Monday, October 31, 2005

Charlottesville School Board Referendum

Next Tuesday’s (11/8/05)election includes an important ballot initiative on whether Charlottesville should have an elected rather than appointed school board.
This is a relatively well blogged/reported story. Cavalier Daily says yes to the referendum. Cavalier Daily reminds us that the local NAACP endorsed the elected school board referendum. Waldo discussed it on his cville news blog, with many comments.
My two cents:
Jeffrey Rossman authored the initiative and spearheaded the signature drive to get the referendum on the ballot.
Some reasons and rebuttal for an elected school board follow.
· Democracy for democracy sake (Rossman is after all a professor of 20th Century Russia)

· Creigh Deeds sponsored the bill to permit change from appointed to elected school board so it must be ok for Charlottesville since he is our State Senator (and a Democrat).
- Vote for Creigh Deeds for Attorney General!
- Back when this legislation passed, Deeds did not represent Charlottesville.

· If school board members aren’t willing to run for office then perhaps they are not willing to do the hard work of managing the school system.
- On “Wake-up Call with Rick Moore” (now available as a podcast) Brian Wheeler stated the cost of his election to the School Board in Albemarle County was close to $10,000 (he is at large member)
- Steve Koleszar (Now running for Delegate in the 58th district) stated it cost him to run three times about $1000 each time, although he may have run unopposed twice.
- The cost associated with a contested election and the hard work of campaigning are barriers to good, hard-working people entering a school board race.

· School Board is a governing body not an advisory body like the Planning Commission therefore perceptions of accountability and responsiveness matter, even if the reality is the appointed school board is responsive and accountable as well.
- Waldo pointed out in the above article that City Council frequently doesn't reappoint unresponsive school board members.
- Former County school board member Charles Martin, who is not actively opposed to the referendum and lives in the County so wont be voting on it, stated the main jobs of a School Board is to choose a superintendent, create a strategic plan and make sure the plan is being followed.

· Diversity on the school board isn’t an issue in Charlottesville since the progressive electorate will elect a diverse group of people.
- This is in response to Albemarle County’s elected School Board lack of diversity.
- Kevin Lynch, who has not taken a position on the referendum but frequently is the opposition in these panel discussions, reminds the progressive voters of Charlottesville that it takes a lot of work to convince good people to run.

The main problem as I see it with all of this is the energy and focus of the electorate (no matter how progressive) is on administration NOT on actual education of real students. I fear the trend in Charlottesville is “No Child Left Behind”ization (if I can make stuff up), where what matters is numbers NOT teaching and educating. Further politicizing of the school board will not make educating students any easier. Speaking of slippery slopes, very few people vote, even in Charlottesville. It is not a stretch to imagine idealogues getting elected to any school board with a small minority of votes.

Rossman and referendum supporters sincerely believe an elected school board is better for democracy, voters and taxpayers. I am not so sure it follows that it is best for children and the community.

IRS information

Rich mentioned this helpful subscriber based information. IRS will send you regular email on "Important upcoming tax dates What's new on the IRS Web site Recently added Tax Forms and Publications IRS News Releases and special IRS announcements"
As you will quickly see, it is not easy to keep track of every aspect. Thanks Rich for the tip.

Ten Miler Training

For all those interested, I did get up this AM and complete my second day of training. I feel good. The early morning sunlight helped a lot. I really enjoyed placing the check mark next to today's training.

Supreme Court News

From CNN
From the Third Circuit Alito is appointed to the Supreme Court. Desperate times, desperate measures- an indictment of Friday, an appointment on Monday. Could this truly have been a deliberative process to select this man? He is a minority in one sense- his last name starts with a vowel, hey just like Justice O'Connor.

Ivan Basso News

I totally disagree with Ivan's decision to skip the Giro d'Italia. He is skipping the Giro to focus on the Tour de France. I understand two majors is a huge commitment. BUT my thinking is Basso did extremely well in both of the races, why would he change his training this year?

Basso to skip Giro, concentrate on the Tour CSC's Ivan Basso has confirmed that he will skip the Giro d'Italia this year. "I want to totally concentrate on the Tour de France," he said. Basso is considered one of the favourites to win the Tour in 2006. He plans a new race program leading up to next year's race. "I have set new goals for the spring and plan to start in one or more of the Classics," he added, especially thinking about Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

I love opportunities to see Ivan racing, so it is mere selfishness on my part. I heard talk last night from Sean that Jan Ullrich may race the Giro. I sincerely doubt it since Basso isnt going to be there and Italy would eat Jan for lunch. (I would love to see it though). Sean was right about Basso so I reserve the right to be wrong.

One thing I did learn this weekend- Lance is not a good actor. However, I enjoy any opportunity for cyclists to be part of the mainstream culture so I loved it.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Film Festival Part II

Last night I had the good fortune to usher at the Paramount for two of the Festival's movies. The first one was "Nine Lives" directed by Rodrigo Garcia. A discussion followed the movie, the discussion featured Sissy Spacek, Kathy Baker, Garcia, and two producers. The movie is not amusing, but the discussion afterwards was a lot of fun.
The second movie was Ice Harvest directed by Harold Ramis. I had the opportunity to leave when the show began, but the first scene shows John Cusack and Billy Bob Thorton. Oliver Platt is also in the movie. The movie was introduced by Ramis so I knew it was a comedy. As I mentioned to a few others I rarely watch anything serious nowadays.
The movie is dark (think Bad Santa but worse). I enjoyed it mostly because I am easily entertained and loved the actors in it. Not a Christmas movie you want to bring anyone high with Christmas spirit- unless you get a kick out of such things. There are some great laughs in it. The movie comes out around Thanksgiving.

STFD

Chris is a volunteer fireman. So we get to listen for "the call" on his pager 24 hours a day. This week two calls came in on two different days both of course in the middle of the night:
"Vehicle in structure" Last nights call was followed up with a call for assistance in "extrication"

PEOPLE do not run into the buildings, stay on the road. Dont drink and drive in Virginia- it is big big trouble.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Ten Miler Training

The Charlottesville Track Club graciously provudes training for those of us who want to participate in the Charlottesville Ten Miler (held on April 1, 2006 next time). I am in program 1, meaning I have not run any discernible distance for a long time. Today we walk/ran 3/4 of a mile. I am very proud- one has to start somewhere. Mark (owner Ragged Mountain Running Shop) is hilarious, he talked a lot this morning (apparently that will not always be the case).
The real test will be Monday when I have to get up early and run by myself. I am looking for running partners (beginners) to assist with this project. I dont have to run/walk far but will the motivation be there? I really am happy right now because it feels so good to exercise, if only I could bottle this feeling to remind myself how good it feels to exercise.
Wish me luck!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Fighting Words

I love when Lance fights the French
During the rollout of the Tour de France stages, head honcho (HH) failed to pay homage to Lance and his place in the history of the Tour de France. Instead HH was rude and disrespected Lance. I look forward to SNL this weekend when Lance and musical guest Sheryl Crow surely will have some fun skit mocking the French failures in the Tour.

Prosecutors Rock

Patrick Fitzgerald is awesome. I am listening to his briefing. The evidence is so compelling. Patrick Fitzgerald is a stand up guy who took his job very seriously AND I am grateful for it. My only complaint- if this announcement was one year ago today.

Beach House Cooking

Yesterday's WP's Food section had a great article on writing a cookbook. This is something my family and I have kicked around to support our beach house habit.
Let me explain- every year we go to Sandbridge. If you have never heard of it, dont bother reading about it. We love Sandbridge, but our families are getting bigger and every year it seems we need more space or people commit and back out (thus increasing the financial burden on some). It seems all the beach houses now have pools, hot tubs, ping pong whatever...crazy amounts of amenities. We started going when I was 19 or something. Now I have two kids and a husband. I never saw the benefit of a pool until I had children. I still enjoy the beach and we still spend lots of time in the sand and surf, but at night when the kids are in bed, I get to swim with abandon in the lit warm pool. Also it is a controlled environment for the kids. All I am saying is now I see the benefits of a pool at the beach.
Parenting is an exercise in reversals from "why would anyone need a pool?" to "we will pay thousands more for a pool!" of course there are other more keenly felt reversals (tv, junk food, natural birth) but the pool is the issue.

We have maturely discussed other options for affording Sandbridge. Sandbridge is now so expensive. We use to rent a three or four bedroom place for $1100 a week right in front of the beach access. Now Virginia Beach allows the developers to come in a build HUGE condos right next to the wildlife preserve yet we can not get enough of Sandbridge. There is talk of Outer Banks or other places. But we are squatters now, we come because we always have and we want to.

I lived in Greenwood growing up, I loved Greenwood Crozet, Batesville, and Afton LONG before it was cool to love those places. I look at what everyone loves and thinks is so cool now and wonder what is happening to the places I love? Some of the places are unrecognizable- the ridges are no longer tree filled forests, they are homes with driveways (pools) and cars. The roads have lots of cars on them and the schools are jammed. Downtown Crozet is so great, but I still loved it when it looked like a dump.
I dont think the cookbook is going to work out since none of the contributing editors have signed onto the yahoo group. Eating at the beach is so great-all the energy I expend allows me to really enjoy all the delicious food we make.

The beach remains, the food remains and the company remains, perhaps progress isnt so overwhelming after all.

Tradition

From Cycling News:
No more beer tents in Cyclo-cross
"The UCI has banned cyclo-cross races from passing through beer tents, one of the hallowed traditions in many Belgian events. The decision was made on the grounds that it was unsafe, on the basis of remarks made by Richard Groenendaal last year about the difference in inside/outside temperatures and the danger of being hit by beer glasses. However, Groenendaal said that his comments were not intended to be taken that way."
How is the sport ever to get more fans if they keep taking away the really fun stuff? Pity the rider who gets hit by a beer glass.
Cyclo-cross is a great event, if you have an opportunity to attend a race, go.

If you think you had a bad week...

NYT's on Bush's bad week.

John Danforth is quoted "There's all this talk about the Republican base and the conservative base of the Republican Party, and the conservative base of the president and how it's important to play to the base and please the base and fawn over the base, And look what it gets President Bush. It just gets him a kick in the rear. That's what they've done to him, and they've done it to him at a time when he's vulnerable, and they've done it at the expense of a perfectly fine human being."

Why should Bush be any different than any other perfectly fine people?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Snacks

C-villes Voter guide helpfully includes everyone's favorite snacks.

Kilgore- Dairy Queen Blizzards (I can get into this)
Kaine- trail mix (this screams boring to me)
Potts- popcorn (but not as boring as this)

Creigh- fresh fruit
"Bob"- malo cups (I love the quotes) And for those who dont know what malo cups are- well me neither and I cant find a link for them.

McCrystal- cheetos (yummy- orange fingers and all)
Toscano- chocolate covered coffee beans (that is where he gets his energy)

Koleszar- peanuts and chocolate chips (good blend of protein and sugar)
Bell- peanut butter sandwiches (a very good lunch- but snack?)

Torture and Politics

Torture is not just sitting in traffic, law school exams, custody cases or insomnia. Seriously torture is degrading, cruel, illegal and horrific- all to gain information. Information that is suspect at best. Why does this administration want to condone such barbaric acts? There are standards of behavior, I want the United States to be a model not the dregs.
I want to protect our soldiers from potential abuses on the battlefield. The example the Bush administration is setting does not bode well for those soldiers who may be captured in war. Apparently there is a distinction in the current debate about the acts of the CIA and the military's. UM...I dont think our enemies will make that distinction. See below for articles and columns on the lastest dustup.

NY Times article reviewing the history and current state of negotiations with respect to the exemption Cheney wants for the CIA to essentially use torture for 'certain' detainees. From the article:
"The Senate defied a presidential veto threat nearly three weeks ago and approved, 90 to 9, an amendment to a $440 billion military spending bill that would ban the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of any detainee held by the United States government. This could bar some techniques that the C.I.A. has used in some interrogations overseas."
Here is hoping that the majority prevails in this situation. The 90-9 is even a override majority- wouldnt that be great?

Richard Cohen has an column today about his trip with McCain to Vietnam where he (McCain) went to the spot where he was tortured by the enemy during the war. The column talks about the many soldiers who support McCain's stance.

WP Editorial yesterday
NYTimes Editorial

I thought I should get a fair and balanced approach so check out this Fox news blurb.The Fox news clip begs the question- why do Alaskan voters continue to vote for Ted Stevens? The man is mad.

Stages of Tour Unveiled

BIG NEWS today- and I dont mean pending indictments, White Sox winning the World Series or Harriet Miers withdrawing.

According to Cycling News (.com) Tour de France stages were unveiled today AND no team time trials (TTT) in the 2006 Tour.
Look for the mountain top finishes to be must watch days (Stages 11,15,16). Stage 11 and 15 are thrilling because of the history on those mountains. Stage 11 has Col du Tourmalet a brutal climb in the Pyrnees Mountains. Stage 15 has L'Alpe d'Huez as the finish. Watching the cyclists climb L'Alpe d'Huez is mind-boggling (how do they do that?).
I think the 2006 Tour de France will prove to be one of the most exciting Tours in history since Lance will not be dominating the field. The competition will be fierce since lots of riders want to get a win now that Lance has retired.
Of course I will root for Ivan Basso (CSC), Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Davitamon) for the sprinter's jersey and Rasmussen (Rabobank) for the polka dotted jersey (King of the Mountains). I will not be upset if Tom Danielson or other Discovery or CSC rider makes it a good competition.

According to CyclingNews Discovery Team (Lance's team-but he is not riding in 2006) will own this Tour since there is no TTT. I have my doubts- perhaps the training will be dominated by Lance and his strategy, but during the actual race without Lance, the team may find it difficult.

The Stages
Prologue - July 1: Strasbourg ITT, 7 km
Stage 1 - July 2: Strasbourg - Strasbourg, 183 km
Stage 2 - July 3: Obernai - Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg), 223 km
Stage 3 - July 4: Esch-sur-Alzette - Valkenburg (Netherlands), 216 km
Stage 4 - July 5: Huy (Belgium) - Saint-Quentin, 215 km
Stage 5 - July 6: Beauvais - Caen, 219 km
Stage 6 - July 7: Lisieux - Vitré, 184 km
Stage 7 - July 8: Saint-Grégoire - Rennes ITT, 52 km
Stage 8 - July 9: Saint-Méen-le-Grand - Lorient, 177 km
Rest Day - July 10: Bordeaux
Stage 9 - July 11: Bordeaux - Dax, 170 km
Stage 10 - July 12: Cambo-les-Bains - Pau, 193 km
Stage 11- July 13: Tarbes - Val d'Aran/Pla-de-Beret (Spain), 208 km
Stage 12 - July 14: Luchon - Carcassonne, 211 km
Stage 13 - July 15: Béziers - Montélimar, 231 km
Stage 14 - July 16: Montélimar - Gap, 181 km
Rest Day - July 17: Gap
Stage 15 - July 18: Gap - L'Alpe-d'Huez, 187 km
Stage 16 - July 19: Le Bourg-d'Oisans - La Toussuire, 182 km
Stage 17 - July 20: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - Morzine, 199 km
Stage 18 - July 21: Morzine - Mâcon, 193 km
Stage 19 - July 22: Le Creusot - Montceau-les-Mines ITT, 56 km
Stage 20 - July 23: Antony (Parc de Sceaux) - Paris Champs-Elysées, 152 km

Of course the Tour is but one race in the season; cycling news also reported that Ivan Basso may not ride in the Giro d'Italia. I hope he rides early in some Spring Classics if not in the Giro.

Nothing Like Slime in the Morning

Marc Fisher reminds us why many people are alienated by the political process. Click for the story in today's Washington Post. Warning: You might feel sick if you read it during breakfast.

The end of baseball

Ugh- so depressing to have baseball season over in this fashion. The White Sox simply prevailed, their pitching was so much better and they hit the long ball when it counted most. Houston just couldnt get anything done. I love baseball even the boring games, but I wish this Series could have been more competitive.
I start 10 miler training on Saturday. That should keep my occupied until April (the start of baseball and cycling season).
Congratulations White Sox fans!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Film Festival Weekend

Tomorrow starts the Virginia Film Festival www.vafilm.com. The theme this year is IN/Justice. Lots of great movies and guests coming to town. I am volunteering at the Paramount on Saturday night, so I hope to see/hear some of the goings on.

Baseball

I am trying not to have a favorite team in the World Series. Alas, tonight I am rooting for Houston so that baseball can go on for a few days more. Having said that I suppose I have been rooting for them. I love Biggio and Bagwell's stories and the fact that a Texas team had never been to the World Series before Houston. SO tonight, I will wholeheartedly support the Astros-hopefully it will not be for naught. Crede has been unbelievable for the White Sox. The White Sox have some serious drive. They can wait one game though.

Waldo's Influence

Waldo wants more Charlottesville bloggers, so here I am. I have big plans, lots of thoughts as well as hectic life. I will try to post regularly since I know how annoying it is otherwise. I am not the most detail oriented person so no grammer comments, substantive issues are welcome and appreciated.
Today I went to Montessori Community School on Pantops to observe. Observation is the first step to applying. It is so beautiful up there. My mother lived in the brick house in the mid-80s, wow things are different. The development isnt too ugly up there, although the landscape looks jarred from the intrusion. The school is a real haven from the harried goings on below. It is nice having a coffee shop on this area. I believe a CarMax and another car dealership may go up around that area. That may be what puts the development into non-useful mode. Why do we need another car dealership in Charlottesville?
I look forward to the dialogues that blogs create. Thank you to Waldo and this great community.