristled and said, “What are you implying?” then got up and demonstrated the length of her skirt—about 3" inches above the knee.

Quagliana then presented two newspaper articles from the mid-’80s that she said recounted Seccuro’s story. Seccuro acknowledged she had talked to reporters at the time, but said she could not remember exactly what she told them. Those stories differ in some details from what she testified on the stand last week. Quagliana also questioned her about what she’d told a Charlottesville detective, which had suggested Seccuro remembered the incident as a gang rape. On the stand, she said this was something she came to believe after-the-fact, as a result of what she’d heard from others.

In the past months, Seccuro has taken her story to the national media, from People to “Dateline NBC.” Beebe did not testify and neither he, nor Seccuro, nor any of the attorneys had any comment following the hearing.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Judge rules matthew lawsuit will proceed
Chris Matthew, misidentified as a rapist, is suing his accuser for $850,000

Judge Edward Hogshire has ruled that the lawsuit brought by Charlottesville resident Chris Matthew against the woman who mistakenly identified him as her rapist can proceed in Charlottesville Circuit Court. Matthew’s suit alleges defamation and malicious prosecution, and seeks $850,000 in compensation. The wo-man, a former student at the UVA Law School, was raped last September. She initially identified Matthew as her attacker and he was held without bond for five days. A few days later, however, a DNA test exonerated Matthew and pinned the crime on a previously convicted felon, 37-year-old Charlottesville resident John Henry Agee.

The impulse behind the suit, according to Matthew’s attorney Debbie Wyatt, is to hold rape victims accountable for who and how they accuse. She argues that rape victims are held to a different level of responsibility when it comes to accusations, an unprecedented argument for local courts. Moreover, critics worry that the case could deter women from reporting rapes, while Wyatt says—with confusing logic—that no, it shows that women should be entrusted to think clearly after being raped.

This year, Republican Delegate Rob Bell sponsored a bill in the General Assembly that would grant rape victims immunity from such suits. The bill passed the House and will be taken up by the Senate in 2007.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

CASA volunteers begin training
Helping kids when parents go bad

What do a retired vascular surgeon, a 12-year veteran of the NFL, a psychiatric nurse and an architect have in common?

No, it’s not a set-up for a bad joke, but the beginning of a good cause. These disparate personalities are among 17 people attending Piedmont Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) training, learning how to help children whose parents are in the court system for neglect or abuse. Training began with a five-hour session on Thursday, March 23, the first in their six-week, 30-hour introduction to children’s advocacy. After completing the training, the volunteers are inducted as advocates by a judge from the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. CASA has four case managers, overseeing about 100 volunteers who, last year alone, spoke on behalf of 225 children.

Kids’ “vulnerable size and lack of legal status” motivated one volunteer, a retired elementary school principal, to get involved with CASA (which asked that C-VILLE not identify their new volunteers). Another volunteered in an effort to combat the “suboptimal parenting practices” she regularly encounters. Advocates see their child in person at least once a month.

“Sometimes it’s going to be agony,” said Ruth Stone, CASA’s Executive Director, in her opening remarks. “Remaining objective is difficult.”

Phoebe Frosch, 10-year CASA veteran volunteer and now a case manager, affirmed Stone’s sentiment. “There is not just one way of being a family,” Frosch said. While a child may not “be living the way you’d like them to, they may watch too much TV or eat too much junk food.” What advocates must ask themselves, Frosch explained, is this: “Is that abuse, is that neglect?” —Amy Kniss

 

Officer cleared in charges of assault and battery
Goodwin should be back on the job within two weeks

Charlottesville police officer Cliff Goodwin was cleared Tuesday, March 21, by a judge in Albemarle County General District Court on charges of assault and battery. He will return to patrol in about two weeks, after Chief Tim Longo finishes the administrative paperwork needed to reinstate him, ac-cording to City Spokesperson Ric Barrick.

The charges stemmed from an incident last August at the magistrate’s office at the regional jail. Goodwin had brought a DUI suspect to the office and, while there, a fight between the two erupted. Acting on the magistrate’s description of the incident, Albemarle County Com-monwealth’s Attorney Jim Camblos re-quested an investigation by the Virginia State Police. They subsequently took the case under advisement and issued the warrant. —Nell Boeschenstein

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Tuesday, March 14

To sleep, perchance to dream of a big sale

Speaking to Coy Barefoot today on WINA’s "Charlottesville Right Now," Beth Duffy, former morning anchor on NBC 29 explained her jump to the rival local TV stations known collectively as the Charlottesville Newsplex. After seven years at Channel 29, Duffy joined Gray TV’s operation, which has brought CBS, ABC and Fox stations to Charlottesville, as both an opportunity to learn a new side of the business—sales (reportedly her non-compete contract with WVIR prevented her from taking an on-camera position locally)—and a chance to rejoin most of the rest of the human race in getting a full night’s sleep. As an on-air personality, Duffy said, she used to rise at 2am to be at work by 3am to prepare for the 6am broadcast.

 

Wednesday, March 15

Aside from that, it’s definitely all him

Celeb/media-happy blog Gawker.com today nominated The New York Times Magazine for "correction of the week." On Sunday, March 12, Mark Warner’s mask-like visage flooded the magazine’s cover, for a story heralding him as the Democrats’ 2008 "anti-Hillary."

"The cover photograph in the Times Magazine on Sunday," the correction states, "rendered colors incorrectly for the jacket, shirt and tie worn by Mark Warner, the former Virginia governorÉ The jacket was charcoal, not maroon; the shirt was light blue, not pink; the tie was dark blue with stripes, not maroon.

"The Times’s policy rules out alteration of photographs that depict actual news scenes and, even in a contrived illustration, requires acknowledgment in a credit. In this case, the film that was used can cause colors to shift, and the processing altered them further; the change escaped notice because of a misunderstanding by the editors."

To which Gawker adds, "Also, Warner’s teeth have not been capped and whitened, his lower lip isn’t doing that weird thing, and he doesn’t actually give off that smarmy politician vibe that made you turn over the magazine on your coffee table so you didn’t have to keep looking at him. It’s all just a misunderstanding."

 

Thursday, March 16

The envelope, please

WAHU reports today on that vaunted medical tradition when students find out which university hospital will offer them the opportunity to work 36-hour shifts and catheterize street people. About 150 UVA med students got their letters today, following interviews and cutthroat competition for high grades. "It’s just like four years of work, all in one day, it’s just so exciting," one over-caffeinated student told the station.

 

Friday, March 17

Wave of cliches drowns support for Semester at Sea

Stanford University senior Emanuel Pleitez writes to The Cavalier Daily today to defend Semester at Sea, the floating college classroom program that UVA recently joined to much faculty consternation. "Semester at Sea is in a league of its own," Pleitez writes of his experience sailing the world with 675 college students. Urging UVA to "realize the tremendous opportunity of this partnership to continue pushing the envelope," he invokes SaS breakthroughs such as a 1994 trip to Vietnam, as well as trips to Cuba, China and Burma.

 

Saturday, March 18

Hungry people now hungrier than ever

Martin L. White writes to The Daily Progress today with disturbing news about area hunger stats. White, CEO of the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank Network, notes a 10 percent increase over the past four years in people who have needed emergency food handouts nationwide. In our region, the increase equals 50,000 new hungry people. White reports that 129,700 people sought emergency food assistance in 2005 from food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters in the Charlottesville, Lynchburg, Winchester and Verona region.

 

Sunday, March 19

County fire claims two

Shortly after midnight this morning a fire on Zion Hill Road erupted in a single-family home killing an elderly couple, Albemarle spokeswoman Lee Catlin informed news media. Though four County fire squads, City fire personnel and the rescue squad responded to the call, they could not save the house or the man and woman inside, according to later news reports.

 

Monday, March 20

The ABCs on the MZM scandal

Mitchell Wade, the owner of defunct defense contractor MZM, Inc., who has been a very close pal of the Charlottesville’s Congressman Virgil Goode, landed front and center in the business section of today’s Washington Post. For those still not up to speed on the story, the Post provides a play-by-play of exactly how, starting in 2001, the crooked businessman bribed a former California Congressman to score prime federal contracts, eventually totaling $172 million. Wade, who pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges in February, also admitted that MZM gave Goode $46,000 in illegal campaign contributions. Goode paved the way for an MZM facility in Martinsville, and has claimed that he didn’t know the MZM campaign money was illegal.

 

 

Walk this way

UVA profs predict new life for cities
Local changes reflect national trends, pedestrian preferences

Last week, new census figures showed that three Virginia counties—Loudoun, King George and Caroline—ranked among the Top 10 fastest-growing counties in America. According to The Washington Post, commuters who work in Washington D.C. wake up at 4am and drive 70 miles just so they can enjoy the cheap homes and spacious lawns.

Sound crazy? Two local scholars say people are getting fed up with mind-numbing commutes and boring cul-de-sacs. In a new book called Tomorrow’s Cities, Tomorrow’s Suburbs, UVA planning profs William Lucy and David Phillips describe how affluent home-buyers are seeking out older urban neighborhoods, while low-income Americans are flocking to the suburbs. A version of that transformation is at work in Charlottesville, says Lucy, who also sits on the City’s Planning Commission. Last week C-VILLE asked him to explain what it all means to you.—John Borgmeyer

C-VILLE: Why are cities like Charlottesville the new cool place to be?

William Lucy: Demographics are changing. The percentage of people without children at home has grown, and the image of what makes a good neighborhood has changed. It used to be that a good neighborhood was quiet, peaceful, safe. By definition, those things were inconvenient. Now more people want to walk to things, which has led to a much bigger demand for neighborhoods like those in Charlottesville.

What about those of us who can’t afford a $375,000 house in Belmont?

It’s not clear that the low-income population will be hurt, but they will be moving.

 

 

Eyes on the prize

UVA leads in black graduation rate
86 percent graduate—more than double the national average

Last week, the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reported that UVA graduates a higher percentage of African-American students than any other state "flagship" university.

The report measures the six-year graduation rate for black students who entered UVA in the fall of 1998. UVA is 16 percentage points ahead of the runner-up, the University of Califorinia-Berkely. According to a UVA press release, UVA has posted the highest African-American graduation rate for 12 consecutive years.

Because large state universities educate three-fourths of all black college students, their success at flagship schools "gives us a good indicator of the graduation rate for the Ôaverage’ black student,’ according to the report, written by JBHE Managing Editor Bruce Slater. He offers one caveat to UVA’s success, however. Schools like UVA recruit high-achieving blacks from other states, so the data "does not always present an accurate assessment of black students’ success in graduating from a college in a given state."—Amy Kniss

 

 

More docs on the block

New bio-med building breaks ground
$71 million lab will give 240 scientists a place to park their beakers

The University of Virginia Medical Center will begin construction this month on the Carter-Harrison Research Building, a 102,000 square-foot medical science facility devoted to research on vaccine therapy, immunology, infectious diseases, cancer and other areas of bio-medicine. The $70.7 million building will house 240 scientists, and is financed with donor support, University funding ($20 million) and a State bond approved by Virginia voters in 2002 ($24.3 million).

According to Dr. Arthur Garson Jr., dean of the UVA’s School of Medicine, a lack of sufficient research space is the single greatest obstacle facing UVA scientists. One program to be housed in the new building is the Human Immune Therapy Center that has received international recognition for its work to stimulate the human immune system to destroy cancer cells.

Construction will disrupt traffic during the next several months along Crispell Drive and near the South Parking Garage. In addition, local developer Jim Stultz of CBS Rentals will be constructing a 50-unit condominium and two-tier parking garage nearby.—Jay Neelley

 

 

Keeping ‘em coming

UVA ROTC numbers remain strong
The Iraq War is 3 years old and folks still want to be soldiers

March 20 marked the third anniversary of the war in Iraq, and an average of 133,000 U.S. troops are stationed there on any given day. Nearly 60 percent of Americans think it was a mistake to invade Iraq, but UVA’s Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) isn’t experiencing a slowdown.

"There’s a general feeling out there that the Army can’t meet its recruitment goals," says Capt. John Warnecke, the Commanding Officer of UVA’s ROTC program. "I don’t know if that’s true or not, but [at UVA] we have seen no decrease in the number of students. No decline whatsoever as a result of the Global War on Terror."

In fact, ROTC numbers on campus are looking quite healthy. According to Warnecke, the program is graduating 15 students in May (13 Navy and two Marine Corps); there are 32 ROTC students in the class of 2007, 21 in the class of 2008 and 15 in the class of 2009. Warnecke anticipates, however, that the numbers for the classes of 2008 and 2009 will increase come May 1, when they get news of transfer students. Accepted students for the class of 2010 are not notified until May 1.

Anticipating next year, Warnecke says 34 students who have listed UVA as their top choice have received national ROTC scholarships. Warnecke’s ideal number is 22, but if more are admitted there’s no definitive cap on who gets the scholarships and who doesn’t. Acceptance itself is entirely up to the admissions office, and entails a completely separate process from the doling out of scholarships.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

 

Inventions we love

A Pacemaker for your gut
New invention will really make your stomach turn

Each year UVA researchers patent hundreds of new, potentially lucrative technologies through the UVA Patent Foundation. Here’s a recent patent, this one aimed at the morbidly obese.

Robert Ross, president of two companies and a former electrical engineering research scientist at UVA, has patented a pacemaker for the stomach. Although Ross’ Implantable Gastrointestinal Pacemaker still awaits approval from the Food and Drug Administration, one potential use for it would be to treat morbid obesity as an alternative to gastric bypass surgery, says Alan Bentley, associate director of the UVA Patent Foundation. Each year, about 45,000 grossly overweight people turn to surgery to help them lose weight.

The device "uses multiple points of stimulation to treat gastrointestinal motility disorders, which are basically problems of movement in the stomach," says Ross. When an individual suffers from a gastrointestinal motility disorder, Ross says, his stomach doesn’t generate the coordinated contractions of a normally functioning stomach. As a result, he can’t digest food or absorb nutrients properly. The hope, Ross says, is that electrical pacing will be just as effective in the regulation and coordination of stomach contractions as it has been in regulating the beating of the heart.—Esther Brown

 

 

Risky business

snl files lawsuit against s&p
Local financial database firm wants to protect its use of oddball numbers and credit ratings

On March 6, SNL Financial, the Downtown-based financial database company that employs nearly 300 people in town and hundreds more overseas, filed a complaint against Standard & Poor’s in federal court maintaining SNL’s right to use identifying numbers, as well as credit ratings, in SNL’s reports and analyses.

According to the lawsuit, since 2003, S&P, a much larger financial information company, has repeatedly threatened SNL with legal action, claiming SNL is illegally using S&P’s CUSIP database. CUSIP numbers are nine-digit numbers that identify most securities, including stocks and bonds. Credit ratings assess credit-risk factors for individuals, corporations and countries. S&P has allegedly also demanded that SNL pay a fee to reprint S&P credit ratings. Both claims, according to SNL’s complaint, are baseless. To date, S&P has only threatened SNL with litigation; it has not filed anything. Thus, SNL’s current filing is pre-emptive.

SNL defends itself against S&P’s allegations, saying individual CUSIP numbers are not copyrighted because the numbers, like telephone numbers, are given "without judgment or skill." Moreover, SNL argues that S&P’s copyright applies only to the entire CUSIP database to which SNL does not have access. So, for SNL to have violated the copyright of the database, it would have had to copy all, or at least a significant portion, of the more than 7,000,000 CUSIP numbers in S&P’s database. According to SNL, it has only used about 15,000 CUSIP numbers since 1987, when the company began, and obtained those numbers through public sources. As for the credit ratings, SNL says that these, too, are public information; thus S&P can’t charge a fee for use.

SNL is not seeking any money in the suit. However, the company wants judgments that put it in the clear and protect it from any future litigation on these matters from S&P.

SNL chairman Reid Nagle did not re-turn calls for comment by press time.— Nell Boeschenstein

 

 

Murder’s not the case

No murder charge in first killing of 2006
Man says he killed teenager in self-defense

On Tuesday, March 14, a 27-year-old Charlottesville man shot and killed a teenager in an apparent case of self-defense. The shooter, whom police did not name, called 911 to report the incident himself. At about 11:30am, police found 18-year-old Gerald Washington lying on the 300 block of Sixth Street SW. City officials say he was shot between five and seven times, and Washington was pronounced dead about an hour later at UVA Medical Center. The killer surrendered. He was released Wednesday, and at press time had not been charged.—John Borgmeyer

 

 

No monkeying around!

Judge warns teen drivers against themselves
Speech is a rite of passage for local 16 year olds

For most 16 year olds, finally getting that driver’s license means one thing: freedom! However, with great horsepower comes great responsibility. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, car crashes are the leading cause of death for 16- to 19-year olds. In 2003 alone, there were 144 crashes involving teens that resulted in 163 teen deaths statewide. The leading causes? Inexperience, risky behavior, alcohol and drug use, and disregard for safety belts.

These stats are the stuff that Judge Dwight Johnson warns teens about every first Monday and third Thursday of the month in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court as he hands out licenses. Here’s a paraphrase of what local teens hear from the judge just before they’re handed their freedom.—Nell Boeschenstein

"I’m going to make a quick speech. As I learned in a college speech class, people forget 70 percent of what they hear. I’m going to spare you that 70 percent and just give you the 30 percent you’re able to retain.

"Let me tell you a story I heard in which a state trooper came across a gruesome highway accident. Four people—two children, two parents—were laid out on the pavement. No one had witnessed the accident except a monkey who was sitting on the trunk of the car with his arms crossed.

"ÔWhat happened?’ the trooper asked the monkey.

"The monkey pointed at the children and indicated that they had been busy fighting.

"ÔWhat happened to them?’ the trooper asked, pointing to the parents.

"The monkey indicated that they had been busy yabbering on.

"ÔWhat were you doing?’ the trooper asked.

"The monkey motioned to show that he had been driving.

"Kids, driving is not monkey business. It’s your business. And parents, it’s your responsibility to be the first line of defense. Now, I’m going to hand out these licenses to the parents because the parent giveth and the parent can taketh away."

 

 

Juvenile justice

Alleged Teen Bombers back in court
Prosecution rests after second full day

On Friday, March 17, the prosecution rested its case against three area teens accused of plotting to blow up either or both Albemarle and Western Albemarle high schools by June. The next court date for the two 13-year-old and one 15-year-old defendants was set for March 28, when the defense will present its case. A fourth defendant, a 16-year-old boy, pleaded guilty to charges against him on March 8. The trial is, and will remain, closed to the public to protect the privacy of the juveniles.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

 

 

Assembly Watch

Legislator death match
Which local lawmaker is top of the heap?

Now that the General Assembly session is over—well, except for that whole budget thing that could shut down the government—we can take stock of how our local delegates and senator performed during the past two months.

Sen. Creigh Deeds: After a paper-thin loss to Republican Bob McDonnell in his race for attorney general, Deeds returned to the Senate where he has mastered the art of fence-sitting. This year he voted for a State constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, even as he lamented legislative gay bashing. Deeds spent this session nursing his campaign wounds, but managed to help pass bills to curb methamphetamine and daylight campaign contributions. Will he run again? Our prediction—he wouldn’t be playing so nice with Republicans if he wasn’t thinking "maybe."

Del. Rob Bell: As usual, Bell displayed his knack for turning social fears into can’t-miss legislation. He’s taken on drunk drivers and, this year, he cracked down on sex offenders and introduced bills protecting police officers. Now, however, he’s part of a right-wing gang trying to derail the budget. Our prediction: Bell stands up for orphans, and makes a bid for attorney general sometime soon.

Del. David Toscano: This year Toscano assumed the "elder statesman" mantle among City Democrats, replacing the granola vibe of Mitch Van Yahres with sharp suits and a will to compromise. Maybe it worked—Toscano passed four bills in his rookie season. Most importantly, he persuaded the notoriously conservative House to do liberal ol’ Charlottesville a favor, granting the City permission to create programs that help low- and moderate-income citizens buy houses; he also passed a renewable energy bill. Our call—the 55-year-old Toscano runs for governor before he hits retirement age. You heard it here first.—John Borgmeyer

 

 

 

Spare the rod

The softer side of justice
Schools hope restorative justice cures bad kids

As a tempest over violence in the classroom roiled City Schools last week, with headlines like "Safety fears at Buford" crowning the front page of The Daily Progress, adults seemed unsure how to respond. Stuck between overreacting and appearing weak, administrators put some hope in a relatively new program known as "restorative justice."

Speaking to the School Board last Thursday, David Saunier, who works with Char-lottesville’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, and Christa Pierpont of the Restorative Community Foundation, explained how restorative justice could work in schools.

Rather than focusing on punishing bad kids, restorative justice aims to heal what Saunier and Pierpont called "a tear in the fabric of the community" with practices ranging from peer mediation to community conferences, where participants design a way for the offender to address the harm done. It does not do away with traditional punishments—if a student brought a gun to school, he would still be suspended, though restorative justice measures could also address the issue.

Is restorative justice soft new-age hippie speak or a truly revolutionary strategy? A handful of schools nationwide use restorative justice on a large scale; according to material provided by Saunier, the numbers appear positive though not overwhelming. Over a four-year period in Pennsylvania’s Palisades High School, incidents of disruptive behavior dropped 43 percent while out-of-school suspensions dropped 33 percent. Minnesota, which implemented a selective statewide system, found a 60 percent decline in discipline problems and a 95 percent decline in referrals to the principal.

In City cases where restorative justice has been used, Sanier and Pierpont report a recidivism rate of only 15 percent. —Will Goldsmith

 

 

 

Sibling rivalry

New PAC pits brother against brother
Weed, Ewert play up their military service

In 2004, pollsters indicated "national security" was a major concern for voters, and Republicans declared that Democrats wanted to mollycoddle terrorists. John "Reporting for Duty" Kerry tried to flip that script, only to get beaten back when Karl Rove unleashed the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Now, as the 2006 Congressional races heat up, a new group called the Band of Brothers is trying again to brand Democrats as tough guys. Named after a book and television miniseries about World War II, the Band of Brothers is a Political Action Committee comprising dozens of Democratic veterans running for office, including local congressional hopefuls Al Weed and Bern Ewert. The two Brothers are currently fighting each other to be the Democratic candidate in Virginia’s Fifth District. Awkward?

"I don’t think it means anything," says Ewert, a consultant and a former sergeant in the Kansas Army National Guard. "What it means is that there is a national movement amongst veterans who want to go to Congress and straighten out the very big mess on Capitol Hill."

Weed, a Nelson County vintner and former medical sergeant in the Army’s Special Forces, says that so far the Band is a pretty loose organization. "Their hope is to get national attention and to have something of a common message on the war," says Weed. He doubts his race with Bern will force the group to decide who is their favorite Brother. "I don’t think they would jump into a primary situation," says Weed.

On May 20, Dems from across the Fifth District (stretching all the way from Greene County to Virginia’s southern border) will decide whether Weed or Ewert will take on Republican incumbent Virgil Goode in the November race.—John Borgmeyer

 

 

 

Dept. of Smarty Pants

Can you pass the SOLs?
Adventures in stuff you’ll never use in real life

Each spring, many of Virginia’s public school students (most third, fifth, and eighth graders, as well as most high school students) must pass untimed subject-based standardized tests, called the Standards of Learning (SOLs). Like them or not, the SOLs are likely here to stay, which has us wondering: Could you pass them? Get out your #2 pencil, answer these five grade-school questions correctly and, lucky you, it’ll be time for recess.

1. The original Ferris Wheel introduced at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago had a diameter of 20 feet. Which is the closest to the distance a person who rode this wheel traveled in one complete revolution?

A 393 ft

B 785 ft

C 1,570 ft

D 49, 063 ft

2. Which of these belongs in the outermost shell (energy level) of an atom?

A Electrons

B Protons

C Neutrons

D Photons

3. Two ships leaving the same marina at the same time are 3.2 miles apart after sailing 2.5 hours. If they continue at the same rate and direction, how far apart will they be two hours later?

A 2.56 mi

B 3.52 mi

C 5.76 mi

D 6.08 mi

4. The Indian subcontinent is separated from the rest of Asia on the north by the—

A Eastern Ghats

B Himalayas

C Deccan Plateau

D Brahmaputra River

5. The process of DNA replication is necessary before a cell—

A makes a protein

B codes for RNA molecules

C divides into two cells

D modifies lysosome enzymes

Answer Key:

1. B

2. A

3. C

4. B

5. C

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Tuesday, March 7

“I knew Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan was a friend of mine, and you, Senator, are no Ronald Reagan”

Converted Democrat James Webb, who wants to give George Allen a bus ticket home from the U.S. Senate, has even broader goals, according to an Associated Press report today, saying he wants to defeat an “extreme” Republican Party that has veered far from Ronald Reagan’s ideal. Webb, running for office for the first time, was the Secretary of the Navy under the 40th president. Webb will compete against Harris Miller for the Democratic nod in the June 13 primary. Though Webb endorsed Allen, a former Virginia governor, in the 2000 race, he now says Allen “essentially become part of the machine,” the AP reports.

 

Wednesday, March 8

Gillen ready for a Stag party?

Former UVA head basketball coach Pete Gillen would consider a post at his alma mater, Fairfield University, now that the Stags’ head coach has been 86-ed, according to a report today in the Connecticut Post Online. Gillen, 58, earned a $2 million buy-out from UVA one year ago after seven years at the helm and a losing record. The ever-affable Gillen has spent the months since then as a hoops analyst on CSTV. Now that the position is open again at the college where he played four basketball seasons in the ’60s, Gillen, who still lives in Charlottesville, is flirting with the possibility of returning north. “Whether I’ll pursue it or not, I really don’t know what is going to happen,” he told the Connecticut Post. “I’d like to coach again, but I’m not sure if I am ready again or not.” The Stags’ record would be familiar to Gillen; they finished the season 9-19.

 

Thursday, March 9

Auf Wiedersehen, “good German”

The 9-year-old online literary journal Archipelago, the labor of love of Char-lottesville editor Katherine McNamara, returns to its broadband space today at www.archipelago. org, with a new issue after a one-year hiatus. Featuring characteristically haunting pho-tography as well as writing on everything from the War on Terror to Hurricane Katrina and gun culture, Archipelago un-derwent an identity search since its last installment, McNamara writes in her “End-notes.” Provoked by the Bush Doctrine of preventive war, McNamara responded, “I will not be a good German,” purposely invoking the specter of a compliant Nazi-era citizen. Archipelago, she decided, “would become…a point of opposition, however small this literary journal was.”

 

Friday, March 10

What would TJ pay at the pump?

Mid-Atlantic AAA reports today that gas prices have jumped an average of 10 cents per gallon in the past 10 days. Ever a leader, Charlottesville heads the pack with the state’s highest self-serve average, $2.28 per gallon. Looking for a bargain? Fill ’er up in Roanoke and save 7 cents per gallon.

 

Saturday, March 11

Gentlemen, start your four-tops!

With temperatures hovering near 80 degrees, the scene was set today for TV crews to hit the Downtown Mall for that perennial story, “the weather is so nice, look how many people are out.” WCAV, the local CBS affiliate, discovered the little-known drag strip mentality that apparently overtakes restaurateurs like spring fever when it comes to their outdoor seating. “It’s always kind of a race to see who’s gonna open their patio first on the Downtown Mall, and this year we got it out nice and early, so I’m really happy with the weather,” Giles Flowers, the manager at Rapture, told the TV crew.

 

Sunday, March 12

Ethicist says, “Give it a shot”

While the front cover of today’s New York Times Magazine was bursting with the eerily overdentifriced image of former Virginia governor Mark Warner, the so-called anti-Hillary, meaning a middle-of-the-road Democrat free from the disadvantages of being an ambitious woman, a regular columnist was handling the more immediate concerns of one Albemarle resident. County dweller Henry Davis McHenry Jr. wanted Randy Cohen, a.k.a. “The Ethicist,” to help him figure out if it’s O.K. for him to pursue a second career in nursing, given the competition for spots in R.N. programs. Cohen’s response? “Your sensitivity to the economic needs of others is estimable, but it need not preclude your career change. Nursing-school spots should go to those who can most ably serve patients someday, a determination best made by experienced admissions officers.”

 

Monday, March 13

Daily Progress thinks global…and rejects the idea

Though neither the City nor County public schools offer the International Baccalaure-ate course of study, The Daily Progress takes a stand on the “issue” in its editorial pages today, ultimately suggesting the curriculum, regarded in some quarters as a more rigorous alternative to Advanced Placement courses, is not in the national interest: “By definition, if education takes a global perspective, it cannot simultaneously take a national perspective—much less a nationalistic one.”

 

 

Development News

Flip-flopper

CRAIG PLANS TO FLIP BISCUIT RUN

Developer will take land through approval process, then sell

 

Word on the street is that developer Hunter Craig plans to sell the 920-acre Biscuit Run property after he wins the necessary zoning permits from Albemarle County.

   “It’s true,” says Steven Blaine, the veteran real estate attorney representing Craig, who is developing the project under the name Forest Lodge, LLC. “They’re going to create the community and the vision, establish the constraints and standards, but they’re not builders.”

   Because it can take years to shepherd a project through the planning process, it’s not unusual for developers to secure all the required building permits, then sell the property for a sweet profit. Blaine says it is likely that multiple builders will work on Biscuit Run.

   Before the bulldozers can rumble in, though, Blaine needs to get Biscuit Run’s public relations machine up and running.

   The selling of Biscuit Run to a public concerned about growth began on Tuesday, March 8, when the County Planning Commission took the unusual step of holding an information meeting on the development that could bring nearly 5,000 homes to the countryside between Old Lynchburg Road and Route 20S.

   Blaine came armed with promotional materials highlighting all the right buzzwords: “pe-destrian orientation,” “neigh-borhood friendly,” “stewardship of the land.” About 200 people showed up to hear the presentation and make comments that generally reflected both worry and resignation that the project is inevitable. The most pressing concerns are how Biscuit Run will affect the water supply and traffic—particularly on the narrow, winding Old Lynchburg Road that will link the neighborhood to UVA.

   “People think they’re go-ing to see 5,000 new homes come up overnight. That’s not going to happen. If we do 200 homes a year, we’ll be knocking the socks off the competition,” Blaine says. “We have to do a better job of educating people.”

   His next chance will come at a work session on March 17.—John Borgmeyer

 

 

Building boom

COUNTY LOOKS TO SPEED NEW CONSTRUCTION

Task force seeks to streamline project approvals

 

It seems nobody is happy with Albemarle County’s growth management. Devel-opers complain the County’s approval process takes too long, leaving projects in limbo for years. Meanwhile, County planners have been getting an earful from angry citizens lately—developments such as Old Trail in Crozet, North Pointe on Route 29N, Rivanna Village near Glen-more and Biscuit Run on Old Lynchburg Road have prompted outcry about the County’s planning process.

   “I was concerned that the community isn’t getting what they’d hoped for,” says County Supervisor Ken Boyd, who has proposed a review committee to consider how to speed up the approval process.

   Boyd says the central problem is that it sometimes takes three or four years to approve big projects, and delays can add to the cost that is passed on to buyers. Moreover, the delays can make it difficult for citizens to keep informed about projects in their neighborhoods, says Boyd.

   “My intent is not to change the policy, but re-view the process” of ap-proving projects, Boyd says.

   Albemarle County is currently considering applications to a development review task force, which would include two developers and three private citizens as well as County officials and a business expert from UVA. Boyd expects the task force to begin meeting in April, and the group will have a six-month deadline to make recommendations to the Board.—John Borgmeyer

 

Down by the river

IF YOU BUILD IT GREEN, WHO WILL COME?

RiverBluff development aims to attract crunchy crowd

  In Charlottesville, tree-hugging consumers have plenty of choices: organic veggies at City Market, nontoxic soaps from Integral Yoga and recycled construction materials at the Habitat Store. When it’s time for these good citizens to make the biggest purchase of all—a house—they have a growing number of earth-friendly options.

   With the RiverBluff community in the Woolen Mills neighborhood, PS2 Prop-erties will add 22 lots to the green housing market in the next two to three years. The development is billed as a community-minded village that encourages residents to care for the natural surroundings. Nine lots have already sold.

   “We’re looking at creating a real, meaningful link between homeowners and nature,” says architect Richard Price of PS2. Residents can participate in riparian-area restoration and native plant landscaping; houses are designed for energy efficiency. A large common area will offset the closely spaced houses.

   Ecotopia ain’t cheap: These lots, the smallest of which measure less than half an acre, start at $110,000. Residents can choose from three house models, starting in the $400s, or they can hire their own architect.

   “We’ve done a little bit of advertising in the real estate press, but not much,” says Price. To get the word out, PS2 will throw an opening celebration timed to coincide with (what else?) Earth Day on April 22.—Erika Howsare

 

Heart of stone

ROCK HOUSE MAKES STATE LANDMARKS REGISTER

From rubble to rehab in less than two years

  The C.B. Holt Rock House, an 80-year- old Preston Avenue property owned by the Legal Aid Justice Center that only two years ago was facing possible demolition, was approved by the State Depart-ment of Historic Resources Board for listing on the Virginia Landmarks Register last week.

   The Arts and Crafts bungalow, a rare example in this area, was hand-built by Charles Holt, an African-American furniture repairman. It has been the subject of intense research and a $230,000 fundraising drive to restore it since researchers first uncovered its significance in 2004. In short, Holt constructed his home against the considerable odds of the Jim Crow era.

   Legal Aid Executive Director Alex Gulotta says the State awarded the designation both for “its historic value from an architectural point of view and its social history.”   With $130,000 left to raise by December, Gulotta says, the State nod could mean Legal Aid will get “some of the momentum we need” to reach that goal before deadline. The National Park Service will consider the Rock House for a place on the National Register by the end of April.

   On Tuesday, April 18, Legal Aid will dedicate the house formally and NAACP Chairman and UVA history professor Julian Bond will be the guest speaker.—Cathy Harding

 

UVA News

Well endowed

UVA GAMBLES, AND WINS, ON HEDGE FUNDS

That’s millions with a “B”

  UVA officials checked their year-end bank statement recently and found that 2005 was a very good year: With just under $2.89 billion in the school’s “endowment” accounts, UVA was about $376 million richer than the year before. That’s a sweet 14.8 percent return on UVA’s investments last year.

   They did it largely through the use of “hedge funds,” those popular but secretive investment pools available only to rich individuals and “institutional” investors (like universities). The endowment ended the year with 49.8 percent of its money (or $1.44 billion) in hedge funds, according to documents posted on the website of the UVA Investment Management Company (UVIMCO).

   The latest survey of endowments conducted by the Chronicle of Higher Education showed that UVA ended its fiscal year 2004 with the largest hedge fund allocation—56 percent at the time—of any university in the nation. (Neither UVIMCO CEO Christopher J. Brightman nor head UVA flak Carol Wood would return calls for this story; Wood e-mailed that UVA has a policy “not to go into any detail on our investment strategies.”)

   Hedge funds may specialize in trading currencies, or making bets on bankrupt companies, but they are perhaps best known for the practice of “going short”—that is, borrowing shares of a company whose stock price they think is going down, then replacing their borrowed shares with shares purchased at a then-lower price, and pocketing the difference. Critics maintain that a lack of reporting requirements leave investors in the dark about investment practices, and are pushing for greater oversight of hedge funds from the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.

   Parking half (or more) of the endowment in hedge funds may sound risky to those who remember Long-Term Capital Management, the Connecticut-based fund that, acting on the advice of some Nobel Prize-winning economists, lost $4.6 billion when their exotic bets went awry during a bad few months of 1998. In 2002, the Art Institute of Chicago took one fund manager to court after one of its funds lost 90 percent of its value.

   But Alice Handy, former president of UVIMCO and UVA treasurer who now runs a South Street–based consulting business serving endowments, says hedge funds can be “less risky” than plain stocks and bonds. “If you can find the best managers, and the best manager is a hedge fund, that is better” than just buying plain stocks, she says.

   On average, higher education endowments had a 9.6 percent return in fiscal year 2005.—Bill Chapman

 

Revving the engine

UVA KEEPS THE CITY WORKING

Charlottesville is state’s fastest-growing job market

  Charlottesville’s job market grew by 3.7 percent last year, edging out Northern Virginia as the state’s fastest-growing area, according to stats from the Virginia Employment Commission.

   William Mezger, Chief Eco-nomist for the VEC, says UVA can claim credit. “I always say that the University and the hospital are the main things increasing employment,” he says.

   For 2004-05, total jobs at UVA grew by 2.7 percent. UVA now employs 12,990 peo-ple, according to the school’s Office of Institutional Assess-ment and Studies. The hospital is growing even faster. Employment jumped 12 percent in that period and now accounts for 5,925, or 46 percent, of UVA’s jobs.

   Moreover, all that traffic also supports the local service industry. The student population is a “baseline index” for how the economy will grow, says local Chamber of Commerce Pres-ident Timothy Hulbert, since “there’s increasing demand on the economy here to provide the whole range of things, from housing and automobiles to pizza and lawnmowers.” There are currently about 19,200 UVA students, with plans to increase enrollment to 19,655 in 2007.

   UVA’s special events help, too. When the Rolling Stones hit town last fall, the Chamber of Commerce estimated a $3 million impact on the local economy from fans’ related expenditures.

   Mezger also notes the types of non-University businesses bolstered by UVA, like consulting firms and private medi- cal practices. Manufacturers of orange polo shirts must be doing quite well, too.—Meg McEvoy

 

Keep it coming, Casteen

NEW UVA RAISES NOT GOOD ENOUGH

Living Wage campaign vows to continue action

 Last week the newly energized Living Wage campaign at UVA made some gains when UVA President John Casteen an-nounced a wage increase.

   UVA’s lowest pay bracket will climb to $9.37 per hour from $8.88. The federal minimum wage is $5.15, while Virginia’s minimum wage for State employees is $6.83.

   “It’s an important first step, but it’s not enough,” says Benjamin Van Dyne, a junior at UVA and a student organizer of the Living Wage Campaign. “The UVA administration should know that we’re not going to be satisfied with half-measures.”

   In a statement, Casteen said that fringe benefits, including health insurance and retirement, add $3.29 per hour to the wage. Casteen contends that benefits bring the total wages to $12.82, more than the $11.80 that has been pegged as a “living wage” based on federal statistics.

   “That’s misleading,” says Van Dyne. “You can’t buy groceries with benefits.”

   Casteen also responded to Living Wage activists’ claims that UVA should do more to demand their contractors also pay a living wage. “The University, as a State agency, does not have the legal authority to impose its will on private vendors and contractors,” Casteen said in his statement.

   In a press release, the Living Wage-ers point out that both Charlottesville and Alexandria have mandated living wages for their contractors.

   Van Dyne says the campaign will continue. “We’re heartened,” he says. “So far, we’ve been doing very well by trying to be persuasive with moral arguments and economic facts.”—John Borgmeyer

 

Don’t leave us, Sean!

SINGLETARY NAMED TO ALL-ACC TEAM

Sophomore point guard will play a huge role next year

  Though the UVA men’s basketball team is now relegated to the NIT, there is arguably no better point guard in the ACC than UVA’s Sean Singletary. The Philly native was named to the first team All-ACC last week, having led the Cavs to a seventh-place finish in the 12-team conference after most preseason polls picked UVA to finish last. As a sophomore, Singletary’s 17.8 points per game was the fifth highest in the ACC while his 4.3 assists per game was fourth highest.

   Expectations for Singletary and the team will be even higher next year, as the team moves into the new $130 million John Paul Jones Arena, scheduled to open this summer. For ’06-’07, UVA will keep all its starters and add several big freshman forwards, taking scoring pressure off Singletary, who this year absorbed most opponents’ defensive pressure.

   If he sticks around, that is.

   It seems UVA fans can rest easy. While NBAdraft.net lists Singletary as the seventh-best point guard in the class of ’08, it doesn’t predict him being drafted next year, nor does ESPN.com list him as a Top 100 draft prospect.—Will Goldsmith

 

Courts&Crime News

Try, try again

MISTRIAL DECLARED IN 2004 MURDER

Conflicting testimonies split jurors 5-7

  Late Monday, March 6, 12 jurors in the trial of Billy Marshall emerged from 12 hours of deliberation in Charlottesville Circuit Court to declare they were unable to agree on a verdict. Five wanted to convict, seven wanted to acquit, attributing their differences to conflicting testimony. Judge Edward Hogshire declared a mistrial, meaning the case will be retried at a later, as-yet-undecided date.

   Marshall is accused of strangling 18-year- old Azlee Hickman, who was found dead in the early morning of March 13, 2004, in the Carlton Avenue trailer she shared with her 38-year-old boyfriend, Ronnie Powell.

   Charlottesville Common-wealth’s Attorney Dave Chap-man argued that Marshall had strangled Hickman after she threatened to call police on him for a probation violation.

   Defense lawyer Charles Weber countered—apparently to some success—that statements made to police by Marshall, Powell and Powell’s daughter, were too inconsistent to determine whodunit. Inconsistencies in Ronnie Powell’s testimony fueled that assertion. Weber also insinuated that Powell was perhaps the guilty party, since he had wanted to break up with Hickman.

   According to jury foreman David Ran-dle, every juror agreed “that someone went back there and strangled [Hick-man].” The disagreements, however, arose over who and what to believe.

   “Everybody had concerns about the truthfulness of all three,” says Randle. “Trying to reconstruct what happened [was impossible] given we think everyone wasn’t always as accurate or truthful as they could or should have been.”—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Every move we make

CAMERAS, CAMERAS, EVERYWHERE?

Settling that debate, for once and for all, of whether we’re being watched as we walk down the Mall

  Given the climate fostered by the Bush Administration, nu-merous inquiries have arrived in C-VILLE’s in-boxes as to where the spy cameras are in Charlottesville and who’s behind them. Are they on the Mall? At stoplights? In my bedroom?

   C-VILLE can’t speak definitively as to the presence of cameras in bedrooms. How-ever, according to City spokesperson Ric Barrick, the only cameras the City has right now are at a few select intersections: Emmet/Wise; Emmet/Angus; Preston/10th; Belmont Bridge; Ridge/West Main; West Main/JPA.

   But even these cameras aren’t operational. Moreover, says Bar-rick, when they do get turned on they’ll be used for monitoring traffic patterns, particularly during storms, not individuals. He also assured C-VILLE that there are no red-light cameras in the city. It’s a good thing, too, since the cameras are illegal thanks to a vote last week in the Virginia House of Delegates.

   While there are no City-operated cameras on the Downtown Mall, there has been talk of getting a camera outside the police station on Market Street, but no movement has been made on that front lately.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Kids these days

16-YEAR-OLD PLEADS GUILTY TO CONSPIRACY IN BOMBING CASE

Three other teens accused of plotting to blow up high schools still await adjudication

  At his adjudication hearing in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on March 8, a 16-year-old Albemarle County student accused of conspiring—with three other teens—to commit murder and use explosives on a schoolhouse pleaded guilty to both charges. The four were arrested in February and are suspected of planning to blow up either or both Albemarle and Western Albemarle high schools by year’s end. A third charge against the 16-year-old—entreating others to commit a felony—was dropped. His sentencing is set for April 5.

   As for the other three—a 15-year-old and two 13-year-olds—Judge Susan Whitlock deemed there was not enough time on March 8 to try them. Their next court date is set for March 17. Albemarle Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Camblos, whose office is prosecuting the case, says he is pleased with the guilty plea and hopes to convict the other three teens “with the evidence we have.” He de- clined to comment as to whether the 16-year-old would testify against the others.

   The courtroom on March 8 was packed with friends and family. Before proceedings be-gan, however, the prosecution moved to try all the cases together. This, according to Camblos, was to save time given there are “more than a dozen” witnesses, and re-sources. The defense attorneys for the 13-year-olds then moved to close the case to the public out of privacy concerns. Judge Whitlock agreed.

   According to Legal Aid at-torney and juvenile justice advocate Andrew Block, there is an ongoing legal debate over the pros and cons of closed trials for juveniles. On the one hand, their privacy is important, especially when trying not to permanently scar the kids. On the other hand, open trials are often a way to provide accountability and ensure the government is doing its job.

   In July, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges issued a resolution that they supported juvenile and family courts being open to the public except when the judge “determines that the hearing should be closed in order to serve the best interests of the child and/or family members.”—Nell Boeschenstein

 

 

Sexual assault alert

WOMAN REPORTS BEING RAPED NEAR DICE STREET

Victim was returning home from late night at work

  A woman who lives at the Salvation Army reported to City police on Wednesday, March 8, that she was raped while walking home from work around 3am that morning. The woman reported that the man called her name, although she did not recognize him, and came from behind, pulling her into the woods near Dice Street. He then hit her and pushed her to the ground, telling her he had a gun. After the assault, the victim returned to the Salvation Army and staff took her to UVA Hospital. The results of a DNA test had not returned by press time and no suspect had been arrested. The victim described her attacker as being a black male, about 6’2" and 250 pounds.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

 

Now, a very special C-VILLE P.S.A.

OLD CAR DECALS COULD GET YOU TICKETED

Charlottesville cops don’t want to be seeing no decals

  Ooops, the City forgot to tell us, but car decals have been obsolete since the end January! Not only obsolete, but illegal, too.

   For two and a half months, innocent citizens have been vulnerable to getting stopped and ticketed by City police for still having decals stuck on their windshields. The $15 fee is now just part of a general vehicle registration fee, so the only stickers that belong on your windshields are inspections stickers. And they best be up to date.

   While City police are holding off on ticketing naughty decal flaunters for another couple months in deference to spreading the word, should you get pulled over in April for an old decal, don’t say we never told you so.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

 

Government News

No dirty laundry

VAN YAHRES CLEARED IN FUNDRAISING PROBE

Republican complaints have “no merit,” says prosecutor

  A special prosecutor cleared former Charlottesville Delegate Mitch Van Yahres of any wrongdoing in a probe requested by local Republicans.

   In a press conference on Thursday, March 8, Van Yahres read a letter written by William Neely, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Spotsylvania County that said the criminal complaint had “no merit.”

   The investigation concerned a February 8, 2005, fundraiser at Starr Hill Restaurant. City Republican Chair Bob Hodous complained that the fundraiser violated State election laws prohibiting delegates from fundraising while the General Assembly is in session.

   While Van Yahres protested that the charges were purely political, local GOP Delegates Steven Landes and Rob Bell endorsed the investigation. City Common-wealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman recused himself because he is a Democrat who has contributed to Van Yahres.

   In a March 2 letter to Chapman, Neely found that Van Yahres was an ex officio member of the PAC, meaning he did not participate except to give advice. Van Yahres never received any funds from the PAC, and he received confirmation from the State Board of Elections that the February 8 fundraiser was legal before the event took place.

   “I’m sorry they had to drag me through the mud to make a political point,” Van Yahres said. The investigation was a waste of money, he said, and what bothered him the most is that “I’ve been friends with Bob, Rob and Steve. They could have cleared this up in five minutes if they just talked to me first.”

   Hodous, who says he leaving the chairmanship after this spring’s City Council elections, had no comment.

   “We’re still friends,” Van Yahres says of his Republican antagonizers. “I’ll still have a beer with them. They should send me a six-pack of Starr Hill.”—John Borgmeyer

 

Assembly Watch

LEGISLATORS BRACE FOR OVERTIME

Some delegates pledge loyalty to right-wing loon

 

We’ve had a good, wonky run here at Assembly Watch. But with the 2006 General Assembly session set to end on Saturday, March 11, we thought this column would be full of tearful goodbyes to our favorite subcommittees.

   But wait! Those wacky public servants love crafting public policy so much that they just can’t stop!

   An argument over whether to raise taxes to pay for transportation improvements has pushed the General Assembly into overtime. Governor Tim Kaine wants to raise $1 billion in new taxes to pay for road construction and maintenance.

   Much of the resistance to Democrat Kaine’s proposal comes from a group of right-wing delegates—the same folks who fought Mark Warner’s tax increases and nearly prompted a government shutdown in 2004.

   Eight State senators and 28 delegates (including Albemarle’s own Rob Bell) have signed a “taxpayer protection pledge” vowing to oppose “any and all” efforts to raise taxes. The pledge is crafted by Americans for Tax Reform, a group led by true believer Grover Norquist—a self-described right-wing radical whose goal is to cut government in half in 25 years, “to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub,” as he’s famous for saying.

   It’s all part of the right-wing vision for an America run by Big Business (taxophobic cigarette and alcohol companies are Norquists’ biggest funders), unburdened by annoying ideas like the “public good” that could drag down their profit margins. Kaine is hoping to follow in Warner’s footsteps by bringing Democrats and moderate Republicans together to marginalize Norquists’ disciples.—John Borgmeyer

 

 

Gluttons for punishment

MEET THE SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATES

Getting ready for the City’s first School Board race

 

Geeked up about the first City School Board election? Then take a peek at the slate for the May 2 ballot. The following six folks met the requirements for candidacy by last week’s deadline. We spoke briefly to each candidate to compose the following profiles.—Will Goldsmith

 

sCandidate: Vance High

Age: 48

Occupation: Semi-retired (small business owner)

Qualifying experience: Worked 10 years in schools from middle school to college level

Reason running: Believes in participating in democracy; inspired by death of a former student in Iraq

Children attend(ed) City schools: No

 

Candidate: Charles (Charlie) Kollmansperger

Age: 38

Occupation: Owns technology solutions business for patient-care management

Qualifying experience: Five years as City teacher

Reason running: Frustrated by the Scottie Griffin situation; wants to see a better school system

Children attend(ed) City schools: No

 

Candidate: Sue Lewis

Age: 69

Occupation: Retired financial advisor

Qualifying experience: Served on policy-making boards, including City Planning Commission and Housing Authority

Reason running: Believes City schools should be excellent

Children attend(ed) City schools: Yes

 

Candidate: Edmund (Ned) Michie

Age: 46

Occupation: Attorney

Qualifying experience: Current School Board member

Reason running: Wants to finish his term and oversee start of new superintendent’s tenure

Children attend(ed) City schools: Yes

 

Candidate: Leah Puryear

Age: 52

Occupation: UVA Upward Bound director

Qualifying experience: 26 years of experience at Upward Bound

Reason running: Believes in the Charlottesville City schools

Children attend(ed) City schools: Yes

 

Candidate: Juan Diego Wade

Age: 40

Occupation: Albemarle County transportation planner

Qualifications: Mentored and tutored youth for past 20 years

Reason running: Considers it the right time to effect change, given new superintendent

Children attend(ed) City schools: No (child only 3)

 

Say what?

LANGUAGES ABOUND IN LOCAL SCHOOLS

Forty-eight percent of city’s foreign students are political refugees

  No Child Left Behind mandates that all “subgroups” make adequate yearly progress in improvement on certain tests—even if that subgroup is a potpourari called “Limited English Proficient” or LEP. For local schools, that group is an ever-fluctuating student population, largely children of migrant workers and refugees placed in Albemarle County by the International Rescue Committee.

   “Research suggests that learning an academic language requires five to seven years, but No Child Left Behind demands we do it much faster,” says Courtney Stewart, instructional coordinator for English for Speakers of Other Languages (EOSL) in Albemarle County Schools. Despite such pressures, she is positive about the County’s efforts to teach LEP students.

   Strategies to teach these children vary from school to school. Generally they involve inclusion—when LEP students remain in classes with other students—with variable degrees of “pull-out,” when specific LEP instructors trained take these students out of the general classroom. According to non-English language coordinators in both school systems, more work needs to be done to train general instructors to teach those with limited English proficiency.—Will Goldsmith

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Tuesday, February 28

Happiest wives get love and money

New York Times’ columnist John Tierney writes today about the latest research from UVA sociologists Bradford Wilcox and Steven Nock. Surveying more than 5,000 married couples, the professors found that “having an affectionate and understanding husband was by far the most important predictor of a woman’s satisfaction with her marriage.” In addition, the happiest wives surveyed were those whose husbands earned most of the family income. Tierney shies away from the conclusion that would warm many a neo-con heart, namely that women simply want to scrub more toilets and men simply don’t have the cooking gene. Instead, paraphrasing the authors, he suggests that when it comes to helping around the house, women will be satisfied by an equitable, if not equal, arrangement, provided their men give them good loving.

 

Wednesday, March 1

“Idol” star, a former Fluco, too hot to handle

Onetime Fluvanna resident Chris Daughtry advanced to another round on Fox TV’s “American Idol.” Covering the Fuel hit “Hemorrhage,” Daughtry, a bona fide hottie if the “Idol” message board is any indication, got a lot of love from the judges. And the fans, too. A typical post-show posting? “After his song tonight, I couldn’t help but notice his TONGUE and that LIP LICKING, yummy! He did it about 6 times to my count!”

 

Thursday, March 2

Push to limit gangs still on

Though Sen. Creigh Deeds’ anti-gang bill has failed—a measure that would have let judges impose a life sentence for a third gang-related crime over a 10-year period—other gang legislation continues to progress through the General Assembly, The Washington Post reports today. Much of the proposed legislation, such as bills related to brandishing machetes, targets issues that have plagued Northern Virginia. Several assaults in the past couple of years up there resulted in alleged gang members slicing their rivals’ fingers. But other bills broaden law-enforcement powers generally. The Post reports that a poll it conducted last fall showed that 90 percent of Virginia’s registered voters ranked reducing gang violence, along with taxes and transportation, as top issues they would consider in a gubernatorial campaign.

 

Friday, March 3

Rita Dove’s trophy case begs for mercy

Rack up another accolade for Virginia’s poet laureate, perennial prize-winner Rita Dove. This time the Pulitzer Prize-winner and onetime U.S. Poet Laureate, who happens to be on UVA’s English faculty, celebrates her receipt of the Common Wealth Award, her people announced today. She’ll share a $250,000 prize with other Common Wealth winners including astronaut/Senator John Glenn and director Mike Nichols.

 

Saturday, March 4

Because writing about his hangover is just more interesting

Charlottesvillian Cale Jaffe knows that bad boy skier Bode Miller messed up at the Winter Olympics last month. But in today’s edition of The Washington Post, Jaffe takes exception to writer Sally Jenkins’ coverage of Miller’s performance in Turin. “Admittedly, the Olympics were a train wreck for Miller. But over the past few years, he made American skiing history,” Jaffe writes. Listing Miller’s achievements, including four World Cup titles, which Jaffe says “is more impressive than Olympic gold,” Jaffe asks, “If [Jenkins] is going to make a living writing about someone else’s misery, then why not also mention his triumphs?”

 

Sunday, March 5

Renominated for Council, Schilling gets his 6 cents in

One day after City Democrats nominated Dave Norris and Julian Taliaferro as candidates for May’s City Council election, Republicans today gathered in Char-lottesville General District Court to nominate Rob Schilling for a second four-year term. Praised for his “common sense leadership” by party regulars, Schilling was credited by Charles “Buddy” Weber with cutting the tax bill. “It is quite likely that without Rob Schilling on Council our tax rate would still be $1.11 instead of $1.05,” Weber said. In accepting his party’s nomination, Schilling said the reduction in the property tax rate “was no coincidence to my four years on Council.” “I understand the high cost of city living is directly related to the high cost of City government,” he said. The nominating convention was podcasted on Brian Wheeler’s development-oriented website, cvilletomorrow.org.

 

Monday, March 6

Isaac Mizrahi to join team of school advisers?

In today’s Daily Progress, City Councilor Kendra Hamilton is quoted as advancing school uniforms as one measure to improve social behavior and grades among Charlottesville’s middle schoolers. Acknowledging that the public wants to see progress in test scores and con- duct, Hamilton reportedly said, “What-ever happens it’s going to have to be something drastic,” though, gratefully, she stopped short of promoting argyle. Additionally, Hamilton suggested single-sex education for kids in grades five through eight.

 

Try me

2004 CITY MURDER GOES TO TRIAL   
Billy Marshall accused of strangling teenage mother

After almost four days of testimony and arguments, and nearly 10 hours of deliberation, jurors in the murder trial of Billy Marshall were at an impasse by noon on Monday, March 6.

   Marshall is accused of the first Charlottesville murder of 2004. Azlee Hickman, 18, was found dead from asphyxiation in the early morning of March 13, 2004, just feet from her sleeping infant daughter. According to testimony, Hickman was in the process of moving out of the Carlton Avenue trailer she shared with her 36-year-old boyfriend and father of her baby, Ronnie Powell. Marshall and Powell had been out that night cruising the streets and drinking alcohol, a violation of Marshall’s probation.

   In court, Charlottesville Common-wealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman argued that Hickman, angry that Powell would not come home and take care of the baby, threatened to tell on Marshall. Chapman said Powell and Marshall then returned to the trailer where Marshall got into a fight with Hickman in which he grabbed her by the throat and held her up against the wall, ostensibly strangling her. According to the prosecution, Powell, Marshall, and Powell’s older daughter, Heather, who was also at the scene, then left to establish alibis, returning later that night to call police.

   Defending Marshall, attorney Charles Weber attempted to pin blame on Powell, saying that Powell wanted out of the relationship and that the two had had a screaming, yelling, throwing-things-all-over- the-trailer argument earlier that night.

   The prosecution showed photos of the trailer, where Chapman posited there was no evidence of such a fight. The prosecution asserted that DNA samples taken from Hickman’s fingernails conclusively excluded Ronnie and Heather Powell, but not Mar- shall, although the DNA could have been from the night of the murder or from weeks before.

   If convicted of second-degree murder, Marshall faces up to 40 years in prison.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

A few good men

THINK YOU CAN BE A COUNTY COP?
Candidates must be able to read, write and climb a 6 fence

At the end of February the Albemarle County Police Department held a hiring bonanza at its Fifth Street Extended headquarters to recruit and hire new officers for six open positions to fill out its force of 115.

   Eighty-six applicants started the day with a 75-minute written test—65 multiple-choice questions and 10 short answers—that, according to Lt. John Teixeira is “easier than the SAT.” Applicants who passed continued to physical testing which included jumping out of a police car, climbing a 6′ barrier, running a quarter-mile, jumping a 5′ ditch, dragging a 150-pound dummy 50 feet, and dry firing five rounds each with the left and right hands.

   Twenty-six candidates who passed the written and physical exams are now undergoing background checks. If they pass, it’s on to polygraphs and medical and psychological eval-uations. The process should be done by the time Albemarle County’s police academy begins on May 9. The salary range for officers is $31,925-$51,081.—Nell Boeschenstein

   

Thin ice update

WHISPER RIDGE FACES POSSIBLE LICENSE REVOCATION
State regulatory authorities read local juvenile psychiatric facility the riot act

On February 27, the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services sent a letter to Whisper Ridge, a 58-bed residential facility for emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children located on Arlington Road, saying the department is taking steps to revoke Whisper Ridge’s license.

   According to the letter, in the course of unannounced investigations at the start of the year, State licensing representatives found evidence of neglect, including resident-on-resident assault, two occasions of residents assaulting staff, incidents of residents overdosing on medications that had supposedly been “checked,” several suicide attempts, and allegations of staff sexually abusing residents. One resident-on-resident assault allegedly ended with the victim climbing up onto the roof of the facility to attempt an escape. The report blames the incidents largely on inadequate staffing and supervision of the residents.

   In response, Whisper Ridge’s CEO, Taylor Davis, issued a statement saying, “We believe that we can address the current issues facing our facility in a manner that will satisfy the Department. We have no reason to believe that the facility will lose its license once the issues raised have been addressed by Whisper Ridge.”—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Thank heavens, it’s spring break

UVA “INCIDENTS” ON THE RISE
Recent frat brawl will probably prompt a forum

A fight last week at UVA’s Delta Upsilon fraternity has raised concern about the increasing number of “incidents” involving UVA students.

   The fight happened during a party Thursday night, March 2, at the Delta Upsilon house at 180 Rugby Rd. According to reports, a group showed up to the party but was denied admission. Later, about 15 people broke through a window and entered the fraternity. A brawl ensued, during which one of the intruders produced a weapon that later turned out to be a BB gun. Only minor injuries were reported. Police had not made any arrests at press time, and UVA officials and members of Delta Upsilon could not be reached by press time.

   “We have seen an increase in incidents involving UVA students, compared to what we have had in the past,” says City Spokesman Ric Barrick. He said a UVA forum on the subject is likely.—John Borgmeyer

 

And the saga continues

MR. BETTY SCRIPPS FILES COUNTER SUIT
Harvey seeks $350,000 in punitive damages from ex-employee

Former Albemarle County businessman Jeremy Harvey has filed a countersuit against former employee Stan Manoogian. As reported in C-VILLE, Harvey, who recently remarried his ex-wife, heiress Betty Scripps, owns an investment bank, Quadrant Capital Group, that has offices in Charlottesville and Florida; for nine months in 2005, Manoogian was Quadrant’s managing director.

   After discovering that Quadrant’s relationship with its payroll company had soured, Manoogian left Quadrant; he filed a lawsuit for $2.2 million alleging fraud, slander and breach of contract against Harvey in Albemarle County Circuit Court. Harvey’s countersuit, also filed in Albemarle Circuit Court, seeks $350,000 in punitive damages, and alleges breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, interference with business contracts and expectancy, violation of the Virginia Trade Uniform Secrets Act, conspiracy and fraud. In addition to punitive damages, the suit says compensatory damages will be sought as well, with the amount to be determined at trial.

   Harvey’s suit claims that Manoogian neglected to repay a loan from Harvey and that he did not fulfill requirements of his employment contract, such as setting financial goals for the company and filing weekly progress reports. It also alleges that Manoogian spearheaded an effort by Quadrant employees to buy Harvey out or leave the company en masse, crippling Quadrant’s ability to do business. Manoo-gian says the allegations are without merit and that he has the documentation to prove it.

   Harvey’s attorney, Dan Meador, speaking for himself and Harvey, had “no comment” on the suit.—Nell Boeschenstein Traffic tie-ups

 

ALBEMARLE PLACE SET TO START BUILDING
Developer offers up to $7 million in road improvements

As an upscale town center project, Albemarle Place would bring 600,000 square feet of retail, 800 residential units, a movie theater and a hotel to one of the busiest intersections in the area, Route 29N and Hydraulic Road. After five years of planning and a rezoning approval in 2004, the last hurdles to be crossed are the County’s Architectural Review Board process and road improvements.

   With a total of 35 buildings on the site, the ARB has agreed that 22 buildings will be vetted. “We’re the guinea pigs. We’re building a little city,” says developer Frank Cox. “It’s a lot of work for us and for the ARB. It puts a major pinch on our ability to complete leases for major retailers.” But Cox also sees the market improving each month as residents with more buying power move to the area.

   The biggest issue is how such a huge development will affect traffic at what is already a notoriously congested intersection.

   In the short term, drivers can expect additional lanes on each side of Route 29N. Offered as off-site proffers for the public right-of-way, these $5 million to $7 million upgrades are considered interim transportation improvements to keep traffic moving for the next five years. Cox is also counting on the new Hillsdale connector road, the Meadowcreek Park- way and a 29N bypass to solve the corridor’s problems (although a bypass is politically unlikely).

   Cox says the project should start this spring or summer with $40 million of site improvements for roads, sewage and drainage.—Jay Neelley

 

Condo craze

MORE APARTMENTS GOING CONDO
Will 600 new units meet the demand for affordable housing?

Some real estate experts estimate that in the past 18 months, as many as 600 new condominiums have hit the local housing market. Many of these new units were converted from apartments to condos, including big apartment complexes like Hessian Hills near Barracks Road and Walker Square near W. Main Street.

   “Conversions are what is really hot in our market right now,” says Ty Smith, vice president of SunTrust Bank. Smith loans money to condominium buyers, whom he says range from first-time homebuyers to retirees and, of course, investors and speculators.

   When a property owner converts apartments into condos, Smith says that federal regulators usually stipulate that no more than half can be sold to investors—at least half must be sold for owner occupation. “The resale value of the property and the security depends on the people living around you,” says Smith. “If a majority of the units are owned by people living in them, the upkeep is more likely to help the property retain its value.”

   Typically, people renting an apartment have the first option to buy when the unit converts to a condominium. Converted apartments are usually the cheapest style of condo, says Smith, who reports sale prices starting at about $145,000. New condos, in contrast, usually target the upscale buyer.

   “I’ve done mortgages for condos in excess of $700,000—and that’s not the penthouse,” says Smith.

   This is all good news for City officials and business leaders eager for new real estate development in Charlottesville. They are hoping to brand condo life in Charlottesville as the choice for hip young families, as well as for retirees and empty nesters who are tired of mowing their suburban lawns.

   The conversion trend “probably hasn’t been much fun” for renters who are getting kicked out of apartments set for conversion, says real estate agent David Sloan. He expects the trend to continue, however. “You’re going to see more condo projects along W. Main Street,” he says. “The demand for housing there is going to get stronger. The attitude now is, ‘if you build it, they will come.’”—John Borgmeyer

 

Cool at school

JEFFERSON SCHOOL EARNS HISTORIC DESIGNATION
Listing on National Register could mean tax credits for renovation

Late last month, the National Park Service added Jefferson School and Carver Recreation Center to the National Register of Historic Places. The reason for the honor: the school’s pivotal role in Virginia’s desegregation effort of the 1950s and ’60s.

   The designation onto the National Register is not merely an honor; it also carries certain tangible benefits. The most essential is its eligibility for State and federal rehabilitation tax credits, which can be used for various restoration projects.

   In 2002, a group of citizens and Jefferson graduates rallied to save the Fourth Street school from a City plan to sell the land to developers. Since then, various groups have kicked around ways to redevelop the building in a way that both preserves the site as a cultural landmark and doesn’t require perpetual funding from the City.

   The tax credits could account for as much as 45 percent of renovation costs, which makes the historic designation extremely valuable, considering that cost estimates for Jefferson School range from $8 million to $30 million.

   The symbolism of the National Register is important, too, says City Councilor Kevin Lynch. The designation, he says, “clearly stakes out that this is a building that the City values as an ongoing asset, and that it’s dedicated to its preservation.”—David Goodman

 

Neighborhood update

THERE’S ALWAYS A PARTY IN VENABLE
City neighborhood is where town meets gown

As the City reviews its Comprehensive Plan, planners invited residents to discuss their concerns. There’s no shortage of conflict in the Venable neighborhood, where Animal House college crash pads sit next to fraternities, sororities, businesses, churches, Venable Elementary as well as owner-occupied homes for both affluent and low-income residents.

   While Venable runs the gamut in terms of property types and values, many of its residents share similar concerns. According to the 2006 Draft Venable Neighborhood Plan, residents cited the need for a Rugby Road bike lane, connecting sidewalks, a crackdown on illegal parking, new water lines and more affordable housing.

   Residents question whether the City can pony up the dough. Speaking on the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP), Venable Neighborhood Association President Bobbie Bruner says, “Most of us feel like it’s full of red tape and that the dollar amount is trivial.” For example, she says that each neighborhood gets up to $30,000 a year, whereas sidewalks cost $100 per foot, meaning a year’s allotment would cover a sidewalk spanning just two houses.

   When asked about the newly established historic district and the continuing tug-of-war between preservationists and developers in Venable, Bruner says residents feel it is a mixed bag. “When a developer builds a multimillion dollar property, he does take care of it and he can provide a parking place for every bedroom,” she says. “I think all of us mourn the loss of Arts & Crafts properties, but so many of them have become run down.”—Esther Brown Moneybags!

 

UVA FUNDRAISES WITH THE BEST OF ’EM
Study ranks UVA 24th in 2005 collegiate fundraising efforts

A study released in mid-February by the Council for Aid to Education named UVA as the 24th most fundraising-happy college or university in the nation, having raised more than $174 million in 2005. That’s about $5 million less than No. 23, rival UNC-Chapel Hill, and $9 million more than No. 26, Princeton. In the 2004 version of the same study, UVA also ranked 24th, but raised $8 million less, about $166 million.

   According to University spokesperson Carol Wood, UVA’s 2005 numbers include the eye-popping total of $67,355,260 raised in December alone, the second-highest monthly total in the school’s history. (The record holder is the $99 million December of 2001.) UVA is currently in the throes of a massive capital campaign that aims to raise $3 billion by 2011.

   Below is a partial list of the Top 25 earners and their 2005 platinum piggy banks. —Nell Boeschenstein

1. Stanford University: $603,585,914

2. University of Wisconsin-Madison:

   $595,215,891

3.   Harvard University: $589,861,000

4.   University of Pennsylvania:  $394,249,685

5. Cornell University: $353,931,403

6. Columbia University: $341,140,986

7. University of Southern California: $331,754,481

8. Johns Hopkins University:  $323,100,408

9. Indiana University: $301,060,946

10. University of California, San Francisco:    $292,932,382

24. University of Virginia: $174,370,854

 

 

Hometown heroes return

DMB TO PLAY FIRST LOCAL GIG IN FIVE YEARS
Trippin’ billies to fill John Paul Jones arena

Last week Dave Matthews Band announced they would make Charlottesville the last stop on their 2006 summer tour with two performances at UVA’s new $130 million John Paul Jones Arena, set to open in July. DMB will cap their summer run of 51 U.S. shows in 38 cities with the JPJ gig on September 22 and 23.

   General tickets for the tour go on sale April 8.

   This will be the first time Dave and the boys have played their hometown since their 2001 gig at UVA’s Scott Stadium. When reached for comment, spokesman Patrick Jordan denied that the JPJ double-gig was a ploy to secure lifetime courtside seats for the five band members, instead saying, “The band is really excited about the new arena being one of the biggest and nicest facilities in the state.” DMB, the reigning kings of the jam-band scene, were a top draw last year; the band sold more U.S. concert tickets than any other touring act except Messiah stand-ins U2.

   It’s been a regular DMB lovefest lately: Bama Works, the band’s charity arm, recently donated $550,000 to the City Center for Contemporary Arts, the modern-looking arts complex on Water Street.

   In other news, Jordan confirms that the band is at work writing its next record with Stand Up producer Mark Batson.—John Borgmeyer, with additional reporting by Cathy Harding

 

Almost like Washington

DOES UVA CARE WHAT THE FACULTY THINKS?
Faculty Senate wrestles with questions of relevance

Conflicting opinions over UVA’s “floating campus” Semester at Sea program have raised questions about the Faculty Senate’s ability to represent faculty concerns about the program’s validity and other issues. Under fire from disgruntled arts and sciences faculty, the administration responded that it had informed the Faculty Senate that the program was under consideration.

   The Faculty Senate, with about 80 members, is supposed to be the faculty voice “with respect to all academic functions” and “matters affecting the welfare of the university,” according to official documents. The question, though, is whether anyone in UVA’s administration is listening.

   Some faculty think the Senate isn’t doing enough to stand up for their concerns. Anthropology professor and Faculty Senator Fred Damon said via e-mail that decision-making at UVA is in “crisis” marked by “a pattern of lack of communication about decisions that are experienced as major aspects of the schedules and practices we lead.”

   The Faculty Senate, it seems, wields little actual power beyond the announcement of collective opinion. In addition to normal faculty concerns such as salaries, the Faculty Senate has issued public reports against intolerance, and have opined on the academic calendar and the “charter” decision. They also regularly have the ear of the Board of Visitors on things like UVA’s honor system.

   Departments can hold elections or use a nominating committee to choose senators, who serve four-year terms. Meetings of the full Senate are open to the public.

   Faculty Senate Chair Hous-ton Wood says there’s room for improvement. He says new focus groups established at the Senate’s retreat will help senators “take better control and report back to their constituents. We don’t want this to happen again where the faculty are left out and unhappy.”

   UVA Vice President and Provost Gene Block met with the Faculty Senate March 2 and acknowledged that the decision to contract for Semester at Sea should have involved more communication with the faculty.—Meg McEvoy

 

No pressure—just win

LAST FALL IN U-HALL
While fans ponder Cavs’ fate in new facility, former superstar slips

UVA poured on the pomp and circumstance for the last men’s basketball game in University Hall on Sunday, March 5, although the “Last Ball in U-Hall” was mostly about hyping up the July opening of the $130 million, 15,000-seat John Paul Jones arena.

   “There are a lot of memories, but really no sadness,” said former coach Terry Holland in a pregame press conference alongside former UVA stars Wally Walker and Ralph Sampson, who were also right on message. “It’s time for a new facility,” Sampson said.

   Sure, but can UVA graduate from the 8,400-seat U-Hall (the smallest gym in the ACC) and fill the much bigger JPJ?

   Holland said “the building itself” would bring in the fans and restore the glory of Sampson’s era in the early ’80s, when UVA was a national hoops powerhouse.

   Under pressure to build a winning team and fill the new seats, new head coach Dave Leitao is off to a decent start. Though UVA lost its momentous game to Maryland 71-70 on Sunday, the Cavs finished the season with 14-13 overall. Junior guard J.R. Reynolds led the team on Sunday with 30 points, but the night belonged to senior Billy Campbell, a walk-on who hit two clutch three-pointers in a rare start.

   After the game, Sampson took the last shot at Univer-sity Hall—a precarious dunk that sent the 7’4" star falling on his butt. Former players and coaches passed the ball around the court to Leitao, who will use it in a ceremony christening JPJ.—John Borgmeyer Assembly Watch

 

TEENS O.K. TO GAB WHILE DRIVING
House kills bill designed to prevent cell phone accidents

According to the Insurance Information Institute, 56 percent of teenagers use their cell phone while driving, and “driver distraction” accounts for 15 percent of all teen driver crashes in Virginia. Twelve states have laws banning teens from talking on their cell phones while driving. Sen. Jay O’Brien’s attempt to add the Common-wealth to that list failed last week, when a House subcommittee killed his S.B. 137 that would have banned cell phone chatter for any driver under 18. According to a report by the Associated Press, the committee’s chair told O’Brien there were too many bills on the docket to consider S.B. 137.

Kids must actually learn about sex in sex ed

Del. Scott Lingamfelter’s H.B. 164 would have required any sexual education course in Virginia to emphasize the “unlawfulness of sex between unmarried persons” and that abstinence is the “accepted norm.” The bill may explain why Lingamfelter didn’t get laid in college, but senators voted it down, deciding that students might actually need some facts about human sexuality in addition to lectures on morality. City Delegate David Toscano voted against the bill, while County Delegate Rob Bell voted for it.

New law puts dangerous dogs on trial

Last month, some citizens asked City Council to pass a new ordinance regarding dangerous dogs, but Council decided to wait until the General Assembly weighed in on the question.

   New legislation that is likely to become law provides that any dog that attacks a person will face a court hearing to determine if the animal is “dangerous.” A dangerous dog must be kept in an enclosure or on a leash, and its owner will be held responsible—even punished with jail time—if the dog attacks again. There are exceptions, however, for a dog that fights in response to an attack, or if the dog attacks while defending itself or its owner. “If your dog is declared dangerous, you have a loaded weapon,” says Del. Rob Bell, who worked closely on the legislation.

 

School’s in, sucka

CITY SCHOOLS TO CUT MORE THAN 20 JOBS
Many to go are classroom teachers

The City School Board finally passed a budget for the 2006-07 fiscal year.

   In order to help finance larger-than-usual teacher raises averaging 7.5 percent, and in response to decreased enrollment during this school year, more than 20 existing positions—a majority of which are classroom teachers—are on the chopping block.

   The school system will begin notifying faculty and staff who won’t make the cut by March 15, but Board Chair Julie Gronlund doesn’t think anyone will be fired. “We’ll be able to do it through attrition,” she says. Human Resources Director Michael Heard noted that in his three years, “we typically hire 60 or more people a year, and if you take total personnel, it’s over 100. The issue becomes, what do you do when you don’t have all the resignations that you know you’re going to get eventually?”

   Meanwhile, candidates are beginning to emerge for the City’s first School Board elections, with both Vance High and Ned Michie declaring their candidacies last week. We can only hope the quotable Kenneth Jackson throws his hat in the ring—he offered the best dis of the current Board at Thursday’s meeting, saying, “You have all these facts and figures and can’t figure out a budget.”—Will Goldsmith

 

Keep the old plan, Stan

CROZET PETITIONS FOR AMENDED GROWTH PLANS
Supe chair says petitioners misunderstand the Master Plan

Some Crozet residents feel betrayed by a recent Albe-marle County planning re-port that puts the long range build-out total for new residents at 24,000. They prefer the original figure of 12,000 set by the Crozet Master Plan, and they rounded up 1,300 signatures on a petition as a mandate to hold the supervisors accountable.

   Hugh Meager, a member of the Crozet Community Association, presented the petition when the Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, March 1. “A deal is a deal,” said Meager. “It is time for the Board to take action and stand up for the citizens they represent.” As a designated growth area, Crozet is the site for Old Trail Village, a mixed-use development with 2,000 homes and 250,000 square feet of commercial space. But several residents spoke out for preserving the rural quality of life in the area.

   Karen Arch asked the Board, “Are you working for the people who elected you, or the people in New Jersey who want to move here?” David Wayland wanted to know who was more important, the developers or the people and said, “An 18 percent growth rate is insane. When will you draw the line?”

   The issue is more complicated than it seems, says Supe Chair Dennis Rooker. The Master Plan does not set population limits, and it does not establish the density of residential developments in Crozet—instead, it recommends ranges of density for land targeted for residential development. “Rarely does anybody build out to maximum density,” says Rooker, noting that Forest Lakes in Northern Albemarle, for example, was only built to 60 percent of allowable density there.

   That seems unlikely to mollify agitated Crozetians, however. “It’s good that people are interested and engaged,” says Rooker.—Jay Neelley, with additional reporting by John Borgmeyer

 

Money talks

CITY BUDGET UP 8 PERCENT
Don’t miss your chance to spout off on spending

On Thursday, March 2, City Manager Gary O’Connell announced his proposed City budget of $121,195,206—an increase of 8.5 percent over last year’s budget.

   If you’re curious about specifics, you can check out the complete budget at www.charlottesville.com. On Saturday, March 18, the City will hold a budget forum at Buford Middle School from 10am to noon. Residents will be able to meet with individual City Councilors, who will present their own version of the budget on April 3.—John Borgmeyer

 

Press releases we love

HOORAY FOR PEANUTS!
Deconstructing the poetry of public relations

Big, fat tobacco has hogged the Dixie spotlight for too long: This week the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services sent out a press release announcing that Governor Tim Kaine has named March “Virginia Peanut Month.”

   “Whether you prefer your peanuts in the shell or out,” states the press release, “salted or unsalted, honey-kissed, butter-toasted, chocolate-covered, Cajun style, barbecue-flavored, in brittle or squares, raw, boiled or roasted, you can’t choose a better peanut than Virginia-grown.”

   Circus Peanuts—those otherworldly marshmallow candies that look like peanuts and taste like ass—are conspicuously absent.—Nell Boeschenstein

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News in review

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Tuesday, February 21
Similarities uncovered between George Allen, chewed spinach

Politicalderby.com continues its 2008 presidential handicapping with today’s news that Virginia’s junior Senator, George Allen, has the No. 1 ranking “on the strength of very positive inside-baseball chatter.” The former Republican governor has held on to his ranking for the past couple of weeks. But the pundits on the site caution that the field is wide open: “With roughly 1,000 days to go before the 2008 election, picking a winner today is like predicting what you’ll pick out of your teeth after dinner on May 3, 2021.”

 

Wednesday, February 22
Link between weather and stating the obvious remains unbroken

It snowed briefly this morning and WCAV was on the scene with the story. “I woke up this morning and I wasn’t expecting to see this amount of snow,” one local told the station. Said another, “I figured it was going to be clear all the way home.” Still a third remarked that after witnessing some accidents, “everybody seems to be slowing down, so that’s a good thing.”

 

Thursday, February 23
Fewer students selling their souls because they can’t afford it

Law school applications are down 10 percent from the same period in 2004, according to a posting today on the Collegiate Times website. Some speculate that college grads are finding it easier to get high-paying jobs right out of college (but not in Charlottesville!), so they’re skipping the familiar law school hedge. But others say price is a determining factor, and they cite UVA Law School as an example. According to Collegiate Times, “in 2001, an in-state law student at the University of Virginia paid $18,090 a year. For the 2005-2006 school year, that price jumped to $28,300 per year.”

 

Friday, February 24
Virgil Goode’s dirty donor confesses

Mitchell Wade, former head of MZM, a defense-contracting firm, pleaded guilty today to bribing a California congressman and illegally funneling money to Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode, who represents Charlottesville and most of the impoverished Southside in the gerrymandered Fifth District, according to Reuters. Wade bribed decorated Vietnam War pilot and longtime California Congressman Randy Cunningham to the tune of $2.4 million. In regards to Goode, Wade acknowledged that he violated campaign finance rules by reimbursing MZM employees who donated to Goode’s campaign, as well as the campaign of Florida Congresswoman Katherine Harris. All the elected officials involved are Republicans. Reportedly, Wade said that neither Goode nor Harris knew of the illegal activity.

   Goode received at least $46,000 in cloaked MZM contributions. As the scandal first unfolded last year, Goode offered to repay any donations from MZM employees. In 2003, one of the years when Goode received MZM money, he shepherded $9 million in appropriations to an MZM facility in Martinsville.

   Wade also got cozy with a Defense Department official who worked in Charlottesville in the name of pumping up MZM’s bottom line. MZM hired both the son of a National Ground Intelligence Center official and then the official himself, according to later reports in The Washington Post, which identified him as Robert Fromm. NGIC is located in Albemarle County.

 

Saturday, February 25
Road games more dangerous than previously known

Thank you, Jerry Ratcliffe, Daily Progress sports editor, for finally helping us to understand why the UVA men cannot win a basketball game on the road. Anticipat-ing the Cavs’ 90-64 loss to Clemson, Ratcliffe writes today, “Life on the road in the ACC is filled with land mines…” UVA hasn’t won two ACC games on the road since the 2001-2002 season, sug- gesting that with all those bombs lying in wait, the Cavs should consider sending a scout out first.

 

Sunday, February 26
Charlottesville feels the power

Hundreds of locals turned out at Carver Recreation Center this weekend, according to WINA, hoping that a Hollywood casting agent would give them a lucky break. The casting agent for Evan Almighty, a sequel to Jim Carrey’s Bruce Almighty, took names, snapped pictures and generally raised many hopes for a role in the Steve Carell production, which will get fully underway in March.

 

Monday, February 27
Charlottesville-D.C. road trip could be cut to only three hours

Prince William County officials are considering a private offer to improve the intersection of routes 29 and 66, The Washington Post reports today. Though transportation is at the top of Gov. Tim Kaine’s legislative agenda, “some Northern Virginia officials say they have so little faith in the State’s ability to deliver that they have accepted or are considering offers from developers to pay for major projects,” according to the Post. Developer Brookfield Homes proposes to pay any cost to improve the intersection, which is marred by a rail crossing. The Faustian terms? Brookfield wants approval to build another 6,800 homes in that region—which, it seems worth pointing out, will increase traffic.

 

Caution: Ped Xing

COUNCIL HEARS MALL-CROSSING ARGUMENTS
Customer service rejected as a means to improve East End businesses

How difficult is it really to get to the Downtown Mall? Difficult enough that City Council met last week to hear comments on the Downtown Business Asso-ciation’s petition to open Fourth or Fifth streets as a vehicular crossing. The motivation: Business isn’t looking so hot on the east end of the Mall since the closing of Seventh Street in 2004.

   Proponents of the crossing stormed Council chambers in force on Tuesday, February 21, arguing that the very vitality of the Mall could be at stake. Several Downtown business owners laid on the anecdotes, claiming that customer complaints about inaccessibility have grown common. Owners believe that the crossing would greatly facilitate patrons’ ability to access all parts of the Mall, including the parking garages. “What has made [the Mall] a success is that it is a destination for people,” said Steve Blaine, Vice Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, “and the economic vitality of the Downtown Mall has been critical for that.”

   Despite pro-business contentions, many Mall denizens are impervious to change, citing 30 years of Downtown success without this crossing. Residents tried to convince Council to sample alternatives before resorting to another crossing. Suggestions included way-finding plans, greater signage and improved parking. Invoking the Planning Commission’s January 10 vote against this proposal, Mall-goers like Peter Kleeman demanded more compelling data, ensuring “reasonable protections of benefits to overcome the significant impact, risks and safety intrusions that a crossing might cause.”

   Council will consider a one-year trial and will work towards establishing criteria for assessing success prior to endorsement. Council is scheduled to vote on the matter at its next meeting, Monday, March 6.—David Goodman

 

Thanks, I’ll pass

SCHILLING LEADS WITH NON-VOTES
The King of Abstentions opts to run for Council again

On Tuesday, February 21, City Councilor Rob Schilling announced his intention to run for a second term in May’s citywide election, casting himself as the guy who’s been standing up against “business as usual.” Though he was referring to Council’s budgeting process, an assertion that was forcefully derided by fellow Councilor Blake Caravati in the next day’s Daily Progress, there’s one area where Schilling, Council’s lone Republican, definitely runs against the pack. By a margin as high as 4-1, Schilling stands out as the Councilor with the greatest number of abstentions.

   According to C-VILLE’s search into City records, during Schilling’s first two years, under Mayor Maurice Cox, he abstained on eight of 127 votes. The closest non-vote contender was Caravati, with two abstentions from July 2002 to June 2004. Cox abstained once; Councilors Kevin Lynch and Meredith Richards did not abstain at all.

   Since 2004 Council has had 52 major votes (C-VILLE did not tally votes on consent agendas). Schilling abstained seven times, followed by Kendra Hamilton with four abstentions. Caravati and Lynch have one each in this period; Mayor David Brown has not abstained on any vote. All told, Schilling has abstained on more than 8 percent of Council votes in nearly four years.

   Explaining his record, Schilling credits his abstentions to poor information. “I’ll never guess at something. That’s what I would consider poor public service,” he says.

   But his colleagues see something different at work. “I don’t think that other than Rob there’s been much precedent for people using abstentions,” Richards says.

   “You’re put there to be a legislator, a voice for the people,” Caravati says. “When you don’t take positions, especially when you take the excuse that you have no information, you’re not doing your job as a legislator.”—Cathy Harding, with additional reporting by Esther Brown and Nell Boeschenstein

 

On the bedfellow beat

TJPED REPORTS DONATIONS
County’s controversial new ally gets big bucks from big biz

After years of demurring on the offer, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors voted on February 8 to join the Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development (TJPED). Chummy with the Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce, the TJPED provides info to businesses that will potentially locate here. Critics worry the TJPED’s—and now, by association, the County’s—business alliances could give a boost to the number of “yeas” when it comes to who gets development go-aheads. Indeed, this edited list shows that commercial interest is alive and well at TJPED. These are some 2005 donations to the association, which were reported in February.—Meg McEvoy

 

University of Virginia: $35,000

Wachovia Bank: $25,000

The Daily Progress: $10,000

Piedmont Virginia Community College: $10,000

Dominion Virginia Power: $8,000

Omni Charlottesville Hotel: $7,605

Ferguson Enterprises: $7,500

Bank of America: $5,000

BB&T: $5,000

Colonial Auto Center: $5,000

Hunter Craig Company: $5,000

LexisNexis Publishing: $5,000

State Farm Insurance Company; $5,000

Great Eastern Management Company: $3,000

Albemarle First Bank: $2,500

Worrell Investment Company, Inc.: $2,500

Faulconer Construction Co.: $2,000

Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors: $1,000

Wal-Mart Distribution Center: $1,000

 

Assembly Watch

ON DECK FOR CITY: CHARTER CHANGE
Clearing both chambers, Toscano’s bill would make it easier for City to give low-income people a housing break

With the luck he’s having, maybe David Toscano, Charlottesville’s freshman delegate, should have bought a Powerball ticket. Last week two of his bills cleared House and Senate hurdles, now awaiting the signature of Governor Tim Kaine. One of those, an affordable housing measure, could open the door to significant changes in Charlottes-ville’s overheated housing market.

   Toscano’s bill changes the City charter to allow the government to make grants and loans to low- and moderate-income people to help with home-buying. It also will let the City offer tax deferrals to folks in the same categories who are already homeowners. It’s modeled after similar legislation affecting Alexandria.

   Toscano says good old-fashioned compromise helped get the measure through. “Some folks had a concern about powers of eminent domain,” he says. “We took out some of the language in the bill because we didn’t feel the City needed more powers of eminent domain.”

   Councilor Kevin Lynch foresees that with more precise tax-relief in its toolbox, the City will be able to target “low- and moderate-income homeowners who have seen the most rapid appreciation in their properties,” rather than enacting blanket tax-rate relief as Council did in 2005 when the property tax rate was cut by 4 cents to $1.05.

   Neil Williamson, who heads the business-friendly Free Enterprise Forum, frets that Toscano’s bill is more red tape by another name. “The Free Enterprise Forum is very much in favor of affordable housing,” he says. “However, we’re concerned the City might be building additional bureaucracy, whereas the private sector could adequately serve this function.”

   Harumph, says Lynch: “The Free Enterprise Forum and the realtor group are always in favor of affordable housing and preventing any legislation that would block it until someone asks them to provide it. Then they’re nowhere to be seen.”—Cathy Harding

 

To Cav and Cav not

SUPREME COURT PASSES ON COLLEGE NEWSPAPER CENSORSHIP CASE
Cav Daily can continue hot-button coverage of cafeteria trays unabated

Many college newspapers may soon have to run their articles by the dean’s office—but, thanks to its independent status, The Cavalier Daily will not be one of them. The Supreme Court recently declined to rule on Hosty v. Carter, allowing to stand the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals’ opinion that, like high school newspapers, subsidized college newspapers are subject to editorial control by the administration.

   But President John Casteen will not get a chance to vet his morning copy of The Cav Daily, because the paper is not subsidized by the University. This autonomy grew out of a 1979 conflict between the administration and the paper, according to current editor Make Slaven. “Our independence is critical to our credibility,” he says. “Even if you don’t have administrators breathing down your neck, it’s extremely difficult anyway to print honest news if you have somebody exerting control over you.”

   Former UVA president Robert O’Neil says, “It never occurred to me to intercede at all [with The Cavalier Daily].” Now, as director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, his organization joined a brief urging the Supreme Court to take the Illinois case.

   Yet the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case might be a blessing, O’Neil says. “Given the current make-up of the court, my fear is that they would have taken it to affirm the Court of Appeals, thus making nationwide the Hazelwood standard that now only effects three states—Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.”—Will Goldsmith

 

Cruisin’ ‘n’ boozin’

THE UPSIDE OF SEMESTER AT SEA
Beckett and bikinis: An odd couple, perhaps, but the sex is great!

In January, UVA became the academic home base for the controversial Semester at Sea program, and on February 22 Spanish Professor David Gies was named as the program’s first UVA-affiliated academic dean. A cruise-ship-cum-college-campus, the ship sails around the world docking at different ports and offering an alternative to the traditional junior year abroad.

   Professorial whoopin’ and hollerin’ has since abounded over partying, safety and whether the academics on the Semester at Sea program measure up to UVA standards; the administration claims these concerns are overblown. C-VILLE, however, is looking on the bright side. Here are a few perqs students and profs can enjoy on board that they’ll never find when landlocked.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

-    Less is more: Whoever said itsy bitsy, teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikinis are not conducive to learning was just plain stupid.

-   What happens on Semester at Sea stays on Semester at Sea. It’s like having embassy license plates in Vegas!

-   Fresh, uh…fish?

 

 

In the John

JOHN PAUL JONES ARENA SKED ANNOUNCED
Sweaty men, pretty ponies among big-name acts

  A new $128 million stadium cannot live on basketball alone. That’s why UVA announced a few months ago that it was partnering with SMG—not Sarah Michelle Geller, but the stadium management group—to get butts in those 16,000 seats come the off-season. Last week SMG unveiled the first events scheduled for JPJ this year. From the circus to skating cartoon characters to beefy men rolling around in a totally not-gay way, everybody wins! For more information and upcoming events, check www.johnpaul jonesarena.com.—Eric Rezsnyak

  August 14: World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly the WWF) presents “Monday Night Raw.” The show will be taped and broadcast live on USA Network.

  October 18-22: Disney on Ice celebrates “100 Years of Magic.” It’s like the Ice Capades, but with more smiling, singing rodents.

  November 24: Lipizzaner Stallions. Oh, yes. There will be prancing.

  December 6-10: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey—The Greatest Show on Earth. Also, the most modest.

 

 

The big flap

UVA PROF FINDS ORDER IN CHAOS
Could “butterfly effect” explain TomKat union?

You know that “butterfly effect”—the theory that says tiny variations can lead to big changes? Now, anthropologists at UVA are taking the butterfly effect, which is actually a part of something called chaos theory, and applying it to the humanities and social sciences.

   On the Order of Chaos, a book of essays published late last year and edited by UVA professor Frederick Damon, takes the formula to the forefront of culture—a first, he says.

   Prior to his work, “nobody in anthropology had systematically used chaos theory.” He says, “I knew I was getting into something bigger than me.”

   Bigger than most journalists, too, so first let’s get to the basics.

   Chaos theory deals with nonlinear relationships, or problems that don’t have a direct cause and effect. But chaos, Damon cautions, “does not mean disorder. It means a certain kind of order.”

   In the book, anthropologist Christopher Taylor explains the Rwandan genocide by decoding the society’s dependence on the flow of liquids. He shows how blocking the flow of blood, semen and water caused a systematic crumbling in Rwanda.

   In other words, with chaos theory, political and governmental factors alone don’t sum up a society’s status. Broad cultural metaphors are common in chaos studies. In Damon’s own work on New Guinea, he explores “the island as a boat.”

   So, if the island is a boat, America is a…Chrismakwanzukkah sneaker display with matching iPods and red-white-and-blue streamers at Macy’s? Actually, Damon says, a cultural metaphor for the U.S. is a debated concept, since we’re all such rugged individuals.—Meg McEvoy

 

 

Now hiring

MORE THAN 500 JOBS OPEN AT UVA
Time to get off your mom’s futon

Flipping burgers isn’t fun anymore, and it’s getting harder and harder to explain to your date why you’re still sleeping in Mom’s basement. It’s time for you to get a new job.

   You’re in luck, because there are currently more than 500 jobs available at UVA, which with more than 11,000 employees is the region’s largest employer.

   Maybe you like bossing people around. One of the 60 administrative positions might be for you. For example, the school is looking for an “Assistant Vice-President for Equity and Diversity.” Oh, wait. This position calls for “the use of initiative and independent judgment…as well as the exercise of diplomacy and tact,” according to UVA. Maybe that’s not for you, after all.

   You could interpret for the deaf or advise students on study abroad, you can earn up to $77,720 as an engineer or start at $28,970 as a “biosafety officer.” Might we suggest a career as a “compliance officer”? It sounds as though all you have to do is make sure other people do their job. What could be more fun than that?—John Borgmeyer

 

 

Give me just a little more time

KROBOTH’S PUNISHMENT DELAYED
“Vampire” sentencing reset for early May

  Attempted murderer Kurt Kro-both was supposed to receive his sentence Tuesday, February 21. But when the time came his defense attorney, David Heil-berg, successfully argued in Albemarle County Circuit Court to delay his client’s sentencing another two and a half months, to Tuesday, May 9.

   Heilberg pointed out that, as the third attorney to defend Kroboth in the case, he’s been playing catch-up and hasn’t had time to bring in out-of-town character witnesses. The Commonwealth argued against the motion, citing a need for closure on the part of Kroboth’s ex-wife and victim, Jane Kroboth, as well as a simple desire to wrap up this case that has dragged on for two years.

   Kroboth, a former financial consultant, entered an Alford Plea (which does not admit guilt, but admits that there is sufficient evidence to successfully prosecute the charges), for breaking into the house of his ex-wife and attempting to kill her in November 2004. He was wearing a vampire mask and tried to chloroform her as she slept. When Jane woke, a struggle ensued. It ended when he left abruptly after Jane mentioned the couple’s children. Minutes later, police picked up Kroboth jogging down a road near Jane’s house.

   Jane Kroboth has also filed a civil suit, which is currently pending in Albemarle Circuit Court.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

 

Trying times

ALLEGED TEENAGE BOMBERS AWAIT EARLY MARCH TRIAL
Court-ordered evaluations required for three of four suspects

With parents on the verge of tears by their sides, three of the four teens accused of plotting to bomb two area high schools appeared in Juvenile and Domestic Re-lations Court on Wednesday, February 22. Speaking in a barely audible voice, Judge Susan Whitlock ordered all three to undergo 10-day psychological evaluations before their individual adjudications on March 8. The defendants include two 13-year-olds, a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old. In the juvenile justice system adjudication is the equivalent of a trial. While formal evaluations have now been requested, according to Albemarle Com-monwealth’s Attorney Jim Camblos, none of the teens’ attorneys have requested an insanity evaluation.

   The fourth teen, a 13-year-old, arrested on February 16, has not yet been ordered to undergo evaluation because at press time his attorneys had not yet requested it. That teen, too, says Camblos, will be adjudicated March 8.

   The teens’ alleged plan was to bomb Albemarle and Western Albemarle high schools by the end of the year. They were allegedly conspiring via an Internet chatroom. Two shotguns and three computers were seized by police in connection with the investigation. All face charges of conspir- ing to commit murder and other felonies.

   All four will be tried as juveniles since they have no prior involvement with the juvenile justice system. If kids have not already been through the system, Camblos said, and have not had the chance to get help from the agencies and services in place, there’s no reason to try them as adults.

   The four teens are currently being held at the Blue Ridge Juvenile Detention Center.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Trouble brewing

CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH CENTER INVESTIGATED FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT
Ten to 12 people implicated in Whisper Ridge probe

Police Chief Tim Longo called a press conference outside the Charlottesville police station on Friday, February 24, to announce that his department has been investigating the Whisper Ridge children’s mental health facility—home to about 50 residents on Arlington Boulevard—since January on charges of sexual assault. Not specifying how many potential victims, nor how many potential perpetrators, Longo did allow that 10 to 12 people—both residents and employees—are part of the investigation.

   Leading up to Friday’s announcement, the police executed a search of the facility that lasted more than seven hours and resulted in the seizure of documents relating to the allegations. As of press time, no charges have been filed and thus the Chief couldn’t say too much in terms of specific allegations or possible next steps. He did call the issue “a serious matter,” saying that in the past, the department has received “a fair share of calls to this facility.”

   According to Longo, police have been in contact with the Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, which is in charge of licensing for Whisper Ridge.

   The chief did not know whether potentially implicated employees are currently working at the home and when approached by a reporter on the subject, the woman at Whisper Ridge’s front desk appeared familiar with the investigation but said, “I am not allowed to talk about that. [The administration] doesn’t want any visitors today.”—Nell Boeschenstein

 

 

Grumpy old men

NEW ELDER CARE INVESTIGATIONS IGNITE OLD ISSUE
Mountainside and Evergreene allegations point to larger problem

As The Daily Progress previously reported, Mountainside Senior Living Facility in Crozet is being investigated and the Virginia Department of Social Services is considering sanctions after a State inspector reported some residents had not received insulin shots. The inspector also reported that CPR had not been administered after a resident had been found dead. CPR is mandatory anytime a person is not responsive. In addition, a pending trial in Greene County against Evergreene Nursing Care Center also alleges neglect. And this isn’t the first time local elder care has come under scrutiny. Last August, The Laurels lost its ability to accept Medicaid and Medicare after failing to meet State standards.

   According to the American Health Care Association, between 1992 and 2003, $5.2 billion in claims against elder care facilities were incurred. That’s because, as attorney Claire Curry says, elder care is “backbreaking.” Curry works at the Legal Aid Justice Center and is an elder care advocate. It’s not uncommon for nursing homes and assisted living facilities to suffer from inadequate staffing and high turnover. For example, a 2002 study by the AHCA estimated the turnover rate for directors of nursing at Virginia’s elder care facilities at 143 percent.

   “You need to keep people clean and dry and turn them every two hours,” says Curry. “[This] requires lots of hands-on work.”

   Curry relates a recent story, unrelated to the current situations with Mountainside or Evergreene, in which a daughter visited her mother at a nursing home, only to find her mother in tears, diaper soaked and saying she’d been in bed unattended until noon. The daughter confronted a nurse who conceded the situation, saying the home was short staffed.

   Some potentially good news in the General Assembly for elder care advocates, however, is that proposed legislation would improve the ratio of elder care ombudsmen to 1:2,000 from 1:3,946 . This would nearly double the number of people whose sole job is to field concerns from elder care patients and family.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Noah’s arc

MEET THE NEW CHA DIRECTOR
Noah Schwartz on rehabbing public housing

Noah Schwartz is the newest director of the Charlottesville Housing Authority, the agency that oversees the City’s public housing stock and which has been under scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for three years running. Schwartz and his staff have been given just one year to improve CHA’s standing. Schwartz talked recently about what he was doing to get CHA back on its feet—both in the eyes of HUD and city residents.—Esther Brown

 

C-VILLE: What is it going to take for the Charlottesville Housing Authority to be successful?

Noah Schwartz: Housing is a big part of the anti-poverty issue. I mean, is our goal just providing housing, or should our goal be broader than that in addressing poverty issues? So that more of the folks that we provide subsidized housing to are able to participate in a wider range of housing options, so that they’ve got the training they need to get the jobs they need so that they have a broader set of choices? Are we working in partnership with the schools so that the 48 percent of our public housing residents who are under the age of 18 are getting the support they need? I think we’ve got to look at all of that if we’re going to be successful.

 

How do you see yourself accomplishing what past directors haven’t been able to accomplish?

I think we’ve got to have the intent to do things differently than we have in the past. You can’t just be there to punch the clock.

 

What would you tell public housing residents, for instance residents of Westhaven, who hear rumors of redevelopment in their neighborhood all the time?

I would tell them what I told them [three] weeks ago: Redevelopment is going to happen at some point, and when we’re ready to have serious discussions, you’ll hear it from me. There’s not a whole lot we’re doing with it right now.

 

 

Mixed messages

SCOTTSVILLE NIXES ZONING REINTERPRETATION
PUDs a dud, town council says

On Tuesday, February 21, the Scottsville Town Council voted down an ordinance that would have given the small town of 600 residents more control over future development.

   The Planned Unit Development (PUD) Ordinance provided for a creative interpretation of zoning density requirements. Rather than maintaining the same, uniform density of development within a given area, PUDs allow the flexibility to vary density within a development. The result is usually a combination of housing, recreation and shopping within one development.

   According to Councilor James Svetich (one of two councilors who voted for the ordinance), the PUD would have been a “tool” for the city to use in its future growth and development.

   However, Councilor James Hogan, one of three who voted against the PUD, argues that the ordinance went beyond just a set of tools. “This would have been a green light for the developer to go ahead and submit his plans for a 170-unit development,” he said.

   According to Hogan, growth of that size would essentially create a second city, destroying the unique qualities of Scottsville.—Dan Pabst

 

Time savers of the future

HOLLYMEAD CUTOFF COMING BY JULY
Go between airport and Target like a speeding bullet

Don’t pout when big-box development delivers yet another concrete wasteland where once was verdant green. Look on the bright side: Other than affordable tea cosies, shopping centers can provide another benefit—shortcuts around major intersections. (Exhibit A: Hydraulic Road, 29N and K-mart. Hey sport, why the guilty look?) Two short connector roads running through Hollymead Town Center may soon become preferred cutoffs between 29N and Airport Road.

   The connectors are two of a number of roads that have been part of County plans since Hollymead Town Center was approved in 2003. “[Building the roads] was a condition of building the town center,” says Hollymead developer Wendell Wood, who wouldn’t estimate what portion of the $11 million he’s spending on Hollymead roads is earmarked for these particular connectors. One road extends Timberwood Boulevard to Airport Road; the other, as yet unnamed, connects to the Deerwood subdivision. Some of the land in question is owned by Wood; other chunks belong to his fellow superdeveloper Charles Hurt.

   According to Wood, both roads should be finished by July. Asked whether drivers will use Timberwood as a shortcut to Airport Road, County planner Sean Dougherty says simply, “They will.”

   “They’re all State roads built to public standards and they’re built to accommodate that dispersion.” But, he adds, “Going through Deerwood, you can’t make too much of an argument for that.” Remember that next time you’re running late for a flight.—Erika Howsare

 

 

Phone home

LOVE ME, BUILD ME, CHAPTER 6
Another empty building finds fulfillment

 

Address: 1180 Seminole Trail

Area: 454,900 square feet

Owner: Seminole Trail Properties, LLC c/o Richard Hewitt

2001 Sale Price: $11.4 million

 

The old Comdial building is once again being put to use after a few empty years, this time by tenants including Mailing Services of Virginia, which relocated to the property in November.

   The super-sized building may have some unique issues. On March 1, 2005, when the County Planning Commission approved a special permit for a possible indoor gym facility to be located there, Planning Commissioner Calvin Morris recalled that the last time the Commission had looked at the building, they found an area that had “some real problems with contamination.”

   Seminole Trail Properties representative Tim Slagle responded by saying that the contamination in question was located behind the building where Comdial had had storage tanks that had leaked contaminants into the ground water. As of March 2005, Seminole Trail Properties was “in the fourth year of a six-year remediation plan with the State Department of Environ-mental Quality.”—Esther Brown

 

 

Mark your calendars

WHAT’S COMING NEXT

A week’s worth of opportunities to spout off

 

League of Women Voters. Jim Burton, Lou-doun County Supervisor speaks on “A Case Study in Unbridled Growth: What Hap-pens When a Community Grows Too Much, Too Fast?” Tuesday, February 28, noon. Monticello Event and Conference Center.

 

Earlysville Area Residents League. Discuss updates to the Places29 Master Plan from Thomas Jefferson Planning District Committee and County staff. Tuesday, February 28, 7:30pm. Broadus Wood Elementary School.

 

Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. Work session on the North Pointe development. Wednesday, March 1, 2:20pm. Room 235, County Office Building.

 

250 Bypass Interchange Steering Com-mittee, a.k.a. Meadowcreek Parkway ISC. Thursday, March 2, 4pm. Basement conference room, City Hall.

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Tuesday, February 14
Casteen, the Younger takes on accidental shootists Reid and Cheney

Writing today on slate.com, John Casteen IV, a regular contributor to The Virginia Quarterly Review, enlists the recent shooting incidents of Vice President Dick “Fuck Yourself” Cheney and Virginia Delegate John “Invest in Kevlar” Reid to argue that Congress should act to counterbalance the heavy influence the gun lobby exerts on state-level politicians. “Left to its own devices, the Commonwealth of Virginia would require me to be a licensed dealer of cars if I were to sell more than five of them in a year; it wouldn’t, however, consider me a gun dealer even if I were to sell 100 guns in a weekend at a gun show,” he observes.

 

Warner delivers valentine to college leaders

Reporting in The Chronicle of Higher Education today, former C-VILLE staffer Paul Fain captures the lovefest greeting former Virginia governor and presumed Democratic presidential candidate Mark Warner at a West Coast gathering of college administrators. After what Fain describes as “an enthusiastic introduction” from UVA prez John Casteen III, Warner restated the concerns already voiced by meeting-goers: “Competition for ‘intellectual capital,’ particularly by colleges in India and China, poses an ‘enormous challenge’ to America’s ability to main-tain…the most educated, entrepreneurial work force in the world.”

 

Wednesday, February 15
USA Today lauds local overachievers

For 17 consecutive years, USA Today has named its All-USA College Academic Team. Today UVA senior Catherine S. Neale, who is also a student member of the school’s Board of Visitors, made the “third team,” and junior Edward Ross Baird drew an honorable mention. Neale, a Richmond native, has other head-of-the-class credits, according to University Relations: president of the Arts & Sciences Council; the first student representative on the UVA College Foundation; and a member of the student South Lawn Task Force, the UVA Master Planning Council, the Buildings and Ground Committee, and the Undergraduate Research Network. To which the C students, looking up from their Jack and Cokes responded, “What. Ever.”

 

Thursday, February 16
Rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated

Blogging on his site, cvillenews.com, self-appointed local blogger-in-chief Waldo Jaquith anticipates his own irrelevance as more local blogs take hold: “I eagerly await the day when local media websites are so good, and the local blogging community so strong, that cvillenews.com no longer serves a purpose. I will happily shut down this site on that day, and I encourage area bloggers and media outlets to do what they can to hasten its demise.”

 

Friday, February 17
From the Department of Whine and Dine

Taking on the big issues of her time, Miriam Levy writes in to The Cavalier Daily today on the subject of…dining hall trays, a hot topic covered in an earlier edition [editor’s note: these are tomorrow’s leaders?].We all know that some of the food at the dining hall is less than appetizing,” she writes. “The solution is to not take it in the first place if you probably won’t eat it. Also, trays are not a necessity and having to do a little extra walking in the dining hall isn’t the end of the world.”

 

Saturday, February 18
“Idol” worship has local ties

He wanted to be in martial arts movies when he was little, according to his profile on idolonfox.com, but “American Idol” contestant and one-time Fluvanna County resident Chris Daughtry is engaged in another kind of combat right now, facing other “Idol” wannabes in the Round of 24. Daughtry’s story has landed on page 1 of today’s Daily Progress, but viewers have to wait until Thursday to see if he makes the next cut. We wish him luck, despite the fact that his favorite male artist is Rob Thomas.

 

Sunday, February 19
Zimmerman’s hot, but don’t anybody tell him

What’s an MLB manager to do when setting expectations for a smokin’ rookie like former UVA player Ryan Zimmerman? That’s the dilemma Washington Nationals’ Manager Frank Robinson faces with the 21-year-old third baseman, according to today’s Washington Post. “I don’t like to put numbers on a young player, because then they feel they have to achieve those numbers…[but] if at the end of the year he’s driven in 60, 65 runs, that’s fine,” the Post quotes Robinson. “But who’s to say he won’t drive in 70 or 75?”

 

Monday, February 20
Orr believes in poetry

UVA poet Gregory Orr reads his essay “This I Believe” on today’s edition of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” a segment of the show based on a program by 1950s journalist Edward R. Murrow. Orr, who has taught at UVA since 1975 and has nine collections of poetry among his numerous achievements, talks about how poetry has provided him an emotional outlet over the years.


Who let the crocs out?
PET GATOR TO RELOCATE TO ORLANDO
Extra! Extra! Alligators make crappy pets!

The Wildlife Center in Waynesboro is currently housing a two-and-a-half foot baby alligator that was found in a trailer park off Route 29N at the beginning of November. The little lizard is now waiting to board his flight to Gatorland, a theme park and wildlife preserve in Orlando, Florida.

   Alligators—along with any other threatened or endangered species—are not kosher pets according to the Code of Virginia, so whoever was raising the tyke in his or her bathtub was breaking the law. Luckily for the culprit behind this particular pet alligator, he or she won’t face any penalty because no one seems to know who let this croc out. However, if there were a suspect, he would be facing a misdemeanor, subject to a $500 fine and up to six months in prison.

   According to the Wildlife Center, of the 2,369 wild animals that passed through their facility last year, only about a half dozen were considered endangered or threatened and illegal to keep as pets by Commonwealth standards. According to Center president Edward Clark, the most common legal issue is when people purchase non-native animals then free them into the wild. (For example, students who get pet turtles and free them at the end of the school year, or couples who purchase doves to let go at the end of a wedding.) Introducing non-native species into the wild is against State law.

   City Police Chief Tim Longo says that situations with wildlife almost never arise locally. Sometimes bears or deer wander into town, or a pig breaks loose from the Hogwaller stockyard. But alligators? Not so much.—Nell Boeschenstein

 


Shiny, happy people
CITY COPS REACH OUT
Police department one step away from Kumbaya?

For your information, the police department isn’t just parking tickets and serial rapist investigations. In the past, many may have been the mysteries into how neighborhoods are patrolled and crimes solved. But lately the department has been making a concerted effort to be more accessible to the public.

   As one example, in the middle of February, the City Communications Department posted a survey on their website to gauge citizen satisfaction with the police department. It’s part of a larger phone survey that is being conducted citywide and asks questions such as “How safe would you feel walking alone in your City of Charlottesville neighborhood after dark?” Respondents can choose anything from “very safe” to “don’t know.”

   The goodwill extends to the media, too. A day after the citizen survey went out, reporters were cordially invited to a finger- painting—er, make that fingerprinting—party at which Sgt. Steve Dillon demonstrated the department’s new fingerprinting device that allows police to locate fingerprints in the daylight. Reporters were even allowed some hands-on play time with the cops’ new toy.

   They care about us! They really, really care about us!—Nell Boeschenstein

 

 


It’s my life
CLAIRE KAPLAN TALKS PRIVACY AND THE INTERNET
Sexual assault expert plans a conference on the topic

Who’s watching you? With the government conducting unwarranted surveillance, the September death of VCU student Taylor Behl and subsequent arrest of a man she met through the website MySpace.com, and, most recently, the arrest this month of several Albemarle students allegedly planning a bomb plot via chat room discussions, issues surrounding privacy in the Internet age have been hot topics.

   Claire Kaplan, the director of Sexual and Domestic Violence Services at UVA’s Women’s Center, is helping plan a conference on the topic scheduled for May in Virginia Beach. C-VILLE recently sat down with her to discuss the issue. An edited transcript follows.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

C-VILLE: With the current youth culture being so comfortable with the Internet—sharing their names, their class schedules, their credit card numbers—are they aware of the dangers?

Claire Kaplan: Any information you put on the Internet is really there for the entire world to see. For kids, who do have a certain sense of invincibility, it’s hard to assume that creepy and bad people are going to be seeing this stuff. It’s, “I‘m just putting this up for my friends. They’re the only people that have any interest in me, so why would anybody else look at it?” and that’s part of the problem.

 

With sites such as MySpace and Friendster, what kind of information is too much information?

In a sense I think that almost anything is too much for kids, even seemingly innocent things like saying your interests are “collecting Neopets.” That could convey something to someone and they could connect to you through that interest for the Neopet. Then you may establish this friendship with someone who may be totally legit, but who may not be.

 

What sorts of Internet stalking or harassment issues have come through your office?

Posting someone’s phone number and picture on a sex website saying, “I’m looking for dates.” Taking [the photo] off MySpace and posting it so that the victim ends up getting all these calls from random men. People send e-mails from random addresses, sending threatening information. They create creepy websites about a person.

 


Speaking of kids on the Internet…
POLICE ARREST FOURTH TEEN IN ALLEGED BOMB PLOT
13-year-old Jack Jouett student charged with two felonies

On Thursday, February 16, Albemarle County Police arrested a 13-year-old Jack Jouett student in connection with an alleged plan for an attack on two Albemarle high schools.

   The boy was arrested on “recently obtained information,” according to police. He is charged with two felonies: conspiring to use an explosive device to destroy a schoolhouse and conspiring to commit murder. The suspect is currently being held—along with three other teens arrested two weeks ago on similar charges—at the Blue Ridge Detention Center in Albemarle County.

   Police say the four teens chatted on the Internet about plans to bomb Albemarle and Western Albemarle high schools by the end of the year. The newly arrested student, whose identity, like the others, has not been released due to his status as a minor, joins another 13-year-old boy from Jack Jouett, a 15-year-old boy from Albemarle High School and a 16-year-old boy from Western Albemarle. All face charges of conspiring to commit murder and other felonies.

   “All current leads have been exhausted” in the case, according to a police statement. Police have revealed few details about the case, while parents speculate about the seriousness of the alleged chatter. The newly arrested teen will appear in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on March 8, while the three other teens will be in court on Wednesday, February 22.—John Borgmeyer

 


There goes the neighborhood
PHA DEFENDS 10TH AND PAGE STRATEGY
Group says rising assessments can be good for homeowners

Driving through the 10th and Page neighborhood just north of W. Main Street, near UVA, it’s easy to see the recent changes—specifically, the big, bright new homes that the Piedmont Housing Alliance built in the historically African-American neighborhood.

   The changes are visible on paper, too. Real estate assessments in 10th and Page rose 26 percent in 2005, due in large part to PHA’s new construction there.

   This year, PHA will complete a five-year partnership with City Hall to build about 35 new homes and townhouses in the 10th and Page neighborhood. While PHA officials defend the new construction as affordable housing that improves the neighborhood, critics wonder what it all means for longtime residents.

   “Affordable? For whom?” says Joy Johnson, a housing activist and critic of PHA. Not only are the houses “ugly” and inconsistent with the character of 10th and Page, says Johnson, they represent a subtle effort to push poor blacks away from the valuable real estate around W. Main.

   PHA houses, she says, promote gentrification. “It doesn’t look the same anymore,” she says. “It sends a signal that this is the new 10th and Page. You knew there was a change coming when a tanning salon opened up…most black people don’t tan.”

   Further, Johnson says that as new construction pushes assessments higher in 10th and Page, longtime residents may have trouble paying their rising property tax bills.

   PHA sells all their homes at market prices. Some are bought by affluent homebuyers, whose money helps PHA provide down-payment assistance of up to $50,000 for low- and moderate-income buyers, according to Peter Loach, PHA’s deputy director of operations. Recently three PHA homes sold in the neighborhood; two for low- income buyers at $219,900 and $229,900; a third sold at full price for $299,900.

   In total, PHA has sold 19 homes in 10th and Page, with 15 of the buyers qualifying for down-payment assistance.         Loach says the average PHA homebuyer receiving down-payment assistance earns 47 percent of the area median income as calculated by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development—which means the average “low-income” PHA buyer earns $27,944 for a family of four.

   Loach agrees that many residents are concerned about keeping up with the higher property tax bills that come with rising assessments. On the plus side, he says, people can borrow off the equity in their house, or sell it for a nice pile of cash.

   Meanwhile, Johnson wonders what the changing face of 10th and Page means for longtime residents of neighborhoods now coveted by developers. “This is precious land,” she says. “It sits in the scheme of UVA’s connection to Downtown and W. Main. When it comes time for redevelopment, the property owners are going to be sitting at the table, talking about what they don’t want next to them.”—John Borgmeyer

 


Come together, right now
MPO MULLS REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY
County officials also urge an end to Meadowcreek Parkway delays

Charlottesville’s three-decade dance with Albemarle County over the construction of the Meadowcreek Parkway is but one example of how Virginia’s political system wreaks havoc with land use and transportation planning. Cities and counties are separate political jurisdictions in the Commonwealth, and that division makes it nearly impossible to make plans for the land and transportation routes we all share.

   Last week, the Charlottesville-Albe-marle Metropolitan Planning Organization (a committee of local leaders and planners) discussed the creation of a regional transit authority as one of the tools it needs to cope with these demands. Through an RTA, multiple jurisdictions could coordinate planning for regional transit.

   “Most small towns are thinking along a similar line,” says Harrison Rue, Director of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. By coordinating the transportation routes of the city, county and UVA, existing transit lines that overlap could be eliminated. Rue listed W. Main Street as a possible backbone route for transit, a single system that would link the University and the Downtown with trolley, rail or more efficient buses and then branch off to nearby neighborhoods.

   Also at the meeting, County Board of Supervisors Chair Dennis Rooker said that any more delays on the Meadowcreek Parkway could cost extra money, especially if land prices in the road’s right-of-way continue to climb. “We should make certain it moves forward before the inflation factor has eaten away huge chunks of the budget,” Rooker said.

   The MPO also plans to study how a “southern connector” road near the Route 20 corridor could accommodate the growth from the planned Biscuit Run development project, which could bring more than 4,000 new homes to Old Lynchburg Road.—Jay Neelley

 

 


Calling all fledgling Trumps
CITY SEEKS TENANT FOR KIOSK
Are you a bold entrepreneur with a flair for helping tourists?

The City is looking for a sucker—ahem, entrepreneur—to take over the kiosk near Central Place on the Downtown Mall.

   According to a Request for Proposals, the City is looking for someone to conduct business in the kiosk and “provide public information to citizens and tourists,” with a special consideration for activities “keeping with the current use and spirit of the Mall.”

   We can only surmise that statement means the City doesn’t want to see the kiosk turn into a bar, as it was briefly when restaurateur Andrew Vaughn transformed the kiosk into an extension of nearby Atomic Burrito last spring. The experiment in open-air liquor vending was a Mall hotspot but closed after just a few weeks, apparently because Vaughn had not obtained permission from the State’s Alcoholic Beverage Control.

   The kiosk has been home to a variety of short-lived endeavors, with people peddling newspapers or bric-a-brac off and on since it opened in 1995. Ironically, the tiny kiosk was the first construction project from big-talking developer and former Charlottesvillian Lee Danielson, who ultimately built some bigger things—including Regal Cinemas and the Charlottesville Ice Park—in a partnership with investor Colin Rolph.

   Anyone interested in joining this illustrious capitalist tradition (and willing to shell out at least $1,500 to the City in rent each year) can make their pitch to Jim Tolbert, the City’s Director of Neighborhood Development Services.—John Borgmeyer

 


Don’t leave me alone
LOVE ME, BUILD ME, CHAPTER 5
More empty buildings long for fulfillment

 

Address: 2000 Holiday Dr. (above)

Area: 24,400 square feet

Owner: Andrew Dondero, CEO of Holiday Drive, LLC and CFO of Lakeland Tours

2005 assessment: $2,561,400

Looks like this lonely edifice, known as the Lakeland Tours building, is getting some much-needed attention. Medical Auto-mation Systems, a Charlottesville company owned by Kurt Wassenaar that sells data management systems to hospitals, has taken over most of the building.

   The building was recently home to several tenants, including the Ash Lawn Opera Festival Company, Piedmont Housing Alliance, the Building Goodness Foundation, and the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center. Everyone except Ash Lawn has moved out, though, as MAS has expanded to fill the building.—John Borgmeyer

 


Livin’ on a prayer
LOCAL POLS ASK UVA TO INCREASE PAY
Deeds, Toscano sign on to “living wage” resolution 

Charlottesville’s decade-old living wage movement is getting a boost. This spring, the Staff Union at UVA (SUUVA) will present a new resolution demanding a “living wage” for all UVA workers to President John Casteen.

   The resolution—which calls for a wage that is tied to local cost-of-living figures, which this year clocks in at $10.72 an hour—already has a long list of supporters, including State Senator Creigh Deeds, Delegate David Toscano and the Virginia AFL-CIO.

   Toscano has been preoccupied with his own minimum wage legislation, which recently died in committee. “As a legislator, I’m trying to get wages up for the Commonwealth as a whole,” says Toscano, “but this petition is being encouraged, and I’m supportive of that effort.”

   However, while Toscano supports the resolution, he recognizes that, based on his recent defeat, this will be a tough issue to push through UVA’s Board of Visitors.

   The living wage movement has had some success. It began with the Labor Action Group at UVA in 1998. Within a year City Council granted all City employees a living wage, and in 2000 UVA raised starting wages to $8 per hour from $6.50—although the benefit was not extended to UVA’s vast supply of contract workers. Frequent living wage protests outside the Courtyard by Marriott on W. Main Street were stopped when hotel owners agreed to provide job training for some of their low-wage employees. The local living wage movement gave rise to SUUVA in May 2002, and has largely stalled since then.

   But momentum may be gaining. Abby Bellows, organizer of UVA’s Living Wage Campaign, says 25 student and community organizations and more than 800 individuals support the resolution, the purpose of which she says is “a mechanism to demonstrate the wide base of support; to communicate this to the administration, where the buck stops.”—David Goodman

 


Grip and grin
WOMEN FIND SOLACE IN HUSBANDS’ HANDS
UVA prof confirms the wisdom of John Cougar Mellencamp

It was John Cougar Mellencamp who told us that “everyone needs a hand to hold on to,” and now a UVA scientist is telling us why.

   According to a recent study conducted by psychologists and neuroscientists at UVA and the University of Wisconsin and published in the journal Psychological Science, happily married women under acute stress experience immediate physical relief upon taking hold of their husbands’ hands.

   UVA psychologist and lead study author Dr. James Coan says that while “past studies have found a health-enhancing benefit in couples that are the happiest,” this “is the first study that’s really starting to look at the mechanisms in the brain that are responsible [for those health benefits].”

   In order to study how the brain responds to cues of danger, the women participating in the study were given multiple MRI scans, each of them knowing they could be subjected to a mild electric shock at any time during the scanning process.

   While both spousal and stranger handholding regulated the married women’s responses to threat cues, only the husbands’ hands decreased activity in the brain for “hyper-vigilance,” or the brain’s overreaction to dangers that aren’t really life-threatening. Coan says the regulatory influence of handholding is the brain’s way of saying, If I were alone, this would be really dangerous.

   Coan says that existing research provides evidence that “living together doesn’t seem to correspond with the same kind of [health] benefits as marriage does.” Still, in their ability to help us respond to threat cues, “social networks are very, very important to our health and well-being,” Coan says. “As a society, we’re in danger of emphasizing self-reliance too much, especially when it comes to dealing with stress and adversity,” he says.

   Similar studies are in the works with male participants and also with homosexual couples. “We are expecting to see the same kinds of results [in gay and lesbian couples],” Coan says. “A lot of homosexual couples go through a public commitment ceremony—I want to see if the same kinds of differences exist within homosexual couples as do with heterosexual couples.”—Esther Brown

 


Kickin’ class
UVA ARCH PROGRAMS AMONG BEST IN NATION
Architecture and landscape architecture ranked third and fifth respectively

We always knew they were good, but we never knew they were quite that good. On February 10, DesignIntelligence, a magazine that covers the design industry, bumped UVA’s graduate architecture program up five notches in its 2006 rankings, naming it No. 3 in the nation out of 86 schools, behind only Harvard and the University of Cincinnati. The survey also ranked UVA’s graduate landscape program No. 5 out of 36, behind Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, University of Georgia and Louisiana State University. In 2005, the landscape program was ranked sixth.

   Architecture school dean Karen Van Lengen attributes the rise in ranks to two things: the school’s emphasis on environmental aspects of design and the comprehensive nature of the programs, enhanced by the fact that they’re housed under the same roof.

   “Very prominent in our school right now,” says Van Lengen, “is our capacity to approach the design of the environment in a comprehensive way…[that encourages] an understanding of the environment as a democratic landscape.”

   The rankings are based on a survey sent to employers in engineering, design and architecture fields, who were asked what graduates they’d hired in the past five years were particularly “prepared for real world practice.”—Nell Boeschenstein

 


Dissertations you’ll never read
THE ENDLESS TALES OF CANTERBURY
Sifting through the discharge of higher education

 In our pathetic attempts to compensate for our dearth of graduate degrees, we at C-VILLE occasionally peruse UVA’s dissertation stash for fresh cocktail party fodder. However, among the dissertations we won’t be name dropping anytime soon is “Anger in the Canterbury Tales,” by John Lance Griffith.

   This is for two reasons. First: We can tell from the title exactly what the work is about. C’mon, John… seduce us!

   Second: Good God, haven’t we said enough about Chaucer already? What more can be said? This year alone, according to the Digital Dissertations Database, at least 16 dissertations covered the other English bard. Add that to everything that’s come before, which includes more than 2,000 Chaucer-related titles that pop up on Amazon, and you’ve got what the poet himself would have called “ye olde dead horse.”

   Perhaps the mark of a masterpiece is the endless analysis that follows in its wake, but before we ever read “Anger in the Canterbury Tales,” we’re going to first catch up on the stuff we slept through in college…for example, the tales themselves.—Nell Boeschenstein


Assembly Watch
NRA-BACKED BILL PASSES HOUSE
H.B. 704 is bad news for local freedom haters

A Virginia General Assembly session wouldn’t be complete without some string pulling from the National Rifle Association. This year, the NRA’s marionette is Del. Clarke Hogan (R-South Boston), who got help from the Republican-friendly gun group to craft two bills—H.B. 704 and H.B. 705—designed to prohibit local governments from restricting the use of firearms.

   H.B. 704 would invalidate every local gun ordinance enacted prior to 1995. Last week the House of Delegates passed the bill 69 to 31; Albemarle Delegate Rob Bell voted for H.B. 704, while City Delegate David Toscano opposed it.

   The other bill, H.B. 705, would prohibit local governments from regulating the discharge of firearms. That bill has been killed in committee.

   Hogan’s bills reflect the NRA’s aim to rewrite State hunting laws in a way that erases the distinction between hunting (which is, by the way, a constitutionally protected right in Virginia) and shooting a gun in general. This would make it hard for local governments to stop gun clubs from setting up shooting ranges in suburban neighborhoods, recently a topic of debate in nearby Nelson County. The bills are good news, however, for that next-door neighbor who loves to get drunk and fire his .45 in the air on the Fourth of July. Let freedom ring!

 

Smoking ban passes Senate

Is tobacco culture dying in Virginia, the home of Philip Morris? The crop that formed the backbone of the state’s economy for centuries took a big dis on Monday, February 13, when the Senate voted 21 to 18 in favor of H.B. 648, which would ban smoking in many public places. The bill is expected to die in the House, yet its passage points to the growing influence of suburban voters in the Senate, where the vote crossed party lines and seemed to fall along urban-rural divisions. Senator Creigh Deeds, who represents Char-lottesville but lives in rural Bath County, opposed the ban.

 

Whew! Harsh pot bill dies in committee

A few weeks ago C-VILLE complained about H.B. 737, which would have imposed harsh penalties for a first-time conviction for simple possession of marijuana. Obviously fearing this newspaper’s wrath, legislators killed the bill last week.

   Introduced by Virginia Beach Republican Sal Iaquinto, the bill would have reclassified simple possession to a Class 1 misdemeanor from a Class 2, which could have put first-time pot smokers in jail for up to a year.—John Borgmeyer

 


Book learnin’
CITY AND COUNTY SCHOOLS TALK BUDGET
Charlottesville trims fat while Albemarle beefs up

Last week the City School Board was looking for ways to cut its budget, while Albemarle’s was spreading the wealth.

   In the City, the central office job of director of school improvement, held by Laura Purnell—a central figure in last year’s debacle with now ex-superintendent Scottie Griffin—went on the chopping block during a board meeting on Thursday, February 16, in an attempt to balance the 17 instructional cuts (12 teachers and five assistants) being made across the district.

   Meanwhile in Albemarle schools, final budget tweaks were made Wednesday and the school board is ready to give their funding request to the Board of Supervisors. The County School Board expects to finance teacher raises through revenues from increased enrollment—Will Goldsmith

 


Press releases we love
MR. BARRICK, DON’T LEAVE US!
When the City’s P.R. guy is away, reporters fend for themselves

On February 14, the City’s Interim Director of Communications, Ric Barrick, sent out an unwelcome valentine—a press release announcing he was going out of town for five whole days.

   A whole week without Barrick? Nooooooooo!!!!

   How are we reporters supposed to survive the wacky world of local news without our chief ambassador to the City? That means five days without the daily crime update where we look for our friends’ names. Five days without the updates on road closures that make our commute oh so hassle-free.

   Then, the kicker. Barrick suggested that, in his absence, reporters go directly to the source for questions without Barrick’s gentle touch. You mean, like, extra work? Oh, the horror! Barrick has been doing a bang-up job. He’s a rare flak who actually tries to answer questions instead of merely feeding us press releases. Hopefully this little tribute to Barrick will put us first in line for some juicy scoops when he gets back.—Nell Boeschenstein

 


Get involved
IT’S BUDGET SEASON
Put your 2 cents into the City and County’s guiding documents

If you’re interested in what the hell your local government is doing all day, and how they’re frittering away your hard-earned tax dollars, you better be ready for budget season. In the coming months the City and County will be crafting their budgets that, starting in July, will set the government’s course for another year. If you care about what they’re doing, make sure you attend the meetings below. —Esther Brown

 

City of Charlottesville Budget Events

March 6: City Manager proposes budget to City Council

March 20: First public hearing

April 3: Second public hearing

April 5: Final City Council work session

April 11: City Council votes

 

Albemarle County Budgetary Events

February 28: County Executive’s budget document finalized

March 8: Public hearing on County Executive’s recommended budget

April 5: Public Hearing on Board of Super-visors’ proposed budgets and tax rate

April 12: Board of Supervisors votes

 

 


Park it
SOME CITY PARKS READY FOR OVERHAULS
Svetz says pool redesigns in the works for Meade, Forest Hills

Spring is nigh, and soon it will be time to go play in the city’s parks and pools. Will they be ready? Last week C-VILLE sat down with Mike Svetz, the City’s director of parks and recreation, to get the lowdown on upcoming improvements to local parks. Below is an edited transcript.—Meg McEvoy

 

C-VILLE: What are the biggest demands on the City’s parks and recreation system?

Mike Svetz: People want more trails and pedestrian and bicycle connections through-out the community. Our two heavily used areas would be that of playgrounds, of course, and aquatics. They not only get used heavily by city residents but by county residents as well.

 

Are there any aspects of the parks that are currently underused?

I would say that we have a system that is aging. Particularly Forest Hills Park, as well as Meade Park. We’ve asked Council to move forward with redesign efforts with both of those parks, centering on failing pool infrastructure.

 

Do you currently have any plans in place to implement those im-provements?

A feasibility study is underway, and it should be completed early next summer.

 

What role do parks play in real estate values?

Typically real estate values are higher closer to parks, usually by 10 percent to 15 percent.

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Tuesday, February 7
No sunny day for Groh

Cavalier Daily columnist Chad Gallagher got all “Sesame Street” on Al Groh’s ass this morning, asking if the curmudgeonly UVA football coach is worth the reported $1.7 million he’ll make annually as per his new five-year contract. “Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), Mack Brown (Texas), Charlie Weis (Notre Dame), Pete Carroll (USC), Al Groh (Virginia). It does not take Big Bird or Cookie Monster to realize that one of these names doesn’t belong,” Gallagher writes, pointing to the fact that all these top-paid Division 1 coaches have delivered their teams to BCS bowl games in the past few years—except Groh.

   “His only BCS bowls or ACC championships have been watched on the couch with a bottle of Aquafina,” Gallagher says. Sounds like somebody has been spending way too much time with Oscar the Grouch.

 

Wednesday, February 8
Luxury home contracts drop by one-third

The Washington Post reports today that Toll Brothers, Inc., the NoVa McMansion builder that has started to make inroads into Central Virginia, reported a 29 percent slide in contracts for its first fiscal quarter. Accordingly, shares of Toll Brothers’ stock dropped even further—the price has been declining since July—closing near $29 or half its summertime high. “Toll Brothers reported slackening consumer demand across much of the nation,” according to the Post. The company is rumored to be the wallet behind developer Hunter Craig’s purchase of the 1,353-acre Breeden property south of Charlottesville city limits.

 

Thursday, February 9
Hollywood mantra: Be the coffee table

Word went out today to area media, including cvillenews.com, that Evan Almighty, the Bruce Almighty sequel now in production in the area, seeks extras for a couple of scenes to be shot in Crozet. The movie will star Steve “40-year-old virgin” Carell and Morgan “I speak for penguins” Freeman. Blogger Waldo Jaquith advanced the notion that “if you play your cards right, you might be ‘discovered’ leading to riches, fame…and an early death…”

   Guess again, wrote TrvlnMn, sounding like a cynical veteran of movie sets. “That’s a Hollywood fable. As an extra you are human background furniture. If you’re noticed or noticeable on camera, then a) you’re not doing your job, b) the director isn’t doing his, c) the scene you got noticed in will end up on the cutting room floor.”

 

Friday, February 10

It’s like that book by Defoe except with scantily clad chicks who later show up in Esquire wearing even less

“Lost,” the desert island TV series, is a “cultural phenomenon-in-the-making like few shows before it,” writes Ben Sellers, onetime C-VILLE staffer and now reporter for the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star in today’s edition of that daily. And to make his case, he enlists a bevy of scholars, including UVA English professor Paul Cantor, who has done an academic analysis of “Gilligan’s Island.” “The key to the success of the island format is the microcosm idea,” Cantor said. “You get to put together a miniature ver-sion of society as a whole.”

 

Saturday, February 11
Two great tastes that taste great together

The basketball message board on thesabre.com, a Wahoo fan site, was lit up tonight after the Cavs posted their 400th win in U-Hall, an overtime victory made doubly sweet by coming at the expense of avowed rival Virginia Tech. “WAAAAAAAAHOOOOO0O,” wrote VaBeachHooFan, in a typical posting. Led by Sean Singletary and J.R. Reynolds, Virginia held Tech to 42 percent shooting.

 

Sunday, February 12
Dozens cry, let there be light!

WINA reports today that while more than 2,000 area residents lost power during Saturday’s snowfall, several dozen customers of Dominion Virginia Power can expect to remain inconvenienced until at least Monday morning.

 

Monday, February 13
Burn, baby, burn

If it’s household trash you seek to burn outdoors, be mindful that new laws go into effect on Wednesday, according to a report in to-day’s Daily Progress. Through April 30, open-air burning is restricted to between the hours of 4pm and midnight, with some exceptions. The law applies to brush fires, campfires as well as trash and other matter, and, helpfully, the law states that “fires must be attended at all times.”

 


WHERE IN THE WORLD ARE THE WAHOOS?
UVA students trot the globe in record numbers

Here’s a way to deal with the shortage of housing on UVA’s campus—send those Wahoos abroad. Indeed, UVA students have been hitting the road in record numbers in recent years.

   UVA Study Abroad Advisor Mary Jo Bateman says that while “in general, students don’t want to leave UVA,” around half of UVA’s 13,400 undergraduates do study abroad before graduating, primarily during the summer months. In fact, according to Open Doors, an annual report published by the Institute of International Education, UVA ranks 17th among research institutions in terms of undergraduate participation in study abroad.

   Bateman says Italy continues to be a popular destination for students, and that while Florence and Rome remain favorites, cities like Sienna are becoming increasingly popular, particularly with the rise of programs where students can take classes in English. These programs allow students to study subjects other than language, Bateman says.

   Many students also opt to travel to English-speaking countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom. At the same time, language study continues to be the most popular type of program, with many students traveling to France and Spain. Asian countries are also increasing in popularity.

   When asked about study abroad trends post-9/11, Bateman says she believes that “if anything, there has generally been an increase” in the number of UVA students going abroad. Bateman is right—in the past four years, the number has doubled.

   The increase is partly due to a newly endowed $3,000 study abroad scholarship created from Continental Tire Bowl revenues. “I think we’ve got a terrific policy here at UVA,” Bateman says. “Students are able to take their financial aid with them and it is adjusted according to the cost of the program.”

   The increase in study abroad at UVA is reflective of a larger national trend. According to Open Doors, even as international student enrollment in U.S. institutions continues to decline, “the number of American students studying abroad increased by 9.6 percent in 2003/04, building on the previous year’s 8.5 percent increase.”—Esther Brown

 


UVA CHAPEL SCHEDULED TO START REPAIRS
123-year-old local landmark needs a little TLC

In order to age gracefully everyone requires a little maintenance every now and then. Buildings are no different, and this time the nip-tuck patient is the UVA Chapel—the bell tower, specifically.

   According to Lynn Rush, a project manager for UVA’s Facilities Planning and Construction, the stone masonry on the tower has deteriorated, and UVA is looking around for a historic preservation masonry contractor who can repair the mortar and do some work on the roofing and ventilation of the tower as well. The repairs are scheduled to start in May 2006 and be done by December.

   Located on McCormick Road near Alderman Library, the Gothic-style stone chapel is a town and a University landmark. Designed in 1883 by Baltimore architect Charles Cassell, its stylistic flourishes include pointed openings, buttresses and gargoyles. It seats 250 people and is popular with the wedding set—so popular that if you want to get married there, you can throw your name into a lottery one year in advance and there’s still no guarantee that’s where you’ll get to spend the big day.—Nell Boeschenstein

 


UVA TENNIS STAR WINS QUIETLY
Cool soph Somdev Devvarman named ACC Player of the Week

Some say it’s better to be lucky than good. Somdev Devvarman is lucky. Please, don’t misunderstand; the sophomore star of the No. 7 Virginia men’s tennis team is also good. As in, ACC Player of the Week (as of January 30), No. 10 ranked player in the nation good. He flies around the court and chases down more shots than Tara Reid. With all due respect to Ice Cube, get this kid on the court and he’s trouble.

   But he’s also lucky. He’s lucky that he chose tennis. Devvarman didn’t pick up a racquet until age 15, and even then it was just something to do, another sport to try. “Tennis was just, ‘O.K., I’ll play,’” he says. “I actually won tournaments because I didn’t care and the other guys were all into it. My dad said I should think about [pursuing] it and eventually we said, ‘O.K., it will be tennis.’”

   Devvarman, or “Sommy” as fans and teammates affectionately call him, maintains this low-profile approach to the game even while rising through the ranks of collegiate tennis’ elite. “I don’t want to sound cocky,” he says, “but [being named ACC Player of the Week] is not really a big deal to me. The ACC has a lot of good players—I just had one good week. I don’t want to get caught up in numbers and rankings, just to get better every time I play.”

   If he continues to do so, it won’t be long before Devvarman is making his rounds on the pro tennis circuit. For now, he plans on finishing out his college education and career.

   “I’m very fortunate,” says Devvarman. “I grew up in a little place in India and one fine day I’m at the prettiest school in the world on one of the best teams in the country. I feel very grateful. I’m just lucky.”—Steven Schiff

 


NEWS FLASH: MEN AND WOMEN ARE DIFFERENT
UVA prof Steven Rhoads stirs the gender pot each week

UVA professor Steven Rhoads has shown up on the “Today” show and in the National Review. When he speaks, the crowd often spills out of the room. But if you enroll in his class “American Politics 514: Sex and Gender Differences: Biology, Culture, Politics and Policy,” you can hear Rhoads’ controversial lectures every week.

   Rhoads, a professor in UVA’s Depart-ment of Politics, made waves with his 2004 book Taking Sex Differences Seriously, which refutes the popular argument that the differences between men and women are socially constructed. Rhoads presents evidence that gender disparities are deeply rooted in biology—men are naturally more aggressive and interested in work that is abstract and technical, like science, while women are naturally better at nurturing children and creating relationships between people.

   Controversial, indeed. Rhoads says rollicking debates often emerge during class, fed by a wide reading list that includes The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan magazine, Maureen Dowd, Dave Barry and The Journal of Psychosomatic Research. There’s plenty to argue about—child custody, housework, the glass ceiling, women in combat, biological influences on occupational achievement, sexual harassment and divorce.

   We’re looking forward to Week 7: Courtship, dating, hooking up and cohabitation.—John Borgmeyer

 


COUNTY BRACES FOR GROWTH NEXT DOOR
Development study to focus on Louisa, Fluvanna

Next month the Thomas Jefferson Plan-ning District Commission (TJPDC) will kick off a study that will look at growth planned for Louisa and Fluvanna counties, with an eye toward ways to mitigate traffic congestion, including on Albemarle roads that connect to those adjoin- ing counties.

   Fluvanna planners predict that the county will absorb much of the regional growth over the next five years. According to Census data and the Virginia Employment Commission, Fluvanna’s population grew to about 20,500 in 2000 from 12,429 in 1990—a 59 percent jump. That county expects another 8,000 residents by 2010.

   Louisa is also growing, expecting to add 5,000 new residents to its current population of 26,900.

   Many of those new residents will live in new subdivisions that combine residential and commercial development, such as the 1,000-acre, 1,200-home Spring Creek planned near Zion’s Crossroads in Louisa.

   “What we expect to see, obviously, is traffic impact,” says Albemarle County spokeswoman Lee Catlin. “If they’re living there, they’re working or shopping here. Pantops will feel that, and it also becomes an issue for Charlottesville.”

   Increased traffic pressure will likely prompt calls to widen Route 250 into Albemarle. But Harrison Rue, director of the TJPDC, says that in March his group will start using a $120,000 VDOT grant to study growth east of Albemarle. The study will focus on ways to accomplish TJPDC’s “smart growth” vision—clustering growth around existing communities and roads, and building a network of smaller connecting roads with financial help from developers.

   Rue says that such “smart growth” could save $500,000,000 by reducing the demand for new road construction in the region.—John Borgmeyer

 


PLANNERS REFUTE DEVELOPERS’ CLAIMS
Pointing to obscure details, City says new historic zoning was no surprise

Two weeks ago C-VILLE quoted the owners of major student housing companies expressing unpleasant surprise over City Council’s recent decision to restrict demolition in the Rugby Avenue/Venable/University Circle neighborhood. Preserva-tionists responded with dismay at the developers’ point of view.

   One of their beefs is that developers should have known the restrictions were coming. In 2003, the City rezoned the disputed area to encourage tall, high-density apartment buildings. At that time, according to Jim Tolbert, the City’s director of Neighborhood Development Services, the City already had plans to eventually declare that area historic—thereby subjecting demolitions to review by the City’s Board of Architectural Review.

   As evidence, Tolbert points to Chapter 14 of the City’s 2001 Comprehensive Plan. Indeed, deep in the recesses of the “Implementation Strategy” chapter, the plan slates the neighborhoods for historic preservation. When he delivered a detailed report to Council on the 2003 zoning ordinance that created a high-density “University Precinct” near UVA, Tolbert told councilors he would prefer that historic designations be approved before they passed the new citywide zoning ordinance, according to minutes from August 4, 2003. However, he added that such concerns should not delay Council’s passing the ordinance.

   The minutes do not show that Tolbert said anything about specific conflicts between zoning and historic preservation in the University Precinct area. Indeed, a review of City Council and Planning Commission meetings indicate that nobody—not City staff, councilors, planning commissioners, nor the public—is on the record raising those specific concerns.

   The potential conflict between preservation and development did emerge however in Planning Commission subcommittee meet-ings, says Planning Commis-sioner Kevin O’Halloran, who was among a group of planners, developers and City officials that hashed out details of the University Precinct concept. O’Halloran says that the subcommittee recommended what would come to be seen as a compromise between preservationists and developers.

   “We talked about having a historic overlay district,” O’Hal-loran says. “It was decided that the area around 14th Street, the railroad tracks, John Street and Virginia Avenue would be the area of highest density.” He says the committee recommended that the BAR have approval over demolitions in all the Rugby/Venable/University Circle neighborhoods, except within this small area of maximum allowable density. So it seems that even informed developers could be reasonably surprised by Council’s decision to restrict demolition in the entire area.

   “In hindsight, I wish the Planning Commission and the City Council had insisted on having a historic district in place before passing the zoning ordinance,” says O’Halloran. “We should have hashed out these issues.”—John Borgmeyer

 


THE PAST IS THE FUTURE IN ROSE HILL
Hot neighborhood could get historic tag

Rose Hill is hot. This year that neighborhood’s average real estate assessment climbed a wicked 39 percent in 2005, due in large part to new construction, according to the City. Home values could push even higher if City government goes along with Rose Hill’s request to become a historic district.

   In preparing changes to Charlottes-ville’s Comprehensive Plan, planners conducted meetings with neighborhood residents. In Rose Hill, people who met with the planners said they want the nonprofit Charlottesville Community Design Center to “empower residents and resist undesirable development,” meaning that as development progresses in the neighborhood they want the City to be “more accessible to residents.” Further requests include “more transparency” and to “work on [the] relationship with neighborhood associations.”

   The ultimate citizen check on development would come through historic designation, which could give the City’s Board of Architectural Review oversight over demolition and new construction in Rose Hill. The City’s document calls for government to study Rose Hill’s history and apply for national and state historic districts there—a move that would no doubt keep Rose Hill atop the list of assessment increases.—John Borgmeyer


HOW MUCH MORE SHOPPING DO WE NEED?
Supes fret over prospect of big-box wastelands

Albemarle’s got a thing for history—and nothing says “historic” like the hollow carcass of an empty mega-store, rotting in a weedy asphalt lot.

   County Supervisor Sally Thomas worries it could happen, especially if Great Eastern Management Company proceeds with plans to build North Pointe, a massive 270-acre project on 29N.

   Supervisors held a work session on North Pointe on Wednesday, February 8. Of first concern was the county’s ability to absorb the ever-skyrocketing sum of commercial space, now at 1.4 million square feet including Hollymeade Town Center, Rivanna Village and North Pointe.

   Thomas was concerned that older shopping centers might go to ruin in favor of newer, shinier models. She questioned North Pointe’s impact on the county’s current water/sewer capacity and roads, for which Chairman Dennis Rooker saw the possibility of “significant capital expenditures” and possibly the need for a new school.

   Of major concern during the meeting was the sediment created by the project, and the need for basins to collect at least 60 percent of this sediment before runoff is allowed to drain into the Rivanna River. Commissioners also questioned the discrepancy between the staff report’s requirement to build at least 224 residential units (25 percent of the total residences planned for North Pointe) before construction gets underway on North Pointe’s 290,000-plus square feet of commercial, office and hotel space and the developer’s preference that 116 units, a mere 13 percent of proposed residences, be required.—Jay Neelley


SIGNS OF THE CRIMES
How we broke the law in 2005

The New Year has come and gone, but the final numbers on how Charlottesville closed out the year in crime have just been tabulated. According to City stats, both property and violent crimes were up in 2005, compared to 2004. The County did not provide equivalent information, but in 2005 property crimes in the county outnumbered violent crimes 16:1 in Albemarle; in the city, property crimes outnumber violent crimes 7:1. City and county combined, there were 400 violent crimes and 3,967 property crimes. Here’s a detailed breakdown of reasons to lock your doors and keep one hand on your purse in 2006.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Albemarle County

Violent Crimes

Murder: 2

Forcible Rape: 33

Aggravated Assault: 69

Robbery: 26

Total: 130

Property Crimes

Larcenies: 1,708

Stolen Motor Vehicle: 106

Burglaries/Breaking and Entering: 267

Total: 2,081

 

Charlottesville City

 

Violent Crimes

Murder: 2

Forcible Rape: 32 Aggravated Assault: 162

Robbery: 74

Total: 270

 

Property Crimes

Larcenies: 1,469

Stolen Motor Vehicle: 150

Burglaries/Breaking and Entering: 267

Total: 1,886

 

Sources: Charlottesville and Albemarle County Police Departments

 


LETHAL WRECKER CITED FOR OVERCHARGING
Towing company has until February 19 to fight reimbursements

Lethal Wrecker has until February 19 to dispute 21 claims that the towing company overcharged drivers anywhere from $5 to $170 for tows. According to court documents, the 21 overcharges total $1,120.

   The case against Lethal has been ongoing since 2003 when complaints of overcharging first found their way to the City Attorney’s office. According to the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, towers cannot charge more than $95 for a single tow. After the February 19 deadline, and provided Lethal doesn’t put up a fight, says Lisa Miller, the paralegal working with Deputy City Attorney Lisa Kelley on the case, the court will have 90 days to certify the reimbursements. Miller anticipates the reimbursements will be for the same amounts the unfortunate drivers were overcharged.

   Since the story was first reported on February 6, Miller says that no new complaints have come through the office, and that Lethal has been complying with the Consumer Protection Act since the lawsuit was filed.—Nell Boeschenstein

 


BELL CRAFTS BILL BASED ON RAPE LAWSUIT
Law would stop wrongfully accused from suing

Albemarle Delegate Rob Bell has introduced a bill that would prevent the wrongly accused from suing victims in rape cases.

   The bill would protect victims who act with a “good faith belief” that they have correctly identified their attacker.

   The bill was sparked by a September 2005 case in which a Charlottesville woman misidentified Christopher Mat-thew as her rapist. Matthew is now suing the woman for $850,000.

   Bell says he sponsored the bill in response to public criticism of the lawsuit. He worries such suits will create a “chilling effect” that sends this message to victims: “I know what happened but I’m not going to go to the police because if somehow I’m wrong I’ll get sued,” says Bell.

   Matthew’s attorney, Deborah Wyatt, called the bill a “knee-jerk reaction to the case” and said the bill would have “horrible” effects on the wrongly accused, who, she says, “I think we can all agree it’s probably young black men.

   “I have encountered many of these cases where women either negligently or by coercion or by bad faith…identify people falsely,” says Wyatt.

   Bell says false identification isn’t a “major problem,” however. His bill may not even affect Matthew’s case, says Wyatt, because he is attempting to prove the victim’s accusation was, in fact, in bad faith.

   Meanwhile, the bill to protect vic- tims from civil suits is moving through the House. On February 3, it passed the Courts of Justice Committee 18-4, with Charlottesville Delegate David Toscano voting in favor of Bell’s bill. —Meg McEvoy

 


LOCAL COURTS UNPREPARED FOR HISPANIC NEEDS
Family and friends often translate in court

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the nation’s Hispanic population grew 3.6 percent from 2003 to 2004, accounting for about half the nation’s total population growth of 2.9 million people. Locally, the 2000 Census pegs Albemarle’s Hispanic population at about 2,300 people, although that number has almost certainly grown since then.

   Charlottesville Public Defender James Hingeley says the increasing number of Hispanics is putting a burden on the local courts.

   “You really see this when a defendant appears for the first time and needs to be advised as to their right to counsel,” Hingeley says.

   There are no Spanish-speaking public defenders in Charlottesville, and the shortage of interpreters often means that defendants must rely on their friends and relatives. Because the court has a duty to provide interpreters, in jury trials multi-ple interpreters often end up working in shifts.

   Court interpreters must gain certification. Police, however, are not required to use certified interpreters. In cases where individuals have apparently waived their rights, Hingeley says experience has taught him to “have some question about whether or not they adequately understand the right to counsel,” which concerns him, because “once an interrogation is done, that’s it.”—Esther Brown

 


JUVENILE COURTS TOUGHER ON KIDS
Albemarle teens will face a strict atmosphere in court

The three teen suspects accused of plotting to attack two Albemarle County high schools will go to court at a time when the U.S. legal system is treating juvenile offenders more like adults.

   In a culture highly conscious of school violence and terrorism, both schools and the legal system in America are changing the way they deal with juvenile offenders, says UVA law professor Thomas Hafemeister.

   “Schools are supposed to be very vigilant and take very seriously any threat,” Hafemeister says.

   As an example, he cites the recent case of a 5-year-old who held his fingers in the shape of a gun, pointed his hand at a classmate and yelled, “Bang, bang,” during recess. The child was automatically suspended in accordance with a “zero tolerance” policy that gives schools the ability to remove students perceived as a threat to their classmates. “That decision was essentially upheld by the courts,” Hafemeister says.

   He says his “gut sense” is that in general courts are falling in line with schools’ crackdown on students accused of threaten-ing Columbine-style violence. Hafemeister says the legal system is now treating juveniles more like adults—a change due in part to the 1999 incident in Littleton, Colorado, but also due to statistics that in the mid-1990s indicated that juvenile crime was on the rise.

   “There was a message that played very well in political arenas, a message that we need to get tough on juvenile crime,” Hafemeister says.

   In Virginia and other states, a host of recent laws have sprung from the “get tough” posturing. In the past 10 years, Virginia has reduced the age at which a person can be tried as an adult, to 14 from 15; juveniles can now be held until they are 21, not 18; further, a juvenile’s crime record is not necessarily expunged when he reaches adulthood, as it had been in the past. A juvenile record can now be considered in relation to the “three strikes and you’re out” laws in Virginia that punish repeat felons with hefty prison terms.

   Furthermore, juvenile courts used to punish young criminals with “indefinite sentencing,” meaning they could be continually evaluated for evidence of rehabilitation. Now, however, juvenile courts impose sentences that must be served completely.

   The accused Albemarle teenage boys—ages 13, 15 and 16—all face charges of conspiracy to commit murder and are now being held at the Blue Ridge Juvenile Detention Center.

   “Even if they’re in the juvenile system, we treat children more like adult criminals,” Hafemeister says, even though juvenile crime have declined since the mid-’90s and are now lower than any time since 1980.—John Borgmeyer

 


TOSCANO’S HITS AND MISSES
Freshman City delegate wins some, loses some, avoids wedgies

Freshman legislators don’t us-ually get wedgies or swir-lies—but their ideas often get beat up. When David Toscano succeeded longtime legislator Mitch Van Yahres this year as Charlottesville’s delegate, few expected the new guy’s bills to do much better than Van Yahres’ in the deeply conservative House of Delegates. So far, Toscano’s record is mixed.

   Toscano’s minimum wage bill went down in flames last week. His H.B. 1363 would have increased the state’s minimum wage, currently at $5.15 per hour, by one dollar every year for the next three years. It was combin- ed with another bill, and was killed in an employment subcommittee.

   Still, Toscano has had some success in his first session. Last week the House passed Toscano’s bills that would give Charlottesville more power to provide affordable housing for the elderly and handicapped; it also passed a bill that gives Albemarle more choices in how the County handles employee grievances. Prior to Toscano’s bills going to the Senate, his legislative aide, Jenny Hogan, summed up the session as “so far, so good.”

 

Hanger’s changes of heart

Last week, Augusta Sen. Emmett Hanger backed away from a pair of controversial bills he introduced earlier this year. One bill would have prevented illegal immigrants from obtaining in-state tuition to Virginia colleges. Another would have allowed some sex offenders to choose castration instead of long-term detention.

   Hanger amended his S.B. 677 to allow in-state tuition for undocumented students who graduated from a Virginia high school, who are seeking legal status and whose families have paid taxes for at least three years. He told The Washington Post he was swayed by the arguments of immigrant activists and his son’s fiancé, a Filipino immigrant.

   Also last week, Hanger asked the Senate Education and Health Committee to carry over his bill allowing castration until 2007, saying it is “not ready for prime time.”

   In a time of “my way or the highway” politics, how nice to see a legislator who can listen to the arguments and change his mind.—John Borgmeyer

 


COUNCIL PUNTS ON DANGEROUS MUTTS
Will consider an ordinance after the Assembly session

Amidst the whines and snarls of the public over tax increases and affordable hous- ing, last week City Council discussed a newly proposed Animal Control Ordi-nance Amendment that would regulate “dangerous dogs.”

   This amendment comes as at the urging of victims of a handful of recent attacks, some of whom presented their tales to Council during its regular meeting on Monday, February 6.

   “Ultimately dog owners need to be held accountable for their pets,” said Holly Hatcher, a regular at Riverview Park who received multiple puncture wounds during an attack. She says a stricter ordinance will “better protect the good people and good dogs of Charlottesville.”

   The proposed amendment would, among other things, classify dogs into one of three increasingly nasty groups: ag-gressive, dangerous, or vicious. Depending on the complaint, a dog would be subject to investigation by an animal control officer who could then turn Fido over to the judgment of the General District Court. If the guilty pooch is designated into one of these categories, consequences range from man-datory leashing to termination.

   The new “aggressive dogs” section came under particularly harsh criticism. The designation is pre-emptive, defining “aggressive” essentially as a propensity for future attack. Professional dog trainer Eliz-abeth Beverly worries that because “the ability to accurately interpret ca-nine body language is held by a select train-ed few,” the designations would be placed in unqualified hands.

   Currently, there are a number of bills in the Gen-eral Assembly seeking to change State law regarding dangerous dogs. Council de-cided to wait for the Assem-bly’s votes before chang-ing Charlottesville’s dog policy.—David Goodman

 


COUNTY JOINS “ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT” GROUP
Critics worry decisions on growth could be made in secret

On February 8 the Albemarle Board of Supervisors voted in favor of the County’s membership in the Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development. As a business advocacy group, the Partner-ship lists Charlottesville, UVA and five surrounding counties as members. All pay an annual membership fee of $12,500.

   The decision stirred considerable debate as critics of TJPED pleaded their case against joining what they see as a private sector council that might influence Albemarle’s public growth policies in favor of business interests. Citizen activist Liz Palmer warned, “Public policy could be formulated without a public forum.”

   Supervisor David Wyant, how-ever, called the Part-nership a “resource to improve the quality of jobs and meet the goals of the community.” Super-visors Sally Thomas and Dennis Rooker had their doubts, but they could not muster enough support to stop the County from joining the Partnership.

   Also on Wednesday, Supervisors granted approval for the Faulconer Construc-tion Company’s final site plan in Ivy. Previously the board had rejected Faul-coner’s plans, deeming Ivy’s roads too narrow for the construction company’s big trucks, but Faulconer sued in the fall and won.—Jay Neelley

 


KAINE LEADS THE STATE IN PERQS FOR POWERFUL
Albemarle capitalist gets cozy with the new guv

Newly elected Virginia governor Tim Kaine has no excuses for not being well rested on the job this year. Before taking office in January, Kaine spent 10 days with his family on an exclusive, private island in the West Indies. The vacation, valued at $18,000, was a gift from local venture capitalist James B. Murray Jr.

   Murray is no stranger to political donations; $35,000 of his $40,000 in donations last year went to Kaine’s campaign, in addition to the vacation gift.

   Murray, who heads a Charlottesville venture capital firm, Court Square Ventures, has donated more than $340,000 to Virginia races since 1996. About 78 percent of that went to Democrats.

   Gifts to legislators are perfectly legal in Virginia—as they are in about half of the states—so long as legislators report them. State legislators received more than $300,000 in gifts in 2005.—Dan Pabst

 


CITY SCHOOLS GET NEW LEADER
Board asserts there are no skeletons in Atkins’ closet

The long-awaited contention-free meeting of the Charlottesville School Board came at last on Wednesday, February 8 when that body named Rosa Atkins the division’s new superintendent. Giddy board members eagerly passed a unanimous motion to accept Atkins at an annual salary of $153,000 10 months after the disastrous 10-month run of former superintendent Scottie Griffin.

   Atkins has experienced student populations on the extremes—the very poor and the very rich, the very handicapped and the very bright—and this trait was widely praised. “The challenges [of Charlottesville schools] are appealing to me,” Atkins said. “It’s a diverse community with diverse student needs.”

   A 25-year veteran of Virginia schools, Atkins was a teacher and principal in the Richmond area. For the past two years she worked as assistant superintendent in Caroline County, a similar-sized system south of Fredericksburg. Board chair Julie Gronlund noted that the board had spoken with Atkins’ colleagues in all of her former districts. “She’s been described as thorough, engaging, focused—a good listener and a quick learner,” she said.—Will Goldsmith

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Tuesday, January 31
Harding could look for GOP nod

City Police Captain Chip Harding is eyeing public office in Albemarle County, where he has lived for 25 years, according to today’s Daily Progress. If Albemarle County Sheriff Ed Robb decides against running for a second term next year, then Harding will seek the Republican nomination. Harding took a three-day candidate’s training course at UVA’s Sorensen Institute, the same program attended by Rob Schilling, the City’s lone Republican Councilor, before his successful campaign four years ago. Harding is nearing retirement and would welcome an opportunity to speak his mind at last on certain public issues, according to the report.

 

Wednesday, February 1
Tim Kaine: a star is born

Governor Tim Kaine responded to President Bush’s State of the Union address last night in a nationally televised broadcast, and this morning The New York Times dubbed his performance “a coming-out party for a new Democratic star.” His party appeal, like that of his gubernatorial predecessor, presidential candidate-apparent Mark Warner, lies partly in his ability to win one for the blue team in a red state. In his remarks, Kaine questioned whether Bush’s policies were “the best way to win this war [on terror].” “There’s a better way,” Kaine said.

 

Thursday, February 2
Mild temps don’t thwart storm team

The Emergency Operations Center that serves Charlottesville and Albemarle County is getting prepared for severe weather and power outages despite the unseasonable temperatures and confused crocuses, WCAV reports today. Using computer simulation, the emergency group staged a three-day storm that would leave 90 percent of the area in the dark. “In the winter time, in this part of Virginia, it is a very realistic scenario,” WCAV quotes Michael Cocker as saying. Cocker is with the State’s Department of Emergency Management.

 

But do they want paper or plastic?

Head football coach Al Groh has signed
24 players to the 2006 incoming class, and though none of them are “glittery,” in
the words of Daily Progress Sports Editor Jerry Ratcliffe, that may be the least
of Groh’s issues today. More troubling
is Ratcliffe’s incomprehensible simile in the DP to describe the recruiting process: “Football recruiting is kind of like going
to the grocery store.
It’s only a successful trip if you brought home what you really needed.”

 

Friday, February 3
Potts is sad, doggone it

Senator Russ Potts is today mourning the loss of his trusted golden retriever Maggie, according to the Associated Press. The Win-chester Republican, who ran an Independent campaign for governor and may have cost fellow Republican Jerry Kilgore the election, reportedly eulogized the 9-year-old, dessert-loving dog in the Senate yesterday. “There is a great big hole in my heart,” he said. “I hope they’re serving frozen custard in heaven.”

 

Saturday, February 4
Sunrise stumper: What if Duffy leaves WVIR?

Lead topic today on cvillenews.com? Morning TV anchor Beth Duffy’s rumored defection from WVIR. The chipper broadcaster is effectively “the face of NBC 29,” wrote blogger Waldo Jaquith, and, if true, her departure would deal a blow to the leading local TV station. But not everybody was buying it. “What if NBC 29 lost an anchor and nobody noticed?” wrote Big_Al in response.

 

Sunday, February 5
Local investor leads political gift-givers

In a report that was widely reprinted today, AP reporter Bob Lewis identifies Governor Kaine as the recipient of last year’s biggest political gift—a 10-day Caribbean vacation for him and his family from Albemarle County businessman James B. Murray Jr. Last year, Virginia’s elected officials accepted nearly $315,000 in gifts, with Kaine’s $18,000 rest at Murray’s Mustique home leading the pack. Kaine “saw this as a unique opportunity to get away with his wife and three children after a year of campaigning and on the eve of four years in the spotlight,” press secretary Kevin Hall told Lewis.

 

Monday, February 6
Why not repeal the seat-belt law, too, while you’re at it?

“When it’s a 35 mph speed limit on the Blue Ridge Parkway in the middle of summer, why not be allowed to take the helmet off?” That’s the rationale the Richmond Times-Dispatch today attributes to Del. William R. Janis, the Henrico Republican who is sponsoring a bill to turn back the State’s motorcycle helmet law. The bill made it out of committee, but faces an uphill battle. Other no-helmet bills have failed in the Assembly in recent years.

Assembly Watch

LOCALS LOBBY FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
TRAP, parental consent and family life programs on the agenda

On February 2, Planned Parenthood of the Blue Ridge packed 280 local pro-choicers—including 70 high school students—onto chartered buses and shipped them to Richmond for Planned Parent-hood’s Lobby Day.

   They were primed for a fight over three bills in particular: House Bill 189, the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP), which would make abortion providers subject to the standards of ambulatory surgery centers; House Bill 868, which would require parental consent before a minor could obtain emergency contraception; and Senate Joint Resolution 171, which calls for a statewide survey of family-life education programs.

   Planned Parenthood favors the Joint Res-olution, and opposes the two House Bills.

   First up for many of the lobbyists: Del. Rob Bell’s (R-Albemarle) office, where 35 people squished themselves in like sardines. The day’s tactic was moderation—i.e. safeguard contraception and sex ed first, then tackle abortion. Appealing to moderate Republicans like Bell was a popular refrain. Bell was in committee at the time, but his aide Mike Broomfield played host.

   Although TRAP legislation is proposed every year—passing the House before dying in the Senate’s Education and Health Committee, chaired by Sen. Russ Potts (R-Winchester)—Broomfield’s response was, “This is the first I’ve heard about all three of these [bills].” A woman then passed the hapless aide information sheets on each bill.

   Supporting Potts was a big theme. If and when he leaves office, the passage of TRAP is a distinct possibility, and would qualify only two existing abortion facilities—the Planned Parenthood offices in Charlottesville and Roanoke.

   Next up, a joint meeting with David Toscano (D-Charlottesville) and Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath County). Lobbying Deeds and Toscano, both of whom Planned Parenthood considers “allies,” is preaching to the choir, but they urged lobbying moderate Republicans because, as Deeds put it, “politics is about choices, but not between perfect or evil.” The best part? Deeds and Toscano wore matching olive green suits.

   Earlier that morning the Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee had voted in favor of the TRAP legislation. This is where Bell had been; he voted in favor of the bill.

   Last up, a rally with the 550 citizen lobbyists from around the state. In keeping with the bipartisan theme, featured speaker and founder of the Republican Pro-Choice Coalition, Delegate Katherine Waddell (I-Richmond), expressed her position to cheers.

   “I’ll support the full range of choices for women: abstinence, contraception, marriage and abortion,” she said. “I will stop focusing on how wide the halls are in an abortion clinic.”

   The morning ended with a variation
on an old classic: What do we want?
PREVENTION! When do we want it? NOW! But the buses were waiting and having done what they came to do,
the group gradually dispersed.—Nell Boeschenstein


WEED AND EWERT SQUARE OFF
Dem Congressional hopefuls vie for nomination

On Wednesday, February 1, Democrat Congressional hopefuls Al Weed and Bern Ewert squared off in a debate at the Jefferson Area Board for Aging on Hillsdale Drive. It was the second of what is sure to be many chances to hear from the two guys who want to challenge Fifth District incumbent Virgil Goode, Jr. (R-Rocky Mount). He trounced Weed in 2004. Weed is back, but first he must contend with former Charlottesville Deputy City Manager Bern Ewert, who boasts an extensive public record and more than 3,000 TV appearances in 13 years. The Democratic primary will be June 13.

   Despite their appeals to bipartisan solutions, both candidates spent plenty of time Bushwhacking, spouting the Howard Dean-ian “we need to take our country back” rhetoric, eliciting whistles and applause from the crowd of more than 100.—David Goodman


CITY SCHOOL BOARD LOSES MONEY IT NEVER HAD
Accounting turnabout means budget cuts needed after all

Elation quickly turned to gloom at the Charlottesville School Board meeting on Thursday, February 2 when it was revealed that nearly $300,000 had never, in fact, been lost and thus was not regained.

   The Daily Progress had reported the day before that a surplus had been “found” in the budget, giving many hope that some tough staff cuts wouldn’t take place.
At meeting’s start, however, financial director Ed Gillaspie said that he was “right the first time” and that the current budget is balanced.

   This deflation didn’t deter community members from advocating for the retention for certain school staff currently on the chopping block. That includes several special education positions at some elementary schools and high school dance teacher Miki Liszt.

   Board member Louis Bograd tried to spin the accounting snafu as “probably a good thing.” According to Bograd, “Now we can trim the budget to free up the things we thought we were going to be able to pay for from this free money.” During the meeting, the board amassed a long wish list, as if the system had triple the surplus it never had to begin with.—Will Goldsmith


OUR VOTES FOR THE NEXT STATE SONG
It’s time to get this party started

Forget roads and schools and unchecked sprawl—the Commonwealth has real problems. We need a state song!

   Until recently, Virginia was the only state without an official state song. On January 24 lawmakers voted to make the 19th-century folk song “Shenandoah” the interim official state song until something better comes along. To do our part, this week C-VILLE offers suggestions for Virginia’s next state song.—John Borgmeyer

 

Song: “I Can’t Drive 55,” by Sammy Hagar

Sample lyric: “One foot on the brake, and one on the gas/there’s too much traffic, I can’t pass.”

Relevance: The Red Rocker speaks to Virginia’s mounting traffic woes.

 

Song: “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell

Sample lyric: “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Relevance: See Route 29N.

 

Song: “Bad Man, Chi Chi Man” by Been-
ie Man

Sample lyric: “I’m dreaming of a new Jamaica/come to execute all the gays.”

Relevance: Who knew right-wing delegates would have so much in common with a reggae star?

 

Song: “You’re Having My Baby” by
Paul Anka

Sample lyric: “Didn’t have to keep it/You could have swept it from your life/ But you wouldn’t do it.”

Relevance: We’re pretty sure this is the only song on Del. Bob Marshall’s Ipod.

 

Song: “Okie From Muskogee” by Merle Haggard

Sample lyric: “We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse/and white lightnin’s still the biggest thrill of all.”

Relevance: Ripped on moonshine, wavin’ the flag, and kicking some hippie ass in Virginia. Yee-haw!

MILLER CENTER RECONSIDERS REAGAN
New interviews reveal ex-prez as “the anti-Nixon”

It’s been a busy week for Stephen Knott. The associate professor and research fellow at UVA’s Miller Center for Public Affairs spent last week fielding calls from The Washington Post, the Associated Press, National Public Radio and even the London Daily Telegraph.

   The hubbub was all about Ronald Reagan. Last week the Miller Center released 33 transcripts of interviews Knott conducted with some of the 40th president’s closest colleagues—Cabinet members, White House staff, campaign advisors—between 2001 and 2004. The release accompanied a daylong forum on Reagan at the Miller Center on Monday, February 6.

   Knott, a presidential scholar who has written a book on The Gipper, says the Miller Center’s new Reagan Oral History Project will add to the discussion of a man who has been exalted and vilified (perhaps, in both cases, unreasonably so) since his death in June 2004.

   “In some ways, it is a political thing,” says Knott. “Conservatives have been looking for their own FDR for years. There has been a concerted effort to lift [Reagan] into the American pantheon.”

   These new transcripts will only help that effort. They are mostly fond reminisces from people who worked by Reagan’s side. “We try not to go into these interviews with an agenda,” says Knott. “We try to put ourselves in the place of scholars 100 years from now. What would they want to know?”

   Knott says he found two surprises in the interviews. One is the image of Reagan as a kind person incapable of suspecting the worst in people, a figure Knott describes as “the anti-Nixon.”

   “He couldn’t fire people,” says Knott. “It’s hard to imagine how he got as far as
he did.”

   Reagan could be uncompromising, however, when it came to the two central concerns of his presidency: his deep fears of communism and nuclear weapons. “Everything else was far, far removed for him,” says Knott. Reagan was branded a warmonger for escalating the arms race, but today scholars say his plan to outspend the Soviet Union led to arms reduction and that nation’s collapse in 1991.

   While Knott says Reagan would probably have been embarrassed by the right-wing’s efforts to name infrastructure in his honor, he remains a hero to many Americans—perhaps more for his words than his deeds.

   “For a lot of Americans coming out of the ’70s, he made them feel better,” Knott says. “I think his words will live long after we’re gone. I put him up there with JFK.”—John Borgmeyer  

 


DIVERSITY CHIEF SPEAKS
William Harvey plays his greatest hits for first major speech

 On Thursday, February 2, UVA’s new vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity gave his first major address to the school.

   In his talk entitled “Issues of Race in Predominantly White Institutions,” William Harvey mostly read excerpts from his past writings, as well as those of other race scholars. He said that American colleges do not have enough black faculty, a problem he said is caused by racism and can be remedied by more aggressive affirmative action.

   “Academic institutions must strive to reflect the diversity of the society,” Harvey said to an overflow crowd at the Small Special Collections Library auditorium.

   Digging as far back as 1981 into his file of past writings, Harvey emphasized how little the problem of black faculty has changed over the years. Even though many colleges have the official will to recruit more African-American faculty, Harvey said those goals have been thwarted by subtle and overt racism. Subtle racism keeps blacks and other minorities out of the “informal networks” that help potential professors navigate the highly subjective tenure process. Moreover, the faculty “gatekeepers” who make tenure decisions tend to choose people who look and think just like them, said Harvey.

   But when asked, Harvey did not know how many black professors are currently on UVA’s faculty. “I’ve only been here for 90 days,” he said.

   Addressing incidents of racial harassment earlier in this academic year, Harvey said that if, in fact, the people who wrote racist messages on some students’ dry erase boards were students themselves, he is distressed that no one has turned in the perpetrators.—John Borgmeyer

 

MORE ON HOUSING THOSE ’HOOS
At capacity,UVA dorms only hold half of all undergrads

Of the 20,399 students enrolled at UVA for the 2005-06 school year, 13,401 are undergraduates. According to UVA’s Housing Division, the school has a total of 7,071 dormitory beds available for all students, with 6,325 beds available for undergraduates. John Evans, UVA’s director of accommodations, says that those undergraduate beds are currently 95 percent occupied. Last week, UVA’s Board of Visitors voted to raise the cost of a double-occupancy dorm room to an average of $3,639 per student in 2006-07, an increase of $350.

   Currently 13,328 Wahoos—7,076 of them undergrads—live off campus. As the debate rages between developers and preservationists and the City and County over how to house these off-campus students, C-VILLE hit the streets to ask students this question: “Given the same location, would you rather live in a new apartment complex or an old house? Why?” Here’s a sample of their responses.—John Borgmeyer, with additional reporting by Esther Brown

ALBEMARLE POLICE ARREST JUVENILES IN VIOLENT PLOT ON SCHOOLS
Teens communicated their plans via Internet chat room

Seated side-by-side at a press conference on February 3, Albemarle County Police Chief John Miller and County Schools Superintendent Dr. Pamela Moran announced that after an anonymous source contacted them on January 30, three Albemarle County school kids had been arrested and charged with felonies in connection with a plot to use an explosive on either Western Albemarle High School, Albemarle High School or both.

   “We really believe these acts would have been carried out,” said Miller. “Probably in the next couple of months.”

   A 16-year-old Western Albemarle High School student is charged with communicating a threat in writing to kill or do bodily injury and with commanding or entreating others to commit a felony; a 15-year-old Albemarle High School student is charged with conspiring to commit murder and conspiring to use an explosive on a schoolhouse; a 13-year-old Jack Jouett Middle School student is charged with conspiring to commit murder and conspiring to use an explosive on a schoolhouse.
If convicted, the kids, all of whom are male, could remain incarcerated until their 21st birthdays.

   According to police the three are friends—two live in the same neighborhood—and they communicated their plans in an Internet chat room. Two shotguns and three computers were seized by police in connection with the investigation.

   While none of the children had been previously identified as “at risk” by police, in the course of the investigation, Miller said that evidence surfaced that there were “problems at home.” Moran declined
to say whether the teens had difficulties
in school.

   This is the second time in a year that juveniles have been arrested in plots against their schools. Last May, two Covenant School students were arrested and charged in a purportedly Columbine-like attack they were plotting against their school.

   The Albemarle teens are currently out of school and being held at the Blue Ridge Juvenile Detention Facility. No further information is being released until County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Camblos reviews the case.—Nell Boeschenstein

 


TEENS CAUGHT BURGLING WHERE THEY’D BURGLED BEFORE
Been caught stealing before, but that didn’t stop a second act

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That’s usually good advice, but not for 18-year-old Joseph Albrecht and his 16-year-old cohort.

   The pair, both from Charlottesville, were arrested in November on charges of breaking and entering, larceny and vandalism of businesses and churches in the Airport Road area. They had been released on bond, but on January 29 they were rearrested again at the same place, for the same charge.—Nell Boeschenstein

 


THEN AND NOW: UVA’S POLICIES ON SEXUAL ASSAULT
Beebe case questions how administrators responded in 1984

Of the many issues raised by the case of William Beebe, the question of how UVA handles—and has historically handled—student re-ports of sexual assault is center stage.

   Beebe, of Las Vegas, turned himself into Charlottesville police in mid-January on charges stemming from an incident 21 years ago at a UVA frat party. In addition to alleging rape, Beebe’s accuser, Con-necticut resident Eliza-beth Seccuro, alleges that when she originally reported the incident
to UVA administrators in 1984, she was discouraged from going to local police.

   UVA spokesperson Carol Wood declined to comment on the Beebe case since it is an ongoing criminal matter, but she did say that UVA reviews and evaluates its policies on sexual assault every two years. Wood also says, “Certain policies were in place [20 years ago] that are still in place today,” including going to police and providing the victim with options—like counseling—to deal with his or her individual health and safety.

   Comparing UVA’s policy from 1984 to what’s on the books today illustrates how ways of addressing the issue have evolved, even if the basic principles have remained constant. It’s clear from UVA’s policy in the ’80s that sexual assault was just emerging in the cultural consciousness as a serious issue: The definitions and procedures in the 1984 policy are notably less fleshed-out than in the 2005 version.

   Perhaps the most glaring contrast between the two policies is that now
“sexual assault” is defined as a separate offense from “sexual misconduct.” The operative word in the definition of “sex-ual assault” is “force.” “Sexual misconduct,” according to UVA’s current policy, “occurs when the act is committed without intent to harm another” and takes into account the fact that “the use of alcohol or other drugs can blur the distinction between consent and manipulation.”

   Brett Sokolow, president of the National Center for Higher Ed-ucation Risk Manage-ment, says that recognizing the difference be-tween the two illustrates a growing understanding on college campuses that force isn’t what date rape is about. In addition, says Sokolow, as campus administrators have gotten better versed in sexual assault, definitions of “consent” have become much more explicit in university conduct codes; UVA falls right in line with this trend. He goes on to say that because the criminal justice system relies so heavily on defining “sexual assault” by violence, it shows how disconnected the system is from collegiate culture.

   The other most prominent difference between the two versions of UVA’s sexual assault policy is the level of information. While Wood said that reporting incidents to the police is a policy that’s been in place from the beginning, that intention was not in writing in 1984. By contrast, the 2005 document provides all the contact info for City, County and University law enforcement.—Nell Boeschenstein

 


UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH RICO
Albemarle’s newest officer loves “Cops,” chew toys

Full name: Rico

Breed: Belgian Malinois crossed with German Shepherd

DOB: October 2004 (no record of day)

Height: Unknown

Weight: 80 lbs.

Provenance: Holland

Family: Albemarle County Police Officer Andrew Gluba

Diet: 6 cups of Professional Lamb and Rice dog food daily

Education: Roughly 1,000 hours K-9 training; ongoing with a minimum 16 hours
per month

Fitness regimen: 20-45 minutes tracking or ball chasing daily

Last crime solved: On January 29 Rico identified where two burglars were hiding after he and Gluba responded to a building alarm.

Law and order heroes: Ingo, Rin Tin Tin

Crime fighting specialty: Excellent at narcotics searches, but, says Gluba, “[Rico is] squared away in just about all the areas we do. He’s a rarity.”

Favorite toy: Kong

Favorite primetime crime drama: “Cops.” Says Gluba, “I record all the ones that they use K-9s in.”

(Finish this sentence) “Rico can’t live without…”: His Kong. According to Gluba, Rico has been clocked at 41 mph while chasing his Kong.

Fun fact: He flies. When he “heels,” Rico jumps from six feet away and flips in beside Gluba. He’s jumped up eight feet to retrieve his Kong out of a tree.

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Tuesday, January 24
Best-selling author offers wannabes sage advice

Curtis Sittenfeld, whose debut novel Prep was named by The New York Times as one of the Top 10 books of 2005, gave a reading and answered questions this evening in UVA’s Newcomb Hall Ballroom. Prep chronicles the high school career of angst-y teen Lee Fiora, a scholarship student at a prestigious New England boarding school. Sittenfeld herself attended Groton, on which she admitted she based her fictional campus, and taught for three years at St. Alban’s in Washington, D.C. However, Sittenfeld affirmed that Prep is a work of fiction. “People always want to think that a memoir isn’t true and that a novel is,” she said to laughter from the crowd. “I don’t know why that is.”

 

Wednesday, January 25
Tell on that smell!

A small item in today’s Daily Progress alerted the community that the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority is on the case when it comes to “that smell.” RWSA Director Thomas Frederick has announced plans to start a telephone hotline for stankiness, so that when a member of the public catches a whiff of something nasty coming from an RWSA facility, all he has to do is call the 24-hour hotline to complain. According to the report, no specific start date has been set but the RWSA hopes to get the hotline up and running soon.

 

Thursday, January 26
Local artist makes bank with Greenspan paintings

After more than 18 years on the job, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is handing over his keys to the nation’s economy at the end of the month. In honor of his retirement, local artist and UVA grad Erin Crowe, who made national headlines in October with her art show of quirky Alan Greenspan portraits, is back for a second act. Crowe, who’s currently attending art school in London, has a new show, “Goodbye Greenspan,” of 30 portraits of the Fed chairman that opens tonight at New York’s Broome Street Gallery. Prior to the show she’d already sold six paintings and had been interviewed by CBS News, NPR’s Marketplace, Reuters and New York Magazine. CNBC had plans to film the opening.

Westhaven hosts a “Rent is too damn high” party

Residents, community members, City employees, UVA students and professors were all part of an overflow crowd this evening at the Westhaven Community Center for a panel discussion on housing, “The Poverty of (Re)Development.” The discussion was part of a four-part series sponsored by the Quality Community Council. People shared thoughts on, gripes about, and possible solutions for the city’s shortage of public housing and high rents. The next talk is “The Poverty of (Under)Employment,” on Tuesday, January 31 at 6pm at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.


Friday, January 27
Lifelong civil servant enters Council race

Registered Democrats across the city opened their mailboxes today to Julian Taliaferro’s official announcement that he will run for City Council in May’s election. A 43-year veteran of the City’s fire department, Taliaferro led the department for nearly 34 years. The chief says in his letter that during his career as a civil servant “my only real frustration was that my position kept me out of active participation in the Democratic Party. In the privacy of the voting booth, I have always been a local, state, and national Democrat.” Taliaferro joins public housing and poverty advocate Dave Norris as a Democratic hopeful. The party will nominate its candidates on March 4. A total of two Council seats will be up for grabs on May 7.

 

Saturday, January 28
City supe search: déjà vu all over again

In an eerie repeat of 2003’s search for a superintendent to lead Charlottesville’s school division, The Daily Progress today reported the names of two of three finalists for the job. Within a day, it came out that one of the candidates, Orange County supe William R. Crawford, had withdrawn his application, bringing the pool of finalists to two. The School Board botched a search three years ago when they publicly ranked finalists before offering anybody a contract and ended up with no one. This time, the board seemed to go to great pains to protect the identities of the new finalists. But in choosing to tour the finalists through schools, including Charlottesville High, early in the week the board might have made it easy for somebody to leak their names. Indeed, the DP’s Bob Gibson revealed the identity of another of the finalists, Rosa S. Atkins, in today’s edition. The third candidate has not been identified. Yet.

 

Sunday, January 29
Local sculptor wins grant for mature artists

Today we learned that local sculptor Richard Weaver was one of three recipients of a grant from the Franz and Virginia Bader Fund. The three artists will split a $45,000 grant given annually to artists over 40 who live near Washington, D.C. Weaver studied at the National Academy of Design in New York, and now keeps a studio at the McGuffey Arts Center.

 

Monday, January 30
Technical glitch keeps liberal radio off the air

It’s just a technical glitch, not a vast right-wing conspiracy that has kept progressive radio off the air in Charlottesville. Today The Daily Progress reported that the recently launched WVAX 1450AM has been taken off the air while a “technical issue” is being resolved. The station manager, Dennis Mockler, says the station should be back on air soon.

 

Written by John Borgmeyer from staff and news reports.

 

UVA law professor hits big with L.A. Times column
Rosa Brooks got a boost from Bill O’Reilly

Not many liberals can say that “The O’Reilly Factor” furthered their careers, but Rosa Brooks, a fifth-year law professor at UVA, owes her position as a weekly columnist at the Los Angeles Times to her feisty performance on the show in February 2005. As counterpoint to O’Reilly, she so impressed the paper’s editorial editor, Michael Kinsley, that he e-mailed her after the show to ask if she wanted to write a column. “I just thought he had a few too many beers,” says Brooks. “I’ve got to believe that his entire editorial staff must have thought he lost his mind.”

   Her columns have ranged from lamentations about the Iraq war to a Dr. Seuss spoof with O’Reilly as the Grinch. We talked to Brooks as she was gearing up for a new semester.—Will Goldsmith

 

C-VILLE: Did you enjoy being on “The O’Reilly Factor”?

Rosa Brooks: Enjoyment is the wrong word. It’s scary—lots of people are watching you who are predisposed to disagree with you before you even open your mouth. And he interrupts and controls the agenda and controls the questioning, and as any law professor knows with the Socratic method, it’s pretty easy to make a well-prepared person look like a fool if you control the agenda. So you know it’s going to be an uphill battle just to not sound like an idiot, much less to communicate anything.

 

If it’s that bad, why did you appear three times?

I think I felt it was almost my civic duty. If people who are liberal don’t go on it, then how will the media be balanced if one side just says, “I’m not going to play”? But now I have the column as an outlet to get my views out.

 

Do you ever worry whether your columns could damage your position with your colleagues and your future in the legal field?

[Laughs]Fifth Amendment. I worried a little that there would be people out there who would say, “Oh, she’s frittering away her time on this popular stuff.” There is such a gap today between the scholarly world and the world of public discourse that sometimes the public world looks at the scholarly world as rarefied and irrelevant and the scholarly world looks at the public world as superficial. I think it’s incredibly important for scholars to try to connect to the broader world—if we can’t do that, then I wonder what the point is of all our scholarship.

 

All quiet between Dena Bowers and UVA
Fired union member contemplating lawsuit

The uproar surrounding the No-vember firing of 17-year UVA employee Dena Bowers has gone quiet. Bowers’ firing sparked a small uproar among some, with the Staff Union at UVA leading the charge, and culminating with a protest in front of Madison Hall on Grounds.

   Since then, things have been calmer. Bowers’ supporters have decided not to push forward with a grievance against the University. Instead, they have set up a defense fund for Bowers’ attorney fees, if and when she files a lawsuit. Bowers and her lawyer have two years to file any lawsuit against the University.

   In the meantime, Bowers is not speaking to the press on the advice of her attorney, Debbie Wyatt.

   SUUVA President Jan Cornell says the defense fund is the best way Bowers’ supporters can help. According to Cornell, any issue with UVA’s handling of the Bowers case will be most successful in court and not through any of the internal UVA procedures.

   As evidence of wrongdoing, Cornell cites UVA’s changing position as to why Bowers was fired and what she regards as questionable practices by administrators during Bowers’ termination.

   The whole saga started when Bowers, a recruiter in UVA’s human resources department, sent an e-mail critical of UVA from her employee account, which eventually got forwarded on to the entire staff of the College of Arts and Sciences. Originally, news sources reported that Bowers was fired for misuse of UVA’s e-mail program. However, it appears now that Bowers was fired, in part, because of her conduct during the investigation, which began a month after Bowers sent out the message.

   UVA spokeswoman Carol Wood says UVA is not permitted to discuss the specific details of Bowers’ case, but says UVA has maintained the same reasons for firing Bowers from the beginning.

   “Our position has remained consistent and there has been no change from the document we gave her. Early reports in the news media were not correct,” Wood says.

   Bowers has been unemployed since her termination on November 22. Because Bowers was fired for “misconduct,” she is not eligible for unemployment assistance.—Dan Pabst

 

Police chief to politicians: Get tough on Toms
Longo says serial rapist also a Peeping Tom

In the past year the Charlottesville and Albemarle police departments have each made three Peeping Tom arrests. While it may not be the most common offense, it’s a serious one, according to remarks City Police Chief Timothy Longo made to the Subcommittee on Crime in the Virginia House of Delegates.

   Longo was speaking in support of a bill proposed by Del. Rob Bell (R-Albemarle) that would increase a third peeping conviction from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony. The chief says that the serial rapist, who has been active in Charlottesville for almost 10 years, “is and has been a peeper.”

   Should the bill become law, it would require anyone convicted within 10 years of three or more peeping incidents to register with the Virginia Sex Offender Registry. Selected excerpts from Longo’s remarks to the subcommittee follow.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo’s remarks to the House Subcommittee on Crime:

“Peeping Toms have long been viewed as individuals with a perverted sense of reality, but harmless and certainly not viewed upon as dangerous. I can assure you, nothing is further from the truth… As many of you are aware the Charlottesville Police Department is currently pursuing a serial rapist that has plagued our community for almost a decade. He has left over seven women in his wake. Throughout this investigation, we have sought the counsel of numerous agencies… Each of these agencies introduced a common theme to the investigation: THIS GUY IS AND HAS BEEN A PEEPER. Here are but a few examples of what these notable agen-cies convey:

 

•   ‘It is common for him to surveil his victims in advance. Peeping Tom activities are not uncommon.’

 

•   ‘He spends his time window peeping in an attempt to not only identify future victims, but to satisfy his fantasies as well. During his peeping times, he will be on the outside and while watching the victim, he will be engaged in masturbatory activities.‘

 

•   ‘He may have had prior arrests involving nuisance crimes, sexual offenses, Peeping Tom, etc. This type of offender does not wake up on Monday and decide to begin to rape; rather, he moves up a deviant continuum of “nuisance” type offenses, which include peeping. It is not uncommon for him to have been arrested for these types of offenses in the past.’

 

“[This legislation] is a perfect example of the potential this law would afford law enforcement.

 

“One of our rights as a citizen is our expectation to privacy afforded to us by the Constitution of the United States. When that right is taken from us by a voyeur, it is degrading and potentially life-altering for many victims. If we continue to maintain status quo and allow peepers to continue with consequences that yield the same result, we minimize the importance of our constitutional guarantee…”

 

Bell’s bills target sex offenders who’ve done their time
Can sex offenders ever pay enough for their crimes?

An 11th hour addition to Del. Rob Bell’s (R-Albemarle) 2006 legislative offensive on sex offenders proposes to bar those registered with the Virginia Sex Offender Registry from working at elementary and secondary schools. Moreover, in the most serious cases—such as rape or aggravated sexual battery of a child—the defendant would not be able to volunteer at schools, either.

   There are currently 90 cons in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area listed with the State registry. According to the Sexual Assault Resource Agency, however, the reg-istry represents only 10 percent of sex of-fenders: 90 percent are acquaintances of the victim and their crimes are never reported.

   Bell drafted the bill two weeks ago after hearing about a case in Madison in which a 10-time sex offender and felon visited a primary school dressed as Santa; school officials did not find out about his criminal past until after the fact. Although no children were harmed, Bell saw a loophole that needed closing.

   Bell cites high rates of recidivism; a 2003 study by the Department of Justice, for instance, says 40 percent of sex offenders reoffend within a year of discharge. He also cites evidence that sex offenders don’t “age out” of their crimes, and Bell characterizes continued monitoring of sex offenders not as a “double standard” but as a “different standard.” According to Bell, whereas crimes like armed robbery are “a young man’s game,” a sex offender’s capacity for crime persists throughout his life.

   While agreeing that sex offenses are among the most serious out there, UVA Law Professor Anne Coughlin warns that assumptions about those offenders that bar the possibility of rehabilitation are dangerous.

   “We’re committed to labeling these people as forever corrupt,” says Coughlin, who believes the laws currently on the books are sufficient. “That’s a very strong statement. Are we confident?”

   In addition to the school bill, Bell is the co-patron of another bill that would increase the mandatory minimum prison term to 25 years for sex crimes against children and require a minimum of three years of monitoring by a global positioning system after the offender had served time.

   Whereas Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo says it is important to be aware of whether convicted sex offenders are interacting with children on school grounds, he “would rather not get into the whole GPS thing because that takes it to the next level.”

   Coughlin agrees and points out that, in light of the recent disclosures that the Bush Ad-ministration has condoned mon-itoring the comments and move-ments of private citizens, the GPS question could create a Fourth Amendment issue.

   “Certainly [GPS tracking is] the use of technology to gather information about people’s thoughts, comments, movements,” she says. “And this is all very much in the public eye.”—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Virginia Oil seeks permit for gas pumping
DEQ accepting public comment until February 8

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and its Air Pollution Control Board have issued a notice inviting public comment on a permit for the Virginia Oil Company’s bulk petroleum facility located at 1100 Harris St. in Charlottesville.

   The Virginia Oil Company applied for a permit that would officially limit the daily “gasoline throughput” at its facility to 75,700 liters, or 20,000 gallons. Janardan Pandey of the DEQ’s Valley Regional Office in Harrisonburg says that the facility has operated at its current location since 1974 and “there is no big expansion going on, this is just a preventative measure.”

   Pandey says that the Virginia Oil Company facility already operates below the 20,000 gallon-a-day throughput standard. Still, Pandey says that “if the facility does more than 20,000 they have to meet some additional requirements—they have not exceeded [the 20,000 limit] and they are not going to exceed it; they’re doing this mainly to avoid federal standards.”

   Pandey says that while State Operating Permits do not expire and do not have to be renewed, such facilities are inspected regularly. He does not anticipate any significant public opposition to the issuing of this permit.

   The DEQ will be accepting public comment or request for a public hearing until February 8; they must be written and sent via e-mail, fax, or postal mail. For more information regarding the permit, contact Pandey at (540) 574-7817 or jrpandy@deq. virginia.gov.—Esther Brown

 

Places29 stays on schedule
County wants to tell more workers to take a hike

According to Judy Wiegand, Albe-marle County Senior Planner, Places29 is on schedule, as the Northern Development Areas Master Plan will be presented to the Planning Com-mission on February 14.

   “We are working on three alternative framework plans for residents and the community to consider,” she says. The goal is to preserve the character of rural areas with good planning in the county’s four northern development areas, which form an 11-mile corridor on Route 29N between the 250 Bypass and the Greene County line.

   Some of the County’s goals include: preserving existing neighborhoods; promoting the principles of the County’s Neighborhood Model; and improving the quality, diversity and affordability of new housing. The County Board of Supervisors will decide whether to adopt the 29N master plan sometime this spring.

   The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission is concentrating on the transportation component of the Places29 Master Plan. TJPDC director Harrison Rue sees Places29 as a “no-excuses plan” that will guide and connect land use and transportation.

   “We can do a bet-ter job of design-ing roads for pe-destrians and bikes as well as transit,” he says. This could mean more parallel roads, such as extending Berkmar Drive up to Hollymead Town Center, or the Hillsdale extension that will divert traffic off Hydraulic Road. He points out that in Charlottesville’s more urban areas, between 16 percent to 48 percent of adults can walk to work. In the county this figure drops to 2 percent to 3 percent. Even the proposed Ruckersville Parkway will be considered as part of the planning process.

   Brian Wheeler, executive director of Charlottesville Tomorrow, calls Places29 an important process for the County. “We need everyone at the table—property owners, the public and developers—so that expectations can be set and the County can work toward that plan.”

   Wheeler says one study put the county’s 10-year need for retail at an additional 1 million square feet. With major commercial centers like Hollymead Town Center, Albemarle Place and Northtown Center all in the development pipeline, he questions whether the County should delay approval of another huge shopping center, the proposed North Pointe project, until the Places29 master plan is complete. The County Board of Supervisors will make the final decision on rezoning North Pointe from rural to highway commercial as part of the designated growth area. Public hearings on that topic are scheduled for March.—Jay Neelley

 

RWSA plans massive construction projects
Local sewer bills could get stinky unless the State steps in

The Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority has announced ambitious plans for new construction over the next few years.

   On Monday, January 23, the RWSA—which manages the City and County’s reservoirs and wastewater treatment plants—introduced a five-year, $92 million capital improvement plan. The cost includes a $26 million project to expand the local water supply and $1 million for upgrades to the Crozet and Scottsville water systems.

   “We are also watching a disconcerting trend of increasing prices in the construction industry due to higher global demands for construction materials…and very aggressive regulatory demands well beyond what has ever been tested in the marketplace,” writes RWSA director Tom Frederick in a report on the coming expenses. “These pressures will…challenge our efforts to keep wholesale rates competitive.”

   A preliminary RWSA analysis predicts that wastewater rates could increase by up to 38 percent to meet the costs of the proposed five-year plan (see www.rivanna. org for more information).

   One of the major new expenditures will be upgrades the RWSA must make to satisfy new State pollution regulations.

   In November, the Virginia State Water Control Board passed strict limits on the amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus that wastewater treatment plants can discharge. The new limits, which have not yet taken effect, are designed to protect the James River and the Chesapeake Bay.

   Nitrogen and phosphorus in the water are not toxic to people, but huge concentrations of the elements contribute to algae blooms that can deplete oxygen in water and kill fish.

   According to Frederick, none of Vir-ginia’s 125 wastewater treatment plants are equipped to meet the new State regulations. The RWSA is asking the State to help pay for the upgrades, which Frederick says could cost the RWSA $18 million and will be one of Rivanna’s largest construction projects ever.

   If the State does not help localities pay for the costs of meeting the new regulations, Frederick estimates that the upgrades could increase wholesale wastewater rates by 50 cents per 1,000 gallons, meaning that an average customer could see his bill go up by an extra $60 per year.—John Borgmeyer

 

New vendor rules take effect
Impact on the supply of Tibetan wallets yet to be seen

A new vendor policy for the Downtown Mall has now taken effect. Vendors can now buy spots in designated areas spread throughout the Mall. According to City zoning inspector Ryan Mickles, this change is needed because vendors did not space themselves properly, sometimes concentrating around the center of the Mall, sometimes directly in front of stores or along the fire lane.

   The vendors can now choose to rent an assigned spot that will be theirs on a yearly basis. The other alternative is to rent unassigned spots that work on the principle of “first come, first served.” In both scenarios there are two types of spaces: one is 10’5"x10’5" and the other is 5’x10’5".

   The rents for assigned Mall spots vary from $600 to $800 a year, depending upon location (Central Place is the most coveted, and most expensive) and size. As for the unassigned spots, rent varies from $450 to $500 for the same considerations. This is a change from the $400 rent that vendors paid until last year.

   There are 31 spaces, of which 21 are larger and 10 smaller. One six-year vendor, who asked not to be named, said it’s hard to tell how the changes have affected the vending scene. “It looks like there are less vendors, but it could just be the weather,” she says. “I think it was good for vendors who have been here for a long time, but I’m not sure how well it will work for others.”—Priya Mahadevan

 

Dominion’s proposal meets some anti-nuke demand
New reactor design is kind to striped bass

Earlier this month Dominion Virginia Power submitted a revised proposal for a new nuclear reactor to be built on Lake Anna in Louisa County, 30 miles from Charlottesville.

   Dominion runs two nuclear reactors on the 9,600-acre lake. In December 2004, Dominion became the first U.S. company to receive a regulatory recommendation for a new reactorsite permit. Local anti-nuclear activists as well as the Washington, D.C. group Public Citizen protested the new plant. Another group of Lake Anna homeowners, called Friends of Lake Anna, formed to say they were not against nuclear power, but they asked Dominion to mitigate the environmental impacts for the two new reactors the company plans to build on the lake.

   It seems the activism has done some good. Dominion’s latest proposal marks a change to a more environmentally friendly nuclear reactor—maybe.

   The dangers of meltdown and radioactive waste aside, nuclear reactors have two major environmental impacts—their cooling towers use enormous amounts of water, and they release heated water back into the lake. The low water levels hurt recreation, while higher temperatures can harm fish.

   Dominion now proposes to use two different systems to cool the new reactor. One system uses less water, while the other system keeps the water cooler. “We’re in the process of analyzing Dominion’s proposal,” says Melissa Kemp of Public Citizen. “We’re trying to determine whether this would indeed reduce the thermal impacts on the lake.” She says the proposal is vague about how Dominion will use the two new towers, so it is unclear whether the company’s proposal will really solve concerns about lake depth and temperature.—John Borgmeyer

 

GENERAL ASSEMBLY WATCH
Deeds backs anti-gay amendment

A proposed amendment to the Virginia Constitution that would ban same-sex marriages in the Commonwealth sailed through the Senate last week on a vote of 28-11. Charlottesville’s Senator, Creigh Deeds, a Democrat, voted for the amendment that critics say is unnecessary and dangerously vague.

   Conservatives designed the amendment to Virginia’s 230-year-old Bill of Rights to prohibit gay marriage in the state, and prohibit the government from recognizing gay marriages or civil unions performed in other states. The bill is an insult to the spirit of freedom and equality enshrined in Virginia’s historic Bill of Rights, say critics. Virginia already has a law banning gay marriage, and critics say that the proposed amendment’s vague wording could be used to void business contracts and other legal arrangements between people of the same sex.

   Supporters say the amendment is necessary because legal gay marriages could “destroy” heterosexual marriage.

   The Senate vote means the referendum will go before Virginia voters on November 7.

 

When they outlaw guns, only delegates will have guns

Just when you thought, Hey, maybe the House of Delegates isn’t wilder than the Old West, here comes pistol-packin’ Del. John Reid. The Republican from Henrico County accidentally shot off his .380 handgun in the General Assembly building last week.

   Reid, 63, was unloading the semi-automatic pistol, which he says he carries for protection, when it accidentally went off on Thursday, January 26. By a zany coincidence, the projectile lodged safely in the bulletproof vest that Reid keeps hanging in his office (it was a gag gift from the Henrico County Sheriff).

   The 16-year delegate apologized on the House floor. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that a list was circulating among delegates of phrases to avoid in Reid’s presence, such as “take your best shot.”

 

Presenting the year’s dumbest bill (so far)

Last year it was the so-called droopy- drawers bill that would have required kids to pull up their pants. This year, the “I-can’t-believe-he-did-that” bill is the “Home Serenity and Tranquility Act,” proposed by Del. Robert Hull (D-Falls Church).

   Hull apparently introduced the bill at the request of one suburban family who wanted legislators to silence the sounds of children playing near their home. The bill would prohibit the use of athletic fields before 8am and after 6pm, and on Sundays, without the “unanimous written consent of the affected homeowners” within 65 yards of the field. “It’s the bad bill of the year,” says Charlottesville Dele-gate David Toscano.

   As written, the bill would have made it almost impossible for children to play organized sports, even on public fields paid for by taxpayers. Not surprisingly, angry letters from soccer moms (and, to a lesser extent, the Frisbee dog lobby) poured into the General Assembly from across the Common-wealth—so many that even Hull himself was forced to say he had put the bill in “by request” and did not necessarily support it, either, according to The Daily Progress.—John Borgmeyer

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Tuesday, January 17
Senators keeping an eye on liberal wackos

Today senators gave grudging approval to a bill that would give Charlottesville more power to help low- and moderate-income residents buy a house. The bill, introduced by Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath County), is similar to one already at work in Alexandria, prompting suspicion from Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Mount Solon). He and other state Republicans view Charlottesville and Alexandria as “small urban hotbeds of liberalism… that should be neither encouraged nor enhanced,” according to Bob Gibson in The Daily Progress.

 

Wednesday, January 18
60,000 acres in Albemarle undereasement

Today The Nature Conservancy announced two major conservation easements that put 1,600 acres of rolling county countryside known as Castle Hill into permanent protection from development. The land has links to Revolutionary War history and the easement includes 378 acres where The Nature Conservancy will perform a restoration program for old-growth forests. The easements make for a total of 60,000 non-parkland acres forever off-limits to development in Albemarle.

 

Thursday, January 19
Major grant for UVA mental health research

Today UVA announced it had received a $4.5 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation to study legally mandated treatment for people with mental disorders. The study, conducted by UVA law professor John Monahan, seeks evidence to help decide whether, and how, courts should require involuntary treatment for the mentally ill.

 
Enviros appeal to City Hall

Today leaders from local environmental groups delivered a list of ecological priorities including air quality and renewable energy to Charlottesville Mayor David Brown. The list, which was also mailed to State leaders, recommends reducing energy consumption and investing in alternative transportation. The environmentalists also addressed specific matters, such as concern over the Meadowcreek Parkway and new nuclear reactors that Dominion plans to build in Louisa County. The fact that Virginia ranks last in the nation in environmental spending also prompted the display.

 
Teachers to get what’s coming to them?

Acting Charlottesville Superintendent Bobby Thompson tonight proposed a $61.5 million budget for 2006-07, which includes raises for teachers that average 5.72 percent. Thompson’s budget stands in stark contrast to last year’s proposal, authored by then-Supe Scottie Griffin, who gave teachers far less consideration than administrators. Teacher retention is an issue throughout the region—and some school leaders think it can be addressed through pay incentives. Indeed, last night Pam Moran, Albemarle’s new superintendent, proposed a $157 million budget that includes salary increases for teachers ranging from 3.6 percent to 11.5 percent.
 

Friday, January 20
Warner whips Allen in poll

According to a survey recently commissioned by the UVA Center for Politics, if Virginians were asked to choose the next U.S. President today, given a choice between former Governor Mark Warner (D) and U.S. Senator George Allen (R), nearly half would lend Warner their support. Close to one-third said they would vote for Allen, himself a former governor, and all of the 1,181 polled are said to have voted last fall. “It’s rare that there are two significant candidates from the same state, especially from a medium-sized state like Virginia,” says Center Director Larry Sabato of the results released today. “The question that naturally arises is, ‘which one is the king of the hill? Which one has more support in the state?’” Characterizing them as “an absolute runaway” for Warner, Sabato says he was surprised by the results. “Of course, it’s very early; anything can happen,” Sabato says. “How much influence [a poll] has is anybody’s guess.”
 

Saturday, January 21
Free expression monument to get a conscience

The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, the people who will bring you the Free Expression Monument in front of City Hall, today announced the winning quote that will be inscribed on one side of the wall, scheduled to be completed by March 21. More than 850 Charlottesville-area high school students participated in the vote that pitted four highbrow quotes against each other. The winner is by John “Paradise Lost” Milton: “Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.” The other side of the chalkboard will reproduce the full text of the First Amendment.
 

Sunday, January 22
Everybody knows Wladek Minor—do you?

This week we learned that a 1997 paper co-authored by UVA molecular physiology and biological physics professor Wladek Minor is currently the world’s second-most cited scientific paper, according to The Scientist magazine. The paper, “Processing of X-ray Differentiation Data Collected in Oscillation Mode,” describes a software program that creates a 3-D image, or map, of human proteins. In providing a program that creates maps of specific proteins, Minor and his colleagues give those developing treatments for viruses and cancer the tools they need to design better drugs. “When people take a designed drug, 99 percent of the time it’s targeting a protein,” says Matt Zimmerman, a graduate student who works in Minor’s UVA lab.
 

Monday, January 23
Saga turns both left and right

Left-leaning talk radio fans have something to crow about as the Charlottesville Radio Group has launched a new station featuring liberal figures like Al Franken, Randi Rhodes and Ed Schultz. The station, WVAX 1450, begins its first full week of programming today. The new station complements the slew of right-wing chatterboxes like Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh who appear on WINA, also owned by Charlottesville Radio Group and its parent company, Saga Communications.

 

Written by John Borgmeyer from staff and news reports

 

How many are coming to Crozet?
County tries to soothe uproar over conflicting population predictions

After Albemarle County designated Crozet as a growth area, planners began a yearlong public process in March 2002, with the goal of creating a “master plan” for the town. Master planning included nearly a dozen public events, the formation of seven task force groups and the hiring of Renaissance Planning Group as consultants to complete the process. The whole shebang cost $215,000, and in December 2004 the County approved the Crozet Master Plan. Surely there would be no public outcry after such an exhaustive process, right?

   Au contraire. Cro-zet activists want to know why County planners seem to have nearly doubled their original estimate to 24,000 from 12,500 residents as the area is built out. Currently, Crozet has a population of about 3,600 living in 4.5 square miles.

   “What the document I have and what the residents made clear was a master plan calling for 1,240 units,” says Crozet resident and activist Tom Loach, referring to the Development Areas Initiatives Steering Committee’s final report dated March 22, 2000. “Ask them how the final plan called for 12,000 people but now they’re saying 24,000. That’s half the size of Charlottesville and would destroy the area,” he says.

   On Thursday, January 12, about 300 residents met to demand an explanation for this apparent turnabout from Albemarle County Board Chairman Dennis Rooker and White Hall District Su-pervisor David Wyant. An-other Crozet resident, Mary Rice, explained that as a growth area, the allowable 20-year build-out could reach an upper limit of 24,000. The Wickham Pond development was used as an example since the 20-acre parcel was just rezoned from five units to allow for 107 housing units.

   “I didn’t support the Wickham Pond rezoning to 107 units because it did not contribute to infrastructure,” said Rooker, alluding to a common complaint that the County allows more development than public facilities such as roads and schools can support. Rooker said that Old Trail Village, with an approved 2,200 homes, includes infrastructure like sidewalks, street trees, a park and the upgrading of Western Avenue. Rooker thinks the 24,000 total is simply a 20-year maximum if every single acre were to be developed on a by-right basis. “The uppermost limit is unlikely,” said Rooker. But more than once he re-ferred to the original Com-prehensive Plan that included a Piedmont Environmental Council estimate that Crozet’s maximum build-out could be as high as 34,000 residents.

   Rice later called that figure totally irrelevant. “It’s an inane number that means absolutely nothing,” she said. She thinks the County should agree to having the entire promised infrastructure—including a new library and the upgrading of roads and bridges—in place before any developments are approved that would take the total over the 12,000 limit.—Jay Neelley

 

More development on Old Lynchburg Road?
Breeden confirms another major land sale near Biscuit Run

Just when you thought Old Lynchburg Road couldn’t possibly soak up any more new suburban housing, last week C-VILLE received confirmation that more than 200 acres of land ripe for development will soon be on the market.

   Two parcels of land totaling more than 200 acres are directly across Old Lynchburg Road from David Bree-den’s Biscuit Run property, which the sculptor sold to developer Hunter Craig for $46.2 million in November. The sale created quite a stir among those concerned about new county development. Those concerns are likely to mount with Breeden’s confirmation that he has secured the 200 acres with a contract that he hopes to sell to another buyer. “We have a contract to purchase both parcels,” says Breeden. “We’re going to sell the contract.”

   The land in question includes two parcels—one is 167 acres and one is 50 acres—at the northeast corner of Old Lynchburg and Forest Lodge roads, just across Old Lynchburg from Biscuit Run. The 167-acre parcel is zoned R-4, and County plans call for “neighborhood density” there. According to County records, the Jennie Sue Minor Trust owns both parcels. Minor, who owns the nearby Southwood trailer park, did not return calls by press time.—John Borgmeyer

 

Whole Foods to relocate
Nine-dollar arugula to move to Albemarle Place

Charlottesville’s Whole Foods is not long for its current location at Shoppers World on Route 29 North. While the moving date has not yet been announced, according to the Whole Foods website, the organic foods giant will be relocating to a 55,000-square-foot space on the corner of U.S. Route 29 and Hydraulic Road. This corner is the site of Albemarle Place, a 1.8 million-square-foot mixed-use development where plans include up to 800 residential units, a two-storey department store, hotel, cinema, retail outlets and, of course, a grocery store.

   While representatives from Whole Foods’ current property managers did not return phone calls, via e-mail Shoppers World property manager Chuck Lebo did say that while the shopping center is currently fully leased, “we may have some smaller shop spaces come available in the next few years.” He added, “We cannot accommodate tenants above 6,000 square feet for the foreseeable future.” He declined to comment either on how large the current Whole Foods space is or how much rent Whole Foods currently pays Shoppers World.

   The Lebo-Whole Foods team made headlines last spring when Lebo had Democratic General Assembly candidate Rich Collins arrested for campaigning in the Whole Foods parking lot. The ensuing legal battle has raised the question in the courts of whether shopping centers are private property or whether they are the latter-day equivalent of town squares and thus areas where constitutional rights apply. Collins was convicted of trespassing in General District Court, but the case has been appealed.

   Representatives from Whole Foods could not be reached by press time.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Council approves Rugby historic district
Student-housing developers question vote

Attention local developers! City Councilors want big apartment buildings near UVA!

   No, wait…they don’t. Well, maybe. O.K.—just a few, but they’ll be watching you developers very, very carefully.

   What’s all the confusion about? Last week, City Councilors voted to place new restrictions on development in the neighborhoods around Rugby Road, University Circle and 14th Street near the Corner. On Tuesday, January 17, Councilors voted 3 to 1 to create a new historic design control district in that area. (Republican Rob Schilling abstained from the vote).

   “It baffles me,” says Rick Jones, president of Management Services Group, which builds and owns student housing around UVA. Jones is upset because two years ago the City rezoned that area, allowing developers to build up to 87 units per acre. The 2003 rezoning came after extensive planning and public meetings on how to keep students living near UVA and out of residential neighborhoods.

   “There was a lot of support for that concept,” says Jones. “[Council] took 85 percent of the existing buildings in that neighborhood and said ‘This property is not going to be developed.’ [With this new decision] the Council took any certainty away from the property owners.”

   The new Rugby historic district means developers—who own much of the property in the district already—will need approval from the Board of Architectural Review to demolish old houses. Council rejected proposals that gave developers more freedom in the district, and embraced the plan endorsed by historic preservation groups.

   Councilor Kevin Lynch, who successfully pushed for the most restrictive historic district, says the City is not sending mixed messages to developers. “I’m not looking at every property over 40 years old and saying we have to keep it.” However, Lynch says, “we don’t want 14th and 15th streets to look like Jefferson Park Avenue.”

   Councilor Kendra Hamilton initially sided with Councilor Blake Caravati and favored fewer restrictions on developers, but says she was eventually swayed by Lynch and Mayor David Brown.

   “It was probably the most difficult decision I have ever had to make,” says Hamilton. “Everybody wants sticks to beat the development community over the head. Nobody wants to get carrots to encourage them to do the things we want to do.”

   In the two years between the rezoning and last week’s decision, Jones and other developers have already started to build some high-density apartments in the Rugby area. That should meet the demand of UVA’s growing student body for the next five years, Jones says. Beyond that, the City’s cave-in to preservation interests could thwart plans to contain student sprawl.

   “A great idea got trashed,” says Jones. “It was all politics.”—John Borgmeyer

 

Wahoo law student gets props from Ebony
Read this and get depressed about how little you’ve accomplished

Is UVA, like, a good school
or something? It sure seems like they’ve got some bright students.

   At least, that’s what Ebony magazine tells us. The February issue of the seminal African-American monthly features UVA law student Raqiyyah Pippins in the article “Young Leaders: 30 for 2006.” The 24-year-old Pip-pins stands alongside news anchors, scholars, pastors and executives in Ebony’s profile of 30 African-American leaders under 30 years old.

   Pippins is a J.D. candidate and national chair of the National Black Law Stu-dents Association as well as a former student-faculty relations committee co-chair for the Student Bar Association. Pippins is also articles editor for the Virginia Sports and Enter-tainment Law Journal. —John Borgmeyer

 

Hamilton disses Jefferson in Harper’s magazine
Jesus is just all right…TJ, not so much

As a City Councilor, Kendra Hamilton is no doubt accustomed to appearing in, ahem…distinguished publications. Yet last week her name entered even higher stratospheres of journalistic panache as the February issue of Harper’s hit the
C-VILLE’s newsstand featuring her backslap on ol’ TJ.

      A letter from the politician/UVA English scholar ap-pears in the February issue of the 150-year-old Harper’s, the leading magazine for progressive contrariness and ass-kicking journalism.

      An essay in the December Harper’s prompted Hamilton’s ire. In “Jesus Without the Miracles,” writer Erik Reece argues for a version of Christianity that emphasizes good works instead of miracles and heaven. In his essay Reece discusses a version of the Bible compiled by Thomas Jefferson, in which he cut out all references to miracles.

   Jesus is just all right with Hamilton, but not TJ. She learned about the former President’s not-so-nice side while interning at Monticello while she was a graduate student at UVA in the mid-1990s. Had Jesus ever met Jefferson, Hamilton writes, “the Nazarene would have faulted Jefferson’s hypocrisy in extolling the glories of ‘liberty’ while denying it to the 200-odd humans whom he owned.” Hamilton writes, “I enjoyed the religious portions of ‘Jesus Without the Miracles’—but I would have liked it much better if I could have gotten Jesus without the Thomas Jefferson too.” Oh, snap!

      “When [Reece] started to get Thomas Jefferson in the mix, I just couldn’t go there,” Hamilton tells C-VILLE.—John Borgmeyer

 

A facelift for Lane Auditorium
County meetings will soon be more exciting than UVA basketball

Work is already underway on renovations to Lane Auditorium in the Albemarle County Office Building. On Wednesday, January 18, Albemarle County officials held a pre-bid meeting on the renovation of Lane Auditorium—the future site for all Albemarle County meetings.

   The renovation calls for new seating and flooring, improved ventilation and en-hanced audio/visual capabilities. The auditorium will be the future meeting spot for the various County meetings, including those of the Board of Supervisors and the School Board.

   The new renovations should make the auditorium a far more accessible and enjoyable place for civic-minded citizens. A large screen behind board members will be clearly visible to all audience members and the audio system will be up to date—all great improvements over the current meeting area.

   Lane Auditorium was closed on January 3 and workers have already started gutting the auditorium in preparation for its renovation.

   The deadline for submitting a bid for construction is February 9, and assuming there are no hold-ups in the process—such as staying within the $1.2 million budget—construction is scheduled to begin March 1 and be completed in September.

   Although only two contractors showed up to a pre-bid meeting Wednesday, at least four contractors have requested the architectural plans necessary before making a bid.—Dan Pabst

 

GENERAL ASSEMBLY WATCH
Virginia is for (straight) lovers—and Rob Bell likes it that way

Thank goodness the Virginia House of Delegates is protecting us from all those scary gay people.

   On Friday, January 13, the House voted 73-22 in favor of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in the Commonwealth. The legislation, known as House Joint Resolution 41, overwhelmingly passed both the Senate and the House last year. Amending the Constitution requires two votes by both chambers, with an election in between. If the Senate supports HJ 41, it will go before Virginia voters in November.

   The amendment, sponsored by Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas), declares that “only a union between one man and one woman may be recognized by this Commonwealth.” The law would also prohibit the State from recognizing “a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage.”

   Marshall designed the law to prevent Virginia from recognizing gay marriages or civil unions that may be legal in other states—partnerships that amendment supporters such as Del. Kathy Byron (R-Lynchburg) say could “destroy” what she calls “traditional families.” Critics, however, say the bill is too vague and could interfere with health care decisions and property ownerships.

   Charlottesville Delegate David Toscano voted against the amendment, while Albemarle Delegate Rob Bell voted for it.

 

Developers protest Kaine’s plan to link roads and zoning—apparently his fundraising days are over

Virginia’s real estate moneymakers have their tool belts in a bunch over Governor Tim Kaine’s plan to curb traffic. Kaine wants to give local governments the power to deny rezoning if nearby roads are not adequate to handle the traffic that new projects would bring. Cur-rently, elected officials have almost no say over what an individual builds on a piece of land, even though planning experts have long advocated for more coordination between land use and transportation.

   If Kaine can get his proposal through the Gen-eral Assembly, it could have a big effect locally. County supervisors could, for example, deny rezoning for big subdivisions on narrow country roads such as Route 20 South or Highway 53.

   Developers, however, are fighting back. Last week the Virginia Home Builder’s Association brought more than 100 people to Richmond to lobby against Kaine’s plan. Although Kaine’s plan has been endorsed by The Washington Post (in a January 18 editorial the Post denounced as “hysterical” the VHBA’s claim that the plan would be death for the industry), don’t underestimate the power of real estate interests—developers donate more money to Virginia politicians than any other industry.—John Borgmeyer

 

Las Vegas man turns himself in on 21-year-old rape charge
Beebe’s bond set at $30,000 in Charlottesville juvenile court

William Beebe, handcuffed in his black and white jumpsuit, sat silently between defense law-yers Rhonda Quagliana and Fran Law-rence at his bond hearing on Tuesday, January 17, at Charlottesville Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. The 40-year-old Beebe had turned himself in to Char-lottesville police earlier that morning to face a rape charge stemming from an incident that allegedly occurred a little more than 21 years ago when Beebe was a student at UVA.

   After hearing arguments from both Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Claude Worrell and Quagliana, Judge Edward Berry set bond at $30,000 with the conditions that Beebe surrender his passport, not have any contact with the victim, attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and submit to drug testing. The hearing took place in Juvenile Court because the victim, Connecticut resident Elizabeth Seccuro, was 17 at the time of the alleged rape.

   Beebe, a Las Vegas real estate agent and massage therapist, had been going through the 12-step AA re-covery process. As part of Step 9—which involves making amends with people the recovering alcoholic may have harmed in the past—he contacted Seccuro in Sep-tember to seek forgiveness for a sexual encounter that had occurred between the two at a 1984 UVA fraternity party. In the ensuing contact between Beebe and Seccuro, it became clear that they had differing perceptions of what had happened. As a result, in late December Seccuro filed rape charges against Beebe with the Charlottesville Po-lice Department.

   In one of his e-mails Beebe referred to the incident as a “rape.” At the bond hearing, Quagliana characterized the situation differently, saying that Seccuro was too intoxicated to either consent to or reject the sexual encounter. While Worrell argued that Beebe should not be granted bond on the grounds that he still poses a threat to Seccuro, Quagliana countered with the facts that Beebe had turned himself in voluntarily, cooperated with authorities and had ceased contact with Seccuro once it became clear he was not helping the situation.

   Once he has turned in his passport and posted bond, Beebe will be staying with a longtime friend who lives in Richmond. His preliminary hearing date has been set for March 24 at 2pm.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

DNA testing confirms Coleman’s guilt
New evidence comes as a blow to death penalty activists

Posthumous DNA testing ordered by Governor Warner has confirmed the guilt of Roger Keith Coleman. Coleman was executed in 1992 for the rape and murder of his 19-year-old sister-in-law, Wanda McCoy.

   Coleman’s case had received significant public attention since he was sentenced to death 24 years ago, partly because he firmly maintained his innocence until his execution. In May 1992, he appeared on the cover of Time magazine with the headline “This man might be innocent; this man is due to die.”

   As one of his final acts before leaving office two weeks ago, Governor Mark Warner ordered new DNA testing on the remaining evidence from Coleman’s case. Among other things, Coleman’s conviction rested on circumstantial forensic evidence that did not significantly rule out the possibility of another killer. Better DNA testing—not available during Coleman’s trial—had left open the possibility that Virginia had executed an innocent man.

   However, results came back confirming Coleman’s guilt, with the new DNA results placing the chances of Coleman’s innocence at 1 in 19 million.

   In pushing for a retest, death penalty opponents pointed to the fact that Cole-man, who could not afford his own de-fense, received two inexperienced court-appointed attorneys who had never tried a murder case—let alone one involving capital punishment. Furthermore, there was significant evidence of the prosecution mishandling the case, including withholding evidence from the defense during trial. Moreover, early attempts to appeal Coleman’s case came to a halt after attorneys for Coleman missed a filing deadline by one day.

   Jack Payden-Travers, director of Virginians Against the Death Penalty, said his group was “obviously discouraged by the initial outcome of the Coleman case, but overall encouraged that the precedent has been set for further posthumous DNA testing, as well as for retaining evidence beyond the outcome of the trial.”—Dan Pabst

 

Lawmakers want to up penalty for petty pot smokers
New bill raises maximum sentence to one year in jail

According to Charlottesville Common-wealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman, the annual volume of pot cases that passes through his office is so high that the office doesn’t even bother keeping a database of them. Most of the cases, says Chapman, involve first-time offenders and are overwhelmingly resolved with a guilty plea, some drug assessment, a revoked license and one year of probation. Delegate Sal Iaquinto (R-Virginia Beach), however, wants to crack down on these first-time (and small-time) stoners.

   Iaquinto is sponsoring a bill in the Virginia General Assembly that would jack up the punishment for first-time pot offenders from the possibility of one month in jail to a full year in the slammer, and raise the maximum fine to $2,500 from $500. The license suspension would remain the same.

   According to Chapman, the new bill would not affect his office or the way the majority of such cases are prosecuted, since the majority of cases will continue to be guilty pleas resulting in a year of probation and that, says Chapman, is “a good and appropriate way to resolve these cases.” The ex-ception to this rule would be in the rare case when a person had such a bad record that a judge would choose to take advantage of the harsher punishment options proposed by the current bill.

   “In the rare and appropriate case,” says Chapman about the bill, “it does give the judge more tools.”

   Where the bill could have an impact, though, is at the already capacity-strained Regional Jail. While the jail’s rate of capacity is 329, some “wiggle room” is allowed with an actual bed count of 500. According to jail superintendent Col. Ronald Matthews, the facility currently houses around 460 inmates.

   While Matthews allows that a potential influx of petty pot smokers could strain the jail’s resources, “we would have to make accommodations. We can’t just say we’re not going to do it,” he says.   

   Looks like “tough on crime” could be toughest on the local jail.—Nell Boeschenstein

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Tuesday, January 10
New Mall auto crossing hits roadblock

Today the Charlottesville Planning Com-mission voted against a second auto crossing on the Downtown Mall. Business owners requested a crossing on the east end of the Mall, at Fourth or Fifth streets, arguing that the closure of Sixth and Seventh streets near the Charlottesville Pavilion and Transit Center had hurt business. The Commission said that once the construction on the Transit Center is finished, the City should post signs to help people find the Mall; Commissioners also suggested reversing the flow of traffic at the Second Street crossing on the Mall’s west end. City Council could vote to reject the Commission’s recommendations when they take up the issue later.

 

Wednesday, January 11
Cops say officer may have beaten drunkard

Today Virginia State Police arrested City police officer Cliff Goodwin, who will appear in court on charges of misdemeanor assault and battery in connection with a drunk-driving arrest. Police launched an investigation last August after Goodwin brought a DUI suspect to the magistrate’s office at the regional jail. Because the incident took place at the magistrate’s office, the matter fell to Albemarle Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Camblos, who requested an investigation by the Virginia State Police. After their investigation, Camblos sought a warrant for Goodwin’s arrest, which was served today. Goodwin was not detained and was reassigned to administrative duties, where he will remain until after his court date later this month.

 

More chance to sound off on MCP

Today steering committee members met to work on the Route 250 Bypass Interchange that will connect the Meadowcreek Parkway to the Bypass and McIntire Road. At issue is what kind of interchange, if any, will be constructed at this as-yet unbuilt origin of the oft-debated Parkway. Those of you with an opinion should know that the committee will hold the first of two public workshops in March. See more at 250interchange.org.

 

Thursday, January 12
Hundreds rally to discuss Crozet growth

Tonight 300 residents attended the Crozet Community Association meeting to discuss a recent population projection that has doubled from the original Crozet Master Plan estimate of 12,000. Albemarle County Board Chairman Dennis Rooker said developments such as Old Trail Village will likely never reach their upper limit even within the projected 16-year build-out due to roads and the natural topography of the land. But activist Ken Loach called the new total of 24,000 an administrative fiat and asked, “How many people would like to see Crozet grow to half the size of Charlottesville?” None there raised their hands.

 

Friday, January 13
Albemarle First gets another dance partner

Locally owned Albemarle First Bank announced today that it intends to merge with Winchester-based Premier Commun-ity Bankshares, in a deal that is expected to close in the second quarter of this year. In a cash and stock agreement valued at about $29 million, Premier will issue its stock or equivalent cash to Albemarle First shareholders at $15.80 per share. Albemarle First shares closed today at $14.65. This is not the bank’s first spin on the M&A dance floor. Last summer it announced a planned merger with Millennium Bankshares, but Millennium shareholders rejected the deal.

 

Saturday, January 14
All-American Brooks picks UVA over NFL

The Redskins lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL playoffs, but local football fans still had a reason to cheer as UVA star linebacker Ahmad Brooks announced he would forego the pros and stay at UVA for his final year of eligibility. Many fans thought Brooks was a sure-fire first-round pick in the NFL, but he had a spotty 2005 season after knee surgery. Brooks played only six games last year, so 2006 will give him another chance to shine, and perhaps get him a better deal when he finally turns pro. Think the NFL is a lofty goal? Get this—Brooks says he wants to help UVA win an ACC championship next year.

 

Sunday, January 15
Telegenic ex-guv begins his uncampaign

Looking positively presidential as he was interviewed before a roaring fire, Democrat Mark Warner took dozens of questions this morning from host George Stephanopoulos on his ABC news show. Warner would not confirm that he plans a presidential run, but why else would he be answering questions about strategies to withdraw from Iraq and contain Iran’s nuclear development? Smart as a whip, Warner was strategic when taking Stephanopoulos’ query as to the president he most admires. Answer: Republican Teddy Roosevelt.

 

Monday, January 16
Potts survives GOP vendettas

Today Virginia senator and former gubernatorial candidate Russ Potts was free to continue his duties as chairman of the influential Senate Education and Health committee. Bitter Republicans had fought to oust Potts from his chair after the senator entered last year’s gubernatorial race as an independent. During the campaign Potts sharply criticized Republican candidate Jerry Kilgore, especially mocking Kilgore’s refusal to debate his dissident party-mate. Last week, a Republican vote to oust Potts failed and the Senate voted 35-4 in favor of a rule change that will make it more difficult for the GOP to strip moderates like Potts of their party affiliation. Women’s rights advocates say Potts serves a crucial function as chairman of the Education and Health Committee, because he helps kill many bills restricting access to abortion and contraception that originate in the conservative House of Delegates [for more on such bills, see story p. 18].

 

Written by John Borgmeyer from staff and news reports

 

 

Million-dollar homes strong in the city
Access to arty movies and high-priced cocktails key to market

The region’s luxury housing market might be slowing down overall, as previously reported in C-VILLE, but within the City of Charlottesville itself, the appetite for million-dollar housing is, in the words of one real estate agent, “stronger than ever.”

   “I don’t see any softening in the market,” says Loring Woodriff, an agent with McLean Faulconer who just sold the penthouse atop Court Square for $998,000 and has another Down-town property listed for $1,195,000. Indeed, besides that N. First Street house, three other million-dollar dwellings are currently listed within the city. (Sixty-three luxury homes, ranging from $1,075,000 to $14,000,000 are listed on caar.com, the website of the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors.)

   Citing the appeal of luxury city homes, CAAR CEO Dave Phillips invokes the old real estate adage: location, location, location. “City property and land within the city are near the core of our entire community,” he says. “The closer to the core you get, typically the more expensive land is.”

   “As far as older houses go, the power of the pull of the Downtown Mall and the University will continue,” Woodriff predicts. “Charlottesville has always been on the map as a nice college town and now it’s on the map as a small urban place. A lot of people like the idea of being able to walk to dinner and the movies Downtown.”

   Phillips says the ultrarich market’s effect on everyone else “is not dramatic,” suggesting that there are three real estate markets in the city: “the extreme upper end,” “the solid moderate,” and a “pretty good,” but quickly shrinking affordable housing range.

   As for buyers, Woodriff says that niddling issues like rising interest rates are not a factor in million-dollar sales. “A lot of those buyers are buying with cash,” she says.—Cathy Harding

 

New fire station planned for North Fork
County says you have five minutes to respond to an emergency

Folks buying homes and businesses in sprawling northern Albemarle may not like to think about their investment going up in flames, but the County is trying to plan ahead, just in case.

   Next year the County will build a new fire station at UVA’s North Fork Research Park. On Tuesday, January 17 the Albemarle Planning Commission will consider the rezoning of 1.16 acres at the research park for a 15,000-square-foot station with three double-bays for fire trucks and driveways for circulation. UVA set aside the land as part of their 1996 agreement with the County to build the research park, which is north of Airport Road.

   Elaine Echols, principal planner for the department of community development, says the station reflects the County’s efforts to keep services like sidewalks, sewers and public safety built out ahead of population growth. “We project where population is going to be and services will be needed,” Echols says. “North Fork Research Park and other developments dealwith such impacts through proffers and must provide for more than the immediate needs.”

   This means the County must also take into account further development in the area such as Hollymead Town Center and North Pointe, a 269-acre residential and commercial projectproposed by Chuck Rotgin’s Great Eastern Management just north of Airport Road.

   According to Albemarle Fire Chief Dan Eggleston, two stations—the Seminole Fire Station on Berkmar Drive and the Earlysville Station—currently serve this area, which includes the Forest Lake community. “That region is considered a planned development area and a five-minute response time is required within the middle of that area,” he says. Eggleston expects the new station to be completed by July 2007.—Jay Neelley

 

Newsstand coming Downtown
Magazine writer banks on locals’ nose for news

Spring promises to bring more news to the Downtown Mall. Steven Russell, a freelance writer and magazine buff from New York, will open a magazine and newspaper stand near the W. Second Street crossing. Russell says he plans to sell 150 to 200 different magazines and at least 10 newspapers.

   The City’s Board of Architectural Review and City Council have both signed off on Russell’s plan to build a roughly 100-square-foot stand on the Mall. The newsstand will be a semi-permanent structure; it will not leave by night, nor will it be attached to the Mall. But it can be shifted, if necessary, for road maintenance projects.

   Russell—a regular contributor to Popular Mechanics, Rolling Stone and Life—plans to keep the stand open between 6am and 10pm six days a week. He will pay the $125 application fee required by an outdoor café, and he will pay the City a rent of $3 per square foot with a one-year lease.

 

   Russell moved with his wife to Charlottesville a year ago after seven years of managing and running a magazine business in New York. He found the Downtown Mall a great place to hang and also do business.

   “I just love to read magazines and have spent too much time at magazine stands,” says Russell. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and the Mall seemed the perfect place for it.”

   With the most difficult part of setting up his business behind him, Russell now only faces the challenge of making it a success. He says he is fully aware that his type of business requires a lot of transactions and that the weather and seasons will play a large role in determining its success.—Priya Mahadevan

 

Arena neighbors upset over downed trees
UVA says the situation is just temporary

Where once there was a nice wall of trees sparing the residents of upscale University Circle from a view of Emmet Street, drive around the circle today and you can clearly see the construction site of the new John Paul Jones Arena. The sudden bulldozing of the greenery got some residents griping to University Community Relations, but according to UVA spokesperson Carol Wood, the current construction troubling University Circle residents has been part of the plan for the $129.8 million sports palace all along.

   In fact, while Wood admits “it’s not very pretty now,” the end result will net both better water quality for runoff that eventually flows into the Rivanna River, and a better green wall for the neighborhood itself. In a letter responding to the neighborhood’s complaints, Ida Lee Wootten, UVA’s community relations representative, explained to residents thatnot only is the creation of a stormbasin required by the Department of Water Quality, but since regrading is required to create the basin, the existing trees would not have survived the regrading anyway.

   Moreover, the trees will be replaced by June with new maples, ashes, tulip poplars, black gums, plane trees, sycamores, oak hollies, magnolias, pines and cyprus trees. In total, more than 100new trees will be planted. According to Wood, the majority of the saplings will be 10′ to 12′ tall when planted and are expected to grow another 10′ to 12′ per year. Wood expects the green wall to reach about 40′ within 10 years.

   The John Paul Jones Arena, of which this construction is a part, is designed by local architectural firm VMDO and will seat 15,000 people and include parking for 1,500 vehicles. It’s on schedule to open in the summer of 2006.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Science professor earns NASA grant
Robert Johnson to shed light on the solar system

Early Sunday, January 15, under the cloak of night, a capsule from outer space landed in a Utah desert. But this was no Roswell; it was the finale of NASA’s “Stardust” mission, launched nearly seven years ago to collect interstellar particles.

   With Sunday’s landing, the spacecraft completed its journey thrice around the sun and alongside the comet Wild 2, where it used an aggrandized tennis racket covered with a light, spongy substance called aerogel to collect comet materials. Along the way, the probe also picked up interstellar space dust drifting into our solar system from the direction of Sagittarius.

   “The collection of this material is a very big deal,” says UVA’s Robert E. Johnson, a professor in materials science and engineering. But why make a fuss about space dust? After all, according to Johnson, “it’s normal stuff, mostly silicates—rock, basically. It’s not necessarily very exotic.”

   Except that it might reveal the origin of the solar system.

   Johnson recently received a $138,000 grant from NASA to continue his work on making connections between interstellar debris and our own solar system’s formation. The reigning theory of solar system formation is that clouds and gases (known in Johnson’s circle as “interstellar medium”) collapse to form suns, while some leftover debris forms other bodies like planets, moons and comets. Among other means of testing and developing this model, scientists look at interstellar debris—unattached particles that appear to astronomers as small grains, scraps from solar system formation that are some of the universe’s oldest unchanged material—in order to better understand its properties and behavior. Comets, like Wild 2 (say it like it’s German: “vilt”), are also believed to contain material relatively unchanged since the formation of the sun. Johnson’s project will describe connections between interstellar materials and materials in primitive bodies such as comets, in order to better model the ways they behave, and thus to better understand how our solar system came to be.

   For Johnson, it seems the star dust has perfectly aligned.—Will Goldsmith

 

UVA ranked as third-best college value
Costs for bad ties not factored into report

On the off chance there are Wahoosnot born to senators or tycoons, they might like to know that UVA has been ranked as the third-best value among U.S. public colleges.

   The rankings come from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, which published an article on the Top 100 public college values in its February issue. A company called Thomson Peterson’s sorted data from more than 500 public four-year schools, using stats like SAT scores and student-faculty ratios to weed out 370 loser schools. The magazine then ranked the remaining 130 based on cost and financial aid data.

   UVA came in third with an in-state bill of $14,522 for the 2006 school year, with an average debt at graduation of $14,065. The magazine ranked UVA No. 2 on its list in 2003. The relevance of these types of magazine lists is debatable, however. Kiplinger’s, for example, failed to factor in UVA student costs for orange-and-blue ties, which significantly add to a Wahoo’s financial burden.

   The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill came in first on Kiplinger’s list, largely because it’s the only school in the survey that meets 100 percent of each student’s financial need (defined asthe difference between what a college costs and the amount that formulascalculate a family can afford to pay).—John Borgmeyer

 

County weighs membership in development group
Critics call TJPED a lobby for business interests

On Wednesday, January 13, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors decided to defer a controversial decision about whether the County should join the Thomas Jefferson Partnership for Economic Development.

   Supervisor Ken Boyd has been pushing his fellow Supes to join the Partnership. But Supervisor Dennis Rooker and county environmentalists oppose such a move, claiming that TJPED is actually a lobby group for developers that would try to influence Albemarle’s public growth policies.

   The Partnership already in-cludes Charlottesville, UVA and five surrounding counties; Mad-ison and Greene recently drop-ped out of the Partnership, which charges jurisdictions an annual fee of $12,500 to join. The Partnership also represents dozens of local investors, including Dominion Virginia Power, the Chamber of Commerce, developers and a slew of real estate agents.

   In exchange, says TJPED director Bob DeMauri, the Partnership provides information on workforce-training op-portunities to existing localbusinesses, as well as demographic and labor statistics to companies contemplating a move to Central Virginia.

   In a letter to the Board of Supervisors, county resident Liz Palmer outlined the concerns that she and others have about how the Partnership might try to steer County policy toward business interests. In fact, TJPED’s “Future Forward” brochure indicates the group will “encourage community leaders to support the infrastructure development required by knowledge-based business and value-added manufacturers.”

   DeMauri and Boyd say that “encouraging” is not the same as “lobbying.” They say the Partnership is not unlike the regional tourism partnership to which the County belongs.

   The Partnership has “never taken political positions. They’re a resource,” says Boyd, who credits the Partnership with helping to keep State Farm from abandoning Albemarle County several years ago. Because the debate has generated so much interest, the Supervisors decided to defer a decision until February 8, when they will hold a public hearing on the matter.—John Borgmeyer

 

Good guy Norris set for Council race
PACEM director seeks one of two seats in May

Dave Norris has spent the past 10 years working for the city’s most destitute citizens. Last week he announced that he intends to bring that experience to City Council. On Thursday, January 12, Norris became the first person to

officially announce his candidacy for the May 2 election.

   “He puts his mon-ey where his mouth is,” says Joy John-son, who knows Norris through their in-volvement with the Public Housing Associa-tion of Residents. “He is a single parent, and he’s visible in the community.”

   Norris currently works as director of People and Congregations Engaged in Ministry (PACEM), which provides shelter for local homeless. He has also worked for the Monticello Area Community Action Agency and the Piedmont Housing Alliance.

   Norris hit all the right notes in his announcement speech, vowing to work for the poor, students, the environment, affordable housing and fiscal responsibility. His extensive work with low-income residents, especially on housing issues, means he has lots of name recognition and favored status among city Democrats for whom poverty and housing issues take center stage.

   “Anyone who pays attention knows that Dave has always been concerned for the poor and underprivileged,” says Richard Collins, an active Democrat and former political candidate. “I’m more excited about him than any other Council candidate in the past 20 years.”

   There will be two open seats this year. Democrat Blake Caravati says he will not seek a third term, while Republican Councilor Rob Schilling is expected to run for a second term. Along with Norris, Democrats plan to run former City fire chief Julian Taliaferro, who retired last year after 40 years in the department. Taliaferro has not officially announced his candidacy, which observers expect will appeal to more conservative Dems and city Republicans.—John Borgmeyer

 

Sex and violence back in the courtroom
Sisk family sues Alston for wrongful death

In November 2004, former UVA student Andrew Alston was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to three years for the stabbing death of 22-year-old Albemarle resident Walker Sisk. But Sisk’s parents, Howard and Barbara, are now taking the issue to civil court. According to a motion filed in November in Charlottesville Circuit Court, Howard Sisk plans to sue Alston for $3 million for the “grief, sorrow, mental anguish…loss of…companionship, comfort, guidance, and advice” the Sisks lost when they lost their only child.

   Sisk died in the early morning hours of November 8, 2003 from 20 stab wounds. According to testimony from Alston’s criminal trial, both men had spent the evening barhopping on the Corner and exchanged insults prior to the killing. While Alston’s knife was identified as the weapon (it was never found) the defense successfully argued that Alston had used complex martial arts moves to protect himself against the much larger Sisk, with the result that Sisk stabbed himself 20 times.

   Whereas criminal trials have a burden of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” plaintiffs in a civil suit must prove their case with a “preponderance of evidence,” a standard that Sisk family attorney Bryan Slaughter says is akin to “more likely than not.”

   No court date has been set in this case. The Sisks are waiting to serve the lawsuit until Alston’s release from jail, scheduled for June.

 

Beebe’s attorney denies rape charge

Arrested two weeks ago in Las Vegas for a rape that he allegedly committed while a student at UVA 22 years ago, William Beebe is now free in Las Vegas on $20,000 bail. According to his local defense attorney, Rhonda Quagliana, Beebe has made arrangements to return to Virginia to face the charges in the near (and undisclosed) future.

   Beebe had been going through Alco-holics Anonymous’ 12-step program and recently contacted Elizabeth Seccuro, the wo-man identified by local media as his alleged victim, to apologize for what he did to her. When Seccuro’s memory of events and his did not align, she came forward and reported the sexual assault to Charlottesville police.

   While an e-mail obtained by The Daily Progress contains Beebe’s allusion to raping Seccuro, defense attorney Quagliana says that he used that language in an “effort to comprehend her feelings and memories.”

   Quagliana characterizes what took place not as rape, but instead “a thoughtless college sexual encounter,” which is different from rape because, while one partner may not have treat-ed the other well, the sex itself was consensual.

   A court date has not yet been set.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Know your t-shirt threat level
Gang t-shirts should be the least of your worries

Last week the City school system was in a tizzy over t-shirts. A 17-year-old Charlottesville High School junior wore a hand-drawn t-shirt to class emblazoned with the word “Southside,” an apparent reference to the city’s subsidized housing projects on S. First Street. According to police, words like “Southside,” along with other references to low-income neighborhoods like “PJC,” “G2” and “900 Block,” are potential red flags for gang activity. Controversy erupted over the issue when CHS officials ordered the boy and two others with similar shirts to cover or remove them.

   Isn’t this a little biased? After all, anyone inclined to spot threatening messages in certain ward-robes has a lot more to be worried about around here than alleged teenybopper gangbanging. As the chart below indicates, many common sartorial choices can signal impending danger.—John Borgmeyer

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Tuesday, January 3
Preservation and zoning at odds on Rugby

Tonight City Councilors discussed options for a design control district in the Rugby/Venable area. The City wants to give its Board of Architec-tural Review purview over development in the district, and to restrict demolition in the neighborhood. This move toward preservation conflicts, however, with a 2003 up-zoning of that area to encourage high-density student housing—a change intended to concentrate students there and keep them out of adjoining owner-occupied neighborhoods. Councilors Kevin Lynch and Mayor David Brown support the design control district, while Councilors Blake Caravati and Kendra Hamilton favor fewer restrictions. Councilor Rob Schilling, who didn’t weigh in on the discussion, may cast the swing vote when Council decides the issue at its next meeting, on January 17.

 

Wednesday, January 4
Kaine to party with The Beach Boys

Proving that his musical taste is sufficiently dated for political leadership, Tim Kaine announced that The Beach Boys will play at his inauguration on January 13.

 
Stoner City employees take note

You know all those jokes about how everything down at City Hall takes place in a haze of pot smoke? Well, O.K.…there are no jokes about that. And there never will be, either, now that the City has announced it will start random drug tests for police and firefighters (public works employees already get tested). Further-more, all new City employees will have to pass a drug screen before starting work. The new rules are apparently a response to the escalating disappearance of paper clips from the City’s supply closet.

 

Thursday, January 5
Charter school vote delayed

While Acting Superintendent Bobby Thompson recommended against adopting the application for a charter school, tonight the City School Board unanimously voted to table their vote for another two weeks. The charter proposal, first advanced by educators Bobbi Snow and Sandy Richardson last February, would target students who are at least two years off grade level in reading and math. The proposal calls for 60 students to be immersed in an arts-centric curriculum. Thompson’s advisory group found that while the applicants’ passion was a plus, the program’s budget and undefined curriculum were major drawbacks. By putting the vote off until its next meeting, the board gives Snow and Richardson’s group another opportunity to fine-tune their proposal.

 

Friday, January 6
RICO fugitive ends life on the lam

Today a suspect in the local racketeering case turned himself in to federal authorities in Philadelphia. Richard Knajib Johns faces life in prison if he is convicted for involvement with an alleged Charlottesville drug ring. Eleven men have already pleaded guilty to charges that include the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organiza-tions (RICO) charges, originally designed to catch mobsters. Prosecutors allege Johns arranged a shipment of 20 kilograms of marijuana from Philadelphia to Charlottes-ville in 2004. In November, the federal prosecution of five others alleged to have participated in the drug ring ended in a mistrial.

 

Saturday, January 7
“Zero tolerance” sends Vick to the NFL one year early

Former Hokie QB Marcus Vick today apologized to Virginia Tech one day after being booted from the team. “I deeply regret that I allowed my competitive emotions to take control,” Vick said, referring to a Gator Bowl incident in which he stomped a Louisville defensive end after a tackle. Vick, whose brother Michael, also a quarterback, is an NFL star, had a troubled career at Tech where he was suspended in 2004 because of legal problems, including serving alcohol to underage girls. When Vick returned, he reportedly accepted the school’s “zero tolerance” policy. Following a traffic-related incident late last month, head coach Frank Beamer permanently relieved the talented troublemaker of his team duties. Vick says he will now go into the NFL draft.

 

Sunday, January 8
Gibson smacks down state Republicans

In his “Political Notebook” column in The Daily Progress today, reporter Bob Gibson takes a whack at a Republican move to change legislative rules that will allow subcommittees to kill bills without recorded votes. “Principles that the [Republi-cans] stressed while in the minority have gotten in the way of exercising power efficiently,” wrote Gibson in his column entitled “GOP elevates power over openness.” Because subcommittees often meet early in the morning or late at night, this rule change allows a few legislators to kill bills away from public debate, and effectively off the record. Conservative bloggers and other media pounced on the story after Gibson reported it in his Sunday column on December 18.

 

Monday, January 9
Caravati says au revoir to City Council

Blake Caravati announced today that he would not seek re-election to City Council in May. After eight years of uttering indecipherable folkisms from the Council dais, Caravati, 55, says “it is time to move on.” He says he will take a vacation from politics for a few months, but he expects to be involved behind the scenes for the Democrats during this spring’s Council elections. No one has announced a candidacy so far. Public office “is a big sacrifice for a private citizen,” says Caravati. However, the Francophile relishes political chess games, and says he does not rule out running for elected office again. Caravati, who owns several rental properties and runs a contracting company called Vector Construction Inc., says he would like to keep working on political issues surrounding affordable housing and felons re-entering society.

  Written by John Borgmeyer from staff and news reports

 

Special tax district for Route 29N?
Supes eye new ways to make developers pay for roads, sewers

As Albemarle County continues to wrestle with population growth and real estate development, one of the most persistent problems for the Board of Supervisors is making sure that public infrastructure keeps pace with new construction.

   New stores, businesses and homes need more than land; they also require water and sewer service, roads, sidewalks, schools, etc. In the county’s growth areas residents have complained that planners have not provided the necessary infrastructure that new residential and commercial buildings demand.

   On Wednesday, January 4, the Board of Supervisors heard a report on how the County might be able to collect a special tax from two major projects (Albemarle Place and Hollymead Town Center) to help pay for improvements to Route 29N.

   When the board approved zoning changes for the two projects in 2003, the developers agreed that upon the County’s request, the owners of nonresidential property would consent to the creation of a “community development authority.” The CDA could impose a special tax of not more than 25 cents per $100 of assessed value. (Albemarle Place and Hollymead Town Center, both desined according to the “neighborhood model,” also include residences in their plans.)

   A CDA poses several problems, though: It must consist of a single tract of land, and 51 percent of property owners must petition for the creation of the CDA. In a report to the board, County staff instead recommended creating a “service district” that would have essentially the same power as a CDA with fewer complicating factors.

   A service district between Albemarle Place and Hollymead Town Center could be a huge windfall for the County’s road improvement fund. It would contain commercial property assessed at about $72 million; that’s about $180,000 in new revenue each year under the proposed tax rate. The money could only be used for road improvements within the tax district.

   The board will continue to discuss the issue; most seemed to agree with Supervisor Ken Boyd, who said he wanted to see what a service district might cost the County in terms of legal proceedings or extra staff that might be needed to collect the money. “I don’t want to spend $100,000 to collect $130,000,” said Boyd.—John Borgmeyer

 

Warner fights for roadless protection
Local attorney disses “Bush-whacking”

On December 22, Governor Mark Warner filed a petition with the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture asking for protection of the Washington and Jefferson National Forests from mining, logging and other forms of destructive development.

   The petition is a necessary step
that each state must undertake in order
to protect the national forests from being, in the words of environmentalists,
“Bush-whacked.”

   In May 2005, President Bush finally succeeded in overturning the 2001 Road-less Area Conserva-tion Rule signed into law by Bill Clinton in the final days of his presidency. As a result, governors must now petition the Department of Agriculture for protection from logging and other destructive development within “roadless” areas of national forests in their states. Warner was the first gover–nor to do so before the November 13 deadline.

   If the petition is ac-cepted—and there is no guarantee that it will be—Virginia’s 380,000 acres of national forests could be protected from unnecessary development. But following the petition’s acceptance, the Commonwealth will still have to enter into specific rule negotiations and those could go either way.

   Public hearings around the drafting of the Conser-vation Law showed overwhelming public support in Virginia. The U.S. Forest Service estimates that de-mand for backcountry recreation will grow 170 percent by 2050. Governor-elect Tim Kaine “supports Governor Warner’s petition for roadless designation…and he will pursue the same designation,” according to his spokesperson Delacey Skinner.

   According to David Carr, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, “Governor Warner has made a strong case, highlighting the broad public appeal of the conservation efforts and the Secretary
of Agriculture will have to take a long, hard look at
his petition.”

   In the meantime, commercial interests are free to bid on areas of the national forest for purposes of logging and other development. No such bids
have been brought forth yet in Virginia.—Dan Pabst

 

Petitioners protest county development
More rural subdivisions has Albemarle folks fretting

On Wednesday, January 4, Jeff Werner of the Piedmont Environmental Council presented the Albemarle Board of Supervisors with a petition signed by 1,000 county residents who oppose the “current rate and type of growth in Albemarle County.”

   The petition reads: “We, the undersigned citizens are concerned that the current rate and type of growth in the Albemarle-Charlottesville region is threatening our quality of life with: Increased traffic; increased taxes; loss of farmland; and the degradation of our water and air quality.”

   Werner says he and others collected the 1,000 signatures by setting up tables at six of the County’s 29 voting precincts during the recent November elections. “To eliminate any challenges that we were attempting to influence the local election, we decided to collect signatures only at the three magisterial districts without a County supervisor on the ballot,” Werner told the board.

   Werner said he assumed that the signers would be upset about re-cent commercial development on Route 29N. However, he says the people he met were most concerned not just about new big-box stores, but also about the lot-by-lot development of subdivisions in the county’s rural areas.

   Supervisors did not comment on the petition at last week’s meeting.—John Borgmeyer

 

Transportation to drive 2006 General Assembly
Voters cranky about gridlock, potholes

Creigh Deeds says his bid for attorney general, while unsuccessful, was not a total wash. During his campaign, the Democratic Bath County senator, who represents the Charlottesville area, traveled far and wide in Virginia. He says that almost everywhere people have the same complaint—all the damn traffic.

   “There are real issues in every single region,” says Deeds. Whether people are trapped in NoVA gridlock or griping about the lack of a Route 29 bypass in Char-lottesville, traffic is on voters’ minds. “It’s a real encroachment on quality of life, but we can’t look for a solution in Northern Virginia alone. It’s going to take a comprehensive solution. I think it’s going to be difficult.”

   Three men—Governor-elect Tim Kaine, a Democrat, along with Republican House Speaker William Howell and Senator John Chichester—will try to engineer a transportation solution when the General Assembly session convenes on January 11. None have said much about their ideas, except for Kaine’s campaign promises to reform local land-use policies, which he says will curb sprawl and traffic. Taxes will likely come into play, with conservatives pushing for more funds for transportation without raising new revenues. This has prompted some speculation that traffic issues could cause major gridlock in the 2006 session.

   Besides transportation, our local delegates have other things on their plates, too. Here’s what they’re up to. —John Borgmeyer

Here’s what our local legislators will be up to this year in Richmond

Rob Bell

(R-Albemarle):Rising star Bell enters his fourth session in the General Assembly. He is known for a clean-cut image, high intelligence, and for going after public enemies like drunk drivers, bullies and—this year—sex offenders. Bell is widely rumored to be grooming himself for higher office, and he is a bigger Pat Benetar fan than any other straight man in the Commonwealth.

 

David Toscano

(D-Charlottesville): As the new kid on the block, Toscano will be trying to figure out where the bathroom is. In his first session, Toscano says he wants more regulation of Virginia’s eminent domain powers in the wake of the Supreme Court’s deeply unpopular decision last year in Kelo v. New London. (Hmmm… A rookie delegate building his reputation by slaying unpopular villains? Sounds like Toscano is taking a page from Bell’s playbook.)

 

Creigh Deeds

(D-Charlottesville): After losing November’s race for attorney general by a scant 360 votes, Deeds will return to the Senate this week. A member of the Transportation Committee, he’ll spend the session up to his eyeballs in roads.

  

Watkins Abbitt

 (I-Appomattox): During last year’s session he introduced several bills regulating landfills, sewage sludge and handguns. We’re not sure what Abbitt will be up to this session—he didn’t return C-VILLE’s calls by press time.

 

Steve Landes

(R-Waynesboro): Besides transportation, Landes says that health care will be a big issue as more of Virginia’s aging Baby Boomers look for government help. “Hopefully we’ll see some proposed incentives encouraging individuals to purchase their own long-term care,” Landes says. He’ll also take a look at eminent domain laws and the rising cost of the federal No Child Left Behind program.

 

County social service costs rising
Albemarle short on dough to meet growing needs

Nearly half of all Albemarle residents who are eligible for food stamps do not get them, but County officials say they don’t have the resources to do any better.

   “We’re a little nervous about doing outreach, because of the lack of staff,” said Kathy Ralston, director of Albemarle County’s social services department.

   According to a report that Ralston delivered to the Albemarle Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, January 4, 1,235 county households get food stamps, but that represents only about 52 percent of all eligible households. County social services, however, do not have enough staff to meet rising needs.

   The department’s 2005 annual report indicates that needs for social services are climbing, including caseloads for food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, child-protective services and long-term care for the elderly.

   “A lot of that probably has to do with the economy,” says Ralston. She also cites Albemarle’s growing population of elderly and non-English speakers as reasons for rising costs. Furthermore, the increasing complexity of federal programs, especially Medicare, put even greater strain on the department, which has a budget of $11,105,786 in 2006, 6 percent of Albemarle’s total budget.—John Borgmeyer

 

City Supe search rolls on
Board hopes one of 61 applicants will say “yes” by February

Starting this week, the Charlottesville School Board will shift into high gear as the deadlines near in their search for a new superintendent to lead the division. The school system, with an annual budget of $57.5 million and enrollment of 4,166 students, has been led by Acting Superintendent Bobby Thompson since April when Dr. Scottie Griffin backed out of the job after 10 months. Griffin, who was salaried at $149,000 and left with a $290,000 severance package, was widely criticized for her imperious management style and her efforts to shift resources from classrooms to additional Central Office administrators. Addressing media in advance of last Thursday’s School Board meeting [for more on that meeting, see 7 Days, p. 17], Chair Julie Gronlund said that the Illinois search firm of Hazard, Attea, Young & Associates will pare the field of 61 applicants to five or six for the board’s consideration. When they’ve narrowed it further to the top three, the board plans to invite three community members—culled from staff and/or an advisory board and sworn to confidentiality—to join the interview process. They hope to make an offer by February, Gronlund said. Salary has not yet been set.

   Among the qualities that the board will seek, says Gronlund, is someone who will “work more with parents.”

   “We feel parental involvement is critical to students’ success,” she said.

   Gronlund wouldn’t confirm if Thompson, a veteran of Charlottesville schools and former principal of the high school, is a candidate. “And when I find out, I won’t be telling you,” she said.—Cathy Harding

 

City police arrest rapist in 21-year-old case
Suspect apparently e-mailed victim to apologize

Last week Las Vegas police arrested a 41-year-old man for a rape that allegedly took place 21 years ago in Charlottesville.

   Charlottesville police chief Tim Longo held a press conference on Fri-day, January 6, to discuss details of the arrest of William Beebe.

   Longo said that in December, a Con-necticut woman called Charlottesville police and reported that she had been raped in October 1984 at a UVA fraternity party. The alleged victim told police that Beebe had recently contacted her, apparently to make amends. When Beebe told her his whereabouts and invited additional contact, she called police to have him arrested.

   According to Longo, the victim reported that she was a 17-year-old UVA freshman attending a party at Phi Kappa Psi on Madison Lane when a 20-year-old student raped her. Police be-lieved him to be a member of the fraternity at the time. The victim says she told a dean at UVA about the incident, but Longo said police were never notified.

   UVA spokeswoman Carol Wood offered no comment, citing the on-going investigation, ex-cept to say that the victim has recently contacted UVA. “We are working with City po-lice and cooperating fully with the investigation,” says Wood.

   The suspect and the victim were strangers at the time of the alleged attack, and Longo says the attack was “not a date rape.” The victim was not hospitalized after the incident. The two had no further contact until 1986, when Beebe apparently worked delivering pizzas and brought one to the victim’s house, much to her shock.

   Then, over the past year, the suspect contacted the victim. Longo said Beebe works in real estate in Las Vegas, while the victim lives with her family and has a successful business career in Connecticut. Longo says the man’s guilty conscience “may have been what prompted” the contact. “He specifically told where he was, how to contact him, and welcomed contact,” says Longo. “This was pretty open dialogue.”

   Shortly after she learned his address, she called City police, and eventually came to Charlottes-ville for extensive interviews. Based on that in-formation, City Common-wealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman issued a warrant for Beebe’s arrest, which was carried out by Las Vegas police with help from local officers on January 4. At press time, Charlottesville and Nevada officials were working out details of the suspect’s extradition to Virginia. He has no previous criminal record.

   The Commonwealth has no statute of limitations on rape, and Beebe could face up to life in prison.—John Borgmeye

 

Landfill lawsuit back on
Federal judge reverses previous decision to dismiss case

The Ivy Landfill—also known as the “Materials Utilization Center”—closed in the late 1990s after Ivy residents filed a suit alleging the landfill was polluting the groundwater. While the residents reached a settlement agreement in 1998 with the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority and its overseers, the City and County, issues raised by the case are still being debated in court.

   On December 22, federal judge Norman Moon overturned an earlier ruling that would have thrown out a $16 million lawsuit against the RSWA, City, and County, filed by Patricia Stephens. Her husband, Wayne, was killed at the landfill in April 2003 when an oil storage tank he was cutting exploded. In the suit, Stephens—represented by ubiquitous local civil rights attorney Debbie Wyatt—alleges that First Amendment violations on the part of the City, County and RSWA in the 1998 settlement are to blame for her husband’s death.

   According to Stephens’ suit, as a condition of the 1998 settlement, plaintiffs agreed to stop “opposing the landfill” and would make no more “private or public adverse comments about the landfill.”

   According to Moon, the First Amendment is a two-way street: In having the right to speak freely, people also have the right to receive speech freely. Moreover, precedent states that the government cannot give someone benefits on the condition that that someone relinquishes his constitutional rights (e.g. the free speech rights of the plaintiffs in the 1998 case).

   The crux of Stephens’ case is a combination of these two precedents. She argues that her and her husband’s First Amendment right to know the dangers of the oil tanks was violated by the City, County and RSWA not allowing the former plaintiffs to share information they had about the dangers of the landfill. Had the former plaintiffs been at liberty to talk, Stephens alleges that the safety violations at the landfill would have been fixed before they caused her husband’s death.

   While referring to the attempt to argue that the 1998 settlement violated the rights of a third party as “truly novel,” Moon allowed that Stephens still had the right to seek damages based on “any violation of her or her husband’s right to receive speech.” No date has been set for further hearings in the suit.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

What’s coming up from UVA Press
Honest Abe joins the list of writers

Last month, the Uni-versity of Virginia Press added another impressive name to its list of authors that already includes Thomas Jefferson and James Madison: Abra-ham Lincoln. The press will be publishing a four-volume set of the 16th pres-ident’s Legal Documents and Cases, culled from a collection of 96,000 documents, in the fall of 2007.

   While the press is also working on a number of books for Jamestown’s upcoming 400th anniversary in 2007, for the more immediate future, forthcoming books for spring “continue pursuing our interests in the founding era, architectural history and the Civil War era,” according to press director Penelope Kaiserlian.

   Founded in 1963, UVA’s is the only university press in Virginia and, as Kaiserlian says, “We fill a niche.”

   For the bookworms, below is a selected preview of what the University of Virginia Press is publishing this spring.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Realistic Visionary: A Por-trait of George Washing-ton, by Peter R. Hen-riques: A biography that “seeks to humanize the first president without diminishing him,” according to the catalogue.

 

What Time and Sadness Spared: Mother and Son Confront the Holocaust, by Roma Nutkiewicz Ben-Atar with Doron Ben-Atar: A mother who lived through the Holocaust shares her experiences with her son, a professional historian.

 

The Struggle of Democracy against Terrorism: Lessons from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel, by Emanueal Gross: Kaiser-lian said she is particularly excited about this book because of its in depth discussions of the Patriot Act.

 

Road Cycling in Virginia: A Guide, by Sue George: In step with the press’ penchant for regional titles, George guides bikers through the Blue Ridge.

 

UVA’s cancer treatment, by the numbers
Medical Center sees increase in seriously ill patients

In December, Governor Mark Warner proposed spending $255 million on university research, including $25 million for a new cancer center at UVA. Meanwhile, UVA tapped former Wahoo and NBC “Today” show co-host Katie Couric to help raise another $100 million for the center.

   Cancer is a growing business at UVA Medical Center. These numbers indicate that more Virginians are being treated for cancer at UVA, and that the Medical Center is, increasingly, the state leader in cancer research. The growing number of physician-initiated trials shows that UVA “is the leader, as opposed to the follower,” says Medical Center spokesman Peter Jump.—John Borgmeyer

•   Thirty-eight of 550 beds at UVA Medical Center are specifically dedicated to cancer patients (although patients with cancer and other conditions may also be elsewhere in the hospital).

•   UVA had 2,534 new cancer cases last year—a 6.1 percent increase over 2004.

•   Last year there were 3,133 cancer patients admitted to UVA, a 6.7 percent increase over 2004.

•   UVA’s share of Virginia cancer cases grew to 7 percent from 6 percent between 2001 and 2004.

•   The most common types of cancer seen at UVA: digestive (mostly colon, but also stomach and liver), lung, breast and brain/nervous system.

•   In 2005, UVA enrolled 225 patients for cancer trials to study new treatments. This represents 10 percent of all new cancer patients seen at UVA in the last year, up from 5 percent from 2001.

•   Right now UVA has 100 trials open.

•   UVA leads the state with 60 percent of cancer trials initiated by UVA physicians. This is up from 23 percent in 2001 and, according to Jump, “probably as high as any center in the U.S.”

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Tuesday, December 27
Monticello receives TJ’s old chairs

Today Monticello announced that curators of Thomas Jefferson’s house recently received a pair of centuries-old armchairs that once belonged to Charlottesville’s favorite son. TJ bought the neoclassical curved-back chairs to furnish the townhouse he rented while living in Paris as an ambassador in the 1780s. According to the Associated Press, the chairs, along with many of Jefferson’s possessions, were auctioned off in 1827. The chairs were discovered in a Charlottesville stable in 1907; they were bought by a Baltimore family, then by Jacqueline Kennedy in 1962. She kept them in the White House and in her New York apartment until Patricia Kluge bought them at auction for $134,500 in 1996, with an agreement to keep them for 10 years before returning them to Monticello. The chairs were restored in the late ’90s, and, according to news reports, nobody has sat in them since.

 

Wednesday, December 28
Community Foundation drops a load on ’em

Today the Charlottesville Area Communi-ty Foundation announced that it will give more than $1 million to 80 local nonprofit organizations. Of the $1 million, nearly $300,000 came from the Bama Works Fund, the charitable arm of the Dave Matthews Band. The boys typically donate that amount twice each year. The band’s success has been good for the foundation—according to CACF Donations Director Kevin O’Halloran, the foundation has made 2,500 grants worth $14 million since 1967. In 2005, the foundation made 500 donations worth $3 million. “We were all surprised by that level of activity,” O’Halloran says.

 

Thursday, December 29
Parkway concept dissed

Proponents of a new bypass around Route 29N fielded questions and criticisms about the road tonight at the Westminster Presbyterian Church. Outgoing Char-lottesville Delegate Mitch Van Yahres, along with would-be congressman Bern Ewert and urban planner Gary Okerlund, argue that turning a portion of Route 743 into what they call the “Ruckersville Parkway” would be a fairly cheap way to ease traffic on 29N. At the meeting, however, some people who live along 743 said they don’t want any more traffic. Three years ago, Albemarle citizens successfully resisted the State’s plans for the five-mile, $180 million Western Bypass; this latest bypass has also provoked resistance from locals. A bypass is favored south of Charlottesville, where Ewert hopes to run for Congress against Virgil Goode in November.

 

UVA prof’s NYT column is a big hit

UVA psychology prof Timothy Wilson’s New York Times op-ed about introspection became today’s most frequently e-mailed article from the newspaper. Wilson argues that self-reflection doesn’t do much good, and in fact can make us depressed. It’s much better, Wilson says, “to act more like the person we want to be, rather than sitting around analyzing ourselves.” Not bad advice for 2006.

 

Friday, December 30
Lawsuit against Ivy Landfill will go forward

Today The Daily Progress reported that a First Amendment lawsuit against the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority will go forward. Federal Judge Norman K. Moon will allow the $16 million suit brought by Patricia Stephens, whose husband died in 2003 when an oil tank he was cutting at the landfill exploded. Stephens’ attorney, Deborah Wyatt, argues that the settlement of a previous lawsuit involving the RSWA restricted the free speech of citizens who could have spoken out about landfill safety issues. That free speech could have saved the man’s life, Wyatt argues. In moving the suit forward, Moon reversed his previous decision to stop the case.

 

UVA faces Gophers in obscure bowl game

Today Wahoos geared up as UVA’s football team faced Minnesota in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl in Nashville. To get their third bowl win in four years, the Cavaliers had to stop the Golden Gophers’ running game, which is ranked second in the nation with 5.5 yards per carry.

Written by John Borgmeyer from staff and news reports.

 

More twists on Little High
Last-minute confusion may nix a compromise between Region Ten and residents

After months of heated negotiation, it seemed that Little High Street residents had finally resolved differences with Region Ten over an apartment complex the agency is building in that neighborhood. No sooner did the promise of compromise appear, however, than it disappeared amid confusion over funding for the project.

   Late this summer, a nonprofit group called Community Services Housing started building an apartment complex at 1111-1113 Little High St. intended to house 40 low-income, disabled clients of Region Ten, a local social service provider. When construction began, Little High Street residents balked—they pressured Region Ten to improve the structure’s design, and asked for assurances that Region Ten staff would be on site to help clients with problems. [For more, see “High Tension on Little High Street,” November 8].

   On Tuesday, December 20, Little High Street residents met with Region Ten, CSH and City officials.

   “We had come up with a major compromise position,” says Little High resident Mark Haskins. “We would accept the 40 units if certain conditions were met. [Region Ten] had made a previous offer to re-design the project, and we wanted some verification that that would, in fact, be possible.”

   At the meeting, however, CSH officials had a shocking announcement—the project was cancelled.

   CSH director Bob Smith did not return calls by presstime. Others at the meeting, though, told C-VILLE what happened.

   At the meeting, Smith announced that due to a miscommunication between State agencies, CSH would not be able to get State tax credits for the apartments. Thus, the project was dead—eliminating any need to discuss possible compromises between Region Ten and Little High Street.

   “The next thing we knew, the meeting was over,” says Little High resident Haskins.

   Then, last week, Region Ten announced that the problem had been cleared up. CSH would get the tax credits, and the project was alive once again. However, CSH’s application to get the tax credits must be submitted before the end of 2005; once the tax credits have been awarded, it is unclear how much CSH will be able to change the project to meet the Little High neighbors’ requests.

   “I think it is very unfortunate that we don’t have the time to continue the discussion [with Little High] prior to finalizing that application,” says Region Ten Director Phil Campbell. He initially resisted residents’ complaints but softened his position as pressure from the neighborhood increased.

   Although leaders from Region Ten, CSH and the Little High Area Neighbor-hood Association all say they want negotiation to continue, it is now unclear whether the back and forth will accomplish anything. For now, it seems that CSH could be able to build the complex as planned without doing anything to appease nearby residents.

   “After all that talk and tense and difficult meetings, I’m not sure anything will change,” says Haskins. “I think the neighborhood has done all that it can.”—John Borgmeyer

 

Love me, build me, Chapter 4

Another empty building that longs for fulfillment

Jefferson School

Address: 201 Fourth St. NW

Area: 70,000 square feet

Empty since: Preschool programs vacated in January 2002

Price: Assessed at $4.5 million

Status: Having escaped the fate of getting converted into upscale condos, the building that housed the city’s all-black high school from 1926 to 1951 is set to be turned into an African-American cultural center, complete with adult-education classrooms and a community space attached to Carver Recreation Center. Estimates for the renovation are running in the $30 million range. The building has also been added to the Virginia Landmark Register, which means private investors can get tax credits if they contribute to the site’s renovation.

 

Keswick seeks permit to dump more wastewater
Citizens can comment on the fate of upscale dookie

  Keswick has its own pool, golf course and tennis court. Did you know it also has its own sewage treatment plant? A company called Keswick Utilities treats the wastewater from Keswick estates, a 600-acre gated community where residents live on two- to five-acre parcels near the exclusive resort. Keswick is seeking to renew a State permit to dump wastewater in a nearby creek, but before that happens citizens have a chance to comment before the permit is granted.

   According to the Virginia De-partment of Environmental Quality, Keswick Utilities is renewing a permit that will allow it to discharge about 99,000 gallons of wastewater per day into an un-named tributary of Carroll Creek and Broadmoor Lake. Currently, Keswick pumps about 66,000 gallons of wastewater into the Caroll Creek tributary. Keswick solid waste, called “sludge,” is buried in Richmond or Orange landfills.

   The permit will help Keswick Utilities handle the extra dookie that will come when the resort adds new lots to its gated community in 2006.

   To get more information about Keswick’s permit, or to comment, contact the DEQ’s Brandon Kiracofe at 540-574-7892 or bdkiracofe@ deq.virginia.gov. The State will take comments until mid-January.—John Borgmeyer

 

The year in crime
2005 was big for legal drama

“Law & Order” ain’t got nothin’ on us. In a mere 365 days, little old Charlottesville saw the courtroom dramas of everything from a pediatrician convicted of abusing his own child to land-use issues so complicated even the Supreme Court hasn’t quite figured them out. Of all the crimes and punishments that were, C-VILLE has nominated our “Big Three.” If you know nothing about local crime, here’s a cheat sheet of the most important cases that filed through City, County and federal courtrooms last year.—Nell Boeschenstein

Charlottesville: Anthony Dale Crawford case

Although he doesn’t go to trial for another few months, Anthony Dale Crawford, the Manassas man charged with murdering his estranged wife, Sarah, and dumping her body at the Quality Inn on Emmet Street, was in court this year for preliminary hearings. According to pretrial hearing testimony, Sarah was found on the bed in “a frog-like position,” and the prosecuting attorney made insinuations of necrophilia. Moreover, according to an affidavit for a preliminary protective order filed by Sarah before her death, Crawford had a history of spousal abuse and she alleged he had told her he “understands why husbands kill their wives.”

 

Albemarle: Rich Collins v. Lebo Commercial Properties, Inc.

Last spring, while campaigning for a seat representing the 57th District in the House of Delegates (Democrat David Toscano won the seat in November), slow-growth advocate Rich Collins thought the parking lot of Whole Foods on Route 29N would be a good place to reach the Democratic base. However, property manager Charles Lebo objected to the would-be legislator’s campaign tactics. According to Lebo, no soliciting is allowed on his properties, and he took Collins to court on trespassing charges. In October, the court cited a personal belief that free expression takes precedence over private property rights, but Judge Stephen Helvin re-luctantly ruled in Lebo’s favor. The case, however, has raised the issue locally of whether shopping centers are the modern-day equivalent of town squares—and thus the domain of constitutional rights. When the Supreme Court took on the issue in 1980, it ruled to leave the decision up to states. This is the first time the issue has arisen in Virginia.

 

Federal: The RICO trial

Alleged members of the local gang “West-side Crew” (a.k.a. “Project Crud”) Louis Antonio Bryant, Terrence Suggs, John Darrelle Bryant and Claiborne Maupin stood trial in late November on federal charges of racketeering, narcotics trafficking, narcotics conspiracy and multiple violent crimes. However, after 10 days of testimony, and after both prosecuting and defense attorneys had presented their closing arguments, Judge Norman Moon declared a mistrial on November 30. Apparently, at the 11th hour, a juror told the judge he had overheard another juror discussing a newspaper article about the case with two other jurors. Now that’s courtroom drama.

 

Dragnet on trial
City, cops and citizens sued for attempts to track down serial rapist

The negative fallout from the DNA dragnet City police conducted in the spring of 2004 to find the serial rapist—during which cops approached black men to request saliva sam-ples for DNA profiles—didn’t end with the neg-ative publicity on national television. Three lawsuits—two against the City and one against a private citizen, and all of which are being represented by local civil rights attorney Debbie Wyatt—have resulted from the police depart-ment’s zealous investigation even as pressure continues to mount on the department to make an arrest. Below is a break-down of the ever-expanding community impact of the serial rapist, who has been linked to seven rapes in the area since 1997.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Case: Larry Monroe sought $15,000 from the City, Police Chief Tim Longo and City police officer James Mooney.

Court: Charlottesville General District

Issues at hand: Unlawful search and seizure, and assault and battery

Relation to dragnet: Monroe, who did not resemble descriptions of the serial rapist, was asked by Mooney to submit a DNA sample. Monroe refused. His complaints focused on there being no rhyme or reason to the sample requests, save racial profiling.

Status: The City won the case in General District Court but it was appealed to Circuit Court, at which point Monroe and Wyatt opted to revise and re-file the case in Federal Court.

 

Case: Larry Monroe, “on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated,” is seeking $15,000 for himself and other complainants in the class-action suit against the City, Longo and Mooney.

Court: Federal

Issues at hand: Equal protection and Fourth Amendment rights

Relation to dragnet: See above case

Status: The class-action suit was filed in Federal Court in mid-December and will go to trial some time next year.

 

Case: Chris Matthew is seeking $850,000 from the woman who mistakenly identified him as her rapist.

Court: Charlottesville Circuit

Issue at hand: Defamation

Relation to dragnet: In its eagerness
to catch the serial rapist, the City
kept Matthew in jail without bond for
five days—leading local media to speculate and float the possibility that Matthew was a suspect—until a DNA test exonerated him.

Status: The case has been filed in Charlottesville Circuit Court. However, Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman has expressed skepticism as to whether it will go anywhere, since in order for a defamation claim to hold up there must be evidence of malice or ill will.

 

Checking in on charter
Guv gives O.K. for autonomy, but UVA’s human resource policy remains a mystery

When the General Assembly convenes on January 11, legislators will deliver a yea or nay on the details of UVA’s “higher education restructuring,” better known around here as “charter.”

   Last year, the General Assem-bly gave Virginia colleges more autonomy in their relationship with the State. School officials had been complaining for years about red tape and paltry funding from the Commonwealth. Last year, legislators approved a bill creating three levels of autonomy. Big schools with well-heeled donors (namely UVA, The College of William and Mary and Virginia Polytechnic Institute) will get much less State money and a lot more freedom from State oversight; smaller schools can choose charter plans that give them less freedom while re-taining more public funding.

   UVA, Tech, and William and Mary spent the past year collaborating on their “management agreement,” which sets forth the details of the relationship those three schools will have with the State. In November, Governor Mark Warner signed off on the management agreement and included it in his 2006-08 budget. In January, legislators can vote to either accept or reject the management agreement.

   UVA has posted its management agreement on its website (www.virginia.edu; click on the “Higher Education Restructuring” link), and there’s an overview if you don’t have time to wade through the 200-plus pages.

   The management agreement covers real estate development, purchasing, human resources and accounting. But when legislators vote on the management agreements, they will do so without important details on one of the most significant aspects of charter—human resource policy.

   According to UVA’s documents, anyone hired after July 1, 2006, will be employed under a new system. Current employees can keep their current terms of employment, or switch to the new system. Every two years, current employees will have a chance to change to the new system.

   The details of that new system, however, are still in the works. UVA officials will be holding meetings with employees to hammer out the new human resource policy, according to UVA spokeswoman Carol Wood.

   The Staff Union at UVA (SUUVA) has vowed to fight the idea of a two-tiered workforce, putting their hopes in Governor-elect Tim Kaine. “State workers are State workers,” says Jan Cornell, president of SUUVA. “We are hopeful that
the new Kaine administration will discuss this part of the agreement with us.”—John Borgmeyer

 

Syllabi We Love:
Accidental humor from the UVA course catalogue

Syllabus: n. (influenced by Gk syllambanein). Fancy word in the academic world for “to-do list,” in which a professor tells students what they’ll have to do that semester.

   Using a definition to introduce a piece of writing is, in C-VILLE’s opinion, the lazy way out. So, it’s a good thing the syllabus for “Inscribing Culture”—the entry level writing course taught by Omaar Hena for UVA students who didn’t test into first-year English—provides a model example of literary shortcuts by defining both “inscribe” and “culture” at the top of the syllabus.

   Welcome to UVA, where “basic writing” becomes “inscribing culture.” There’s nothing basic about this course, though—on the reading list, for example, instead of Jane Austen’s classic prose, there’s Theodor Adorno, the philosopher who said poetry cannot exist after the Holocaust (that makes the teacher’s job easier, huh?). The kicker, however, is the final paragraph labeled, “Caveat Novicius,” which states, “I reserve the right to update, alter or orphan this syllabus. Of course, I will give due notice to you, my dear students.”

   If these students need the syllabus to define “inscribe” and “culture,” how will they know what the hell a “Caveat Novicius” is?—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Van Yahres under investigation
Local Dems say GOP is trying to “make political hay out of nothing”

A special prosecutor will investigate allegations that retiring State Delegate Mitch Van Yahres violated Virginia’s political fundraising law.

   The accusations stem from a fundraiser for
a local political ac-tion committee called “Democratic Road Back.” According to the Virginia Public Access Project, Van Yahres founded the PAC in 2003; since then the committee has raised more than $50,000 and spent a total of $39,227, mostly on local Democrats such as Steve Koleszar (beaten in November by incumbent Rob Bell in a race for Albemarle’s 58th District delegate seat) and Creigh Deeds (who lost a tight race for attorney general).

   In February 2005, Road Back held a fundraiser at Starr Hill. City Common-wealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman says that he got a letter from City Republican Party Chairman Bob Hodous in April complaining that the fundraiser violated a State law prohibiting delegates from fundraising while the General Assembly is in session. Hodous did not return calls from C-VILLE by presstime.

   Indeed, Virginia Code prohibits members of the General Assembly from soliciting funds for a “campaign committee” or “political committee” while the legislature is in session. A violation can be punished by a fine of up to $500.

   Lloyd Snook, who sits on the Road Back’s board of directors, says the charge against Van Yahres is nothing but legal wordplay. He says that the phrases “campaign committee” and “political committee” have very specific meanings under State code, and he says the law does not pertain to political action committees. The law is designed to prevent delegates from raising money for themselves during the session, and while Snook acknowledges that Van Yahres was the driving force behind the PAC, he says the delegate
never took any money from it and, in
fact, planned to retire at the time of
the fundraiser.

   Furthermore, Snook says that Van Yahres was not at the fundraiser, and that he never solicited money for the PAC while the Assembly was in session. Snook claims that the State Board of Election approved the fundraiser.

   Spotsylvania County Commonwealth’s Attorney William F. Neely will investigate the charges. No special taxpayer money will fund the investigation. “Common-wealth’s attorneys do this as part of their job,” says Chapman. He says he could not prosecute this case himself because he is an active Democrat and “a partisan ally” of Van Yahres. Chapman would not
say why it took him this long to find a special prosecutor.

   Van Yahres, who officially passes the 57th District seat to David Toscano when Toscano is sworn in on January 11, says he thinks it took so long because nobody wanted to waste their time on this case. “I suspect Chapman had a hell of a time getting someone to take the case,” Van Yahres says. “They’re trying to make political hay out of nothing.”—John Borgmeyer

 

Al Weed’s fundraising pitch for 2006
Democratic congressional hopeful says incumbent Goode is vulnerable

It’s never too early in a political campaign to start passing the hat. Al Weed, who is angling for the Democratic nomination to run against Republican Virgil Goode in the 2006 Fifth District congressional race, is doing just that. By his rough estimate, he’s already sent out more than 2,400 donor letters. The basic pitch is twofold: Tim Kaine’s win—both across the state and in the Fifth District—bodes well for Dems, and Virgil is vulnerable.

      Weed doesn’t name the MZM scandal—in which Goode was linked to a defense contractor that was bribing a crooked congressman—in his letters, because, as he says, “I don’t think I need to stir that pot.” But it’s clear the scandal is an unwritten bullet point. A second point is that after 10 years in office Goode’s only gotten one bill through, and that voters will finally call “time” on their man from Rocky Mount.

   Weed wouldn’t disclose the amount of money he’s raised so far, but he did allow that he would be reporting his contributions at the end of 2005, which means he’s raised at least $5,000, the threshold for required reporting.

   Printed below are a few select quotes from Weed’s fundraising letters.—Nell Boeschenstein

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Tuesday, December 20

Charter school proposed for troubled students

Tonight, the Charlottesville City School Board heard a proposal for a charter school, grades 5 through 8. The proposal, advanced by Bobbi Snow, addresses the needs of kids having the most trouble in school—typically two years or more behind their classmates. Snow has already squared away a three-year, $450,000 federal grant for the project. She wants the school board to contribute $10,000 per student, with a first-year class of 60 students (that would equal just more than 1 percent of the ’05-’06 schools budget). At tonight’s meeting, board members seemed keen on some parts of the proposal (an arts curriculum) but they were sketched by the idea of spending up to $600,000 on so few students. Question: How much is too much to spend on the neediest kids?

 

Wednesday, December 21

Santa to vandals: You don’t even deserve coal

Four days before Christmas some Downtown residents who had parked on the street the night before awakened to slashed tires. According to City spokesperson Ric Barrick, the first call came in at 3am this morning. By Wednesday afternoon, there had been 10 reports of vandalized cars between the 200 and 600 blocks of E. High Street. As of press time there were no leads and no suspects.

 

Thursday, December 22

Deeds accepts loss in Attorney General race

Today Bath County Senator Creigh Deeds conceded the Attorney General race after a recount determined that Republican Bob McDonnell did, in fact, win. After the November 8 election, the State certified McDonnell as the winner by a scant 323 votes out of more than 1.9 million cast—a margin of about .017 percent. On Tuesday, vote totals were rechecked in 134 localities; Richmond Circuit Court ordered a hand count in 10 precincts because of problems with voting equipment. After the recount, reports indicated McDonnell actually picked up 37 votes, giving him a 360-vote margin of victory, the closest in modern Virginia history. State law says taxpayers foot the bill for a recount if the margin of victory is less than 0.5 percent, although the candidates must pay their own attorney fees.

 

Exploding dye sort of thwarts bank heist

Today a SunTrust bank teller slipped an exploding dye device into a bag of cash, stealing some of a bank robber’s thunder. At about 2:30pm, a 6′ white male wearing sunglasses and a dark coat entered the bank on Ivy Road and demanded money. He fled with an undisclosed amount of cash, but he had to drop some of it when the dye-pack exploded via radio transmitter. Witness-es say the man left the scene in a white vehicle, according to police.

 

Friday, December 23

Warner acts to save roadless areas

Today outgoing Governor Mark Warner asked the U.S. Forest Service to reinstate Clinton-era protections on Virginia’s sweetest national forests. In July, President Bush opened 60 million acres of America’s national forests to mining and development. The Commonwealth devotes 1.8 million acres to national forests, with 387,000 acres of undeveloped wilderness—more than any other state east of the Mississippi. Bush’s policy means governors have to beg the Forest Service to preserve their states’ forests, and Warner is apparently the first to do so. Given the record number of public comments supporting Clinton’s preservation policy, Warner’s move marks yet another positive talking point for the would-be presidential candidate.

Written by John Borgmeyer from staff and news reports.

 

Meet the activist
Ridge Street’s Antoinette Roades speaks on fighting big developers

As Southern Development proceeds with a 28-unit residential project called “Old Towne” at the corner of Ridge Street and Cherry Avenue, Oak Street resident Antoinette Roades has led neighborhood opposition. Her voluminous correspondence with City and State officials includes deep historical references that produced evidence of an old graveyard on the site and the history of certain trees, distinguishing her efforts from the normal NIMBY noise. Roades is a writer, journalist and fourth-generation Charlottesvillian who knows how to fight the power. In an interview via e-mail, she shared some of her secrets.—John Borgmeyer

 

C-VILLE: How did you get started fighting Southern Development’s project on Ridge/Cherry?

Antoinette Roades: In a way, we started the moment we moved over here in 1987. We saw that the five parcels that make up this property constituted a treasure. When we found that it was overzoned, we knew it was in trouble. We saw Southern Development’s plans for the first time in May 2004. They were really distressing.

Many citizens complain that development comes as a surprise. How would you improve citizen involvement?

My opinion is that we should understand that both City staff members and Councilors work for us, but developers do not. So we should constantly make City officials aware of what we value, like trees, greenspace and historical resources.

   We should do our homework, which includes reading relevant ordinances, keeping up with proposed rule changes and developer applications. We should establish lines of communication with key City decision-makers. Also, we should get over the idea that only neighborhood associations or task forces can speak for us. Each of us is equally entitled to direct access to City Hall.

What have you learned about development politics by working on this case?

I’ve always known that anyone pursuing a good cause can enlist allies who’re not personally affected by the challenge at hand. You just have to ask.

   Early in this fight, Ben Ford, an archaeologist by profession, helped by putting on the public record Preservation Piedmont’s concerns about the project. That took some of our objections out of the NIMBY category and made them matters of larger principal. And Doug Coleman, executive director of the Wintergreen Nature Foundation, helped immensely in July ‘04 by agreeing to guide a walk-around of the property. Seeing it through his eyes really galvanized those who took part.

   We asked for City support. It came late, but it did come. In fact, [Neighborhood Services Director] Jim Tolbert knocked our collective socks off in November when he put Southern Development on official notice that the site is “sensitive” and that there’d be no free passes on this one. Obviously, he was listening.

   I’d gotten in touch with both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, because of Southern Development’s utter refusal even to acknowledge both deeded and anecdotal evidence of a 19th-century family cemetery on the property. [When contacted by C-VILLE, Charlie Armstrong of Southern Development said the company hired surveyors and consulted old deeds, but found no evidence of a cemetery.—ed.] As it turned out, an array of other impacts on adjacent historic resources were also relevant. I was told by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources that the Corps is suspending a permit issued to Southern Development in May of last year pending resolution of all those historic resource-impact issues. [Armstrong says he has not received any notice of a suspension; he says the company agreed to hold the project until hearing from the Corps regarding the site’s historic significance.—ed.]

   So, even though the woods at Ridge and Cherry aren’t out of the woods yet, we feel confirmed in long-held beliefs that facts weigh more than feelings, that persistence pays and that compromise is way, way overrated.

 

Judge rules for Faulconer
Governor-elect Tim Kaine plans to tackle issues raised by local case

After a yearlong battle in Albe-marle Circuit Court, a judge has ruled that the County cannot deny a site plan based on how traffic from the project might affect existing roads. However, Democratic Governor-elect Tim Kaine has proposed new legislation that could reopen the debate over how much control local governments have over new development.

   A court battle between Faulconer Con-struction Company and Albemarle County over the County’s de-nial of a site plan based on the conditions of current roads and in-frastructure came to (at least) a temporary conclusion December 14. Judge Paul Peatross ruled in favor of the construction company, writing, “The Court remands the case to the Board of Supervisors with direction that it approve the final site plan…”

   In September 2004, the County Plan-ning Commission rejected Faulconer’s plan to build on Morgantown Road, saying that although the site is zoned for light industry, existing roads couldn’t handle the increased traffic such development would bring. Faulconer took the issue to court, citing the Dillon Rule, which says that localities only have powers they are expressly granted by the Commonwealth. In other words, Faul-coner argued that unless Virginia specifically allows Albemarle to make infrastructure requirements, such requirements are illegal. Peatross concurred.

   In this case, Peatross deemed the County’s reasoning “illegal and in-valid.” Tim Kaine, however, promises to take up a similar issue on a statewide level once he’s sworn in. Among the governor-elect’s many transportation-related proposals, Kaine supports giving local governments the authority to deny rezoning when roads are insufficient.

   According to Dennis Rooker, chairman of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, not only the County, but also the entire Virginia Association of Counties has lobbied the legislature for that power for years. However, says Rooker, development interests have wielded their political power against giving localities more control over development. Last year, the development and real estate industries donated more than $9 million to political campaigns, more than any other private industry.

   The difference between Kaine’s proposal and the Faulconer case is a question of zoning. In the Faulconer case, the site was already zoned for light industrial uses; Kaine stipulates that a property cannot be rezoned if the roads in place cannot handle resulting traffic.

   Local developer Frank Stoner understands the County’s concerns, and agrees that if infrastructure can’t support development then the issue of who is responsible for providing that infrastructure is legit.

   And yet, Stoner points out that in this particular case the County should have thought ahead. “The County went out and zoned that property industrial,” says Stoner. “If they didn’t want it zoned that way, they could have rezoned it. If you can’t support the uses you’ve zoned for, then down-zone.”—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Inside Warner’s final budget
Outgoing guv to cement his legacy as fiscal savior?

Come January 14, outgoing Gov-ernor Mark Warner is out of a job. The self-made Democratic millionaire who founded Nextel would like to move into the White House, and he’s already at work crafting the image he hopes will get him there. Warner’s 2006-08 biennial budget will be his curtain call, his last big gesture as governor.

   In a December 16 speech to legislators outlining the $72 billion budget, Warner cast himself as the common-sense business guy who saved Virginia from the financial wreckage of conservative folly. When Warner took office four years ago, the Commonwealth faced about $6 billion in budget deficits caused in large part by former Governor Jim Gilmore’s tax cuts.

   “I do not need to recount for you the roots of the…shortfall,” Warner said before proceeding to do just that. “We will not make spending or tax policy commitments whose cost will show up or escalate in the out years. We will not casually assume that Virginia’s revenues will continue to show extraordinary growth for the next two-and-a-half years.”

   This year, Warner’s got a $3 billion surplus to play with, the result of his 2004 collaboration with moderate Republicans to raise new revenue. It’s another selling point at a time when Democrats are search-ing for ways to subvert the Republicans’ powerful right wing. However, it will be Warner’s protégé, Governor-elect Tim Kaine, who will steer Warner’s budget through the Repub-lican-controlled Gen-eral Assembly. This chart highlights some of Warner’s proposed expenditures and comments from his December 16 speech.—John Borgmeyer

 

Warner’s money

$1.5 billion in one-time investments in economic growth, transportation and environment

$142 million to match federal grants for projects earmarked in the recently passed federal transportation bill

$518 million in new money for higher education

$200 million to upgrade water treatment plants in the Chesapeake Bay watershed

$137 million to give State employees a 3 percent raise

 

Warner’s money quote

“We will not start major new programs.”

“The hidden truth is that these federal earmarks came from funds Virginia would have received anyway, without the strings attached.”

“The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—with no medical school—conducts as much federally funded research as the Univer-sity of Virginia and Virginia Tech combined.”

“The funding is sufficient to reduce nitrogen discharges by 2.6 million pounds each year [and] keep wastewater charges at reasonable levels.”

“Virginia’s government functions as well as it does because of the knowledge, dedication and commitment that State employees display.”

 

What’s the price of county security? $4.3 million
Albemarle’s homeland security grants bought SCUBA gear and gas masks

All aboard the anti-terror gravy train! Since 2003, the Department of Homeland Security has awarded state and local governments more than $8 billion. A nice chunk of those grants landed right here—according to documents, Albemarle County appropriated Home-land Security grants totaling $4,284,476, including money for computers, gas masks, night vision goggles and SCUBA gear during the past three years.

Here are examples of local domestic preparedness grants. Interesting, isn’t it, that most of the money went for cool new gadgets for police, fire and rescue departments, while none seemed specifically earmarked to provide food, shelter and medicine to victims of a major catastrophe?—John Borgmeyer

 

$3,250,000

Part of a $14 million grant split between the City, County and UVA to establish “interoperable” regional mobile communication and data systems.

 

$301,339

The Department of Homeland Security awarded this grant to provide “a wellness and fitness program” for volunteer and career personnel that includes annual nutrition, back care and abdominal health education.

 

$280,754

This grant will be split evenly among fire, rescue and police for mobile data computers, video cameras and emergency response training in the event of an attack using weapons of mass destruction.

 

$224,335

Police, fire and rescue departments got this grant, one of several earmarked for night-vision tools, digital cameras and other “tactical equipment.”

 

$3,136

These funds reimbursed the costs of having off-duty police officers patrol the county’s reservoirs during the “heightened alertness” period, March 17-April 16, 2003.

 

State considers cost-of-living bonus for UVA workers
University supports new salary calculation, politicians say maybe

On Wednesday, December 21, local representatives to the General Assembly met with UVA officials and workers to discuss the legislative session that begins January 11.

   Delegate Steve Landes (R-Waynesboro), Delegate Rob Bell (R-Albemarle) and Delegate-elect David Toscano (D-Char-lottesville) sat on a panel with UVA President John Casteen to field questions about the upcoming session.

   Brad Sayler, a computer systems engineer at UVA, asked whether the General Assembly could give the school a salary differential to help UVA paychecks keep up with Charlottesville’s escalating cost of living.

   State salaries must fall within approved “pay bands” corresponding to different types of jobs. Throughout most of Virginia, the first pay band, for example, starts with a minimum salary of $14,212 with a maximum of $29,168. In Northern Virginia, however, pay bands are higher. There, the first pay band has a maximum of $37,918. Sayler says Charlottesville should get legislative approval to expand pay bands at UVA.

   “I like working at UVA. I just wish I got a little bit more in my paycheck,” Sayler told the delegates.

   Casteen and the delegates say they generally support an expansion of pay bands in Charlottesville, but it’s not that simple. NoVa’s pay expansion is actually based on regional salaries, not cost of living. Because UVA is the largest regional employer—and because recent studies indicate Charlottesville’s salaries are relatively lower than other parts of Virginia—it could be difficult for the school to convince the General Assembly that higher salaries are necessary.

   “They’re usually fairly cautious about that,” says Greg Noland at the State Department of Human Resources. Cities like Fredericksburg have made similar requests, but to no avail, he says.

   Further, State officials point out that expanding the pay bands in Charlottesville would not guarantee UVA employees more money. It would simply mean that UVA would have more freedom to spend more on salaries.

   Currently, UVA has authority to pay faculty outside the State pay bands, which allows the school to compete with other universities to hire top teachers. Classified staff, however, must be paid within approved pay bands. UVA officials say that the impending “charter” legislation would give the school more flexibility to pay classified staff competitive salaries. Whether freedom from State-mandated salaries would come through a pay differential or a new arrangement with the State like the charter bill, State officials say that under no circumstances is higher pay guaranteed.—John Borgmeyer

 

The Wahoos are gone…
reclaim your town!
How to make the most of UVA’s holiday break

UVA’s winter break runs until January 18, giving us another three weeks’ respite from the usual Wahoo occupation. To celebrate these precious days of unclogged streets and a more refined nightlife, C-VILLE offers the following ways that you can take advantage of UVA’s holiday break.—John Borgmeyer

 

Visit a friend who lives on JPA—you can finally find a spot to park.

 

Buy groceries in Harris Teeter without hearing Buffy on her cell phone yammering about, like, did you see how wasted Travis and Jen got last night? OMG! WTF?

 

Play touch football on the Lawn.

 

Sit down and drink a beer at Michael’s Bistro without being forced to wade through a throng of trust-fund hippies.

 

Just to freak them out, write odes to racial harmony on students’ dry-erase boards.

 

Get a copy of Charles Wright’s Negative Blue from Alderman Library, then sit near one of the big Palladian windows and read his poems about Charlottesville.

 

Enjoy a vomit-free game of pool at Orbit’s.

 

Savor a streetscape free of popped collars.

 

Go check out UVA’s men’s basketball home game against the University of Hartford Hawks at University Hall on December 31. Come and see what could be UVA’s last close game all year!

 

Emergency system switches to 800 MHz
Goal: To improve police, rescue communication

If Gramps got a shiny new radio transmitter under the tree this year, he should sit down and get cozy with it now or never. The local Emergency Communications Center, which serves Charlottesville, Albemarle and UVA, will switch to a new 800 MHz system sometime after January 1, according to Tom Hanson, the Center’s executive director. No exact date has been set for the switch because last-minute glitches in the computer system are still getting worked out.

   The changeover is bad news for Gramps—he won’t be able to track the latest car crash or house fire anymore—but good news for emergency services. Now, instead of going through dispatchers to communicate, emergency personnel will be able to radio each other directly, and thus respond more quickly to situations, says Hanson.

   For example, Hanson points out that the ice storm at the beginning of December would have been easier to manage had the new system been in place. Police would have been able to talk directly not only among different offices in the police departments, but also with rescue squads or fire departments.

   Hanson says the new 800 MHz system will standardize communication across the board. Right now, “each different entity has its own system—some low-band, some high-band. It’s a menagerie of different old components.”

   In preparation for the new system, everything from radios and portable hand units, to transmitters, microwave equipment and a couple of towers have been replaced—to the tune of $18 million. A Homeland Security grant covers one-third of that; the rest gets picked up by the City, County, UVA and the airport.

   The change is needed, too, says Hanson, because of the area’s continuing growth. A steady 2 percent growth rate for the past 10 years means Albemarle’s population doubles every 32 years, and as the population booms the need for emergency services to be coordinated increases, too.—Nell Boeschenstein

DUIs spike during holidays

Boozin’ and cruisin’ don’t mix with ho ho hoIt’s nothing to be proud of, but ’tis the season to drink and drive. At least so say the roadside statistics. For example, in 2002, of the 17,524 drunk driving-related deaths in the United States, just more than 1 percent, 207, were between Christmas and New Year’s. But in Virginia, the State Police reported 375 drunk driving related deaths in 2002, with 22, or 6 percent, occurring over the winter holidays.

   The trend holds true in Charlottesville as well. Locally, the average number of DUI arrests in December for the past four years is 33; the av-erage number of DUI arrests per month for the rest of the year is 25, according to City police. (Stats for the County were not available by press time.)

   City Sgt. Michael Farruggio speculates that the duration of the holiday season accounts for the spike in DUI arrests.

   “People spread out parties,” says Farruggio. “Instead of a single party day like the 4th of July, at Christmastime you’ll have parties almost every weekend for three or four weeks. All that leads to a higher probability of someone who does drink too much being on the road.”

   Farruggio also says it’s not a matter of officers being more vigilant about drunk driving over the holidays, but rather that the drunk drivers simply present themselves. Throughout the year the police department sets up road blocks around the city to check for sobriety, and the holidays are no different. Likewise, as part of a statewide campaign, between Christmas and New Year’s, troopers also maintain checkpoints on the state highways.—Nell Boeschenstein

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Tuesday, December 13
Casteen keeps checking cheddar for UVA

Jay-Z would say UVA president John Casteen checks cheddar like a food in-spector. Today the school’s prez celebrated news of a $45 million gift—the largest in school history—from the Ivy Foundation of Charlottesville. The money is earmarked for biomedical research, and the news comes on the heels of other windfalls for UVA. Last week Governor Mark Warner announced he would seek $255 million for education in his final State budget, with UVA seeking about $25 million of that for a new cancer center. The Ivy Foundation is headed by former Wahoo William C. Battle, who set up the Foundation in 2000 to help UVA by endowing professorships and fellowships in the sciences. For example, Ivy gave UVA $3 million in 2003 for four endowed professorships in regenerative medicine.

 

Wednesday, December 14
“Dukes of Hazzard” action on Fifth Street

An action-packed accident on Fifth Street Extended prompted drunk-driving charges against an Albemarle woman who jumped her car over a tow truck early this morning. The incident began when a State trooper pulled over a car on Fifth Street near I-64. The driver fled, according to WINA, and eventually the trooper called a tow truck to haul away the abandoned vehicle. At about 2:30am, a Ford Taurus sped towards the scene. The Taurus hit the police cruiser and the speeding suspect’s car, then drove up the tow truck’s ramp. The car flew over the tow truck and landed right-side-up. Jodie Ellen Finney, 34, was charged with DUI in the incident that one State police official described as right out of “Dukes of Hazzard.”

 

Longo to recruit Jesus?

It ain’t easy being the police chief. Sure, with his well-spoken manner, ultra-fit pugilist frame and fancy education, Chief Tim Longo could be mistaken for a man who has it all. But at a morning press briefing during which the chief clarified reporting procedures for the media, he suggested that his softer side is not getting the love it deserves. “On the other side of the camera lens, telephone, reporter’s pad is a human being who has feelings, friends…,” he said. Indeed, between last year’s DNA sweep, police shootings at Friendship Court and “mistaken identity” arrests, Longo has weathered plenty of criticism. The chief wasn’t whining, however, just trying to convey the reality of being the go-to guy when the fertilizer hits the fan. “I don’t have a full-time public information officer,” he said, “…it’s not going to happen. We don’t have the funding to make it happen.” Apparently, the press, and by extension the public, need to realign their expectations for how much of the story they can get and how quickly. “I only know one person who has all the answers,” Longo said with a smile, “and he doesn’t live down here and he’s certainly not a member of the CPD.”

 

Thursday, December 15
Ice storm cuts power to 40,000 in Central Virginia

About an inch of ice fell on Charlottesville and surrounding areas tonight, leaving 40,000 people without power as tree limbs froze and fell across utility lines. Most people had power by Friday morning, although The Daily Pro-gress reported that about 6,500 people were still without power by 2pm Friday. Candles caused two fires in Charlottesville, and County police blamed ice for about two dozen accidents. There were no fatalities.

 

Friday, December 16
UVA names former guv to head Miller Center

Today UVA president John Casteen and Governor Mark Warner announced that Gerald Baliles will head UVA’s Miller Center of Public Affairs. Baliles, 65, is a 1967 UVA law grad who won the governor’s race as a Demo-crat in 1985, a year after President Ronald Reagan’s landslide re-election, and will soon retire from Hunton & Williams law firm in Richmond. Baliles replaces former Center director Philip Zelikow, who chaired the 9/11 Commis-sion and left UVA in January to become counselor to Condo-leezza Rice.

 

Saturday, December 17
Former Wahoo Barber sets record in NFL

Former UVA football standout Tiki Barber, now a running back for the New York Giants, ran for 220 yards today in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Barber’s performance set a new Giants team record for most rushing yards in a single game. Barber scored two touchdowns today, helping his team win their 10th game; if the Giants beat the Washington Redskins next week-end, they clinch the NFC eastern division title. Barber is a 1997 graduate of UVA’s commerce school; his brother, Ronde, graduated from UVA a year earlier and now plays cornerback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

 

Sunday, December 18
Warner sets State’s first ban on bias against gays

Gay rights activists celebrated today’s news that Virginia’s nondiscrimination clause would for the first time include sexual orientation. Warner added the protection for gays into his biannual budget by executive order, putting the policy into effect immediately. Governor-elect Tim Kaine announced he would continue the policy when his administration begins on January 14. It’s the first good news for Virginia’s gays in quite a while, although conservatives in the General Assembly have vowed to fight the change.

 

 

Monday, December 19
State study: campus crime victims should call cops

A State commission released a report today saying that safety at Virginia colleges could be improved if school officials allow local law enforcement to punish law breakers instead of schools punishing them administratively.

 

Written by John Borgmeyer from staff and news reports.

 

 

Wheeler pushes smart growth
Local activist on how to grow and still be great

For Average Joe Citizen, trying to read a document from the City or County’s planning department is like trying to read hieroglyphics without the Rosetta Stone. This, says Brian Wheeler, executive director of Charlottesville Tomor-row, is one of the main reasons a community doesn’t complain about development until the bulldozers have already started pushing dirt around.

   The implications of a “Comprehensive Plan,” what the hell “zoning” is, who’s running for the Board of Supervisors, and putting a picture on planning-speak—all are conversations Wheeler hopes to foster via his new organization, Charlottesville Tomorrow. Launched in September, the group is nonpartisan, Web-based (www. cvilletomorrow.org) and aims to educate the public about issues surrounding smart growth in the area.

   The hope, says Wheeler, is “that [with Charlottesville Tomorrow’s help] people will be more informed, so that when an important comprehensive plan change is in front of the public, more people will be involved… Then, 10 years later when things are actually starting to happen, the public will feel like they were heard and listened to.”

   The first step in that pro-cess, however, according to Wheeler, is that people have to make the jump from getting up in arms over backyard issues, to seeing backyard issues as issues that effect the community at large.

   In fact, once upon a time, Wheeler himself was backyard issue-centric. As a parent of a second grader whose class had 27 students, Wheeler crusaded for smaller class sizes. In the process, County Supervisor Sally Thomas pulled him aside and pointed out that if he wanted to have a real impact he’d have to look further than Murray Elementary. Wheeler ended up running for and getting elected to the School Board in January 2004. He still serves.

   Likewise, Wheeler’s interest in land use sprouted in his backyard, blossoming into recognition of the bigger picture, when Faulconer Con-struction planned to build behind Murray. Wheeler rallied the troops against Faulconer’s project.

   Gradually, says Wheeler, “we learned that we didn’t just want Faulconer to go somewhere else; if they go somewhere else we’re just passing the problem on to someone else.”

   After the Faulconer case got him thinking about land use and the need for greater communication between City and County governments and the public on that issue, Charlottesville Tomorrow be-gan taking form in his head. A year ago, he quit his tech job and started recruiting backers. In the upcoming year, Wheeler hopes to consolidate on the website all information on all the transportation projects in the area, what their status is and what the funding status is.

   “We will read all the details but boil it down into terms [the public] can understand…because if the community’s voice isn’t heard, then five or 10 years down the road it’s going to come back to haunt you.”—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Goode deflects bribery fallout
Congressman gets folksy cred giving away dirty money

If he’s done nothing else in Congress —and, really, he hasn’t—Virgil Goode has mastered the art of winning
re-election.

   Now approaching his 12th year as U.S. Representative for Virginia’s Fifth District, Goode, a Republican, has used his deep family connections and an “aw shucks” demeanor to cement his grip on power. Lately, Goode’s image has remained largely untarnished by news that his largest contributor was involved in federal bribery and fraud. In fact, Goode may be using the scandal to his advantage.

   Last month, California Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham resigned after confessing he accepted $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors, especially MZM, Inc. That company is also Goode’s largest contributor, giving him $90,000 over the past two elections.

   On Sunday, December 11, The Roanoke Times detailed how Goode helped MZM get unorthodox sweetheart deals for cheap real estate in Martinsville, leading up to the company’s move there in 2003. As the paper reports, however, few people in that depressed Southside city were willing to criticize Goode for his efforts to deliver jobs.

   In the wake of Cunning-ham’s confession, pressure mounted on Goode to return the $90,000 he collected from MZM. Goode has said he sent letters to the donors asking if they wanted their money back; most, he says, did not. So last week he made political lemonade by announcing he would give the money to unspecified charities in the Fifth District. One $30,000 donation has already gone to Gleaning for the World, a Christian organization that collects surplus medical supplies for humanitarian groups.

   One of Goode’s would-be Democratic challengers, Bern Ewert, says it may have been a mistake for Goode to deal with MZM in the first place. “There is a real chance the MZM house of cards could completely collapse and leave the city and the citizens of Martinsville in the lurch,” Ewert said in a statement.

   Another challenger, Al Weed, says Goode should give the money back to the treasury. “It would be symbolic,” says Weed. “Everything MZM gets paid is through defense contracts, so in effect this is taxpayer money going into [Goode’s] campaign war chest.”—John Borgmeyer

 

Historic district set for approval
Planners advance new design controls near UVA

On Tuesday, December 13, the City Plan-ning Commission recommended approval of the Rugby Road-University Circle-Ven-able Neighborhood Architectural Design Control District.

   Mary Joy Scala, the City’s preservation and design planner, said there are two options for design control in the Rugby area. Option one would establish a complete architectural design control district and protect more than 200 historic buildings within an 87-acre zone.

   The second option includes a sub-area bordered by St. John and 14th streets where demolition of existing structures would need no approval. All of the structures in this sub-area, dubbed the “green zone,” are currently classified as not historically or architecturally significant.

   The two options reflect disagreement between developers and preservationists on how best to “overlay” zoning restrictions on this section
of Charlottesville—which the City recently rezoned to allow for the development of high-density student housing near UVA.

   The public comments began with residents who were in favor of protecting the entire neighborhood with option one. Developer Daniel Veliky, however, said he favors the development freedom that comes with option two. “A new building is far superior than anything they could build in the 1930s,” Veliky said.

   The Planning Commissioners ex-pressed concern over new development expected for the green zone. Commis-sioner William Lucy thought the existing streetscape would be threatened by the height and massing of new buildings; Commissioner Kevin O’Halloran pointed out that new structures might better serve the area “if they are designed well.”

   Finally, the need for more student housing and the commitment to the existing zoning ordinance convinced most of the commissioners to support option two, by a 5 to 1 margin. The City Council will make a final decision in January.—Jay Neelley

 

A peek at JPA
C-VILLE’s here to help neighborhood problems

The City’s Neighborhood Develop-ment Department certainly seems to have gotten its ass in gear late- ly. This month it sent out the first of what promises to be a series of newsletters called “In Our Backyard,” dedi- cated to informing people about issues and upcoming projects in their neighborhoods.

This month the newsletter describes changes afoot in the Jefferson Park Avenue neighborhood, which sits just south of UVA and north of the CSX railroad tracks. More than 4,000 people live there, with 94 percent of them renters. Here is the City’s assessment of zoning and maintenance issues in the neighborhood, amended with help from C-VILLE.—John Borgmeyer

 

Will Dettor’s property go up for sale?
Belmont site could be ripe for condos

Rumors circulated last week that a parcel of prime Belmont real estate could soon go on the market. Jimmy Dettor—a local businessman, neighborhood activist and auto-racing sponsor, owns 2.5 acres at 1005/1025 Carlton Ave.—directly north of Mas restaurant in Belmont. Off the record, a developer said that he wanted to buy the Dettor property for residential development, but that he couldn’t compete with other parties who might also be interested.

   The property is home to an auto repair shop, Cole’s Import Specialists, as well as an adjacent parking lot and warehouse. According to City records, the property is zoned for commercial use and was assessed this year at a value of $620,900. Asked by C-VILLE whether he planned to sell the property, Dettor replied he “has no comment at this time.”

   If rumors about a sale prove true, however, the Dettor property could be a choice investment for someone with the resources to put condos or apartments on the site (developer Coran Capshaw, who owns Mas, certainly seems like a prime candidate).

   Such a project would fit the recent trend in Belmont. The formerly blue-collar neighborhood has seen real estate prices soar with recent gentrification—assessments in Bel-mont went up by more than 12 percent in 2003 and nearly 15 percent in 2004. Mean-while, the influx of yuppies could mean old-school businesses, like auto repair, might give way to condos and hip new restaurants (it’s already happening with places like Mas and Frank Stoner’s Belmont Lofts.) What-ever happens with the site, we hope that Cole’s Imports finds a way to survive the changes in Belmont—the shop is a perennial favorite among readers in C-VILLE’s “Best Of C-VILLE” survey.—John Borgmeyer

 

UVA prof studies the brighter side of Wal-Mart
The oft-reviled retailer may not be as bad as you think

Maybe Wal-Mart is not so evil after all. The mega-retail chain is often bashed for mistreating workers and for sinking mom-and-pop shops. But according to a new report by UVA professor Zach-ary Courser, the only crime Wal-Mart may be guilty of is having the worst public relations department this side of Al-Qaeda.

   Courser’s report, “Wal-Mart and the Politics of American Retail,” suggests that the principal criticisms of Wal-Mart are nothing more than the typical response to innovation within the retail industry.

   Reviewing the history of the U.S. retail industry, Courser found many similarities with the criticisms of previous retail innovators like Sears Roebuck. Beginning with the first department stores in the late 19th century, change within the retail industry has always been met by some form of public outcry demanding that traditional retailers be protected. When Sears pioneered the first mail-order catalogue, local merchants in rural communities felt so threatened they held public burnings of Sears catalogues.

   The one major difference between the early retail giants and Wal-Mart has been its communication with customers. According to Courser, from the beginning, “Wal-Mart has had a very singular, almost evangelical zeal for low costs.” By looking at cost through a strict a dollars-and-cents lens, it seems Wal-Mart has failed to account for the cost of pissing off its customers.

   According to Courser’s report, Wal-Mart did not create a media relations department until 1989; and, despite being the largest retailer in the U.S. since 1990, it did not create a governmental relations department until 1999.

    “[Founder Sam] Walton’s attitude against managing Wal-Mart’s corporate image has carried over in the period since his death and has contributed to the rise of public misunderstanding, resentment, and protests over its business,” Courser wrote.

   Wal-Mart’s steadfast refusal to communicate with its customers and to foster a positive public image has had two significant impacts. Wal-Mart’s dominance has alienated its competitors, who understandably feel threatened; also its sheer size has alienated many American consumers to the point that they’re inclined to believe the anti-Wal-Mart propaganda.

   As previously reported, Wal-Mart costs taxpayers an estimated $1.5 billion per year. But in his report, Courser cites another study which estimates that Wal-Mart saves its customers about $16 billion. Like Wal-Mart, Courser seems to see social costs and benefits strictly in terms of dollars and cents. If “consumers” is all that we are in America, then Wal-Mart does indeed seem to be good for us.—Dan Pabst

 

Carl Smith’s legacy of bricks and mortar
Millionaire industrialist bankrolled recent UVA development

On Thursday, December 8, Carl Smith died at age 78. The former UVA football player made his fortune in AMVEST Corp., a local coal and natural gas company, then became one of the school’s most important benefactors.

      Smith and his wife, Hunter, contributed millions (UVA couldn’t say exactly how much, since many of the contributions were made anonymously) to develop programs in architecture, law, medicine, business, medicine and athletics.

      In 2003, Smith donated $1.5 million to pay for a marching band to replace UVA’s ragtag “pep band.” The previous year, the pep band’s halftime skit offended West Virginia fans and Governor Bob Wise; AMVEST has significant coal interests in West Virginia and had donated money to Wise.

      Smith’s most famous donation was a $25 million gift in 1997, most of which went to expand Scott Stadium. It was then the largest single monetary contribution in the school’s history, and the grounds around Scott Stadium now bear Smith’s name.—John Borgmeyer

 

Biomedical waste at UVA amounts to 800 tons
Most hospital waste is sterilized and dumped

What happens to all the old needles, tubes and bandages at UVA Medical Center?

   According to UVA records, the hospital produces about 800 tons of biomedical waste each year. This includes all material that has any contact with body fluids—IV tubes, needles, syringes, dressings and all medical packaging. The total does not include body parts, which are collected and incinerated by Roanoke-based Sci-Med Waste Systems.

   Before sending it off to the landfill, UVA sterilizes its medical waste by heating it with steam at 275 degrees for one hour. It is hauled away by Waste Management, Inc. and taken to the Maplewood Recycling and Waste Disposal Facility near Richmond, at a cost to UVA of about $76,000 per year. “When it leaves here, medical waste is considered the same as regular trash,” says UVA Medical Center spokesman Peter Jump.—John Borgmeyer

 

Man falsely accused of rape seeks $850,000
Commonwealth’s Attorney criticizes lawsuit against rape victim

Early last week, local civil rights defense attorney Deborah Wyatt filed a lawsuit on behalf of Chris Matthew against a former UVA law student who was raped in early September. The woman mistakenly identified Matthew as her attacker and he sat in jail for five days without bond before a DNA test exonerated him. A few days later, DNA evidence taken from the crime scene was found to match the genetic profile of another man—a previously convicted felon, 37-year-old Charlottesville resident John Henry Agee.

   The suit, which is unprecedented in the area, according to Charlottesville Common-wealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman, charges defamation and seeks $850,000 on behalf of Matthew.

   “The clearest person who instigated the victimization of Chris Matthew is being sued,” says Wyatt—who likens being falsely accused to being raped. “The [accusers] of these misidentifications—why should they not be held accountable? Do we say, ‘That’s life. Get over it,’ to the victim of rape? We say that to the accused.”

   Yet while Wyatt convolutedly characterizes the suit as potentially empowering to women (she says her case assumes that women can in fact think straight after they’ve been sexually assaulted), Chap-man says that this suit could only add insult to a rape victim’s injury. The normally staid Chapman is so disturbed by the lawsuit that he released an unusually impassioned statement to the media in response to it.

   “No one fails to understand that what happened to Mr. Matthew is a terrible tragedy,” wrote Chapman. But, “…this lawsuit will have a chilling effect—in this community and elsewhere—on the willingness of women to report to police when they are sexually assaulted.”

   Chapman says there is no evidence there was “intent to harm, or malice of any sort” on the part of the victim when she pointed the finger at Matthew. In order for a defamation claim to hold up in court, malice or ill will must be proven.

   Eyewitness identification is notoriously unreliable. According to the Center for Wrongful Convictions, of the 86 studied cases of inmates sentenced to death who were later exonerated based on DNA evidence, 54 percent of those convictions were based on eyewitness testimony.

   This is why, says Chapman, eyewitness testimony should always be considered along with other evidence. It’s not a matter of doubting what a victim might say, but as with any crime that involves close physical contact, explains Chapman, “those are circumstances where there are factors that can make the ability of an involved party to identify somebody subsequently less accurate.” Circumstances, presumably, like the trauma of rape.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

UVA law school ducks ROTC controversy
Others challenge military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell”

policy in court, but UVA stays homeDoes the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy violate nondiscrimination rules on college campuses? That’s a question some major schools are taking to the Supreme Court; UVA, however, is ducking the controversy.

   Two weeks ago the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (FAIR), a coalition of 36 of the nation’s law schools. FAIR’s challenge is to the Solomon Amendment of the Constitution. The 1995 amendment denies certain funding to any college that does not permit military recruiting on its campus.

   FAIR argues that by allowing military recruiters, colleges are implicitly kowtowing to the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy towards gays and lesbians. Doing so, FAIR maintains, is in violation of the nondiscrimination policies most colleges and universities employ.

   The FAIR coalition includes Top 20 law schools like Stanford, NYU and George-town, but not UVA, currently ranked eighth nationally. Only 24 of the participating FAIR schools have attached their names to the case; 12 remain anonymous.

   As for the University’s position on the issue, Law School Dean John Jeffries, Jr. calls it a “controversial question,” saying that “the law school doesn’t take corporate opinions of that sort” as a matter of policy. Moreover, he considers the matter settled by the Solomon Amendment: UVA both accepts federal funding and allows military recruiters.

   Further insight into the law school’s tight-lipped approach to the controversy can be found in its Fair Employment Policy. The policy states that the school is “committed to a policy against discrimination based on age…race, religion, sex, sexual orientation…” However, an addendum states, “The Law School policy applicable to sexual orientation will not be applied to military employers.”—Nell Boeschenstein

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Tuesday, December 6
UVA football co-captain reaches new high

Today, Tony Franklin, a defensive starter on the UVA football team, received an early Christ-mas present: a court summons charging him with possession of marijuana. The Daily Pro-gress reported that the team co-captain faces a misdemeanor possession charge, indicating that the officer found less than 14 grams and did not believe that Franklin had the intention to distribute. According to ESPN.com, through- out the NCAA approximately 25 percent of football players surveyed reported using pot. What’s the most popular sport for toking up? Riflery (no joke), with nearly half of all surveyed sport shooters reporting regular use. Woah… like, duck, dude.

 

Wednesday, December 7
Warner pads his image with money to colleges

No doubt hoping to cement his legacy as a popular and successful governor, Mark Warner announced that his last State budget could include $255 million for university research in the Commonwealth. UVA is looking for about $25 million from that pie to build a new cancer treatment center on Jefferson Park Avenue. The announcement comes with the news that UVA has tapped Katie Couric, a former Wahoo who now co-hosts NBC’s “Today” show, to help raise another $100 million for the cancer center. If the General Assembly approves Warner’s proposed budget, the Democratic guv and would-be presidential candidate says the $255 million will bolster Virginia’s biological sciences. No doubt Warner hopes it won’t hurt his image, either.

 

Thursday, December 8
Big price tag for Jefferson School

Renovations to the historic Jefferson School building could cost $30 million or more, according to estimates delivered to City Council in a work session today. Since 2002, the Jefferson School Task Force has been discussing plans for the dilapidated formerly all-black school; the group concluded that the building should be turned into an African-American cultural center that includes adult-education classrooms and a community space in the adjoining Carver Recreation Center. City Councilor Kevin Lynch repeatedly questioned whether the task force’s ideas can be financed, while some task force members suggested that the City should simply figure out a way to do the project to satisfy local African-Americans who, as Councilor Kendra Hamilton put it, “have not had a fair shake.” Jefferson School has been added to the Virginia Landmark Register, which means private investors can get tax credits if they contribute to the site’s renovation.

 

Friday, December 9
County hires supe while City keeps looking

“Our students live in a global community, and they will work in a global economy,” said Pamela Moran as she accepted the job of Albemarle school superintendent this afternoon. “We need to prepare our students to succeed. We need to eliminate the achievement gap.” Moran has been serving as interim superintendent since outgoing supe Kevin Castner announced he would retire in June, and reportedly she enjoys wide support among county parents and school employees. The County’s smooth transition is in contrast to the Charlottesville School Board, which has been looking in vain for a new superintendent since April. Today the City learned that the State has extended its deadline for hiring a new superintendent.

 

Saturday, December 10
Eco-friendly building can save some green

Today, with the completion of the first ecoMOD house, UVA and the Piedmont Housing Alliance proved that the green building movement isn’t just good for our environment—it’s good for our wallets as well. The 1,290 square foot, three-bedroom house was designed and constructed by UVA students in eight small modules at a decommissioned airport just outside Charlottesville. The modules, which were created using structural insulated panels, were then transported to 502 7 1/2 St., where they were craned onto the home’s foundation. The eco-MOD project led by UVA professor John Quale is designed to encourage modular building and show that it’s possible to create affordable, environmentally friendly homes even in dense urban areas. PHA plans to sell the home to a qualified low-to-moderate income family. Over the next few years, PHA and UVA expect to build at least two more ecoMOD houses in the Charlottesville area.

 

Sunday, December 11
Low temps cause minor wrecks

Temperatures were in the 40s this weekend after freezing temperatures and precipitation combined to coat Central Virginia with a glaze of ice. Thursday night’s storm prompted the usual freak-out that accompanies the white stuff in Charlottesville. Local residents’ notorious inability to drive on slick roads prompted dozens of accidents on Thursday and Friday, but luckily there were no deaths or serious injuries.

 

Monday, December 12
Local law center scores win for James River

Today the local Southern Environmental Law Center celebrated an agreement that requires trash barges on the James River to be watertight. A Virginia company called Waste Management wants to haul as much as 6,000 tons of out-of-state trash per day by barge up the James to a port in Charles City. Negotiating on behalf of the James River Association, the SELC encouraged Waste Management to make sure their barges don’t leak into the river.

Written by John Borgmeyer from staff reports and news sources.

 

City and County want Richmond’s help with growth issues Albemarle to raise roaming pooch penalty

Expect a $250 fine if you let the dogs out

As the Albemarle County Code currently stands, letting your dog off leash is considered a Class IV misdemeanor, bearing a maximum fine of $25. However, a new County amendment raises the maximum fine for a free-roaming Fido to $250.

   The impetus behind this change, approved by the County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, December 7, stems from a neighborhood dispute in the Peacock Hill subdivision in Ivy. In a letter to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, Phil Hightower, president of the Peacock Hill Community Association, cited “residents…plagued by an individual who lets his many dogs run loose in their yards.” The dogs, unleashed, rove through the subdivision in packs, intimidating children and disturbing the peace, he says. According to County records, the owner, Paul Gregory, has five convictions for violating the dog ordinance. Though convicted, Gregory insists that the dogs were not his, saying, “Every time there is a loose dog in the neighborhood, people assume that it is mine.”

   According to Cindy Perfater, a Peacock Hill neighbor, the current $25 fine is an inadequate deterrent to make dog owners take the leash ordinance seriously. Perfater says the amendment will enable judges to enforce higher penalties on repeat offenders. A $250 fine, Perfater says, will “hurt someone’s pocketbook enough to make them wake up.”—Anne Metz

 

But will their pleas be muted by development bucks?

When the 2006 General Assembly session begins January 11 Albe-marle County and Charlottes-ville both will look to Richmond to help local officials manage the costs of reckless de-velopment and assist low-income residents to meet the demands of the Central Virginia housing market. Here are two items that local lobbyists will take to the General Assembly, according to City and County documents, and what they might mean for local voters.

   The proposed changes may not go through, of course. Politically powerful developers and the real estate industry oppose the measures. In 2005, real estate and construction interests donated $8,404,120 to state candidates, nearly twice as much as any other private-sector interest group in Virginia.

 

Albemarle County The County wants the State “to provide local governments with additional tools to manage growth.” These tools include “impact fees, flexibility for proffers, adequate public facilities ordinances and transfer and purchase of development rights to manage growth.” The reasoning for this request is simple: Infrastructure costs associated with new developments are now borne by all taxpayers, rather than by those who profit the most from development.

   Supervisor Sally Thomas pointed out that the County’s current annual allocation of $1 million for the purchase of development rights did not remedy the problem and said, “We would like to have the tools that support adequate public facilities such as schools and roads that match the size of a development.”

 

City of Charlottesville The City of Char-lottesville has requested a “Charter Amend-ment Regarding Affordable Housing” that would allow for the acquisition, construction, lease and/or sale of “Land or buildings in the city for the purpose of providing housing for low or moderate income persons or for elderly or handicapped persons.” It also calls for the allocation of grants to owners of dwellings or dwelling units “for the purpose of subsidizing, in part, the rental payments” for persons of low or moderate income.

   Delegate-elect David Toscano said a similar Charter approved by the General Assembly for the city of Alexandria served as a model. He said the raising of capital for “folks who work full-time but don’t make enough to get into that first home” would complement existing programs provided by Charlottesville and the Piedmont Housing Alliance.—Jay Neelley

 

Council changes local car tax
That new ride will cost you

Last week City Council voted to change the way it levies taxes on your vehicle, which will likely increase most people’s personal property tax bill.

   In the past, the City has assessed vehicles by using its “average loan value,” which is based on amounts that banks and finance companies value certain types of vehicles for loans. Now the City will figure taxes based on a vehicle’s “trade-in value,” the amount a dealership will pay for a trade-in.

   The change means that most people will see their car tax go up; however, the hike will be less for an old car than a new car, which has a higher trade-in value. The chart below shows some specific examples of how tax bills might change for different types of vehicles.—John Borgmeyer

 

Do hunters get too close?
Near-miss prompts questions about the county’s “rural character”

On Saturday afternoon, December 3, UVA history professor Joe Miller sat reading a student’s paper when he heard what sounded like an explosion just over his shoulder. Shards of glass showered over him; turning around, he saw a fist-sized hole in one of his living room’s 6′ windows, which was completely spider-webbed with cracks.

   “I stood up and thought, ‘Holy smoke. That’s a bullet hole.’”

   Miller, who lives on a hilltop along Dry Bridge Road in Ivy, called the Albemarle County Police. Meanwhile, Miller found a warped lead rifle bullet and a copper shell casing lying on his hardwood floor. “How close they came to my head, I don’t know,” he says.

   Miller and the police surmise that the shot came from one of the hunters who routinely fire at deer in the woods around Miller’s home. During hunting season, “we hear gunshots constantly,” he says.

   Although his home sits in what the County has designated a “rural area” of Albemarle, Miller says so many homes have been built in the past 10 years that the “rural” description no longer fits. Ivy hasn’t seen any of the huge subdivision projects (like the ones that transformed nearby Crozet)—instead, a steady progression of new homes have turned Ivy into what amounts to a heavily wooded residential neighborhood. The abundance of both woods and tasty lawn plantings make Ivy a haven for nuisance deer. Miller wants hunters to be more careful where they point their guns, while police say hunters should never trespass to hunt because they don’t know that someone’s office might be just over the next hill. But as the County’s struggle over development continues, the incident speaks to a larger controversy over growth management in Albemarle.

   County planners attempt to channel development into “growth areas” like northern Albemarle and Crozet, but it doesn’t always work. According to a recent County report, since 1997 31 percent of all new homes in Albemarle were built in rural areas.

   Miller says the Board of Supervisors should recognize that “the existing hunting laws are either not adequate or not being en-forced.” His Super-visor, Sally Thomas, says the Board is un-likely to change policy. “A consequence of growth is more residential development in rural areas,” says Thomas. She says some county neighborhoods allow bow-hunters to shoot deer in their backyards, while the County has considered handing out pamphlets to new rural residents that life in “the country” is not all peace and quiet In other words, prepare for unpleasant smells, loud noises and the occasional flying bullet.—John Borgmeyer

 

Albemarle’s gun laws

-   Shooting a gun is prohibited in residential areas, except in defense of “person or property.” Penalty for violation is between $25 and $1,000.

-   Transport of loaded shotguns and rifles is prohibited, except for police, the military, or any person “who reasonably believes that a loaded rifle or shotgun is necessary for his personal safety in the course of his employment or business.”

-   It is unlawful to hunt within 50 feet of a road. Violation is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

-   It is a Class 4 misdemeanor to shoot across a road with a fire-arm or crossbow.

Source: Albemarle County Code, Chapter 10

 

Love me, build me, Chapter 2
More empty buildings that long for fulfillment

 

Earlysville Professional Center

Address: 395 Reas Ford Rd., Earlysville

Empty since: Technicolor moved out in December 2002

Price: Lease for $4 per square foot for warehouse space, $7-$10 per square foot for office

Status: Still vacant

 

Frank Ix Building

Address: Second Street SE & Elliott Avenue

Area: 324,626 square feet, 17 acres—almost as big as the Downtown Mall

Empty since: November 1999

Price: Lease built-to-suit space for $9 to $14 per square foot

Status: Currently home to 13 tenants, including three local television stations, Total Performance and the AIDS Services group

 

John Kluge’s stuff at auction
At Christie’s a glimpse of how the other 3 percent lives

On Friday, December 16, the contents of 91-year-old billionaire John Kluge’s Albemarle estate, Morven, goes on the auction block at the venerable New York auction house Christie’s. The approximately 550 lots up for sale are expected to bring in anywhere from $5.8 million to $8.7 million, according to Christie’s.

   At an estimated net worth of about $11 billion, Forbes puts Kluge as the 30th wealthiest man in the world. He gave his 7,378-acre estate, valued at around $45 million, to UVA in 2001. He now lives in Palm Beach, Florida. The University is allowed to either use the property for educational purposes or sell it off. According to spokesperson Carol Wood, UVA does not plan on bidding in Friday’s sale and while it plans to use Morven for educational purposes, the specifics are up in the air.

   The selling off of Morven’s furnishings marks the last of Kluge’s ties with the area (except for ex-wife and PVCC benefactor Patricia Kluge). The collectables up for sale span the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, and include everything from glass and crystal to cigar shop signs and antique tables. However, according to Melissa Gagen, senior vice president and head of European furniture for Christie’s, Kluge was “very interested in looking at [the house] from an historical point of view,” and thus, since the house was built in 1820, many of the furnishings were also of that era and are considered “American classical.”

   For those interested in a deal, this sale might be the place to find it. For a majority of the lots, there is no minimum price, since says Gagen, the aging Kluge is eager to sell things off. For example, one of the showboat pieces is an enormous picnic “basket” that includes two tables, fine china and crystal, and for which Kluge originally paid around $100,000, according to Gagen. The estimate for the sale is bargain-priced between $20,000 and $30,000.

   Other highlights, in Gagen’s view? A Georges II walnut side table estimated at $70,000 to $100,000, Georgia O’Keefe’s “Sunflow-ers” estimated at $150,000 to $250,000, and an Indian cigar store princess estimated at $15,000 to $25,000, all of which, Gagen says, people have been “very excited” about.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

“The zone” explained
UVA tries to figure out what it is about Tiger Woods, anyway

Every athlete has been there. Some call it “the zone,” and you know you’re there when the 18th hole looks like a crater or the approaching baseball is the size of a ripe melon. While it might sound like pure nonsense, as it turns out, this might be why some players always seem to succeed at crucial moments, and why their athletic performances sometimes seem effortless.

   According to recent research by psychologists at UVA, our minds can alter our perception of attainable goals. In the case of sports, this element of the brain can change the size of playing balls, depending on how well one is playing.

   “I experience it in the sports I play,” says UVA graduate student Jessica Witt, who conducted the research. In hopes of ex-plaining this phenomenon in her softball play, as well as supporting the existing anecdotal evidence, Witt went straight to UVA’s playing fields.

   She approached intramural and club softball teams and offered free sports drinks to players willing to participate in a one-minute batting experiment. The researchers recorded the batters’ hitting percentages and asked them to approximate the width of the ball on a poster bearing eight circles of various sizes. Sure enough, those with more hits perceived the ball as larger than those with lower batting averages. These results confirmed her broader claim that “reachable things seem closer than nonreachable things.”

   Her findings, written with psychology professor Dennis Proffitt, will appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science. Someone get Tiger Woods a copy so he’ll be able to sleep better knowing that he isn’t completely crazy.—Doug Black

 

Summer dreams
What does June feel like again?

Weather in Charlottesville can have the peculiar effect of erasing memory. In the thick of summer, I always find that I can’t remember what winter is like. Conversely, in the middle of winter, I can never remember what the summer is like.

   Luckily, a few things can remind me of certain seasons that are, at the moment, out of season. One of these memory-restoring landmarks is the massive Southern Magnolia near Brooks Hall East, which was given in honor of Mrs. Frederic W. Scott in 1980. As Southern as the humidity itself, Mrs. Scott was a Sweet Briar College graduate, president of the Martha Jefferson Hospital’s Pink Ladies organization, Miller Center board member and of course, president of the Garden Club of Virginia.

   If you find yourself doubting the possibility of 90 percent humidity and heat indices in the triple digits, just visit Mrs. Scott’s lush, green Southern Magnolia on a frigid January day. The tree will remind you that so long as there are magnolias dedicated to women who to prefer to be posthumously known as “the Missus,” rest assured, the Southern summer heat will, for better or for worse, return again.—Anne Metz

 

Getting to know Debbie Wyatt
Dena Bowers’ defense attorney explains why she’s always taking on “The Man”

Debbie Wyatt has been one of Charlottesville’s hardest-hitting lawyers for more than 20 years. She’s taken on everyone from UVA to City and County police. She is currently representing former UVA recruiter Dena Bowers, who is an outspoken critic of the charter initiative and who was recently dismissed from her position by the Uni-versity. Typical of a Wyatt case, people have rallied on behalf of Bowers, and the University has been doing some serious damage control. Aside from Bowers, other high-profile “little guy” clients Wyatt has represented include Shirley Presley in her case against the City for guiding a portion of the Rivanna Trail through her land, and a Fluvanna man, Kerry Cook, who was shot by police during a violent encounter at Friendship Court. C-VILLE asked Wyatt why she loves to fight the power, and an edited transcript follows.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

C-VILLE: You seem to have a special affinity for cases that involve underdogs or people of limited resources versus “The Man” (whoever that may be at the moment).

Debbie Wyatt: It’s obviously of much more interest to me to represent an underdog because they need it more. It’s also more challenging, frankly…and fewer and fewer lawyers, for reasons I can probably understand…aren’t doing this kind of work [because] of money and it’s too difficult. [“The Man”] has endless resources, it seems, to fight you and the desire to fight you… They’ll put however much money they need into fighting.

 

Do you remember a specific moment when you knew that this was the kind of work you wanted to do? What set you on this course?

I’d like to say that seeing To Kill a Mockingbird, reading that book, but to be quite honest I’m not sure that that was the moment. I remember reading Tales of Hoffman, which was about the trial of the Chicago Seven. The law-yers, the judges, everybody was out of control. Why that would have attracted me, I don’t know.

 

What legal issues interest you in particular, philosophically speaking?

The ones that get me going are run-of-the-mill civil rights. I don’t like seeing governmental bullies… I see [bullying] most frequently with law enforcement. Now, certainly not all law enforcement, but that’s certainly an occasion when bullying happens… Cer-tainly, the biggest bully in town is UVA… It is the 800-pound gorilla here, as I think was just demonstrated with Ms. Bowers.

 

Do you feel like there have been negative repercussions for taking on these powerful local institutions? What price, if any, have you paid?

I’m always doing things that make people hate me… I think that there are, unfortunately, some judges who are sufficiently conservative and “good old boys,” that I may have a harder time [than other lawyers]… [I also] had to tell my second son that he should probably not apply to the University of Virginia, that he would very likely be turned down, being my son.

 

Can you recall a particularly memorable case and why was it memorable?

I represented a fellow ac-cused of rape, sodomy, malicious wounding… It was amazing to me the close-mindedness of the community. They couldn’t even listen to me articulate why I didn’t think he was guilty… He was innocent and he was convicted… Fortunately, they granted the appeal; fortunately, we won the appeal…and [the case eventually] got dropped. That’s 20 some years ago and to this day that man will call up and cry.

 

Santa drops by the jail
Local couple organizes gift drive for inmates’ children

When Holly Heilberg’s eldest son served five months in jail for a driving violation, the Albemarle resident witnessed first hand the strain that having a family member in jail puts on a family.

   “I didn’t feel I could enjoy life until I knew he was out,” she says. “It weighs on your heart all the time.”

   Heilberg describes her-self and her husband, David, as “middle class,” and they were able to send their son books and CDs while he was incarcerated. However, she was affected by the financial hardship she saw other families bearing and vowed to do something to help them once her son was released.

   “It costs money for someone to be in prison,” says Heilberg. “If they want to make a phone call or write a letter they have to pay… It’s an extra financial burden just to stay connected with the person inside prison.”

   Heilberg’s fulfilling the vow she made to herself by organizing a gift drive to collect Christmas presents for the children of inmates at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. It’s up to the inmates to nominate their children for eligibility, then Heilberg will find a volunteer willing to buy their kids presents, each present worth around $20. While she hadn’t received the children’s wish lists by press time, she already has about 20 volunteers ready to donate and hopes “to double that number” by the time the presents are given out.

   The Heilbergs are planning to present the gifts in the jail auditorium on December 23. Although the Heilbergs are Jewish, in the holiday spirit, David plans to dress up as Santa and a friend has offered to play a Christmas elf.—Nell Boeschenstein

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Tuesday, November 29
For once, Dulles looks good

Travelers headed for Charlottesville were still stranded today, thanks to bad weather and a computer glitch. The Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport cancelled flights yesterday and today due to a combination of heavy rain and the malfunctioning of the airport’s instrument landing system, which helps pilots land when there is limited visibility.

 

Wednesday, November 30
Hope you sold your stock in Albemarle First last week

Shares in Albemarle First Bank dive-bombed to $11.15 today, down from nearly $14 on Monday, when news broke that the locally owned bank will not merge with Reston-based Mi-llennium Bankshares. The boards of both banks approved the merger in June, with Millen-nium offering Albemarle stockholders $15.82 a share, but Millennium’s shareholders re-jected the deal.

 

Shut yer sinkhole

Commuters who live just north of town were greeted with an unpleasant surprise this morning—lots of traffic. Tuesday’s heavy rains caused many streets to flood, but did quite a number on one of the region’s busiest thoroughfares. Virginia Department of Transportation had to close the southbound lanes of Route 29N between Airport Road and Timberlake Drive because of a 20′ deep and 15′ wide sinkhole. Lou Hatter, the former Daily Progress editor who is now spokesman for VDOT, says that the rain was the straw that broke the camel’s back: “There must’ve been erosion going on for quite some time before the road actually collapsed.” Hatter says VDOT is fairly certain that the hole was caused by the deterioration of an underground pipe. Water must’ve seeped out of the pipe into the soil, weakening the ground until it was unable to support the road surface. Luckily, the faulty pipe can be fixed without tearing up the entire road.

 

Thursday, December 1
Police arrest alleged assault perp

Today the Charlottesville Police Department arrested Ro-bert Terrell Haskins and charged him with assault and battery, breaking and entering, and grand larceny, relating to an incident that took place on Saturday, November 26, when a young man followed a 30-year-old woman back to her home on Little High Street. According to police, after he asked to use her bathroom and the woman let him in, he assaulted her. When she told the man to leave, he complied, but later attempted, unsuccessfully, to re-enter the house.

 

Friday, December 2
Creigh thinks positive

Bath County senator and attorney general hopeful Creigh Deeds took an optimistic step today, announcing a meeting of his “transition committee,” which will, according to the release, “assist Senator Deeds in preparing to be Virginia’s next attorney general.” That’s bold, since Deeds, a Democrat, is currently 323 votes behind Del. Robert McDonnell of Virginia Beach. The State Board of Elections certified McDonnell as the winner of the November 8 election. But the Republican’s razor-thin margin of victory—the smallest in modern Virginia history—prompted Deeds to request a recount, which could last until December 20.

 

Supporters rally for Bowers

In a fervent display of protest for the recently fired Dena Bowers, more than 50 people gathered in front of UVA’s Madison Hall today. While speakers like UVA professors Susan Fraiman and Corey Walker delivered fiery speeches, people carrying picket signs and other rally participants intermittently shouted “reinstate Dena” and “shame on you” in the direction of Madison Hall. Bowers was fired by UVA on November 22 after sending an e-mail criticizing UVA’s charter plan through her work account. The e-mail was inadvertently circulated widely among UVA employees.

 

New Yorker author hits Miller Center

At today’s Miller Center Forum at UVA, author George Packer answered questions about his new book, Assassin’s Gate: America in Iraq. “Everything that’s happened since the fall of Baghdad was set in motion by key officials in the [current] administration. In many ways the failure was deliberate,” he said referring to the “criminal negligence” of the departments of State and Defense, and the CIA. Currently touring the country, Packer says he finds the public serious about wanting the truth.

 

Saturday, December 3
Ewert ready for Goode, Weed

Bern Ewert—former city manager of Roanoke and deputy city manager of Charlottesville—announced plans to run for the Democratic nomination in the 2006 Fifth District Congressional race against incumbent Republican Virgil Goode. In the primary, Ewert will face Nelson County farmer Al Weed, who lost by 28 percent to Goode in 2004. Whoever wins the Democratic primary will be in for a tough race against Goode. Ewert, however, might be trying to appeal to the district’s southern residents by advocating a new Route 29 bypass around Charlottesville.

 

Sunday, December 4
Bullet hits Ivy home

Today Joseph Miller was thanking his lucky stars after a bullet shattered a plate glass window in his Ivy home on Saturday. Miller, who suspects the bullet came from hunters in the woods near his home, said in an e-mail to local media that “it must have missed my head by inches.” Since hunting season started in early November, Miller reports hearing gunfire around his home at all hours of the day, as hunters try to bag the deer feeding on shrubs and flowers in suburban lawns.

 

Monday, December 5
Slow down on Monticello

Tonight City Council is scheduled
to approve a change in the speed limit on Monticello Avenue near Blenheim Avenue, to 30 mph from 35. Council will also consider giving the Piedmont Housing Alliance $150,000 for a housing trust fund to benefit would-be city homebuyers.

 

Written by John Borgmeyer from staff reports and media sources.

 

Talking diversity
Can UVA openly discuss race and still
attract black students?

In 2003, a yearlong UVA commission on diversity recommended creation of a chief officer of equity and diversity. The position finally came to fruition this fall with the appointment of Bill Harvey, who for years has worked on racial and ethnic diversity at the American Council
on Education in Washington. Last week Harvey talked to C-VILLE about his role in mitigating the effects of recent racial incidents on campus.—Will Goldsmith

 

C-VILLE: Based on your experience on the American Council on Education, are the sort of racial incidents that have happened recently at UVA happening at other schools?

Bill Harvey: Unfortunately they are. At the American Council on Education, we represented 1,600 colleges and universities—I got to a lot of campuses. The circumstances that happened here are not unusual in their frequency and are not limited to any geographic area. A few weeks before coming here I was asked to comment on incidents at Syracuse University. The kind of incidents that happened here are reprehensible but they’re not unusual, and that speaks to the work we have to do at the institutions to make sure that when people come here they unlearn some of the prejudices and stereotypes that they bring with them.

Is there tension between a policy of full disclosure of racial incidents and attracting top minority students?

Earlier this year, I attended an activity for prospective students, Fall Fling. Saturday morning, 8 o’clock, I look out and not an empty seat in the house, all African-American. Admissions Dean Jack Black-burn suggested to me that this was the largest crowd we’d ever had, and this was in the wake of the incidents. He thinks that people are appreciative that when the circumstances occurred, we didn’t try to cover it up, we admitted that there were some problems here.

 

What does UVA have to offer African-Americans and other minority students that other top-tier schools do not?

I had a revelation recently. A few weekends ago, I had an activity at my house outside of Washington, with a couple hundred African-American alumni and parents of current students in the area. There was a range of folks—older graduates, recent graduates, law and business graduates—and to a person every one of them talked about this being a great institution. I was floored. It was like they had all been through some cathartic experience. People really feel like they’re stretched here, and though parts of the environment are not everything they’d like them to be, their perspective is much wider than when they came here.

   This is an important factor: You have one of the highest four-year graduation rates of African-American students here, 87 percent, which is phenomenal.

 

Yee-haw!

Wahoo diehards, seen here getting pumped before the team’s crushing defeat at home to Virginia Tech on November 19, got another chance to celebrate with Sunday’s news that UVA will play in the Music City Bowl in Nashville on December 30. UVA, which has a 6-5 record this year, will play Minnesota (7-4), for the first time ever. It’s good news for head coach Al Groh in a week that saw the departure of two of his assistant coaches—the Nashville location means that many Wahoo fans could make the eight-hour drive for the game.

 

Miller high life
Former UVA tight end Heath Miller gets his props in the NFL

UVA’s football team may not be the national powerhouse that Craig Littlepage and John Casteen dream of, but the Cavaliers still turn out their fair share of superstar players. The latest Wahoo to make a mark in the big show is former tight end Heath Miller.

   Last January, Miller decided to forego his final year of eligibility at UVA and enter the NFL draft. Miller left Charlottesville with a reputation as one of the best tight ends to ever play in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the first tight end in conference history to win unanimous All-American honors in 2004, and he set UVA tight end records for most receptions (144), yards (1,703) and touchdowns (20) in a career—all despite leaving school a year early.

   The Wahoos could have used Miller this year, but he’s on to bigger things after getting picked in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He recently got props in ESPN Magazine’s December 5 issue, which reported that in mid-November, Miller had already racked up more receiving yards (258) than any Steeler tight end in 11 years.—John Borgmeyer

 

Warner spares Lovitt
Capital punishment could be an issue
for Guv in presidential politics

On Tuesday, November 29, Robin Lovitt was one day away from becoming the 1,000th prisoner to be executed in the United States in the past three decades. But just hours before the Sussex 1 State Prison inmate was scheduled for execution, Governor Mark Warner granted him clemency, reducing his sentence to life without parole.

   Eleven executions have taken place in Virginia since Warner took office in 2002 and—with just two months remaining in office—this was the first time he has granted clemency. The death penalty could be a hot issue in the 2008 presidential election, and Warner, a Democrat, is a potential candidate.

By granting clemency to Lovitt, Warner kept a potentially devastating blemish off his record. (The 1,000th execution still took place, when Kenneth Boyd was executed at 2:15am on December 2 in North Carolina.)

   Virginia has executed 94 people since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. The only state with more executions is Texas, with 334. Since the death penalty was reinstated, every Virginia governor who could do so has granted clemency to a prisoner on death row.

   Robin Lovitt was convicted in 1999 of murdering Clayton Dicks during a robbery in Arlington. In a decisive twist, a court employee erroneously destroyed all evidence of the case before Lovitt had exhausted all appeal attempts. Forensic evidence presented during Lovitt’s trial was inconclusive and with no evidence of the case remaining, further forensic tests—with better technology—became impossible.

   Warner cited this mistake as his reason to commute Lovitt’s sentence.

   “The Commonwealth must ensure that every time this ultimate sanction is carried out, it is done fairly,” Warner said in a press statement.

   The popularity of the death penalty in the United States has started to decline since reaching a peak in the mid-’90s. According to statistics provided by the Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (vadp.org), opposition to the death penalty in Virginia has grown to more than 25 percent in 2001 from 13.2 percent in 1996.

   The growing national press coverage resulting from the 1,000th execution could increase opposition to the death penalty heading into the 2008 presidential election, and Warner’s last minute move may later prove to be crucial in his political career.—Dan Pabst

 

Adventures in County spending
The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors recently approved the following budget
appropriations:

 

$26,253

From a Department of Justice grant to cover police overtime.

 

$135,650

The majority of this appropriation will cover increases in the population of the Juvenile Detention Center ($61,200) and an expansion of the County’s social service department ($56,000).

 

$202

From a Virginia Commission of the Arts grant to Murray Elementary ($37) and Jack Jouett Middle School ($165) to help fund a theater performance at each school.

 

$2,704,934

To cover school capital projects scheduled
for 2005 that remain incomplete.

 

$1,440,385

To cover uncompleted stormwater capital projects.

 

Faulconer appeals County development restriction
Neighborhood, construction company await judge’s ruling

Last week Albemarle Circuit Judge Paul Peatross heard arguments in a case that speaks to the ongoing conflicts between private-property rights and local government’s power to regulate development.

   Faulconer Construction and County politicians were before Peatross on Wednesday, November 30, for a hearing over the company’s right to store its trucks and equipment on a 27-acre parcel on Morgantown Road in Ivy. The major issue is how far the County can go in requiring Faulconer to make sure Morgantown and other adjacent roads are safe for its big trucks.

   The company is appealing a Board of Supervisors’ de-cision to deny Faul-coner the required approval of its site plan for the Ivy storage yard. Among eight conditions that Faul-coner must meet to win approval, the Board included a requirement that “Pavement widths and strengths of both internal and external roads shall be adequate to accommodate projected traffic generated from the site,” according to meeting minutes.

   Faulconer, which built the Dunlora subdivision and UVA’s Scott Stadium, argues that the County’s requirement is a cave to political pressure. The company’s at-torney, M. Bruce Wallinger, argued that the County’s road condition is “unconstitutionally vague” and a “violation of Dillon’s rule,” the 150-year-old State law that forbids local governments from taking any action not specifically permitted by the State.

   The County is responding to parents of Murray Elementary schoolchildren. The school is on Morgantown Road near Faul-coner’s property. In 2001, parents, led by Ivy activist Brian Wheeler, formed the Ivy Community Foundation to oppose Faul-coner’s relocation to their neighborhood. They first challenged the County’s decision to zone the site “light industrial,” which gave the County less oversight over how huge trucks moving in and out of the storage yard might affect the neighborhood. “It’s in the best interest of the community for local government to have more authority over how the community develops,” says Wheeler, who is also an at-large member of the County School Board.

   Wheeler says the State legislature should grant that authority. In fact, both the City and the County plan to ask the General Assem-bly for more power to control development—a move that the powerful homebuilding and development lobbies likely will oppose.

   Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Judge Peatross seemed to sense that his hands were tied. He questioned whether a court has the purview to approve or disapprove a site plan, and asked the lawyers to give him more information about exactly which point of law he should rule. The lawyers have 10 days to answer, and he said he would rule as soon as possible after getting their responses.—John Borgmeyer

 

Love me, build me
Empty buildings long for fulfillment

There’s plenty of new growth heading for Charlottesville and Albemarle [for more on this, see p. 25]. Yet an ample supply of prime commercial real estate still sits vacant around the area more than one year after C-VILLE first investigated the glut of empty retail boxes. Here are two lonely properties that need a guiding hand.—Robbie Saville

 

Wachovia Buildings

Address: 101, 105, 107, 111 E. Main St.

Area: 19,900 square feet (estimate)

Empty since: Various dates

Price: Bought in July 2003 for $1.8 million

Status: Woodard is planning to renovate the old buildings and create a mixed-use development with a restaurant and retail on the ground floor. One floor will be offices, and the rest of the space will be condominiums. “We’re in the design phase,” says Woodard, adding that his company, Woodard Properties, has done some design work while he negotiates to hire an architecture firm. “We hope to have something for review in the spring,” says Woodard.

 

K-Mart Plaza 

Address: 1801 Hydraulic Rd.

Area: 41,414 square feet

Empty since: Food Lion closed in Septem-ber 1999

Price: Vacant building sites assessed at $3,836,000

Status: Site owned by K-Mart Corporation. Gold’s Gym scheduled to open in the former Food Lion space by January 1, 2006. Terrace Theater building still vacant.

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Tuesday, November 22
Breedens sell land, get rich overnight

Two months after C-VILLE reported the rumor, The Daily Progress today confirmed that the Breeden family has officially sold their 1,353 acres of prime property just south of town to Forest Lodge LLC. Price tag? An eye-popping $46.2 million. The man behind the LLC is developer Hunter Craig, who has filed plans with Albemarle County showing he intends 4,790 units for the acreage under the name Fox Ridge. C-VILLE reported last week that McMansion developers Toll Brothers, a powerhouse in the concretization of Northern Virginia, is rumored to be backing Craig. The Breedens, local artists known for their communal suppers and the Art in Place program, have been connected to the land since the mid-1970s when David Breeden’s father bought the property. Papa Breeden was well aware its value would skyrocket, and always planned to sell the parcel and divide the profit among his heirs. Warning: At a buying price of more than $34,000 per acre, that’s a lot of Art in Place.

Lime Kiln closes doors

The Theater at Lime Kiln announced yesterday that the outdoor venue in Lexington—home to a popular summer music and stage series—will suspend operations as of December 31 due to insufficient funds unless $175,000 can somehow be raised before then. In an interview with The Roanoke Times, Board Chair Mary Sayre explained that the theater is currently $190,000 in the red. Thirty percent of that was accrued in the last year alone.

Wednesday, November 23
Allen visits unknown Indian city

Senator George Allen won’t sit idly by as potential 2008 presidential competitor Mark Warner hogs all the empty press release glory. Today the conservative Republican and former Virginia governor made media outlets aware of his recent visit to India, part of his “Security, Innovation & Freedom mission” in Asia. According to the press release, Allen “visited the cities of New Dehli [sic] and Bangalore…to learn more about opportunities to strengthen America’s relationship with the world’s largest democracy.” Allen met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and “held several technology-based meetings,” which we can only hope included proposals to introduce spell-check software to the Senator’s system.

Thursday, November 24
1,300 runners earn their gravy

Just as stuffing must back up turkey and whipped cream must join pumpkin pie, so must the Turkey Trot, a 5K fundraiser run, precede the annual feast. This morning 1,300 runners and walkers got their virtue on, but only one man and one woman can say they ran it the fastest of all. Hari Mix led the men with a finishing time of 15:34 and Eliza O’Connell led the women with a time of 19:52. No word on whether they later cleaned up the kitchen in record time.

Friday, November 25
Southern consumers take the lead

National retail sales reporting for today’s mondo shopping day calculates the value of receipts at $8 billion, according to ShopperTrak’s National Retail Sales Estimate. While that’s off by less than 1 percent from last year’s figure, retailers reportedly aren’t panicked as this year’s calendar packs an extra Saturday into the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas season. Local shoppers, who hit the big boxes as early as 5 this morning, have something to show for their merchandise muscle: According to ShopperTrak, the South leads other U.S. regions in shopping.

Saturday, November 26
Oh, did UVA play today?

Miami handed the Cavaliers another defeat—their second consecutive after last week’s humiliating loss at home to Virginia Tech—and Al Groh’s squad ended its season in the losers column for only the second time in 19 years. Some news reports looked for the silver lining, pointing out that at least the Hoos gave the Hurricanes a game, but The Washington Post got to the heart of things: “[The Cavs] are expected, in the coming days, to get an invitation to a largely unrecognizable bowl that will mean little except to the most diehard of fans.” Maybe with his recent five-year, $1.7 million-per-year contract, Groh can ease some of the pain and fly the faithful to East Jehovah, Arkanssippi, or wherever the hell the “bowl” game will be played.

Sunday, November 27
More locals to take a shot at health

The Thomas Jefferson Health District has expanded eligibility for flu shots, and that’s good news to anyone 50 or older who can get immunized at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Health Department on Rose Hill Drive starting tomorrow. Others who already qualify for the $28 shot include pregnant women, babies and toddlers, and anyone with a chronic medical condition.


Monday, November 28

Signed, sealed, delivered

The Virginia State Board of Elections certified the election results from the November 8 statewide elections in which Democrat Tim Kaine won the governor’s seat over Republican Jerry Kilgore, and Republican Bill Bolling won the lieutenant governor’s seat over Democrat Leslie Byrne. And if that alone doesn’t show that the voters had a hard time deciding which party they favor in the executive branch, consider the race for attorney general, the closest in Virginia’s history. At press time, Republican Bob McDonnell still held a .01 percent victory over Democrat Creigh Deeds, though Deeds has yet to concede and already plans to request a recount. Deeds has set up a team to spearhead the request, and both Deeds and McDonnell have established transition committees in Richmond.

Written by Cathy Harding from staff reports and news sources.

 

Good nukes?
Friends of Lake Anna make nice with Dominion

A bid by Virginia Dominion Power to build two new nuclear reactors on the shores of Lake Anna in Louisa County has prompted backlash from environmentalists and anti-nuclear activists. Recently, however, a nuclear-friendly group of Lake Anna homeowners persuaded Dominion to change its design for the reactors in a way that may help minimize the reactors’ effect on water temperature.

   Dominion currently operates two nuclear reactors at Lake Anna. They are cooled by a “once-through” system, which means water is pumped from the lake to absorb heat from the reactors; afterward, the water is dumped back into the lake. The problem is that it comes back 25 degrees warmer, prompting environmentalists to complain that the warmer water could negatively impact the health of fish and other animals.

   During a public meeting with Dominion, Lake Anna resident Harry Ruth learned that a third cooling tower using the “once-through” system could raise water temperatures by 7 to 8 degrees throughout the 13,000-acre lake, with water temperatures hitting 113 degrees in some areas.

   “That caused an awful lot of concern with a lot of folks,” says Ruth. “You’re
not supposed to go in a hot tub if it’s over 104 degrees.”

   So in August Ruth formed a group called Friends of Lake Anna that he says represents 2,650 people in Louisa County. They lobbied Dominion as well as State and local public officials, and alerted the press. In September, State Health Commissioner Robert Stroube released a letter warning that heated water could pose health risks to people with heart conditions, cardiovascular problems and young children.

   On October 25, Dominion agreed to design the proposed third reactor with a “wet cooling” design, which takes in water from the lake, cools the reactor, then allows the water to evaporate instead of returning to the lake.

   Brendan Hoffman, an organizer for the anti-nuke group Public Citizen, applauds Dominion’s redesign but says the wet cooling method “still has substantial impacts.”

   “It will still cause lake levels to go down, and it’s more expensive,” says Hoffman.

   Still, Ruth is encouraged by the results. “We’re cautiously optimistic,” he says, noting that Dominion has not yet finalized its wet cooling design. While Dominion has ignored anti-nuke protests, Ruth says that his groups’ friendlier approach helped them get quick results from the behemoth energy company. “My experience in dealing with people is that if you try to treat people in a nice way, they’ll respond. If you attack them, they’ll just get their defenses up.”—John Borgmeyer

 

Work stops on Little High
Neighbors gain ground with Region Ten

After weeks of wrangling, residents of Little High Street have won some concessions from Region Ten, a local nonprofit that helps people with mental illness and substanceabuse problems. This fall, they started renovating an apartment complex at 1111-1113 Little High St. to house about 40 low-income people with mental disabilities.

   As previously reported in
C-VILLE, members of the Little High Area Neighborhood Asso-ciation protested Region Ten’s development. LHANA spokes-man Mark Haskins says the neighborhood was expecting high-end apartments on the site, and that Region Ten stonewalled their requests for information about
the project.

   Councilor Blake Caravati, who lives on Little High, told C-VILLE that Region Ten director Phil Cambell was not used to “the Charlottesville way” of getting things done. Around here, neighborhood residents want to control development in their part of town. Little High residents say they want the Region Ten apartments to look upscale and to include programs that could keep the handicapped residents from disturbing the neighbors.

   Campbell might be coming around to the Charlottesville way.

   On Monday, November 14, Region Ten officials emerged from a closed meeting and “came up to us and said we’re going to see a real change now,” says Haskins.

   That week, Region Ten stopped construction on new apartment buildings. Re-gion Ten will continue renovating the existing apartments on the site, but will not build anything new “until we get things ironed out,” says Region Ten Board Chair Barbara Barrett.

   “This was a big step for them, and we see the fact that they stopped work as a positive sign,” says Haskins. “The fact that we’re talking doesn’t mean we’ve resolved the issues, but it does mean there’s a possibility a solution will be reached.”—John Borgmeyer

 

Simmer down
The local housing market takes off its sprinting shoes

While the local housing market is hardly freezing, it’s also no longer boiling as it has for the past six years, according to statistics from the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors. Instead, it looks like the market is settling to a simmer.

   In 2004, sales in the Charlottesville area rose 15 percent. CAAR predicted earlier this year that the market was primed for another record year of “high demand and low supply.” Unfortunately, local suppliers and demanders haven’t been working together the way CAAR and CEO Dave Phillips may have anticipated.

   In the past two quarters, the housing market has been flooded with new merchandise. In April there were 1,092 homes on the market; two and a half months later, there were 1,368 homes on the market—as Phillips put it in his report, “the highest number we have seen in several years.” Two and a half months after that, there were 1,681 homes listed for sale—500 more than at the start of 2005.

   “We’re starting to see the pendulum starting to swing back the other way,” says Phillips. “Instead of a significant seller’s market…this could mean that buyers and sellers will be on more equal footing.”

   Moreover, as previously reported in C-VILLE, the luxury housing market is also slowing. In the third quarter of 2004, 50 homes in the area were sold for more than $1 million; in the third quarter of 2005, only 33.

   Phillips anticipates in his latest report that the growing supply will level out prices—which have been going up in Charlottesville at double-digit rates for four years—and increase the average number of days a house stays on the market.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

“Politics of fear” 101
“Peacemaker” Hamilton lashes out over race comments

When 73 percent of Charlottesvil-lians who voted cast their ballot for an elected school board on November 8, supporters of the referendum declared it a bipartisan victory. Last week, however, an unusually contentious row between two City Councilors suggested that the issue of an elected school board remains fraught with political tension.

   On Monday, November 21, Council took up the issue during its regular meeting, three weeks after the overwhelming vote to change Charlottesville’s school board from an appointed to an elected body. Now the City must decide whether those elections should be conducted by wards, at-large or some combination of the two. Council held a public hearing on the issue during last week’s meeting.

   Both Democrats and Republicans had a hand in fueling partisan rivalries.

   On Sunday, Sherry Kraft, co-chair of the City Democratic Party, circulated an e-mail to Charlottesville Democrats bearing the title “Rallying The Troops.” Kraft wrote, “There is concern that Republicans may be organizing a large turnout to advocate for a ward system, with the ultimate goal of changing to a ward system for City Council elections.” Many Dems suspect that the local GOP wants to hold Council elections by ward so that a Republican-friendly ward could be carved out to help break the Democratic dominance on City Council. A school board elected by wards is the first step in that plan, some Dems allege.

   The next day, however, Kraft sent another message: “We certainly do not intend to disparage people of either political party who, in good faith, hold varying opinions on this issue.”

   Councilor Rob Schilling, first elected in 2000 as the Council’s lone Republican, made an elected school board one of his campaign promises then. Last year, in the wake of widespread discontent over the school board’s handling of controversial superintendent Scottie Griffin, UVA history prof Jeffery Rossman joined forces with Schilling to get a referendum for an elected school board on the November ballot.

   Throughout the campaign for an elected school board, both Rossman and Schilling dismissed conspiracy theories about a Republican agenda, and suggested that the school board issue was one of “the public” versus “the elite.” Going even further, both Rossman and Schilling have insinuated that Charlottesville’s appointed school board was tied to Virginia’s Jim Crow history. Schilling has been quoted as saying that appointed school boards have a “sordid and shameful history,” while Rossman has been quoted saying the recent referendum “is the last nail in the coffin of traditional southern Democratic Party paternalism here in Charlottesville.”

   While there was no organized opposition to Rossman and Schilling, Council Democrats were heard throughout the campaign to say that Charlottesville’s appointed school board helps ensure racial diversity. Currently two African-Amer-icans sit on the board.

   Interviewed by C-VILLE, Rossman now says he “wasn’t trying to associate our appointed school board with school boards 80 years ago.” Schilling, meanwhile, said during Monday’s meeting that “it is important to be aware of the shameful history of appointed school boards, in general, in Virginia.”

   On Monday, self-described “peacemaker” Kendra Hamilton, a rookie Councilor, took off the gloves. Accusing Schilling of playing “the politics of fear” and attempting to “defame Council,” Hamilton said, “When [Schilling] casts himself as the only Councilor who cares about the black community, I have to question his purposes. I never thought that I, as a black woman, would be reduced to explaining to a bunch of white people that I know what I’m talking about.”

   An argument between Schilling and Hamilton ensued as Mayor David Brown banged his gavel and vainly shouted
for order. After all the fireworks, Coun-
cil voted 4-1 to hold at-large school board elections in May, and continue seeking public comment on whether to carve Char-lottesville into wards.—John Borgmeyer

 

Literary history
Lewis and Clark fans use poetic license

in search of historic designationFor several years, a group of local bigwigs have been trying to build a monument to Lewis and Clark and their “Corps of Discovery” in Darden Towe Park near the Rivanna River. Dubbed the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center, the building would be “an interpretive facility geared to children of all ages” and include a historic-looking observation tower, according to the group’s president, Francis McQ. Lawrence.

      Because Darden Towe Park is in the county’s rural area, the Lewis and Clark center requires a zoning classification that is allowed in rural areas (buildings zoned “industrial,” for example, are not allowed in rural areas).

      The Lewis and Clark group is seeking a “historic center” zoning for the Explor-atory Center, which would allow them to pursue a special-use permit to build in Darden Towe Park. Lawrence, a lawyer, put his argumentative skills to work in a recent letter to the County making his case that the Center should receive a “historic center” zoning designation. Lawrence’s November 8 letter to County planner Rebecca Ragsdale is excerpted here.

      On Tuesday, November 22, Lawrence admitted to the County Planning Commis-sion that some of the arguments were “a stretch.” Still, the Center did receive “historic center” designation, and the commission voted 5-2 to approve the Center. It now must be approved by the Board of Supervisors.—John Borgmeyer

“The site is on and includes the Rivanna River, a site with archeological and
cultural remains which is both connected to and adjacent to Monticello
and Shadwell.”

“The Rivanna River was at the center of the Monasukapanough Village… There are numerous sites along the Rivanna from Albemarle to Fluvanna County that show this early pattern of usage by the Monocan Nation.”

“Tower signage and interpretive programs will underline the relation between the known and unknown experience of mountains, then and now.”

“Eighty percent of the Corps 8,000-mile trip was on water and more than 25 boats were used. A major theme of the center has been and will be boats, boat building and boatmanship.”

 

Degree of separation
“I mean to push Darden up the ranks,” says new dean

High touch, high tone, high octane. Those are the buzz words Robert Bruner, newly confirmed Darden School of Business dean, uses to distinguish UVA’s business school from the rest. Bruner’s one-year interim term was recently extended to five years, and he is excited to have the helm at what he terms “an inflection point in the life of the school.” C-VILLE met with Dean Bruner to discuss his plans for Darden and the business of teaching business.—Will Goldsmith

C-VILLE: What are some of the upcoming shifts here at Darden?

Robert Bruner: We are launching a major five- or six-year capital campaign, which will fundamentally change the game of the school, giving us the resources to dramatically increase our scholarships, our research infrastructure, and programs that will enhance the life of students at the school. It’s a people and programs capital campaign, not one of bricks and mortar. We’re also launching our new MBA for Executives Program, aimed at business practitioners in their late 30s who obviously want to continue to work yet get the degree necessary to prepare for the next phase in their career.

I read that you have an upcoming trip to Asia as part of your outreach. Where are you going and what are you looking to do?

My trip will take me to a variety of places, roughly in the order of Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Manila, Singapore, Bangalore, Bombay and New Delhi. The itinerary recognizes that we have a strong franchise in every one of those countries, and every country has a different message and a different contribution. We look for ways in which students and business practitioners can contribute to us and our way of thinking and also ways in which we can reach out to those countries and provide a perspective and set of skills that will have a beneficial impact on business life there.

Concerning women in business school, is there a push to attract more candidates?

We know from academic studies that business decisions are better made when the group is diverse—it’s an element of best practice and we seek to model that to our own students. No strong business school can merely be content with waiting for good applicants to apply, and we need to reach out and recruit women more actively. I’ve been on several trips already to speak to special consortiums, interest groups and companies that are often sources of highly talented applicants.

How much do rankings, such as U.S. News & World Report, affect the school?

I think the rankings are important—they affect the applicants to business school as well as our ability both to recruit faculty and to attract donors and corporate partners. I mean to push Darden up the ranks. That said, what matters is what is happening at Darden to suggest strength and growth, whether our school is teaching people to work with integrity, whether our school is an exemplar of diversity and fair dealing. If we can say yes to all those things, I will always be proud of Darden.

Do you think business school has grown in popularity since we elected our first MBA president?

The facts are that the entire MBA education field has contracted somewhat since 2000. This is, I believe, the result of the recent recession, the business scandals and the demographic shift in the United States—the Baby Boom has finally moved through graduate school, the echo boom is about to arrive, and here we are in the trough. But I believe there is a huge need for what business schools do and what they teach. John F. Kennedy said a rising tide lifts all boats. Economic prosperity depends on the discovery and dissemination of best practice to all corners of the market. I’m highly confident that whatever variations over the past few years, we’ll see a buoyant need for MBAs for the foreseeable future.

 

Money talks
Casteen grows the endowment, and his piggy bank gets fatter, too

UVA has made no secret of its ambitions to secure its perch among top public universities. On the endowment front alone, by its own calculations the University, at $2.8 billion, now ranks fifth among publics. Even more impressive, the endowment has grown 381 percent since 1989-90, when funds held by UVA and its foundations to-taled only $567 million.

   Spearheading the gargantuan growth is President John T. Casteen III, who came on board in 1990. While the pride of a job well done might be enough to satisfy the prez, he hasn’t exactly been denied other fruits for his labor. In 1990 Casteen was hired at a starting salary of $147,769. By 2003-04, according to a report in The Washington Post last week, Casteen was earning a base of $385,000, representing a 161 percent in-crease in his standard of living across 13 years. Additional compensation, such as bonus-es, deferred compensation and benefits, brought Casteen to $526,490 in 2003-04—and that’s not even counting the housing, car allowance and cook that UVA provides for him.

   That puts Casteen well ahead of public peers in the region, lifting him to a level akin to presidents at private universities, such as George-town. To which we can only say, How’s the air up there, John?—Cathy Harding

 

Neighborhood watch
A large portion of Charlottesville’s sex offenders live in Belmont and Woolen Mills

The Virginia Sex Offender Registry, http://sex-offender.vsp.state.va. us, maintained by the Virginia State Police, updates local precincts when sex offenders change address. And that’s the extent of the monitoring of sex offenders who have served their time, according to Det. Sgt. Paul Davis at the Charlottesville Police Department. Anything more would violate their legal rights.

   According to the Registry, currently 79 sex offenders live in the Charlottesville-Albe-marle area. Of those, 13 are in jail, 34 live in the county and 32 live in the city. Of the 32 living within city limits, the greatest single concentration is the 13 who live roughly in the Belmont and Woolen Mills neighborhoods.

   While this concentration hasn’t seemed to affect housing prices in the neighborhoods, a standard clause in real estate contracts addresses Megan’s Law and encourages buyers to visit the sex offender registry.

   It should be noted that “sex offender”
is a broad category. Det. Davis points out that the Registry can be misleading because, for example, two people may
be having consensual sex, yet if one is under 18, then her partner could be convicted of statutory rape and forever be listed in the Sex Registry.

   The map printed below approximately locates where in Belmont and Woolen Mills the sex offenders live according
to the State Registry. Keep in mind that the map is an approximation—the indicators on the map are more to identify a street than a specific address.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Beer or deer?
Sportsmen, take our quiz before heading out with your rifle

Virginia law allows deer hunting in most parts of the Commonwealth from late November to early January. In honor of hunting season, beer companies such as Anheuser-Busch are printing cases of beer with bright orange labels, designed to stand out among the leaves. Hunters can carry these visible beer boxes into the woods without worrying that a fellow sportsman will mistake their beer for deer. At
C-VILLE, we’re serious about beer safety. Before you and your beer head off on that hunting trip, take the following quiz to make sure you can tell the difference between beer and deer. It’s not as easy as you might think.—John Borgmeyer

1.   Walks on four legs.

2.   Comes in an aluminum can.

3.   Tastes best ice cold.

4.   Looks good mounted above your fireplace.

5.   It’s illegal to drive with one in
your hand.

6.   Makes your wife or girlfriend seem more attractive.

7.   Smells like urine, tastes like fur.

Answers: 1. deer; 2. beer; 3. beer; 4. deer; 5. beer; 6. beer or deer; 7. deer or Milwaukee’s Best.

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Tuesday, November 15
VFF gets a shot in the arm

Today, the Virginia Film Festival announced that it was to receive a $15,000 grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences—its second. VFF is in good company, as the Academy awarded a total of $300,000 to 19 separate film festivals, including New York, Chicago and Nashville. “This grant is supposed to be applied to create more community-outreach events,” Festival Director Richard Herskowitz says. “We’re considering doing a workshop with high school students at Light House Studios, as well as hoping to do more [programming] at The Paramount Theater.” The 2005 festival, themed In/Justice, boasted the highest attendance in the festival’s 18-year history, selling 13,087 tickets.

 

Wednesday, November 16
Charlottesville—a D.C. suburb?

The local Chamber of Commerce released a report today indicating that a majority of their members do business in Northern Virginia/Washington, D.C., and that they say they would use a commuter train to do business in that area. Out of 231 respondents to the survey, 63 percent do business in NOVA several times a month; 66 percent said they would ride a train there. The Chamber is behind an effort to build such a commuter rail to NOVA/D.C., and suggests that a rail would stimulate the local economy. Others say a commuter train to D.C. would foster unwanted growth in Charlottesville.

 

Thursday, November 17
UVA student found dead

Shortly after 10am this morning, Char-lottesville Police found 20-year-old Michelle Elizabeth Collier of Hackensack, New Jersey, dead at 3 University Ct. A housemate discovered her body, and investigators say there is no evidence of trauma, assault or foul play. Police declined any further comment until they see results of an autopsy to be conducted by the chief medical examiner in Richmond.

 
DMB serves up more Thanksgiving turkey

In case the Thanksgiving turkey coma isn’t enough to put you to sleep, you can digest some of DMB’s adult contemporary pop on Thanksgiving night. Today WVPT, Virginia Public Television, announced they would broadcast a DMB performance from Red Rocks amphitheater in Colorado at 10pm on Thursday, November 24. Former Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio is also scheduled to perform on the show. Watching Dave on television can’t compete with seeing the boys themselves on a desert island, so die-hard fans can also pay between $1,000 and $2,400 to take a luxury cruise to the Bahamas for a combination DMB concert/Super Bowl Party in early February.

 

Friday, November 18
Court Square now officially tourist-friendly

“The vision of some is now the pleasure of many,” Charlottesville Mayor David Brown intoned early this evening as a small crowd of top-coated dignitaries huddled on the southeast corner of Court Square for the historic site’s official dedication, some two years after the groundbreaking for the federally funded renovation project. Brown, former Vice Mayor Meredith Richards, County Supervisor Ken Boyd and others were joined by actors in pantaloons, tricorner hats and hoop skirts as the ceremony also kicked off the annual Jefferson Thanksgiving Festival. The weekend-long re-enactments included a parade of soldiers and statesmen and a red-coat attack on Charlottesville.
 

New shopping center headed for Pantops

Today the Albemarle Planning Com-mission gave developer Richard Spurzem approval to build a new shopping center on 37 acres near the intersection of U.S. 250 and I-64. Last year, Spurzem sued the County after the Commission denied his proposal for the center to be known as Gazebo Plaza. The Commission’s denial had been based on concerns from the State about road access to the site, but Spurzem and the County worked out an agreement while the case was pending in Albemarle Circuit Court. According to The Daily Progress, Spurzem originally declared that today’s hearing was not valid, but apparently changed his mind after the planners approved Gazebo Plaza after all.

 

Saturday, November 19
Local athletes publicly spanked

Virginia Tech rolled into Scott Sta-dium today and destroyed the Cavaliers 52-14 in their final home game. UVA fans had high hopes for the game against the 7th-ranked Hokies, but instead Tech handed UVA its first loss at home this season. Some of the notoriously boisterous Tech fans snuck into Scott Stadium before the game and painted a huge letter “T” next to the orange-and-white “V” at midfield, but the prank was covered with green paint.

 

Sunday, November 20
Crappy governor now aims at Senate

Today Daily Progress political columnist Bob Gibson reported that former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, the Republican who plunged the Commonwealth into fiscal crisis by cutting the State car tax, would like to either run for John Warner’s seat in the U.S. Senate, or perhaps make another run for governor. A strident no-taxer, Gilmore’s announcement comes as Virginia Repub-licans squabble about whether GOP gubernatorial candidate and right-winger Jerry Kilgore lost because he wasn’t conservative enough. Former Albemarle Delegate Paul Harris is also aiming at Warner’s seat, as the moderate Republican is said to be contemplating retirement.

 

Monday, November 21
Council set for marathon meeting

Tonight’s City Council meeting promises to be lengthy. Council is set to discuss the new elected school board initiative, affordable housing, and changes to vendor fees for Downtown Mall merchants. Also slated for the meeting is a discussion of financial trends by City Manager Gary O’Connell, who has recently learned how to add a techno soundtrack to his PowerPoint presentations.
 

Written by John Borgmeyer from staff and news reports

 

Staph retreat
UVA lab beats back disease with sea critters

Staphylococcus Aureus, better known as “Staph,” is a bacteria that is normally on human skin but can be fatal when it enters the bloodstream. Common forms of Staph infections are usually treatable with penicillin. However, there is one particular form of Staph called Meth-acillin-resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA) that is resistant to all antibiotics except for one drug called Vancomycin. The danger in this situation is if the bacteria become resistant to Vancomycin also, there is no known alternative treatment for MRSA.

   But that may soon change. A group of five UVA scientists, headed by chemistry professor and President of Pinnacle Pharmaceuticals, Sydney Hecht, are working at a furious pace to develop new antibiotics to treat MRSA, among other things. In order to develop these antibiotics, the group works with natural products extracted from marine plants and animals.

   The research is part of UVA’s investment in medicine and biotechnology. In the past two years, UVA faculty have disclosed 311 inventions to the school’s Patent Foundation, and most of those aim to reap profits in the market for biomedical and pharmaceutical products. In 2003 and 2004, UVA patents brought in a total of $11.6 million in license fees and royalties to the school.

   Currently the Pinnacle team is working with eight to 10 strains of bacteria. Besides MRSA, they are also trying to develop antibiotics to treat pseudo-monas—a common infection in im-muno-compromising diseases such as AIDS and cancer.

   “The national impact we are hoping for is that we [could] be the next Penicillin or a nice antimicrobial soap,” says research scientist Brad Day, who has been with the company for more than three years.

   Pinnacle is barely in the preclinical trial stage, but that’s no impediment to a broad vision.

   According to Day, Pinnacle has obtained provisional patents for their discoveries that will in part belong to the UVA Foundation, which has provided the equipment and office space in their Northfork Research Park. Although the initial research was done at UVA and all members of the team are affiliated with the University, Pinnacle is an independent company.

   The company is being funded mainly by small-business initiative research grants from National Institutes of Health.—Priya Mahadevan

 

Plan this
C-VILLE solves some UVA problems. No big whoop.

It seems UVA’s got some traffic problems, and the Office of the Architect wants to get some undergrads on the case. Last week architecture profs inquired whether their students could put in some time helping with the road projects listed below. What’s C-VILLE, chopped liver? Who knows more about traffic engineering than alternative newspaper writers? No harm, no foul. We’re going to share some of our brilliance with UVA, anyway. Watch and learn, eggheads.—John Borgmeyer

UVA’s Problem: Critical nonfunctioning intersections such as Stadium Road/JPA/ Emmet Street; Emmet Street/University Avenue; JPA/University Avenue; JPA through the hospital to Main.

C-VILLE’s solution: If we’ve learned nothing else from Bush (and we haven’t) it’s that problems can be erased with a little Orwellian wordplay. “Nonfunctioning” is such an unpatriotic way of thinking about traffic jams. After all, every minute you spend in stop-and-go traffic is another donation to Exxon’s record-setting profits. That’s good for America. It’s not a traffic jam. It’s a “freedom line.”

 

UVA’s Problem: University Avenue as it passes through the Corner.

C-VILLE’s solution: The majority of traffic slowdowns on the Corner are caused by frat boys slowing down to check out girls. Our solution is a no-brainer—UVA should stop admitting so many hot chicks.

 

UVA’s Problem: Larger context issues of traffic flow through Grounds.

C-VILLE’s solution: UVA needs to think outside the box—or, in this case, outside the road. Put that Lawn to good use and allow all those Wahoo SUVs to go off-road on campus. It’s what Jefferson would have wanted.

 

Oppression, Aisle 9
Wal-Mart Watch lays it on thick in Charlottesville

Wal-Mart Watch was in Charlottes-ville last week, hoping to incite our town to cast off the shackles of the nation’s largest retailer.

   A “town hall” gathering held in the cafeteria of Burley Middle School (and directly under a thundering basketball practice) on Wednesday night, November 16, attracted about 30 Charlottesville residents concerned about the business practices of uber-mega-retailer Wal-Mart. The gathering drew far fewer people than the 300-plus who packed the Jefferson Theater on Monday night for a free screening of Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices.

   The film is yet another example of the new genre of propaganda documentaries that are created with the obvious intention of producing a specific public reaction, increasingly popular since Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine. Wal-Mart is the second such film directed by Robert Greenwald, who also directed Outfoxed, a similarly styled documentary that was critical of Fox News.

   A new activist group, Wal-Mart Watch, which seeks to unite the myriad anti-Wal-Mart movements across the country, sponsored the free screening and “town hall” meeting as part of their nationwide “Higher Expectations Week.”

   The movie’s broad arguments focused on the irresponsible corporate behavior behind Wal-Mart’s commitment to low prices—from discrimination, workers’ rights and the devastation of local economies, to the incredible cost to the public. According to Wal-Mart Watch, Wal-Mart’s “evil” practices cost the American taxpayers $1.5 billion annually, just at the federal level (state and local subsidies given to Wal-Mart substantially add to the cost).

   The panel, comprising local representatives all supportive of the Wal-Mart Watch effort, focused on the wage issues related to Wal-Mart. In Virginia, the average wage of a Wal-Mart employee is $9.40/hour—given that Wal-Mart defines “full-time” as just 28 hours a week, this is far below a sustainable living wage. Panelist Joe Szakos from the Virginia Organizing Project urged residents to push for legislation that ensured full-time workers were paid above the poverty level.

   Local Assembly Delegate Mitch Van Yahres and former Vice Mayor Meredith Richards, also panelists at the meeting, supported Szakos’ arguments from another angle. Although educated workers are in high demand in the market, the same cannot be said for unskilled workers, often without a high school diploma. By increasing educational standards and resources, communities like Charlottesville can reduce the number of people who have no other option but to work—and shop—at Wal-Mart.—Dan Pabst

 

 

Crossing the Mall
Business owners, Mall denizens debate car crossing

At the Charlottesville City Council and Planning Commission joint public hearing on Tuesday, No-vember 15, a rousing debate about adding a vehicular crossing to the east end of the Downtown Mall took the stage. The Planning Commission unanimously de-ferred the decision after hearing residents and business owners fight it out.

   Since last winter’s closing of the Seventh Street crossing, east end Mall merchants have claimed a loss of customers and revenue. The City touts new crossings at Fourth or Fifth streets as an option to remedy the problem, with City staff favoring Fifth Street because it would be situated farthest from the current vehicular crossing next to the Regal Cinema on the west end of the Mall. The engineering costs of upgrading surfaces on the Mall itself and sidewalk improvements to the cross street would put the price tag for the project at $900,000.

   Peter Kleeman, a transportation activist who also happens to play his melodeon on the Mall, pointed out that a City-sponsored study has examined the peak times during the day for automobiles, but not for people, on what is rated one of the best pedestrian malls in the country. “There’s been very little consideration of pedestrian safety,” he said at the meeting. Afterward, Kleeman pointed out that the study was conducted by RK&K Engineers, the firm that is also performing a $1.5 million study of the Meadowcreek Parkway interchange, a fact confirmed on the City’s website.

   Bob Stroh, co-chair of the Downtown Business Associa-tion, pointed out the widespread support of local storeowners for what is basically a replacement crossing. “Cars circle the Mall and never see what is a significant destination,” he said. Rod Gentry of Guaranty Bank added, “Pe-destrians are not the issue. Economic vitality is.”

   David Repass pointed out that the busier west end of the mall is the result of a movie theater, ice rink and hotel. “What’s at the east end? Rock concerts at night? Why not study the real issues and concentrate on parking at the east end?” he said.

   As City Councilors weighed in, Kevin Lynch expressed his concern. “When we start [re]construction of the Avon Street bridge, whether we keep a couple of lanes open or just close it, we would not want a Mall street crossing to serve as an alternative,” he said. Lynch suggested that investing $100,000 in signs pointing visitors to the Mall might be just as beneficial as an added crossing.

   Planning Commissioner William Lucy questioned statements that the west end is busier than the east by reporting on his own counts taken the day before the hearing. The winner was clearly the east end with 1,080 pedestrians per hour versus the Second Street total of 720 per hour. “What we have here is a pedestrian-free zone, more like a European city,” Lucy said. “Clearly, signage is the next step,” he said.

   Commission Chair Cheri Lewis took very seriously the safety factor and the Mall’s increasing popularity. “I would favor a crossing, but we should move with caution and see it not as a quick fix for businesses but for connectivity,” she said. Lewis pressed the need for more professional analysis and asked, “Can we look at how Colonial Williamsburg works? Stanchions with ropes or pots might provide safety without spending a million dollars.”

   Commissioner Craig Barton thought they were going about the problem the wrong way. He thinks the solution is to provide more bulk and convenience parking, and stressed a design factor that would ensure drivers know that any crossing is a meeting of two modes, pedestrian and vehicular. “We owe it to the community to make the right decision,” he said.—Jay Neelley

 

 

Press releases we love
Building the Warner legacy, one official statement at a time

As if being rich, handsome and one of Time Magazine’s Top Five Governors in America were not enough, in the twilight of his administration, Democrat Mark Warner has been busy securing a few extra feathers in his cap with a series of fairly self-congratulatory press releases.

   Take his November 14 state-ment that announced, “Governor Warner Helps Construct a Water Line in Giles County to Bring Water to 80 More People.” Water- line construction, eh? Color us skeptical, but we seriously doubt that
our high-tech tycoon governor can tell his Ray-Bans from his welding goggles.

   But then again, who can blame Warner for wanting to embellish his legacy—if anybody is entitled to a little horn tooting it’s the guy who turn-ed Virginia into the No. 1 best- managed state in America. So keep sending them down the pipeline, Mark. We want to have a hefty reserve of fond memories of you once the 2008 presidential election rolls around.—Anne Metz

 

Murder was the case
Inside the interrogation of convicted killer Rocky Fugett

On Tuesday, November 15, Albe-marle County Circuit Judge Paul Peatross sentenced William Rocklin “Rocky” Fugett, Jr., 22, to 75 years in prison for the murder of 41-year-old Nora Annette Charles and her 3-year-old son, Thomas. In February 2003, Charles was found dead in her Crozet home. The killers duct-taped her to a bed, stabbed her, beat her and slit her throat, then burned the house in an apparent attempt to destroy the evidence.

   In 2004, Robert Paul Davis, 21, was sentenced to 23 years in prison after entering an Alford plea in Charles’ murder, acknowledging that the court had enough information to prosecute him while not admitting guilt. Davis pleaded guilty to second-degree murder charges in the death of the 3-year-old, who died of smoke inhalation.

   On Thursday, November 10, Rocky’s 18-year-old sister, Jessica Fugett, was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder. She will be sentenced on February 7. Charges against another suspect, Tygue Herrmann, were dropped for lack of evidence.

   Among the evidence entered in the trial was a transcript of Rocky Fugett’s 2003 interrogation by an unidentified Albemarle County Police de-tective. It gives no indication of the presence of Fugett’s attorney during the interview, though Fugett was apprised of his legal rights. The excerpt below provides a rare glimpse into how real-life cops lean on a suspect when they’re certain they have the goods on him.—John Borgmeyer

 

Detective 1: We talked a little bit earlier. Do you remember what we said?

Fugett: Yeah.

Detective 1: We talked to the other people and whatnot. There are some issues that have come up, O.K.? We’re not being told the whole truth. You’ve been through this before… There are some things you left out, and that’s because you’re scared.

Fugett: I know.

Detective 1: And you’re nervous, and I can understand that. But some of the… it’s not going to get any better for you. We can keep you. You’re going downtown.

Fugett: I ain’t going home?

Detective 1: No.

Fugett: O.K.…

Detective 1: So there’s nothing else to hide. I’m telling you that now because with what we got, and what we’ve come up with in the preliminary tests we’ve run, it puts you in certain places. And I know exactly where it puts you. Right now I’m waiting for you to stand up and be a man and speak the truth… I want to hear the planning, and I want to hear exactly what took place Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

Fugett: As far as the planning goes, I didn’t have much to do with that. It was Jessica and Robert and Tygue. He was brought in later. As far as the actual planning, it was supposed to be the three of us at first… me and Robert and Jessie. We were only supposed to go in, take money and leave. The first thing that happened, Robert and my sister, Jessica, went upstairs. They said that if Anne was up there, they would tie her up, which wasn’t no part of the plan. They went upstairs. Jessica gave me the details. Jessica put the knife to her face and told her to be quiet or she would kill her.

Detective 1: I want you to stop right there. Do you take me serious?

Fugett: Yeah.

Detective 1: Son, you must not be…

Fugett: This is honestly what happened. I swear to you.

Detective 1: Your first mistake is saying that you had no idea that we were going to tie this woman up.

Fugett: It wasn’t supposed to be that way. Jessie…

Detective 1: But yet, you take a roll of duct tape with you.

Fugett: Jessica had the tape.

Detective 1: Yet you bring a knife with you.

Fugett: Jessica had the knife.

Detective 1: Come on Rocky, it ain’t going to work. You know that tape you put on her legs and around her? On the inside it has sticky residue. The fire didn’t do the damage it was supposed to do. The inside, that sticky part, when you put tape on, it leaves fingerprints. It grasps fingerprints better than anything else in the whole world. All right? So we’re going to back up and you’re going to try this again. Stop the BS. I’m getting tired of all this shit…. Stand up and admit your mistakes and stop putting it all on everybody else. Do I make myself clear?

Fugett: Yeah.

 

Count on me
Lawyers square off in Deeds/McDonnell recount

A recount is imminent in the Common-wealth’s attorney general race, with the margin dwindling to less than 400 votes. The initial election tally on November 8 favored Republican State Delegate Bob McDonnell over Democratic State Senator Creigh Deeds by 2,023 of more than 1.9 million votes, but the ongoing tally of absentee and provisional ballots has closed the gap. While neither campaign can petition for a recount before the official vote count is announced on November 28, both sides are gearing up for a contest.

   The recount will pit two lawyers who fought over Virginia’s last recount, in 1989, when Democrat Douglas Wilder won the governor’s race over Republican Marshall Coleman by 7,000 votes.

   Joseph Kearfott and Larry Framme will handle the ensuing recount for Deeds. Framme is the former Virginia Chair of John Kerry’s presidential campaign. McDonnell’s recount team is being led by former State Solicitor General William Hurd, who represented Coleman in the 1989 recount.

   Matt Smyth, director of communications at the UVA Center for Politics, notes the similarities between the two state-wide recounts, but makes the distinction that “[the 1989] race was decided by about 7,000 votes out of approximately 1.8 million votes cast, making this race much tighter.”

   This razor-thin divide is likely to go under intense legal scrutiny, with the candidates taking a back seat. The recount process can take weeks, but with both candidates preparing to become the next attorney general, they are hopeful for a speedy decision. “There are a lot of unknowns” says Janet Polarek, McDonnell’s campaign manager, but “we expect the recount to be completely over by year’s end based on previous timelines.”

   Another consideration for the candidates is their incumbencies in the General Assembly. Depending on how the recount turns out, either Deeds or McDonnell will vacate their General Assembly seat. There’s been much local buzz about who would succeed Deeds in his 25th District Senate seat. If he wins the recount, local Dems will hold a special firehouse primary to quickly fill his seat prior to the Assembly’s January 11 commencement.—Doug Black

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Tuesday, November 8
Four men narrowly escape death

Westbound traffic on Interstate 64 came to a standstill today due to an accident involving a Saturn sedan and a semi truck. The crash occurred when the Saturn, carrying three men, suddenly swerved in front of the Freightliner truck while trying to make a U-turn in an authorized-vehicles-only lane. Following the collision, the car became lodged in a drainage ditch beneath the truck’s trailer along the median of I-64 near the 29N interchange. According to County Police reports, when emergency personnel arrived at the scene, the three passengers were trapped in a space 12" high inside the crushed car. Luckily, the high banks of the median drainage ditch prevented the trailer from completely flattening the automobile. All four men, including the truck driver, survived the crash.

 

Wednesday, November 9
Crozet teen convicted of murdering neighbor and neighbor’s child

After a two-day trial, Albe-marle County Circuit Court Judge Paul Peatross convicted 18-year-old Jessica Gale Fugett on two counts of first-degree murder, arson, and breaking and entering. Accord-ing to reports from The Daily Progress, on February 19, 2003, Fugett, her brother, Rocky, and William Davis broke into Nola Annette Charles’ house on Cling Lane in the county, tied her to the bed, stabbed her, slit her throat and then set the house on fire. Charles’ young son, William, died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Fugett’s sentencing date was set for February 7. Rocky Fugett pleaded guilty and will be sentenced later this month. As part of a plea agreement, Davis received 23 years in prison.

 

Thursday, November 10
George Washington shares stage with Dolly Parton
 

UVA fell under the national spotlight today when one of its pet projects, The Papers of George Washington, received a National Humanities Medal from President Bush in an Oval Office ceremony. Established nearly 40 years ago, The Papers of George Washington is responsible for publishing 135,000 letters and documents written by and to one of the nation’s founding fathers. Eleven other recipients took home the prestigious award and 10 took home the National Medal of Arts, including famous faces like actor Robert Duvall and country singer Dolly Parton. Dr. Theodore Crackel, editor in chief for The Papers of George Washington, accepted the award on behalf of the project.

 

Friday, November 11
Why didn’t they do this before?

City Hall will finally get around to improving traffic flow on W. Main Street. Today the City announced that “over the next several weeks” it will synchronize traffic signals on the congested road between Ridge Street and the University. Also, the City will re-stripe the intersection of W. Main Street, Ridge/McIntire streets and Water Street to create two southbound lanes and an exclusive northbound turn lane. The signal sequence at the intersection of Preston Avenue and McIntire Road will also be changed—with green arrows added for left-hand turns—in an effort to reduce backups.

 

Saturday, November 12
UVA triumphs despite benched players

The Cavaliers pulled out an exciting 27-17 win over ACC rival Georgia Tech, which was ranked 24th in the nation going into today’s game. UVA needed a win to keep hopes of a bowl game alive. If that wasn’t enough pressure, the Cavs were also missing four players—including two defensive starters—suspended for what the UVA athletic department called a “violation of team policy.”

 

Sunday, November 13
Paramount wins preservation award

The Thomas Jefferson Branch of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities awarded the 2005 Annual Preservation Project of the Year Award to The Paramount Theater at a ceremony today. Founded in 1889, the APVA is the oldest preservation organization of its type in the nation. Part of the association’s mission is to annually recognize outstanding preservation achievements in the district that includes Charlottesville, Albemarle and the surrounding counties. Citing the high quality of attention given to the process of restoration, the APVA praised the Paramount for not only revitalizing the historic space, but also for adding to the cultural life of Char-lottesville and Central Virginia.

 

Monday, November 14
Cox telling other cities what to do for a change

Former Charlottesville Mayor Maurice Cox was in Biloxi, Mississippi, today as a member of the Mayor’s Institute on City Design. The Institute is holding a two-day conference for mayors of Gulf Coast cities ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, and Cox will be giving advice on design strategies as those mayors begin the long task of rebuilding their cities.

 Written by John Borgmeyer from staff reports and news sources.

 

 

Kaine is able
Cleaning up after a downright dirty election season

With Election Day over, the candidates can pick themselves up, wipe the sweat from their brows, straighten their ties, put their shirts back on, shake hands and let the dust settle.

   On Tuesday, November 8, Democrat Tim Kaine rode popular outgoing Governor Mark Warner’s coattails into the Governor’s mansion, winning by almost 6 percent over Republican Jerry Kilgore. Forty-four percent of Virginia’s registered voters turned out for the statewide race, which garnered Kaine 51.7 percent of the vote to Kilgore’s 46 percent. Pundits predicted that independent candidate Russ Potts could influence the race, but he barely made a blip with only 2 percent.

   Republican Bill Bolling narrowly won the lieutenant governor’s seat over Democrat Leslie Byrne; the race for attorney general was even closer. On November 10, according to the Virginia State Board of Elections, Republican Bob McDonnell had 968,817 votes, while Democrat Creigh Deeds had 967,508 votes. That’s a difference of only 1,311 votes—less than one vote per precinct. By Sunday, November 13, McDonnell’s lead shrank to a mere 410 votes as provisional and absentee ballots trickled in. Deeds’ campaign announced plans to seek a recount, but that process can’t even begin until the State Board of Elections certifies the results on November 28. At press time, Deeds was planning to make an announcement regarding the results on Monday, November 14.

   Virginia’s statewide races were notable for their ugliness. Ads from Republicans Bolling and McDonnell exploited racism toward Hispanic im-migrants and accus-ed their opponents of coddling child molesters. (By far the most hilarious/disturbing was Mc-Donnell’s ad showing happy prisoners filing lawsuits.) In the gubernatorial campaign, both Kaine and Kilgore were fined $100 by the State Board of Elections for sending out mailings disguised as coming from their opponents’ party. Kilgore took the cake with an ad alleging that Kaine, a devout Catholic morally opposed to the death penalty, would not have executed Hitler.

   Neither gubernatorial candidate touted a specific issue that resounded with voters. Kaine’s strategy was to trump his connection to the enormously popular Warner, says Matt Smyth, director of communications at UVA’s Center for Politics, calling Warner “a big factor in Kaine’s victory.”

   Kilgore’s team attempted to counter Kaine’s coattail strategy by painting Kaine as more liberal than Warner. After Kilgore’s defeat, analysts suggested his death penalty ads may have backfired, too.

   Lately, President George W. Bush has been taking an approval-rating beating. Pundits speculated in the national press as to whether the national political climate colored this election blue, when Virginia usually goes red. Indeed, some wondered if Bush’s 11th hour campaign stop in Richmond on election eve to stump for Kilgore, and his prerecorded phone messages, hurt rather than helped the would-be guv. Smyth, however, characterizes the jockeying as perhaps less Warner vs. Bush, and more Warner vs. George Allen, both of whom are rumored to be throwing their hats into the 2008 presidential race.

   “For two politicians that are talked about as potential presidential candidates, this was sort of a preview,” says Smyth. “And this [election] gives momentum to Warner.”

   Locally, it was no big surprise that Democratic crown prince David Toscano won in a landslide over Republican Tom McCrystal for outgoing Delegate Mitch Van Yahres’ seat representing the 57th District in the General Assembly.

   The city also gave the go-ahead for an elected school board by 7,106 votes to 2,597. Critics said that an elected board would lack racial diversity, and they pointed to the uncontested races in Albemarle as a harbinger of what the city could expect. Opponents failed to mount an organized campaign, however, while proponents papered the town with posters and declared that an elected school board would reflect the “voice of the people.”

   The election indicates that times are a-changin’ in the historically conservative Albemarle County. Last year, Kerry carried Albemarle by a mere 2 percent; last week, Kaine beat Kilgore there by 25 percent. Kaine’s dramatic victory suggests that Albemarle might no longer be the Republican stronghold it once was.

   Delegate Rob Bell, of the 58th District, says he’s not worried, but maybe he should be. Bell, a Republican, won a third term in the General Assembly with 62 percent of the vote across the district. In Albemarle, though, Democrat Steve Koleszar made a strong showing with 43 percent of the vote against an incumbent with strong political skills, lots of money, and a record of prosecuting popular public enemies such as bullies and drunk drivers.

   Growth was the big issue in Albemarle’s three Board of Supervisors races. Victories by incumbent Dennis Rooker in the Jack Jouett District and newcomer David Slutzky in the Rio District showed that despite the controversy over Albemarle’s growth management, residents strongly support existing policies like the Neighborhood Model and “master plans” for the county’s designated growth areas. Advocating public transit and rural land protection, Slutzky defeated Republican Gary Grant, a strong advocate of developers’ rights.

   Take a breather from politics while you can, dear voter—both parties are already arming themselves for the 2006 Congres-sional campaigns.—Nell Boeschenstein

 

Winners circle
An inside look at those who came out on top

STATE

Timothy Kaine

Office: Governor

Party: Democratic

Number of votes: 1,022,679

Big donors: Sheila Johnson (co-founder of BET), Service Employees International Union, Virginia Auto Dealers Association, United Food and Commercial Workers

What it means: With traditionally conservative areas such as Loudoun County and southwest Virginia voting Kaine, Dems have renewed hopes for the future. It was also good news for outgoing governor and rumored presidential hopeful Mark Warner.

 

William “Bill” Bolling

Office: Lieutenant Governor

Party: Republican

Number of votes: 976,067

Big donors: Virginia Auto Dealers Association, Dominion Power, Verizon, Anthem

What it means: It wasn’t all good news for the Dems. By painting opponent Leslie Byrne as an ultraliberal, it’s clear some voters still bought the GOP scare tactics.

 

David Toscano

Office: House of Delegates, 57th District

Party: Democratic

Number of votes: 14,113

Big donors: 250 West Holdings LLC, Mall Property LLC, MGR Development Corp., Virginia Association of Realtors, Virginia Dental Association

What it means: Yep, Charlottesville is still a Democratic stronghold. And yep, Char-lottesville loved outgoing Delegate Mitch Van Yahres. And yep, Charlottesville enthusiastically passed its Van Yahres love on to Toscano like a torch.

Rob Bell III

Office: House of Delegates, 58th District

Party: Republican

Number of votes: 15,868

Big donors: Ted Weschler, Allied Concrete, Phil Wendel (owns ACAC), Virginia Association of Realtors, Equity Group LLC

What it means: Rumor has it Bell wants to be attorney general. He’s been using this seat to go after drunk drivers and bullies. Next year’s easy target? Child molesters.

 

Watkins Abbitt, Jr.

Office: House of Delegates, 59th District

Party: Independent

Number of votes: 16,398

Big donors: Alpha Natural Resources, Georgia-Pacific Corp., Management Services Corp, Virginia Association of Realtors

What it means: Unopposed candidates don’t lose.

 

Note: Because the attorney general’s race is headed for a recount, C-VILLE decided not to include an AG “winner” for this article.

 

CITY

Warner D. “Dave” Chapman

Office: Commonwealth’s Attorney

Party: Democratic

Number of votes: 7,879

Biggest donors: N/A

What it means: Everyone must like Chapman’s work—he ran unopposed.

Cornelia Johnson

Office: Sheriff

Party: Democratic

Number of votes: 8,294

Biggest donors: N/A

What it means: We got to see Johnson bust some smooth moves on the dance floor at the Dem’s victory party. Cornelia Johnson for president!

Raymond Lee Richards

Office: Commissioner of Revenue

Party: Democratic

Number of votes: 7,901

Biggest donors: N/A

What it means: Richards’ uncontested re-election means no one else wants to be the City’s tax collector. Go figure…

Jennifer Brown

Office: Treasurer

Party: Democratic

Number of votes: 8,235

Biggest donors: N/A

What it means: You’ll be mailing your parking fines to Brown’s office for another two years.

Referendum on Elected School Board

Outcome: Yes

Number of votes: 7,106

Biggest donors: Jeffrey Rossman, Rob Schilling

What it means: City Council will no longer appoint members to the School Board. If the U.S. Department of Justice approves the change, Charlottesville will elect its first School Board members in May 2006. How’s that going to work? See below for the outcome of Albemarle County’s School Board race.

 

COUNTY

Dennis Rooker

Office: Board of Supervisors, Jack Jouett District

Party: Independent

Number of votes: 2,423

Biggest donors: Management Services Corp., Phil Wendel, Ted Weschler, Dharma Group LLC, Carter McNeely, Wilson McNeely, John Grisham, SNL Inc.

What it means: Another four years of trying to make 29N more “pedestrian friendly.” Hope springs eternal…

 

Sally Thomas

Office: Board of Supervisors, Samuel Miller District

Party: Independent

Number of votes: 4,021

Biggest donors: David van Roijen, Richard Hewitt, Eric Strucko

What it means: More talk of transportation and growth management as Albemarle continues to sprawl outwards into the countryside.

 

David Slutzky

Office: Board of Supervisors, Rio District

Party: Democratic

Number of votes: 2,082

Biggest donors: CAAR, Oakwood Farm, Benjamin Brewster, Terence Seig, Ted Weschler

What it means: He’ll rally against the West-ern Bypass and for alternative transportation.

 

 

Diantha McKeel

Office: School Board, Jack Jouett District

Party: Independent

Number of votes: 2,771

Biggest donors: F&S Properties LLC

What it means: McKeel ran unopposed.

 

 

Pamela Moynihan

Office: School Board, Rio District

Party: Independent

Number of votes: 3,680

Biggest donors: N/A