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.

Friday, June 08, 2007

to party or not?

Don Beyer, former Lt. Gov., spoke at my graduation from Piedmont Virginia Community College in 1996. I was star-struck and inspired by the speech, the setting and the occasion. The setting is stunning, sunset on the hill outside PVCC, steamy, spring evening. But I digress. The Lt. Gov at the time spoke about never turning down an invitation. He told the story of how he met his future wife at an event he did not want to attend- so his lesson was learned, no matter what, you should attend events you have been invited.

At that time, and really to the present, I live by that idea. However, this evening, David’s 4th birthday, I have opted to blog out of an event. I am still tired from the campaign, never mind the busy-ness of this week. The event is a party- a house party, with food, music, fun and adult beverages- something that even as late as this morning I looked forward to attending. Then it rained…

Here are my excuses not related to the weather:
1. What does a 35 year old mom of two boys and wife do at a house party?
The reason I ask this- I remember the college house parties and the parties after college with my college friends- but now with people I like and enjoy their company- but parties to me are for flirting and meeting potential mates/hook-ups- something I am not looking for.
2. What do I have to say?
“I am doing great- I am feeling real good about the campaign I ran” Nowadays I feel like I am dull- City politics, motherhood, current events generally- nothing too exciting.
3. Live Music?
Will it be too loud? I really have not been interested in live music since I first heard Boyd playing the fiddle and saw Dave’s eyebrow 15 years ago at Trax. Don’t get me wrong, I love music, Friday’s After 5, the radio, Cd’s, even live music at Cabell or the Paramount or JPJ.
Actually one of the best parties I ever went to was shortly before I got married- I worked with the migrant farm workers all summer and we had a fiesta at the lead lawyer’s house. We had all sorts of instruments and the interns (me and two other chicas) made up a song in Spanish to the “Aye Aye Aye” song (which may be a Spanish song). We all just enjoyed each other’s company and laughed a lot- but we had been on the Eastern Shore of Virginia all summer together. We had seen each other at our worse-think 100 degree days, limited Spanish, crazy hair, dirty clothes, tears after hearing horror stories of young children far away from home exposed to pesticides and really bad singing- so this was merely culmination of a summer of fun. How does one get that comfortable with people at my age?
4. Um…I don’t actually drink.
It was fun working at Maartens and not drinking. I mean I was working. Even now I don’t mind be designated driver or hanging out with people who drink (seriously). Now I have no way of letting the guard down, I will not likely dance or say silly things (and isn’t the fun at a party just being silly). I do mind being around drugs, I find a pot-smoking crowd duller than me and not worth the risk.

Our good friends are moving back to cville soon- now we can have some parties. What kind of parties do you attend? Should I have gone anyway to wipe away the anxieties and open up a whole new world?
David turned 4, I didn’t go to a party- I think I am either maturing or giving in-

Thursday, June 07, 2007

exciting times

Chris has fixed the bathroom. Two days prior to the convention I had my first shower at home in over 6 weeks (thanks to my mom I had actually had a few showers). The water pressure is great, the tile looks fantastic, the grout and caulk are all nice and white, and the fixtures are fun. Big congratulations to Chris for the hard work of putting up with my complaints for awhile (I wasnt that bad-it was just finding time).

Tomorrow I will be mom to a 4 year old. A 4 year old is an extraordinary little person. This morning we sat together and talked a bit-
I asked "what type of cake do you want?"
"a fire engine & police car cake" he responds
"umm...what flavor cake do you want?" trying to veer from the subject of shape- dad has not agreed to the shaping of it.
"blueberry is good for police car and raspberry for the fire engine, that would be good" smiling so broadly his cute teeth, with spaces in between each one of them, showing...
"and what is your favorite meal that I could make for you?"
"rice and chicken" he states matter of factly, nodding his head and holding his hands together as he does when he is having a good conversation with a grown up.
pause 'where did this child come from' I think to myself 'have I been feeding him too much pizza for him to actually want it?'
"with green beans?" I ask finally.
nodding and smiling "yeah"
I didnt even ask about ice cream.
He is learning about choices- it is the coolest thing to watch as a parent.

Monday, June 04, 2007

When 5th place feels like 1st

Well all 450 votes are counted (or 431) and I received 149! I am so proud. Really I am. I had a great time, met all sorts of people and addressed issues with answers. I congratulate David, Holly and Huja and Linda on running good races.

I am sick now of course, I guess the relief of the campaign being over is enough to let the germs in. I am pondering the next move, what way can I serve this City, I will be talking with some folks in the coming weeks and figure out where I can place my energies. I will still be attending City Council meetings/work sessions/other relevant meetings to be an advocate for the residents of this city.

I am particularly grateful to Kevin Lynch for his faith in me. Lisa Provence asked me whether he hurt or helped my campaign- there is no doubt he helped my campaign, and his example will help me help others. Curt Gleeson did a great job as manager and I had a small cadre of loyal volunteers who helped me from the beginning.

I attended a lot of events in the past three months, one of my favorite had to be Thursday's QCC Urban Farming groundbreaking at Friendship Court. I am really proud to live in a city with such a program.

The neighborhood associations that hosted candidate forums did a real service for their neighborhoods. Thank you to them.

There are many random thoughts, perhaps they will be less random in the coming weeks. The folks who have emailed and called are really appreciated, it amazes me the good will that exists in this community.

I always said that no matter what I win, and I can honestly say this campaign has been challenging and rewarding, and I certainly won- no matter how many votes I got.