Wednesday, November 16, 2011

McLean Found NGRI

Since I know a number of Tyler's family and friends are reading, I have this sad - but not unexpected - story to forward.

Yesterday Michael Jemar McLean was found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity in the May 27 murder of Tyler Lynn-Gainous. McLean entered the plea, Judge William O'Brien accepted it, and Michael was committed to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

The Virginian-Pravda says the evaluations were done by a psychologist and a social worker. Someone was found NGRI without a doctor's evaluation?!? Second, do we want case law stating that a paranoid schizophrenic off his medications can commit murder?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

2.0 Pending

I spoke to one of my friends in the African-American community leadership on Friday morning. They are actively recruiting additional bloggers for Avenging Archangel.

Stay tuned, as 2.0 is pending.

Opening Of The Tide

I've made 43 roundtrips on The Tide as a Data Collector (11 on Opening Day), and some additional trips off-duty. (I'm back on-duty this evening.) I've seen plenty of it, and would like to record my observations.


Among those I've seen onboard are Chesapeake City Councilman & TDCHR Commissioner Cliff Hayes, City of Virginia Beach chief lobbyist Bob Matthias (I explained the passenger counting system to him), City of Virginia Beach Transportation Planning Coordinator Mark Schnaufer, Future of Hampton Roads President Ray Taylor, and The Virginian-Pravda's Debbie Messina. When Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim boarded at Harbor Park on August 20, the passengers gave him a round of applause. Yesterday I ran into HRT President Phillip Shucet as we both alighted at MacArthur Sqaure. (As we'd been sitting in different halves of the train, we didn't spot each other onboard.)

However, special mention goes to the passenger on my train opening night: Reid Greenmun, Chairman of the extremist Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA). Yes, Reid Greenmun rides The Tide! In his habitual arrogance, yesterday on Pilotonline he declared himself an authority on The Tide based on that single trip. (NEWS FLASH: there are some Data Collectors who have been working 6-7 days per week on the trains.)


On August 19, I took the first Cutback Inbound 20 of the morning to Newtown Road Station, arriving at 5:55 A.M. As the bus pulled towards the Station, we could see the place was packed.

Despite the attempt of Virginia News Source to later inflate the figure, there were no more than 20 protesters when I arrived.

My first train was the 6:30 A.M. run that morning. As I waited on the platform for it, a pair of senior ladies spoke to me. One recognized me from St. Gregory's. The other grasped that the objective of the protesters was to keep "a certain element" out of Virginia Beach.


By Sunday, August 21, passengers had begun calculating how they could utilize The Tide. They could save money by taking the train into downtown for shopping, entertainment, and Tides games.

Norfolk State University and Old Dominion University students were taking The Tide to MacArthur Center. The former were going NSU Station - MacArthur Square Station. On Saturday a pair of ODU coeds were on the Inbound Route 16 with me, taking it to Fort Norfolk to catch the train.

Last week there was a party in Ingleside. A group of 8 was on my train going there, and they would have certainly driven prior to August 19.

Saturday a family from Portsmouth was sitting behind me. They had drove over to a park and ride, and spoke of enjoying parking on High Street and taking the ferry over. I pointed out to them that the same $3.50 Day Pass would work on both the ferry and train. (Guess what they'll do next time?)

Yesterday I went downtown for an early dinner. I obviously would never do the 75 minute bus ride for dinner alone, but The Tide comes to within two blocks of the restaurant.


Let me answer some of the arguments against they have come up.

First, an opponent on opening morning was claiming extending The Tide into Virginia Beach would take money away from public schools. Not only false, but the contrary is true. Under the schools funding formula, all mass transit expenses come out of the City side of the Budget. The redevelopment induced by The Tide would increase the money to schools in outlying years.

Second, people will stop riding once the newness fades away. Reread the Utilization section and you'll see where the repeat customers will come from.

Third, the train's speed. However, the TPO would let you know that at rush hour our interstates roll at 25 mph or under, urban door to door travel is 15 mph, and our bridges and tunnels are under 10 mph. That will only get worse.

Let me point out the Virginia Beach extension, having no street running, would have a much higher average speed than Norfolk.


Once fares began being charged, two issues popped up. First, people didn't know how to use the TVMs. Second, they didn't know which farecard to buy.

A smaller version of the Tide Guide program has been launched to help deal with those issues.


With the deluge of people opening weekend, the running joke was repeating the opponents "No one will ride it" mantra.

On a Saturday night train, the ACS system was still stuck on Military Highway Station as we approached the Fort Norfolk Station. I quipped to the off-duty Bus Operator standing next to me "You can transfer to the 23 at either one."

As our Outbound Train turned for Harbor Park with a Tides game that evening, a pair of women launched into a terrible rendition of Take Me Out To The Ballgame. A group of teenage girls responded with (to the same tune) Throw Them Off Of The Tide Train.

One evening we could see westbound 264 backed up as we passed. Passengers began yelling "You should have taken The Tide!"


The group that told us "No one will ride it" was left with zero credibility by opening weekend. While no one ever pretended numbers that high were sustainable, it showed that a huge slice of the public is interested in light rail.

In the past week since fares began being charged, ridership has been 1.75 - 3 times the benchmark.

Randy Wright was right. He said if we built a starter line, when people saw it and rode it, they'd embrace it. The regional light rail to be built question was settled on August 19, 2011.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Suspension Or 2.0

As some of you may know (but most probably don't), I've been hired by Hampton Roads Transit (HRT). Given the conflicts of interest that would present as a blogger, I'm either going to take the blog to suspension or unveil Avenging Archangel 2.0. My conflicts as a HRT employee:

1. Obvious on mass transit writing.

2. Legally, HRT is a corporation held one-seventh by each member city. To blog on local politics would be talking about my employer.

3. HRT has a seat on the TPO.

My duties will begin with light rail launch in the morning, which is why I set this to autopost Thursday evening.

2.0 would be for me to fade into the background, chipping in a post where I can, while giving the front seat to my best friends in the African-American community leadership. I e-mailed them over the weekend, seeking at least two additional posters. (A single poster would always be compared and contrasted with me.) This established platform would continue to advocate for an inclusive Virginia Beach, having a given readership base to build on. I'm not holding my breath on it, as I made similar recruitment pitches in the wake of each of Andrew Jackson's campaigns for the Virginia Beach City Council.

I've been hired to be a Data Collector at HRT, doing manual passenger counts on The Tide. Under Federal Transit Administration (FTA) regulations, manual counts are mandated during the first year of revenue service. (In addition, there are automated systems just inside the train doors.) Everyone at HRT is cognisant of the fact that there has been much speculation about how many will ride The Tide. Having completed my training, let me make it clear to everyone: given the methodology and redundancies in the system, it would be virtually impossible to fudge The Tide ridership numbers. The FTA will be watching, and - given the history of the project - will certainly check it anything appears off.

There have been talks between HRT executives and I over the past few months about me possibly joining the team. They began recruiting me once they learned that my previous place of employment was probably going to close. As HRT needed to add dependable additional staff for light rail launch, it was fairly obvious where to put me. In the interim, I put one project for this blog on ice: a political satire series. On the 13th of each month, I was going to chronicle the Really Evil Taxpayers Against Rational Decisions (RETARD). In fact, in my desk I have a scratch sheet with topics for nine installments of the RETARDs.

It's been a fun run. I had been considering blogging for months, but was finally pushed when no one covered a citizens meeting held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. My one failure was never attracting additional posters, as I never intended to do this all alone indefinitely. While the number of hits on this site has been relatively low, the point is who reads this blog. I've had a virtual who's who cite it back to me. It's been a niche blog, providing information and insights you can't find anywhere else on the Internet.

For we grassroots inclusionists, both status quoers and the extremist VBTA present serious problems. Those of the status quo are usually more subtle. However, I hope others continue to speak out loudly about what the VBTA's sinister agenda really means for Virginia Beach.

Finally, I'd be remiss not to invite you to come ride light rail on launch weekend - and to become repeat customers. Given that the lion's share of my initial duties will be onboard the trains themselves, part of my training had me out riding The Tide. It has the Wow Factor. The bulk of my fellow Data Collectors aren't mass transit advocates, but simply people looking for good work. However, when we rode as part of our training, they were pulling out their smartphones to take video and photos of the run. They were moved.

It may not be over for me, with either a limited role under 2.0 or coming back full bore here later. (Remember that my initial position with HRT sunsets after one year.) In the meantime, I hope I get interest from others to launch 2.0. Regardless, I plan to keep this blog up, allowing it to serve as an archive of past events. Nakemiin.

Friday, August 12, 2011


In the previous poll question, I asked you all to estimate Tide ridership on Saturday, August 20. That would be the second day of light rail revenue service here. 27% each voted for 4,900 or more, 4,100 - 4,899, and 3,300 - 4,099. 18% chose 2,500 - 3,299, while no one expected less than that.

With a deal to build a headquarters hotel for the Virginia Beach Convention Center reportedly imminent, I'll ask about public support for the City of Virginia Beach entering a public-private venture (PPV) to complete such a project.

McLain Case Hits The Courtroom

This morning the case of Michael McLain was taken up in Virginia Beach District Court, Criminal Courtroom 2, but only briefly. Lawyers from both sides appeared, the Commonwealth filed a motion, and a next date for the case was set. It will be back in District Court on October 7. McLain is charged in the May 27 murder of Tyler Lynn-Gainous. McLain himself never entered the courtroom today.

I made the trip down to the Courthouse this morning. When Michael's mother saw me, she made a few over-the-top comments about my being present. (Last time I checked, trials of adults in this country were public.) However, I shouldn't personalize it, as she's obviously distraught over her son's predicament.

For Tyler's out-of-area family and friends, District Court proceedings in Virginia are conducted with the lawyers, defendant, witnesses, et al standing at the judge's bench. Therefore, it's difficult to hear elsewhere in the courtroom. I think I heard what was being said, but don't want to run with it as a story without being sure. I called the Clerk's office this afternoon, they provided the next court date, but didn't have a scanned copy of the motion. As I know a number of you are depending on me for information, I'll try to verify it early next week.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

There's A Stench In The Pasture

John Moss did a television interview with WAVY on the pending deal to to build a convention center headquarters hotel in Virginia Beach. On the Republican Party of Virginia Beach's (RPVB) Facebook page, Moss claims his opposition to such an agreement is based on it being in violation of the Republican Creed.

Of course, Moss served for years as Chairman of the extremist Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA). The tiny breakfast cult is dominated by members of The Laughingstock Party-er, Tidewater Libertarian Party (TLP).

That begs the obvious question for Council candidate Moss: if he is so concerned about Republican principles, why didn't he spend the last decade working within the RPVB rather than being figurehead for a clique of faux Libertarians?