Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What is going on here?

Over on www.CvilleNews.com, a commenter (hey Karl) asks 'what is the backstory here?' with respect to the new EMS program at the fire department.
A good place to start is the presentation by the chair of the oversight committee and the report the committee created.

You know the saying, "the ends justify the means"? It is kind of what is going on here. I am going to take this story backwards since at the end here it started to make a little sense.

The Chair of the Committee (MaryLooseDeviney- and I know I butchered her name, apologies) was the one who described it best- when she visited the emergency communications center on a weekday- all the ambulances (3) were out on calls at some point (she got there at 8, the time all ambulances were on calls was 9:15). She then details her thoughts, if at that time, one of her customers falls on the downtown mall, what would happen, who would come to their aid?

In reality- a first responder would until an ambulance was cleared. Cville/Albemarle (and many other jurisdictions) have a tiered response system- fire engine goes first with a medic/EMT onboard to administer care. The ambulance comes next.
Notice she didnt mention anything about response times? Funny...
In fact she stated there is no problem with the response times on CARS end. (the report [pdf] indicates the CFD has some issues with response times, but apparently is outside the scope of inquiry).

There is this lovely thing called ambulance utilization yadda ya- it is a metric, the metric for Cville is 3.5 ambulances (I am not an expert on this stuff), CARS has three ambulances during the day. The report indicates this metric standard is used widely but "much debated." um, ok.

Again nothing to do with response times.

What the CFD is pleased about is getting rid of the tiered system, they are seeking to collapse the tiers into one, one in which they will be the only ones to respond, I suppose CARS will still respond too since CFD is only seeking 2 ambulances ($530,000 over ten years) and 6 paid medics (high level training). Will this translate into quicker response times? I dont think it matters for CARS since that is not an issue for them, but for CFD? I hope so.

Finally the emergency communication center will still have to ask tier questions for County calls. An argument made by Taliferro is 'you never trust the person on the phone to be as accurate as an impartial observer' about the condition of the patient. And here I absolutely agree with him. But I dont think it is worth spending all of this money on since the same tier system questions will likely still be asked of every caller.

A great aspect of the Oversight Committee is the creation of standards for performance. I know everyone will benefit from that.

So despite the means being about CARS response times, the ends of creating an taxpayer subsidized ambulance service justified that tarnishing of CARS (I jest of course). I wish the CFD had approached it in a better, more honest way.

The question left unanswered by everyone "how are these recommendations going to change the response times for first responders?" Lynch asked some good questions that were answered in very circular fashion thus creating frustration and confusion by those of us who thought the questions were reasonable.

I know reasonable people differ, I respect the folks who created this new service and hope it does create a better service for the community since we are spending so much money on it. My opinion is ultimately the committee didnt need to rely on the 'four' chiefs to come up with a proposal, an innovative, more cost effective plan could have been achievable and workable. I will gladly change my thoughts on the subject if I see a dramatic improvement, so stay tuned.

Media Difference

With respect to the new ambulance service in the City, the media outlets in town are all over the map. NBC29 is actually pretty balanced in its coverage. CBS19 states that "firefighters welcome changes."
Seth Rosen has some balance in his articles in the DP. Actually Seth focuses more on some of the decisions that will be made in the future- providing some context to the story.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Last Council Meeting for Hamilton and Lynch

I am impressed with last night's council meeting, many things were accomplished.
1. CAHIP money allocated per the recommendations of the CDBG Task Force + the addition of a CAHIP staffer to watch over the outcomes and results for this money. 5-0 margin.
2. YMCA ground lease approved by a 3-2 margin.
3. EMS/fire recommendations of the Oversight Committee were adopted and moved forward by a 4-1 margin.
Other things happened too. Controverial and non-unanimous votes- really a great exercise in democracy last night and proves the point "reasonable people may differ".

I really appreciate Kevin and Kendra's voices on Council. While I wildly disagree with either one of them at any given moment, they were cool, calm and had honest debate (mostly with each other). I look forward to the new voices on the City Council in January, but I will miss these two.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

ABC's worst moments in sports

After the release of the Mitchell report earlier this week, ABC decided to list the top ten worst moments in sports - with no actual basis to define the top ten. Many of these are awful times for sports (Mitchell Report, Black Sox, NHL lock out, etc.). The problem is obvious so I wont belabor it too much, the top ten doesnt distinguish between what sports does to itself and what outsiders do to the sport (Terrorists at Munich in the same classification as the Mitchell Report?). It doesnt make sense. Finally as an avid cycling fan, the failure to mention the 2006 Tour de France or the 2006 Operation Puerto doping scandal prior to the Tour is disingenuous and incomplete or even if cycling is not a sport for Americans so ABC isnt going to include it, why not Marion Jones, this year? For goodness sake, she was just stripped of her medals for her doping. Incomplete and lazy work by the ABC folks in putting this list together.

Friday, December 14, 2007

This is better than last year

I am in the newspaper today! How fun. The local media has been very kind, this kind of press doesnt get old (and to my dad- they spelled my name right). The article discusses some of the recommendations the task force made for the housing fund created earlier this year. As I have stated, I am real proud of the work we did, it was tough but exciting to be part of the process.

This time last year I was laying sick in bed- how do I know this? Today was my second attempt to get into the Political Leadership program at Sorenson. I hope they tell me when I should stop applying- so far I have been encouraged to apply multiple times. The interview was so much better this year- first the interviews were done by two panels and only four people interviewed me, compared with what felt like 15 or more last year. I had a few advantages this year- I wasnt sick, I wasnt as nervous as last year and I had already had the experience of the interview.

The interviewers ask amazing and difficult questions. What would I change about the Democratic political system? If the Governor called and told me we had a $6 million dollar deficit that needed to be dealt with immediately-what would you recommend? What do I think about the decline in attorneys in the General Assembly and should the people who serve be paid more and/or have longer sessions? The first question was- why you and why now? As some know, my biggest weakness is the interview- in fact it is something I want to work on in Sorenson (if). I did enjoy the challenge of it and the interviewers werent trying to get me, like I felt last year :) which may have had something to do with my illness.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A sad day for Baseball

I love baseball. It is the national pastime and what a delightful afternoon a day of baseball makes. Today's Mitchell report [pdf] is out and I am depressed again (cycling in the summer, baseball in the winter).
Brian Roberts? How is Baltimore drowning in steriods and they are so darn awful!? Lenny Dykstra? Bigbie, Clemons, Petite, Chuck Knoblauch, David Justice, Mo Vaughn, Miguel Tejada and the list goes on and on. My stomach is sick from this report.

I am reminded of the 1993 tobacco hearings- those five or six executives from the tobacco company stood up, put their right hand up and swore to tell the truth-->then said tobacco did not cause health problems. Liars. Cheaters.

Americans love their heros and I am certainly one of them - not that sports figures are heroic (certainly not now). We love to think if one works real hard, has that much commitment great things can be accomplished, it is fundamentally the American Dream played everyday. The highs and the lows, the drama all of it is awesome. I am really ok though if athletes are good but not record setting- sports is inherently dramatic without cheating.

Are we so needy as Americans to be the best that we drive our sports figures to steroids, performance enhancing drugs?

The Washington Post affair- break up or no?

I might have to break up with the Washington Post. I have subscribed to the Post for the past decade. I love it- 3 pages of comics, sometimes they write about cycling, if I have time to read the A section, I have more to say and a better understanding of a situation (but I always assume it is at least partially missing info pertinent to the situation as we all should assume). I particularly LOVE the online chats and blogs the Post offers online (and that they were so quick to embrace the online genre and make it relevant to modern users). And I love, love, love reading a newspaper not the online news- I just read headlines on the internet so it is unlikely I would know stuff anymore (except about Brittany Spears and entertainment news, I read that crap). Finally the food section's annual cookie section is a favorite (I know I can still buy the edition of the newspaper). (It came out this week, honestly I was a bit disappointed because the cookies were too fancy and complicated, I dont have time for that during the holiday season).

So why would I break up with the Post? I dont have time to read it and it is expensive. I also receive the Progress, admittedly not a great national/local newspaper, but it at least covers some local issues. I have enough time to read the not lengthy Progress- although for the love of God, please get Zits and Baby Blues in the comic section (those two comics may be the reason I dont break up with the Post).

What newspapers do you get, wish you could get, or are you done with paper?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

two other recommendations- food category, not inclusive

At the Gingerbread Ball this year I met a lovely woman who volunteered through her Junior League affiliation. She was really funny and helped me bartend the event in this great dress. Well come to find out she co-owns Raising Canes with her husband. The boys and I love Raising Canes. There arent many choices on the menu, if you want a vegetable or salad this is not the place to go. The Texas toast and yummy fingers and sauce though are worth the dinner or lunch of no veggies.

Lunch on the downtown mall is dramatic in the number of choices falling into all sorts of price ranges. This week I was reminded of my favorite sandwich on the mall its from Rev Soup. The 90s is so delicious. A yummy roll, pieces of chicken (not a thick,dry chicken breast), bacon, cheddar, avocado, some mustard type sauce, lettuce and tomato. The bread is crunchy in this non-stale or too hard way and everything just mushes together perfectly. Call in and pick it up- simple as 1,2,3. It is a modestly priced sandwich ($6 ish) and well worth it. The Rev Soup menu is so full of delicious stuff so even if you dont like the items on the 90s then you are bound to find something you like- but dont hit it at the lunch rush on cold days (before or after is ok).

Rant milk prices

So I confess, I occassionally read The Rant section of Cville Weekly. I know people protest it is trash- whatever, it is base but has some truths to it.
First, a caller mentioned the prices of milk at Food Lion. The caller complained that FL is supposed to be for poor people but that the price of milk is over a dollar more than at other more toney grocery stores. I checked the prices at a lot of grocery stores in the area- and do you know that ranter was right? FL has milk at $4.59 a gallon- that is outrageous compared to Giant/Kroger which is $3.49-$3.89ish. However, I went to Kroger today and I was thinking about buying something... Quaker Oatmeal Bars (the apple cinnamon are delicious)- at FL it costs $2.89/box, sometimes 2/$5 which is when I like to buy them. At Kroger the same box cost $3.89.

I like what Patience has discovered in her shopping local experience, she has lessons for us all, but I think I would rather pay $1 more for milk if the rest of the prices are comparably lower than other stores (which in this limited survey means FL). I shop carefully nowadays but I dont feel like I have to so much at FL which is kind of a relief.

Recommendation 1- Into the Wild the book

I read the above referenced book, it is a quick read so I got through it all. Isnt that exciting? I never get to go to movies so I knew I wouldnt be able to see the movie, the book is fantastic. Prior to picking the book I wondered why even bother? It is an adventure book for boys or so I thought. I found it quite enlightening. I have never had the inclinations this fellow had but I sincerely enjoyed the story and learning about these sorts adventures. The author's experience (he wrote Into Thin Air and Under the Banner of Heaven- John Krakauer dont quote me on the spelling) is harrowing and fascinating too (the book isnt about him but he has this amazing chapter on his own adventure climbing this awful face of a glacier in Alaska- edge of my seat exciting).
I highly recommend this read either as a gift or for an afternoon to yourself.

Friday, November 30, 2007

A Facebook Christmas

This guy buys his wife/girlfriend/mistress a Christmas gift on overstock.com and then Facebook reports it to all his friends as news. Not good facebook. Facebook has since stopped that aspect of its newsfeed.

I enjoy Facebook (are you my friend yet?). I do have the sense it is evil. Whenever I add a new application there is a list of things that you 'ok' to let the application go onto your Facebook page, I find the most scary one "gather information and data about you" I think we should all uncheck that one and see what happens.

Also- even if this guy got a good deal, I doubt that his wife/GF/mistress wants everyone to know where he got that gift (the commercials are ridiculous- "the O" pleeze).

I am glad Facebook has taken it down, but I suspect after Christmas Facebook will try to do it again- I have an idea, lets all get multiple email addresses, one for facebook, one for shopping, then they wont be able to find us-right? I know- you can run, but you cant hide...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Let the party begin...

The holiday season has arrived- what dress will you be wearing this year to the festivities? Tomorrow's festivities include the Virginia Tech v. Virginia game, no need to be too fancy (anymore) and it is a 12 o'clock game, so that leaves time for the Downtown Business Association of Charlottesville's Annual Ball. This year the price of admission is one present and five dollars, all proceeds to the Children's Medical Center- it is held tomorrow night (Saturday) at Sage Moon Gallery from 6-9 so if you arent like me, you have time to do other things tomorrow night after the ball.

Next we have the Grace Tinsely Scholarship Fundraiser, held at SAXX for $30pp have a great night of jazz, yummy food and meeting nice people. I probably overdressed last year, but I may do it again this year. The event is the first Saturday of December (is that the 2nd?) check out www.cvilledems.org for further information.

A fellow Rotarian is having a gathering the day after the fundraiser event. What does one wear to that?

Then what? Work functions, family things and multiple Christmas'. Then just as the new year turns, a wedding. Nevermind the shopping, cards, baking and oh yeah, work.

I cant wait.

I will now take this moment to do nothing....

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving- part II the Thanks

The boys were so good tonight- McDonalds and a Curious George movie- I got to make a pie, various dips and cranberry relish. Let me tell you the relish rocks. I put walnuts and oranges in it.
I told the boys at prayer time that in the morning they will have to write or draw three things they are grateful for (and that I would help them and do it myself). David said "but I dont know how to draw food, mommy and daddy"- isnt that sweet?
Grandma Sherry will be home on Friday from her deployment to Germany- I am so thankful it is soon.
The machine that picks up the leaves picked up our leaves- which is good for the parking situation on the street.
A fellow firefighter is going to help Chris butcher the rest of the venison so it is currently not in my fridge and when it comes back, we can eat it and put in the fridge (did I mention he is hunting bright and early on Friday? Buck only day-how do I know this?).
KT is coming for Thanksgiving! OK not really- she is coming bright and early on Friday, but it is always good to see her and she can help with leftovers!
Pauline plays with my boys like a kid- it is so great for them. I know how often I am not playing with them (cooking, working, email etc) so I find her patience and spirit gratifying, the boys are so blessed (and so am I).
BRUUUUUUUCE is coming to town- MY TOWN. That is friggin awesome.
How is it one can feel so grateful and so lonely at the same time? Holidays are all about ambivalence.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Christmas Music 2007

I heard Christmas music on the radio on my way down to Botetourt County on November 16. It wasnt as though I heard one song either, the whole station had gone holiday tunes. While I thought pre-Halloween Christmas decorating in the stores was unbelievable, this music thing may even top that. When is a normal time to start decorating for Christmas (as a family) and when is it ok for radio stations to go all holiday tunes? I mean how much Christmas music do we need?

Thanksgiving-Part I the food

What do you serve for Thanksgiving? We are hosting a small gathering at the house (which is good since my house doesnt really fit that many people in the winter- summer we always spill outside, even if it is raining). I have been scouring the Bon Appetit Thanksgiving edition to remind myself how inadequate I am in the kitchen. We have the regular things on the table, combined with what I like to try.

First, we are strictly a turkey family. Again, given the size of the kitchen and Chris's love of all things barbequed, we will smoke the turkey. I will have to brine the turkey once I actually pick it up (save some for us). Mom's stuffing recipe is a requirement (think sausage and sage- yummy) & green bean casserole which I have never not had on Thanksgiving. Mom also likes mashed turnips, but she wont get that this year. Chris's family requires canned cranberry sauce so no real cooking there but I always think wouldnt it be good to have a different type of cranberry sauce, common sense prevails though (there is no way I will have time to make it). Mashed potatoes, creamed onions (for Chris), rolls, gravy and...one other thing I can choose.

What should I choose? I love the idea of the brussels sprout mash with caramelized onions in the BonAppetit. But who wants to have brussel sprouts on Thanksgiving? Chris's mom usually makes sweet potato casserole which is like a sweet potato pie you put on the dinner plate (no crust). I am trying to have a slightly more healthy alternative to sweet potatoes or things like that. Veggies are the way to go. I am still searching. Any ideas?

Now for the dessert-
chocolate cream pie
pumpkin pie
whipped cream
Anything else?

Drinks? Beer, wine, sparkling juice and soda along with the dessert coffee has to be Starbucks Christmas blend decaf. I love Christmas blend.

I forgot all about the afternoon nibbles- goodness gracious I have a lot of work to do.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I'm "that mom" and first deer of the season

All day at the Omni yesterday. Drove to Botetourt County where I met up with my children, husband and some of my family who live there. Chris and the boys had already eaten with my family- which is ok it was close to 8 when I got there. Boys went to bed soon afterwards, discussion of politics, education, children, business, etc. ensued. In bed by 11ish.

So Chris wakes up super early and wakes everyone in the house (ok some of them were actually supposed to be awake). Where were Chris and his cohorts going? Hunting of course, it is the first day of deer hunting (rifle) season. I am now a Virginian, my husband hunts on the first day of the season. This is the same boy I married? (Not quite, he turned 30 this week).

I woke up at 7AM, everyone already up (why am I always the last to get up? - for goodness sake it is 7:00AM!) But we have to leave by 8:30 anyway because we have a bday party to go to that starts at 10AM. Who ever heard of a bday party at 10AM? In theory, it is genius- no lunch, get all the morning energy out and then everyone takes a nap. This is not exactly how it happened for us but we did have a great time in Botetourt and the birthday party so its nice we didnt have to miss anything.

The invitation said to bring 'smiles'- what does that mean mommies? When I put that on an invitation it means pretty please DO NOT for the love of all that is HOLY bring presents. It may have meant that on this invitation- but no one paid attention to it, except for me.

I am now 'that mom',
the boys need haircuts,
I follow directions on invitations,
I dont think to buy presents for teachers (tuition is expensive),
I let my kids eat chocolate and drink soda sometimes,
I do not advertise my child's allergies to the world (he will tell you if you give him something),
I let my kids fight and get dirty,
I tell them what to do when the occasion warrants it (thanks to MJ for outlining the perfect time for parental discipline)- and sometimes I even let them play guns (not with toy guns, but just the sticks they pick up off the ground).

Flogging will be held publically one of these days.

Chris killed his first deer of the season- now he is butchering it in my kitchen- what is next? blood in the driveway and hallway- yuck. I dont mind cooking it but until it is ready to be cooked keep it away please.

The next part of LC

Yesterday was a long day for us LC'ers (not arduous just long). We met at the Omni - early and by the end of the day we had choosen our projects.

I will try to remember them:
1. First Street Church project- health-related
2. Elderly oral history project (intergenerational interviews and write-up)
3. Playground stenciling-
4. Computers 4 Kids curriculum development for peer to peer mentoring and pilot the class.
5. Develop a toolkit for care providers of seniors (lightbulbs, duct tape to tape down wires or carpet etc.)
6. Financial literacy group.

I am in group #4. All of the projects were impressive. #1 had the most takers, including me and another member of my group, but we couldnt have too many people in the group so we gracefully went to group #4 (one part of this sentence is not true). #4 is a discrete project with clear objectives and I am looking forward to getting to know the folks at C4K. The group frequently applies for funding, which honestly it has not been awarded (so this is the Catholic guilt thing). The group is worthy and I am privileged to be working with the folks in my group and c4k.

I am happy to report I won an election. I am one of two representatives of my class on the LCAA (Leadership Charlottesville Alumni Association). From LCAA board to the Senate- it could happen...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Format

I changed the way my blog looks and now I dont cringe everytime I look at it. Success.

Tonight the Task Force will be reviewing RFPs in public. We have never really had people come to our meetings, although they are open to the public. I have never felt pressure from any applicant before this money came under our watchful eye. In the CDBG process (federal money targeted to particular neighborhoods and activities), we are the experts on the applications, but it does have to go through the Planning Commission and Council for approval. Admittedly these expenditures are typically rubber-stamped. The primary reason for the rubber-stamping is the priorities are set early by Council, then we follow the priorities and the federal regulations on the CDBG funds.

This money is different- this is City affordable housing money, with definite priorities. However, the funding is limited and its not clear the money will be available to these same organizations on an ongoing basis (the City has a commitment to at least three years, maybe five years). The task force (I dont speak for them all) acutely see this as 'our' taxpayer money to be spent exceptionally carefully to most effectively combat the affordable housing problems in our City.

I always say the CDBG task force is the best board in the City. The board is diverse on many different levels, thoughtful, engaged, respectful, and unapologetic in its critiques of these RFPs. I understand Council may override all the decisions we make in this RFP process. I look forward to this layer of transparency on the process for the community to see not only our hard work, but the wonderful organizations in our City trying to make a difference.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Priority question

The CDBG Task Force is honored to review RFPs for the affordable housing money appropriated this year. I am very proud of the work we have done so far. This community has a lot of people doing great work in the housing arena. We look very carefully at the RFPs because of the limited amount of money and the great need.

The other day, I read an article in the Progress regarding priorities for the next budget cycle. This paragraph stood out

"Early next year the council is likely to vote on setting a lower real estate tax rate for energy-efficient homes and buildings. And a majority of councilors have come out in favor of handing out compact fluorescent light bulbs to residents, subsidizing energy audits for low-income families and increasing Charlottesville’s tree canopy." My emphasis.

On the task force we have reviewed two different grant applications submitted for the purpose of providing energy audits for low income families. As a board, we love the idea, but we are constantly battling with limited resources - if given an energy audit, these low income homeowners would not necessarily receive the funding to actually implement the strategy outlined by the audit. To be fair a recent RPF suggested a $500 maximum to implement some of the strategies(although the homeowner would be reimbursed, so on the front end would need to outlay the money).

I wonder how many people think energy audits for low-income homeowners would end up being overall a savings for the homeowners (especially if there is no implementation strategy)/taxpayers (who presumably would have to pay less for heating programs and the like). How many middle-class homeowners would like an energy audit? How many would pay for it? I suspect a lot.

At this point, my thought is money could be going to rehab and weatherization, actual repairs on homes that are substandard with attention paid to energy efficiency while repairing.

I suspect a lot of middle-class homeowners would like the opportunity to pay for an energy audit and strategies for implementing efficiency in their homes. If the group is successful with that model, the low-income homeowners audits could be subsidized by the middle class audits- just a thought.

Am I off base? Or should the priority be energy audits to low income homeowners?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Police Searching for Vehicle in Suspicious Death

In my bloglines feeder- which I love- I get RSS updates from the City of Charlottesville. This morning's was disconcerting. A suspicious death on St. Clair Street in the Martha Jefferson neighborhood- a 26 year old woman had been shot. Police are looking for her car. Below see the test of the press release and dont forget to subscribe to the City's RSS feed for updates on city happenings.

CONTACT PERSON: Detective James Mooney/ Sgt. Marc Brake

CONTACT TELEPHONE NUMBER: [434] 970-3374


"CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - On 11-09-07 at approximately 14:46 hrs the Charlottesville Police Department responded to 807 St. Clair Avenue for a report of a suspicious death. Upon arrival police found the victim Jayne Warren McGowan, a 26 year old University of Virginia graduate dead in her living room. The victim was apparently shot and died as a result of the gunshot wound. Police are currently looking for the victim’s vehicle which apparently was taken from the residence. The vehicle is a Nissan Sentra, with Virginia license AED-2522 and is gold in color. If you see this vehicle, do not approach the occupants who should be considered armed and dangerous and call 911 immediately. Anyone with information about this case should call Detective Mooney or crime stoppers at 977-4000. Any media related questions contact Sgt. Brake at 970-3970."

Friday, November 09, 2007

Surreal Kmart

The boys need new toothbrushes (today) and we need a few other items. Head over to Kmart around 6:00- David says excitedly from his new CARS booster seat "Kmart is having a party!" I look over and sure enough balloons are hanging near the entrance way. David suspected it had something to do with Christmas.

Cautiously we approached the Kmart, it was dark and it is difficult to navigate with two children, that awful crosswalk and balloons awaiting us. The greeters (was there such a word prior to WalMart?) said "WELCOME to our grand re-opening celebration, have a bag of Hershey kisses" the boys were immediately won over.

I looked around and this is not the store I remembered from a month ago (the last time I ventured there), I had seen the 'primer' on the outside, but what changes could Kmart have possibly made that it didnt 4 years or so ago when they changed last? Turns out quite a bit of cosmetic changes have happened this time.

All the shelves are lower, more red is in the store (instead of gray- this is a nice change). The aisles are wider AND KMART sells appliances now (think Sears).

This weekend Kmart is having its grand reopening- the boys enjoyed more free food as we left (cheese, crackers, cookies, soda etc.) and Andrew loved listening to the harpist. Yes a lady played the harp. Surreal indeed...

Check it out and tell me if you think this is a fundamental change or cosmetic?

Leadership at a Crossroads

There are two parts to LC, the first ten weeks are a four or five hour class once a week. The other is a group based, self-directed project to be completed by May when we graduate! This week was our last official Leadership Cville class.

I enjoyed every week (although I was sick one week and only could savor the wonderful BRIX lunch- sponsored by BartonMalow- before I went home). I am one of those annoying people who get a lot out of things, so while some are bored, I am on the edge of my seat (sidenote to my high school teachers- this happened sometime in college- I apologize for napping, doodling or otherwise not focusing in your class).

So what project idea do I have after learning so much about the Charlottesville-Albemarle region? ... I may not present an idea, I havent quite decided. Sometimes it is nice to be a member of a group, not the originator of the idea. I have a lot of energy to move a project, but I find it difficult to move people to the idea of my project and keep them motivated throughout. I am still learning about leadership.

I have one idea- I actually had this inspiration at a QCC meeting on Restorative Justice. I am throwing it out because I want someone to make this happen and I have very little time to devote to doing it right.

My idea involves offenders coming out of jail (non-violent and other qualifiers that I am not thinking of right now); recidivism rates are exceptionally high among this population because offenders find it difficult to get a job. It is hard to find a job for a number of reasons (training, depression and offender status). My hope is to have a non-profit in this community (ie OAR) to work with Chamber businesses and offenders to facilitate transition from jail to the workforce. Cville has an inordinate amount of non-profits so I dont want anyone starting another new one, and the jail here is progressive so the folks do try to help promote a smooth transition already. However, with training specific to the jobs available, mental health treatment and reasonable expectations on the part of the offender perhaps the recidivism rate would improve.

What about it? Is this possible? Is it true I dont have time or am I making excuses?

I love when it feels like it will snow

The overcast day, the cold biting at my nose, the colorful leaves on the ground awaiting raking (and mulching)- the first day it feels like it will snow in what feels like a year. An excuse to watch tv, pull blankets on, drink warm beverages, rent movies and hike through the woods (maybe we will get to that tomorrow).

So far from a month ago when it was 90 degrees outside and I arrived everywhere sweating. That this urge to nest comes after the election is a good thing since I was working my a$% off prior to the election.

I doubt it will snow, but I am ok with that too.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Jail

Yesterday had to be the most interesting day of the month so far, that is saying a lot given the awesome and interesting experiences I have had lately.

My Leadership Cville class topic yesterday was criminal justice. Here is Marijean's experience from last year, I will try not to be redundant. My experience mirrors hers. This class is held at the Regional Jail, and the participants receive tours of the jail and the juvenile detention center. We also heard from Chief Longo (shout out), the second in command at the Jail and Charlie Edwards who is the superintendent of the Juvenile Detention Center. Later in the day we also heard about OAR programs-drug court, restorative justice and others. Being the dork I am I was on the edge of my seat all day, I found all of it fascinating.

My mantra of "thank goodness I live in this area" extends to the progressive programming for the people spending time in jail attempting to find ways to bring people back into the community as functioning citizens less likely to end up back in jail. Many, many areas of the state do not attempt rehabilitation or education for offenders.

While it may not be obvious, I believe our community is ultimately served by the programming, it gives offenders the opportunity to succeed after committing a crime and if successful these people may make a real difference in our community (for the better).

Dont misunderstand me, it would be incredibly naive for me to think all of the offenders can be rehabilitated- honestly. The chief gave us a small but illustrative story of a child who was in big trouble all of the time- and he said no matter what time of day or night it was, whenever someone knocked on the door, the child's guardian was drunk- and not the 'just been drinking' but actually passed out drunk- morning or night. With no models of good behavior, it takes an immense amount of self-discipline to get out of the criminal system- and to seek the intensive treatment needed (for all sorts of things)- then try to find a job or heck even go to school- the barriers to normalcy or success grow everyday and probably seem like a pipedream.

Then there are the victims of these crimes. The class didnt focus too much on victims, as is typical in the criminal justice system. David Saunier the director of the Restorative Justice program attempts to empower victims and provide a way to heal for both victims and offenders. If you have an opportunity to hear him speak- go hear him- he is an amazing speaker and so committed to the program.

The regional Jail is having an open house soon- I think it is this Sunday or next, I cant find information on it- but you should have a tour and check out what is happening at the jail.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Please dont eat this

Typically I think "sure you could have this [incredibly decadent food item] one time just to try it what harm could it do?"
But with this new thing from Hardees, I beg of you just stay away, tell them we dont want this crap from them, give us things that will not instantly clog our arteries as choices.
The burrito has over 1400 calories and 60 grams of fat- and it is a breakfast item.
JUST SAY NO!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Blame the weather

I have lots of things going on, which usually makes for excellent blogging material. Then why am I essentially not blogging over the past two months?

Well I am still reading a lot of blogs, does that count?
I tend to favor rainy days for my bursts of creativity- it must be the sullen artist in me. SO this drought and interminable sunny days have me in a depression lacking creativity and interest in blogging.

Hopefully I can shake this once the weather changes, fingers crossed it will be soon, then I can get back to my interesting, creative posts. OK well interesting to me...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Baseball Meltdown

The Mets breakdown over the past three weeks caught me off-guard. I fully expected them to be in the playoffs, especially when I read last week that the Mets magic number was 3. My experience as a fan has led me to believe when a magic number is involved the team gets into the playoffs. Those durn Phillies.
Time and CNN are worried about the mental health of the Mets fan- here is the article. I am worried about David's godfather.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Here I am

Because my legions of fans are eagerly awaiting my next post (hey Pauline, hey Joe), I thought now is the time.

Some random things
- David and Andrew are in school, we went apple picking at Wayland's orchard last week, we have lots of apples. Chris made a delicious apple oatmeal the other day.

-I have a new nephew, very handsome, very good. He is only 9 days old, I got to meet him when he was 4 days old. He barely cries, that was never my experience. He sleeps a lot, again not my experience.

-Boys & Girls Club Challenge was Sunday, those riders are impressive (including Chris who rode the last 1/3 of the Century with one of the kids and then rode back to Charlottesville). The boys and I had cheered and had a nice lunch. I was surprised, I was stationed at Plank and Ortman Rd (691), for a Sunday morning there was a ton of traffic AND people are flying. I remember flying around those curves but there wasnt nearly as much traffic. Also, one fellow didnt stop when I asked him to let the riders go by. Fine, you dont have to legally, but that just doesnt seem very polite. I appreciated growing up out there because people are polite and would wave to you and help you out when your engine died, or drove into a ditch during a snow storm or help change a flat. Is that all lost out there now? I know I try not to judge an entire culture on the actions of one fellow but he was the last and only car that didnt stop and he was rude about it.

-I am in Leadership Cville (LC for future reference) a leadership program sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce (Holly is in LO Leadership Orange). Two weeks ago we discussed politics at the Miller Center. At the last minute, former Gov. Bailes spoke to us briefly. He is an amazing speaker and leader. I actually had to write down what he said to remember it. "Leadership is context, preparation and persuasion," he spoke about it a little more. I was honored.

-My brother got married- yeah! Fun times were had by all, some more than others. :)

-It wasnt the worst vacation ever, it just took a little while to recover.
Busy, busy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Recycle program expands AGAIN!

Charlottesville is at it again! The recycling program has expanded even more to include mail/newspaper inserts, etc. I am so proud. Read the press release for additional info on what is NOT accepted and how to put it on the curb!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Worst. Vacation. Ever

I am the perpetual optimist. This vacation I did not have the strength for such optimism.

The A boy got sick on the first day, Saturday. Out of town, my child with an incredibly high fever and it is Saturday. Thankfully our pediatrician here in Cville has urgent care hours. I called them several times last weekend. Soothing nurses told me "just keep doing what you are doing" somehow this is not as soothing when it relates to my baby (who admittedly is now three).

First thing Monday morning, Andrew and I were at Patient First at 9:00AM (General Booth Blvd location). He had received a shot of tylenol at 5:00AM so he was in great spirits, so much so the PA told me "he looks fine now"- idiot- dont patronize a tired mother who is on 'vacation'. Of course by 11:30 as we are leaving, the fever kicks up again. I did get antibiotics, alas it must have been viral, Chris has it now and the fever reducing meds are far superior to the antibiotic.

By Wednesday I stopped giving Andrew medicine to control his fever. That seems like a long time to have a fever to me. He is good now but still on antibiotics.

That is only part of the story of my worst vacation ever, I bet my dad is happy though since it supplants the vacation of a couple years ago for the worst ever. :)

Having said all that, I love Sandbridge and it is fantastic to have a pool at the ocean when there are small kids and rough waves.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Paris- whatever


This photo is for grandpa, who may have photos of Paris now (thankfully, I am not bitter), but I have photos (drumroll please) of the boys at Mint Springs. I have been a bit nostalgic lately. This weekend we went to my old stomping grounds of Mint Springs. The location is still unbelievable, there is nothing like looking up at all those green trees and mountains. I have been going there for 22 years- and my kids can say they have been going there since they were 2 and 1- now they are 3 and 4 and swim all over the place. This was the first time I sat on the sand and watched them swim and wasnt in the water with them the whole time. I didnt read a book or anything, but I sense time flying by.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Saved cville posts round-up

I have a Bloglines feeder so as to keep up with all the important and silly postings of the day without having to go to so many websites (sorry for all your counters out there).
In the feeder you can save some posts. I have saved some posts for a variety of reasons, perhaps you can guess why, perhaps I dont even know why. Here are some posts I saved:

1. Life in Sugar Hollow's things one can plant in June; now that it is August, I wonder what I can plant, I felt so optimistic in June that perhaps I could grow something...I have given up on that thought for the year.

2. Eat Air's "A Week of Breakfast" - so he made breakfast all week and took delicious photos of them and provided the recipes. I thought I could use this to persuade Chris to make me breakfast, but I havent had time to tell him about this, perhaps he will read this post now.

3. Cville Tomorrow's LWV Groundwater Presentation podcast and discussion. I really wanted to go to this presentation, but couldnt, and I really want to listen to this podcast, but I havent, I promise I will though.

4. Buddha on the Road's A Month of Sundays. Sad, sweet, July is a hard month in our household and for some reason this post helped.

5. STLWorkingMom's "I'm Going to BlogHer" I guess I can delete this one now, she went, she had fun, I stayed home and went to a 6 year old bday party :)

6. STLWorkingMom's "Because I am a Blogger" I am a big fan of Marijean so of course a lot of her posts are saved, heck and I am even mentioned in this one. I would like to write a post like this one day...I have been given so much as a result of blogging in the cvilleblogs community.

7. CvilleBikeandTri's "We are not our Sports Dopers" his outrage mirrors mine and he speaks it succinctly and angrily. Thanks for that Craig.

8. Vale of Evening Fog's "C Stands for a Collection of Things" simply poetic and nice photos.

9. Black and White check out his almost daily photos today's is spectacular "Up River and Down River" and yesterday's "Kevin" hey, I know that guy. Bill's photos are simple, yet deep.

10. Duane Gran's Log of Thoughts "Housing and the Law of Supply and Demand" Duane is so smart, and I keep meaning to read this dense post.

11. RealCrozetVa "Homesick for Crozet" I didnt grow up in Crozet this long ago, but I remember Seals and Kristie's family running the IGA, orange soda and pizza from Sal's on Friday nights and walking on the road for miles and never having a car pass you.

12. RealCentralVa I have a lot of posts saved from Jim's blog- he always provides excellent analysis of whatever he is discussing, also I like his links to other articles of interest. So here and here and here and here are some of my favorites.

13. Waldo Jaquith's blog- "Top 8 photos of 2006"- this was the first post I ever saved, I love these photos. Waldo recommended the "Get Rich Slowly" (GRS) which is in my feeder, but I am keeping this to the cvilleblogs and here is a post he liked from GRS. I appreciated his comments on "When Green is Not Green" and finally yesterday's "China's Bond Threat" something I am increasingly worried about.

This may seem like an all-encompassing list, but it isnt.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Cycling News...

CyclingNews is one of my favorite websites. It is updated frequently and always gets me the exciting and depressing news of cycling promptly. Tonight, thinking I was unlikely to find anything new...I found this news.
The lowlights
Another teammate of Vino has tested positive for blood doping in a surprise check on Aug. 1. Idiot.
Alberto Contador, the winner of the Tour de France after Rasmussen was forced to leave the Tour because of his stupidity, is making an announcement with Johann Bruynel on Friday. That cannot be good for the sport- or can it?

The sport is no longer about cycling, it is about who has been caught. It makes me sick. I look forward to racing being in the news again soon- perhaps at the Vuelta? Optimism is certainly my achilles heel (and what people find most annoying about me).

Query

John wants me to ask this question out loud, he is the creator of the question, and we should all be asking it. Given Jim Gilmore and Tom Davis's front page rejection of the CRF aka abusive driver fees, do they then support an increase in taxes to fund transportation needs, specifically a .10 cent gas tax since that is what the CRFs were trying to avoid?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Argentina Article

Fascinating article in the International Herald Tribune on the anxiety of Argentine Jews with the increasingly close relationship between Venezuela and Argentina.

According to the article, an invigorated investigation into the 1994 bombing of the Embassy in Buenos Aires has revealed the bombing may have been initiated in Iran. Chavez's close ties to Iran and Argentina's increasing reliance on Chavez for refinancing its debt and supporting its energy needs has led to concerns by Argentinian Jews.

Argentina has a sad and long history of anti-Semitism. The current president, along with his wife, who is slated to be the next president in an election later this year (there will be an election so she may actually lose) have been playing both sides of the issue (I dont mean that too maliciously). Economic security is desperately needed by the Argentinians. American and Europe have not stepped up, where else are they to go? It seemed like a bad investment at the time to prop up Argentina's economy, but looking back, the people of Argentina may revere Chavez more than the USA (and they loved Clinton). We have come a long way, baby, just the wrong way.

I was in Argentina in 1996, boom time for them. The place is fantastic, but there is a layer of darkness, a willingness to latch on to the nearest thing that is not drowning (where anti-Semitism, classism, racism and economic dispair persists). In 1996, the people I met where very excited because President Clinton planned on allowing Argentinians to enter the US without a visa. This demonstrated to the Argentinian people a real equality, as though it were moving beyond the third world and an honor. The Argentinians are very proud people, the world turned its back on them, and to the country that didnt, go the spoils. After this next election, if it isnt too late, I want real foreign policy, that brings people to the side of democracy and freedom, not one that alienates whole regions and populations against us.

Slush fund reference

This post at www.cvillenews.com provided the descriptive 'slush fund' reference in my previous post. I support the current allocation because of the rigorous vetting it went through with staff and the HAC. I understand the HAC (housing advisory committee) reviewed these proposals- two grants went to PHA (Piedmont Housing Alliance) and one went to Habitat (more money went to Habitat). All three proposals support affordable housing efforts in the City.

HAC and CAHIP initiatives have provided sunshine for well-intentioned programs that in the past, were shrouded in secrecy, this no doubt leaves a bitter aftertaste. E.g. It probably feels a little late to be finding out about this money for groups like AHIP and other housing non-profits who have struggled mightly trying to serve its constituents. It is unfortunate process was not valued in the past, I believe the City is headed generally in the right direction with respect to process and citizen input. I believe it is our responsibility to make sure input and process are a normal part of operations in the City. So in the past this may have been slush fund money, today this is not the case.

Headlines from City Council Meeting

Some headlines from last night's meeting- any reporter will tell you that the headlines are not written by them and frequently dont reflect the actual story- so there is the qualifier.
"$439,000 from the Slush Fund doled out to affordable housing projects"

"$850,000 loan from CAHIP help local developer buy Dogwood Properties, Saves 55 families from imminent eviction"
No non-profit could make this work, this loan provides at least 5 years of affordability for the families.

"Charlottesville Industrial Development Authority Renamed Charlottesville Economic Development Authority" that is to reflect that changing focus from industrial development to economic development.

"5 Years Later, City turns Jefferson School Over to Partnership to Applause"

"New (draft) Comprehensive Plan Adopted"
Dont worry it can be changed, it is a fluid document- common response to questions concerning mistakes and issues citizens have with the document. Query- has the plan ever actually been changed? Not to my admittedly limited experience. The plan is used to justify Capital Improvements and projects brought before the Planning Commission. PC has been working for two and a half years on this document, Council approved it with the final draft pending.

"8th Street & West Main Street Intersection Still Not Safe for Drivers According to Local Resident"
Interestingly, Mr. Gaines came before Council for the third time in about three months or so. In a recent Council meeting Council agreed not to change the parking/loading zone situation, but to request the police enforce the parking rules on that block. Turns out, according to Mr. Gaines, this hasnt really helped visibility for people turning onto W. Main Street. Interestingly, Council agreed staff should look into the matter again.

"Confusion leads to Definitive Direction for Staff on Camera Issue"
Under New Business- or is it Other Business another discussion of cameras on the downtown mall. Dave Norris publicized a letter sent by the Rutherford Institute (defenders of the Constitution) indicating it could help draft policies related to a public camera system on the mall that may protect liberties. Norris and other councilors seemed interested in Rutherford's assistance. This led to a discussion on what was approved last Council meeting and what the understanding of the Council now was. Anyway, it seems staff wanted to present everything to Council as a package, package being defined as policy and bids; but some Councilors want to have the policy first because it may dictate the bid proposals.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Another disturbing recall

These recalls become much more important when you become a parent. The boys each had their birthdays this summer- and Dora/Diego are their favorites- no doubt some of the toys will have to go back, just like the Thomas trains did a few months ago. Why is lead in paint even an issue nowadays? It is archaic to use it, but what the heck do I know. Please stop poisoning my children- if it isnt lead it is mercury, if not that, then pesticides, or fat or commercials it is a lot to overcome and fight as a parent.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Boys at Cycling


When we get to Chris's bike races, it is typically boiling hot and we never have enough to eat or drink (three years into this, you would think I could prepare perfectly- what is wrong with me?). The Chantilly Crit was no different for the most part. Thankfully, there was shade on the course and I had brought enough food to last till the end of the race. Also it was good we sat where we did because an crash on the last lap sent people and bikes flying through the air near very scared children. Last check everyone is fine and we didnt have to see it.

We were out of water at the end of the race so we had to stop and get a whole gallon of water at the gas station for the four of us. Chris did fine in the race. He has started helping to train the Boys&Girls Club Century Challengers. Of course now that I say that he wont be there for awhile since he is busy the next couple of weeks. This photo is of the boys after a long day of racing ('go daddy' 'go Evo' 'you can do it') they are excellent cheerers. We really dont have much to play with at these races, so the car is where they play before or after it, and they love to be photographed by mommy ('can I see?' is frequently the refrain).

Pedicure



I am trying to make this look fashionable. I hate painting my toenails- the job never lasts long and I am terrible at it. Also, I have no money for pedicures when I have two boys entering preschool. So I have bare nails, and I still wear sandals (with pants no less). I know I will never be the fashion maven I know I am on the inside. sigh

Actually- I have taken these photos with my treo 650 when I am bored. The floor on that one photo was pretty cool too.- now where did I take that?

Man, it is tough to be a fan

About ten minutes ago I wondered over to www.cyclingnews.com to hear some rest day news. Sadly the headline read "Vino positive rocks Tour".
And now I am just bummed. The whole team withdrew- two top ten riders (not vino but certainly doping...right?) on this team are now on their way home.

I have a love/hate relationship with the tour. Love the triumph and hard work, Hate the cheating. My neighbor states the cheating is just as important as training for these riders so he isnt too concerned about it- the deal is not to get caught. Perhaps willful ignorance is best, but I have to believe in clean riders and a clean sport so that my boys will be clean.

David at 4 years old is riding 'superbly' (as Phil Liggett would say) without his training wheels. Andrew has a bike with no pedals but balances so well and he isnt afraid of the downhills. Ben King is this great local rider who has a bright future in the sport. These boys shouldnt have to compete against cheaters, even if the cheaters provide the drama and triumph we want in sports.

VS. the tv station showing the Tour showed an ad for chest/back acne- I know disgusting. Chris said 'that isnt right', in my ignorance I said 'what?' he said body acne is associated with steriod use so we know who they are targeting. I have a sick feeling in my stomach and it is from doping- other people's doping (OPD).

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The joys of curbside recycling


Here is a photo of our recycling this morning. This is two weeks worth (we can never get our act together to do the trash/recycling weekly). Anyway, two weeks = two big trash cans full of recycling (cardboard, plastic, glass, cans)- the newspapers didnt make it out either.

SO the lesson is twofold.
1. You can save money by recycling, those two trash cans are worth $4.00 of trash stickers (or so). And all you have to do it put the recycling curbside.
2. HOWEVER, the recycling people didnt actually take these cans- why? I dunno, our theories include no sign that indicates recycle (just the obvious cardboard and plastic hanging out) OR the recycling wasnt separated (but I dont think so since we have had mixed recycling taken before).

Given the expansion of curbside of recycling, the containers provided by the recycle folks doesnt really seem to cover it anymore. What is a person to do with all the recycling so the company will take it? ... anyone?

Seriously though, I am sold on the moneysaving aspect of recycling (even if I have to go to the Recycle Center to dispose of it).

And Finally...

Two more topics to discuss related to Monday's City Council meetings.
In a previous post, I discussed Councilor Hamilton's other business topic- racial disparities in mortgage lending (see Peter Kleeman's interesting post on the subject). However, Mr. Taliferro had some other business. His two concerns were police bonuses and trash collection.

Trash collection has been a major concern for Taliferro has mentioned it publicly at least three times in the past six weeks. This time he commended the City Manager for doing a survey- he believes it is a step in the right direction. He went on to tell the story of garbage pickup over the past thirty, forty years. He said at first the trash would be picked up twice a week (really?) by the City, then once a week, then privatizing became a big fad and the City went to stickers and private pickup. Now he says "we don’t do a good job anymore, we lost control of a private service and the service has deteriorated." Also he asked "when the contract comes up again, are we anticipating a price increase?"

The City Manager responded that the contract would be coming up for bid in the Spring and in addition to the survey currently undertaken, the City has a full-time employee following the garbage trucks around to inspect quality (which elicited a "poor thing" from Hamilton).

Taliferro is concerned that the private company will "jack up" the rates for the City and the residents will be left with terrible service and high prices. Hamilton asked whether it was possible to write a new contract that would penalize poor performance. The City Manager quickly ruled that out with "not really, [private company] can give you a bunch of reasons why things aren’t going well and it is hard to monitor these sort of things."

Taliferro then explained it may be cheaper to bring trash collection back in house. He cited the cost of the full-time employee and managing the complaints as reasons it should be looked at during the contract period. He conceded that at the time the decision was made it may have been a good deal but with the quality of service going down and the price continuing to rise, it may no longer be.

The next topic. The police department, among other departments are permitted by a resolution passed two years ago to give sign on bonuses. Taliferro is very concerned that the morale of the officers will be lowered because newbies getting these bonuses will be making more than their longer time colleagues. City Manager tried to reassure Taliferro that the City looks closely at this compression issue regularly and makes adjustments for it. Taliferro said he takes issue with the City Manager because he said it happens regularly. City Manager stated the signing bonus was used only once in the past two years.

The Daily Progress' Seth Rosen and Cville Tomorrow's Sean Tubbs provides a nice summary + podcast of the evenings festivities specifically related to McIntire/MCPW easement and stormwater management (DP/Cville Tomorrow) and cameras on the downtown mall (DP) and dont forget cvillenews.com for thoughtful, provocative discussion.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cameras Downtown?

Last night’s Council meeting was pretty serious, so not too many light hearted moments. One particular moment was during the camera discussion at the end of the meeting. For all those paying attention who said something approximating “I don’t know if they want to turn us into the Real World Charlottesville?*

Lengthy discussion on cvillenews about the need for cameras versus right to privacy. To be fair, Kevin Lynch did mention that Council would be discussing cameras during the response to the public period of the agenda.

Council agreed to seek proposals for funding and placement of the cameras downtown. The discussion started with the City Manager reiterating some issues outlined in a memo- including how to pay for cameras, possible locations. Ultimately he sought and gained approval by Council to receive bids for specific locations. I apparently missed Hamilton’s initial comments-apologies.

Highlights of the discussion on whether to have cameras on the Mall:
Taliaferro- supports concept, delicate balance, but in the interest of public safety we need to take advantage of technology to prevent attacks.

Norris- Given the discussion at cvillenews, Dave suggested putting the images on the internet so anyone can be watching at anytime. Chief responded that he had a conversation with a local developer about this idea as a way to market the downtown mall, something to consider when developing the use policy for this surveillance (which also has to include, who will access, how long retained, etc.). Chief also mentioned that he has met with a lot of people (12), mostly elderly who are very concerned about being victimized and this is one way to leverage technology to the department’s advantage.

Lynch- concerned – he quoted an article in the Economist regarding cameras in Great Britain but I didn’t catch it, perhaps someone can fill in that blank because people laughed. And then he said something like this “if I feel the need to scratch myself I don’t want everyone to be able to see it.” How we use the technology is key, he wants a strict use policy.

Brown- sees a consensus to move forward, doesnt believe it will prevent crimes, not a whole lot of evidence that there is a preventative aspect to cameras. It merely reassures people that we are doing something. Will it actually help solve crimes- are there examples for which this tool would be useful in crimes that are unsolved? Concerned that we give up our id info so easily. Good evidence that this will do something not just something we are doing, not clear it is worth the personal liberty.

Norris- if he had to prioritize cameras, he would rank cameras as a lower priority and not a stand alone solution. His priorities are 1. police presence 2. neighborhood outreach 3. School Resource Officers.

Kevin- could be moved around, don’t want them everywhere, just some places. He cited his high school where the fear was the bathroom actually had cameras so the students didn’t do anything wrong in there. Additionally, he wants a tight policy document, that commits to prevention rather than reaction.

An aside, but perhaps the crux: Regarding the media- particularly the tv media’s obsession with the ‘surge’ in crime downtown by the roaming packs of teenagers wearing baggy jeans and large white t-shirts. Holly Edwards made the point that the media never seems to balance negative news with positive or other news about African American life in Charlottesville. She pointed to two events this weekend that made very little news but were in fact possibly newsworthy. One was a Father-Son fair at Burley and the other was Parks & Recreation’s “Evening in the Park” at Tonsler Park held on Saturday. Both were incredibly successful and widely attended and were the first time these events happened in this way. The next community gathering is 8/25 from 5:30-9:30 at Washington Park. I am proud the Parks department is investing in this type of community building. I would appreciate it if the MSM would cover such events to lend some balance to the view of our city and its residents. I will be doing a better job with this as well.

*Kendra Hamilton

Update- cvillenew's post on cameras has an insightful comment by the Mayor- and I clarified my post to make his comments more readable.

Council July 16th Prologue

A lot of times people come to Council meetings for their particular issues, then leave. I respect and appreciate that, but let me tell you the most interesting stuff happens 'off agenda' under "Other Business". I stay just so I can hear the other business. Sometimes Councilors will give an indication of what they want to discuss under "Other Business".

Last night, the first thing Councilor Hamilton stated, she wanted to speak to the racial disparities in mortgage lending in this town (we are last in the country as reported by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition Report). It is shameful for the City to be tied with Durham, NC, a corrupt and desolate place for minorities.

The discussion was helped by the presence of Dr. Rick Turner, president of the local NAACP chapter. A summary of his comments (from my weak notes) the second thing he wanted to discuss is the "recent published study nationwide disparity; feels compelled to speak out on alarming report- tarnishes our reputation of #1 city in the US. Wake up call for moderate and upper income African Americans, challenge to work together, identify lending companies and steering of higher cost loans, please call 220-1493 NAACP in Charlottesville." Here is one of cvillenew's posts on the matter and the lengthy, informative discussion that follows (there are two posts). No matter what, Cville has to do better.

BTW- the first thing he came to discuss was the "no parking" signs in the South First Street neighborhood- feels this is a violation of the City Code because no public input on this issue in the neighborhood. I couldnt agree more. I appreciate that the police department hears complaints from residents and wants to take remedial action (and some neighbors want these signs) immediately. All I ask and I think all the public asks is to follow the process already in place to protect the City and to educate the residents. If it is needed so emergently then all the neighbors will quickly let the department know in the public process.

I am not just saying all of this about 'off agenda' items because I was appointed to the Vendor Appeals Board under other business. (YEAH ME! Although the first thing I did when I got home was figure out what I got myself into) BUT a discussion occurred that I think is important for the public to know- cameras on the downtown mall. During stage 1 of the next post I will talk about what came from that discussion (think "Real World Charlottesville" how is that for a tease?).

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

CRF

My friend's daughter got a speeding ticket. Friend was telling me about it, the first thought I had was "civil remediation fee." I am certain this ticket does not qualify (72 in a 60 does not qualify as reckless which is over 80 or 15-20mph over the speed limit- not a traffic lawyer) for those fees but it does say something about the media campaign against it that this is the first thing I think of when someone mentions a traffic ticket.
Hard to believe these fees only apply to VA residents, seems an increase in gas tax would be more fair to those who use our roads, not that I have all the answers.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tour de France et al

Everyone knows I love July for the Tour. The problem with July is surfing the web- I just cant do it when I havent watched the live version of the Tour (that is one reason I will not be linking to anything in this post but see www.cyclingnews.com for all the latest). I went to the NYTimes website yesterday to see the news and found out Steegman won by accident. I hurriedly changed the screen and averted my eyes. I watched yesterday's stage this morning, after I read the Progress' coverage (which was an AP article) and Chris told me to watch it. I am grateful the Progress has had an article everyday of the Tour so far. The Tour in only three days has been dramatic as ever- performance enhancing scandals certainly are an undercurrent- but the drama is awesome.

Robbie McEwen won stage 1, after crashing with maybe 6 miles left to go, he injured his wrist and knee. His team helped him get back to the peloton and then with 20 metres to go he came into the screen and sped to victory. Chris was on the trainer at the time and I was screaming 'it's impossible' I love the Aussie sprinter who also claims Belgium as his second home, so I was thrilled.

I didnt watch the prologue (we were someplace that doesnt get VS, I couldnt believe it, how can people not be obsessed with the Tour? j/k). But since I am obsessed and I have a little device called the Treo 650 I queued up cyclingnews.com/pda live coverage and scrolled down. Apparently I didnt get to the end (typical) so I thought Kloden (Asatana) had won. But Cancellara (CSC) did and Hincapie (Discovery) came in 2nd (he was my pick for the prologue). I do worry about Asatana (mostly that there arent that many A's in that word) and its commitment to a drug free sport- fingers crossed the main GC contender, Vino is clean.

Coffee poetry

Haiku for the Mudhouse:

Cafe au lait, please
We have no coffee right now
What? Is this a joke?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Iced Coffee

Since I love coffee, in the summer afternoons I love some ice coffee. At the Mudhouse the other day, I ordered Iced Coffee. The Mudhouse advertises cold brewed iced coffee. What could possibly be the difference, isnt iced coffee just supposed to be the leftover hot coffee? NO, no, no.
The flavor of cold brewed is significantly different AND really delicious. Even the NY Times is getting into the act with this article. Mudhouse is a real trendsetter in our small town.

Good thing I have the card-really who deals in cash anymore? Coming soon...the reviews of all the coffee shops in town, just kidding.

Monday, July 02, 2007

City Council July 2

City Council agenda can be found here (.pdf agenda). Agenda was short, only 6 or so items.
I decided to sit with the media, mostly because it is much more comfortable up there, not really. I thought I might put my considerable energies to giving folks a different take on the meeting. Perhaps I will do it again, perhaps not.

Nothing extraordinary at the meeting tonight, a few key decisions.
Let's play guess who said these statements?
In no particular order and the quotes are approximated.
1. "maybe we should try a surge"
2. "just a correction, the 43mph is not an average, it is the 15th percentile"
3. "the steering committee has had 9 meetings from Nov. 2005 to July 2007"
4. "We need to be more vigilant, effort by council, planning commission, City atty set some guidelines for compliance with this plan."
5. "'noise in progress' what does that mean?"
6. "...you are insulting every man and woman in this department..."
7. "$200 is stiff, $500 could be crippling"

Answers:
1. Kendra in discussing the proposed increase in traffic fines, ironic. Quite a welcome light-hearted moment in a relatively heated discussion.

2. David Brown correcting a comment made by a member of the public. I thought this was interesting.

3. The consultant from RKK discussing the numerous public meetings involved in this process of coming up with a recommended preferred design alternative to interchange. Honestly that doesnt seem like a lot to me (it is almost two years and only 9 meetings- the Parks & Rec advisory Board meets once a month, and we need to, and we are only advisory).

4. Peter Kleeman- Council decided to vote that the interchange designs were consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. This is the same comp.plan implemented in 2000. Peter Kleeman made this remark during the matters before the public. Dave Norris specifically asked Craig Brown during the discussion on the comp.plan issue whether there were any comp.plan guidelines-Dave made a funny by saying something like the compplan seems like the Bible in that it can be used to justify anything- Craig responded that he thought the analogy was extremely insightful. But I digress- there are no guidelines to determine whether something not in the comprehensive plan is compliant with the plan. It seems from this evenings activities that Dave and Peter are in favor of coming up with some guidelines. Kevin insists pedestrian access is in the comp. plan, which is true. BTW- Council/Planning Commission work session on July 10th 5-7 Council Chambers to discuss Comprehensive Plan 2007! Be there.

5. Julian - a great question related to the interchange report, the answer RKK provided that the noise analysis is in progress for the impact of the interchange on noise levels in the surrounding areas. Actually a lot of answers provided by RKK were "in process" "parallel process" "it will be done prior to the public hearing (actually 30 days prior to the hearing)" and "this is common practice, the way it is always done" and finally "it is a work in progress." This was really frustrating, thankfully we arent relying on these consultants to change the face of our City. Oh wait, the interchange is a unique opportunity. These consultants are doing a fine job. Having said that there are some real holes in the story that I hope will be filled prior to the Fall public hearing and the public will have solid answers instead of this mushy, bureaucratic fluff.

6. Chief Longo- in response to Kevin Lynch's comment, "writing speeding tickets in Charlottesville should be like shooting fish in a barrel"- a heated exchange. Chief Longo insists the additional fines will be another tool in the departments toolbox.

7. Kendra discussing the traffic fines, especially combined with the new state administrative fees- she voted to approve it, as did everyone.

Scooter sentence commuted

This is the end...right, he has to be resigning right? His domestic agenda is dead, his foreign policy is a failure, and he is in bed with all the industries that harm Americans (oil, arms, etc.) This president is so corrupt. No one talk to me about lying about sex in the 90s, this guy lies about everything, kills thousands of Americans and destroys the bill of rights. He does recognize the one right he has- despicable.
What is the point of the justice system? Cant the guy spend some time in jail? He lied to a federal grand jury, do you think Bush will commute other sentences? I doubt it, I am in shock, terribly disappointed and raging angry.
This president has brought this country down so low and what has he actually gained from it? I love my country, and my country(wo)men- Bush has no respect for us.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Traffic tickets to increase

The WaPo last week reported last week the fees that will be attached to certain, relatively routine traffic violations in Virginia starting July 1. I did not read these articles- just the headlines and perhaps a lead sentence (reckless driving is included).

HOWEVER- I did attend the City Council meeting last week- Council discussed a $200 increase in speeding tickets on certain roads in Charlottesville. These roads included Old Lynchburg, Avon, and some lesser known roads. I received a call today from a resident discussing this particular issue. To be honest, I had not considered this ordinance very carefully. After the call I decided to look more closely at the issue.

One bias I want everyone to be aware of, I took a tour of the JPA/Fry's Spring area with Jeanne Chase recently and I would support this increase for that road. PLEASE STOP SPEEDING ON OLD LYNCHBURG ROAD- there are no sidewalks, or shoulders. So I feel pretty comfortable with the data I have on OLR that an increase may serve as a deterrent.

Now I want to see what data supports this increase on other roads. On page 39 of the supporting materials the memo explains: "Virginia Code Section 46.2-878.2 allows local governments to develop criteria for the installation of signs indicating an additional $200 fine beyond other penalties provided by law. Generally, the road must be within a residence district; have a functional classification of minor arterial, collector or local street; and experience documented speeding problems. The VDOT Board of Supervisors Manual 2007 provides additional guidance that the posted speed limit must be 35 mph or less." This is a classic "we can, so we should" thought.

The recommendation is "adopt Ordinance for the first phase of implementation including the six roads suggested above to be in place September 1st. Evaluate these roads after a six month trial period and determine their effectiveness and whether signs should be installed on additional streets." What grand criteria are we using to evaluate? None are specified.

It is unclear why this proposal comes forward- are the other things we can do? Have the police given up trying to get people to slow down? Again I understand for OLR, I may understand for Avon (85% percentile is 51 mph in 25/35mph zone- not clear what that means but it sounds bad). With all the other fees increasing, I do not support this as another revenue stream for the City or a particularly useful way to prevent speeding. See LLoyd's comments in the final opportunity for people to speak about the 'philosophy of criminology' (I just love that phrase).
Be sure to check to see whether your street is covered.

A take on NASCAR

This weekend traveling home from Durham through the Fifth District of Virginia, very little could be found on the radio dial except for racing. I had heard all about the Car of Tomorrow, first road race, and this newcomer Juan Pablo Montoya driving from my obsessive newspaper reading. Montoya is the real news- first he is Columbian and he has won a bunch of races in other cars (Formula One, Indy I dont know these may be the same, but he is an impressive racer apparently).


As you know I love sports and racing is growing on me as a sport. I value baseball for the slow pace- as a pastime. I can see how racing would be similar- an afternoon of drinking, relaxing with earphones on as cars crash, pit, refuel ("did they get new tires, 4 or 2- how fast?"), and pitcrews strategize. I can see how it would be fun.

Having said that, this weeks race was only 110 laps (as a road course, the track was over a mile long), but it seemed like forever. The last five laps were absolutely decisive and exciting (cars RAN OUT OF GAS on the course- it was pretty funny- although the commentators felt bad for the drivers). I think watching it on TV would be more interesting because I could not visualize the road course.

I enjoyed it- I was glad to have anything to listen to and I appreciate some outsiders (Montoya) coming into the sport/cars/race.

OH another thing- remember how it was the WInston Cup series for a hundred years or something crazy long? It has been Nextel for about a minute- next year it will be Sprint. Change is not overly welcome in this sport, but with COT, Montoya and the like perhaps it will be more open (and maybe I will be too).

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

City Meetings

The Planning Commission will be working on the Comprehensive Plan at a July 10th meeting. More information can be found here. Comp Plan is the (alleged) basis for all the decisions the City makes for 5 years. Your input is vital/critical/mandated. The Comp Plan is where all the action is at, I recommend reviewing it and emailing/calling any or all of your Councilors your input. Or come to a public hearing.

Also- Parks & Rec work session will be held on July 9th from 5-7 (likely in the basement conference room of City Hall). The discussion will involve INDOOR rec facilities, collaboration with Boys&Girls Club and YMCA. Come here the ideas, then let any or all of your Councilors know what you think.

Temper Tantrum

NO! Yahoo is reporting (probably through AP) that "The Army is considering whether it will have to extend the combat tours of troops in Iraq if President Bush opts to maintain the recent buildup of forces through spring 2008." Army troops are already spending 15 months in combat zones in Iraq- that is too much, unhealthy- today's troops are tomorrows' fathers, mothers, employees, Congress(wo)men, tax payers, government benefit recipients, and we need to protect the future. These policies are short-sighted, keep strict limits on combat deployment by recruiting more troops, if the Admin/military cant do that, then it is time to reconsider the policies/war.

AS I said in the Hook, the war is the subject most likely to cause me to rant. Today is worse than usual. The WaPo's article on the deficiencies of mental health service for returning soldiers indicates the complete lack of concern for soldiers by this Administration. I understand from today's Post that some things are being done to improve the situation- but does there always have to be a newspaper article for soldiers to be treated right?

Familes are suffering, police & fire departments are suffering, are young soldiers are suffering, the Iraqi people are suffering, what are we gaining, what are the Iraqis gaining?

When is our President going to face facts? IT is ok to admit you were wrong and to demonstrate leadership by asking for forgiveness and redressing the errors.

News from the hospital front

Grandma Sherry emailed me! I just love calling her that, David and Andrew sound so cute when they say it. (David and Andrew are having a party soon, and when we asked who they want to invite- they say "Grandpa and Grandma Sherry", in addition to all their other grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends).

She has been deployed to Germany for almost a month. She is my step-mother and an Air Force Nurse (I believe she is a major now). Her son has been in Iraq (Army) since October and her daughter recently got out of Iraq (Army- I think).

I admire her. Why? Well here is a little bit of her email:
"I love my job... Taking home our young people is such a privilege and blessing. They are so young, but so heroic in my eyes. They do not have bad attitudes and are proud to serve our country. When I talk with them about their injuries, they state that they are "just doing my job."

God Bless.

9 firefighters die in warehouse fire

Inconceivable. Chris began volunteering in 1998. That first year, 6 firefighters in Massachusetts died in a warehouse fire. Several years later, over 300 fire, rescue and police were killed at the World Trade Centers. Last night, 9 died. All at one time.

Nine husbands, fathers, employees, brothers (because names have not been released, I dont know if any are women). Salt of the earth- why do firefighters rush in, when all the rest of us are trying to get out? The mindset is extraordinary. I ask Chris sometimes about it- he tells me the training prepares the firefighter. A firefighter (as Mr. Hughes is quick to remind, NOT fireman) trusts his/her crew and his/her training to know what to do inside that building, to save lives and property. It is a service police, rescue and fire provide us. Thank you.

I sincerely grieve for the families of those firefighters. As a reminder that this hits close to home, yesterday a lightening strike caused a house fire in Ivy, according to the local news, one firefighter was slightly injured in that blaze. Please be careful.

Other goings on

Mom says she saw me on tv this morning- I was at the Council meeting and of course the cameras panned the room. I was thinking about bringing the laptop to council and blogging it. I opted not to since well the laptop was at the office and I wasnt, perhaps next time.

This weekend we went to the Monticello trail- honestly it was my first time hiking on the trail. I had a great time, Andrew was a trooper, David was NOT by any stretch of the imagination. He complained the entire time- even when we walked back to the car. I dont have much patience for it all- we walked about two miles (up hill for one mile, downhill the other mile). He wasnt distracted by sticks, bridges, water towers, creeks, cars or animals- just whining for an hour and a half. We really didnt mind it though- it was a beautiful day and we had an opportunity to do something as a family.

Now is your chance to get into the Coventry Commonwealth Games, held all over the state and all sorts of sports. The ice rink has a sign up now, it must be hosting something. Although the games are not for another month, I suppose I will have to look at the sign for that long. If you are involved in any support, whether you are good or not, you can qualify for the games- you should too! Chris did the bike racing last year, we had a great time cheering him on and he got a nice shirt.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

News and violence

Outskirts reminded me of something I wanted to blog about. At lunch yesterday someone mentioned that WVIR channel 29 seeks to frighten people with all its mayhem news.

So last night, I was being my usual ADD self flipping channels until I found something interesting. Well on the news a reporter from WVIR was interviewing a former gang member whose thesis essentially was these random beatings are not initiation rituals for gangs (phew).

Given that relief, the reporter had to go on and state the former gang member told him gang members wear large white t-shirts and baggy jeans so people wont be able to identify them as easily. I am very disturbed by this since the actual former gang member didnt say it to the camera (it is not in the story I link to above) and it just breeds fear. Not a good idea to stereotype people based on what they are wearing, it stigmatizes all people wearing that style. Moreover, just because people dress the same doesnt mean witnesses cant distinguish between people (that is just dumb statement the reporter made).

That remark is a red herring in the story, one intended to frighten people, not educate. So I wasnt convinced at lunch yesterday that WVIR had the intention of scaring people, now I am more inclined to believe it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

War Documentaries

My dad frequently has the tv on as background - baseball, ESPN and the history channel. He likes to watch the films/documentaries on World War I and II, in addition to the other wars. I never understood this interest. While I love history- it was my major at UVA- war films were not my interest.

However, with this war I cannot get enough. Every night I turn the tv on around my bedtime to watch the news or Frazier or other inanity- only to become completely engrossed in Frontline. Last night's episode was titled The Lost Year in Iraq. Next Week will be Endgame- how are we getting out of this mess in Iraq. On Monday night I watched America at a Crossroads from Kansas to Kandahar. Another spectacular documentary detailing an Army reserve unit's year in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

So I am now a fan of the war documentary. I suppose it had to be relevant to my life before I learned the value- but now I suspect I will watch all kinds of them. The soldiers are amazing- the sacrifice these men and women and their families make is dramatic. The reporters do such a good job (imo) telling the stories.

My only criticism is about last night's Year in Iraq- the reporting made it seem like the choices the Bush administration made were obviously wrong at the time they were made. While I tend to agree with that perspective (hiring a 25 year old to create policies for a country at war?). I have to believe, even if somewhat naively, that the choices were not so stark and obviously wrong. People seemed to be sounding the alarm at every turn that neocon policy and electoral politics were driving the war & CPA effort. At this moment I do not want to conclude that 3500 lives are a political tool for this administration to test its crazy theories. Things would be different though if Rumsfeld had lost his job earlier.


I dont know if this helps the war effort at all, but I am glad to know more about the work the troops are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

How does this happen?

So- after not attending the fiesta on Friday night, I literally slept away Saturday (save for the one hour I took Andrew to the doctor again). Chris and I had a wedding to attend on Saturday. Around 2:00pm Chris, panic-stricken, yells at the sleeping me “we missed the wedding” I look at the clock “what about the reception- what time was that?” “We missed that too” Back to sleep for me.
First, we are so sorry to have missed the wedding. How dumb are we? We had planned to have MIL to baby-sit the kids that night so we could go have a night out- little did we plan for the 10:30AM wedding and 12PM reception. These just aren’t the type of weddings we are used to going to. We have three more weddings this year (two on the same day in October) - fingers crossed we actually get to those or look at the times on the invitation before the day of the ceremony.