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.