Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Transit Notes December 29, 2008

1. Taking the Route 33 down to the Municipal Center on Monday morning, I was watching the cars maneuvering where Princess Anne Road narrows from four lanes to one lane.

The City has a Budget shortfall? Simply send out the traffic cops to start ticketing your own employees on the way into work. A big revenue source there.

2. For the "Nobody Rides The Bus" crowd, the Outbound Route 29 was standing room only at 10 A.M.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The CIA's Newest Weapon In Afghanistan: Viagra

Yeah, the CIA is paying off village notables in Viagra to buy their loyalty against the Taliban. http://www.newsmax.com/insidecover/cia_viagra_afghanistan/2008/12/26/165498.html

VBTA: The Song

With Christmas over, how about a song on everyone's favorite bunch of idiots? Sung to the tune of The Village People's YMCA (fitting for the VBTGay):

Doofus, you can do politics
They think, doofus, smarts are for heretics
Simple, doofus, positions they'll tell you
Dean will tell you what to believe

Doofus, they're on an insane spree;
Reid says, doofus, all's a conspiracy.
They've yet to win a City Council race
In the 21st Century

Drink the Kool-Aid at the VBTA
Drink the Kool-Aid at the VBTA

No need to be constructive or honest,
You are there simply to complain.

Drink the Kool-Aid at the VBTA
Drink the Kool-Aid at the VBTA

They're never constructive, they're never realistic, it's all about being extreme.

Doofus, don't you want to be extreme?
Don't you, doofus, know kooks hate liberty?
Join them, doofus, no thinking for yourself,
You'll be ordered to parrot them!

They let no one think for himself;
Once there, doofus, put your brain on the shelf.
Check your manhood for the VBTA;
They'll make you a cultist today.

Drink the Kool-Aid at the VBTA
Drink the Kool-Aid at the VBTA

No need to be constructive or honest,
You are there simply to complain.

Drink the Kool-Aid at the VBTA
Drink the Kool-Aid for the VBTA

They're never constructive, they're never realistic, it's all about bring extreme.

Doofus, they have a theory:
Hampton Roads is one big conspiracy!
Never a solution for anything;
They simply oppose everything.

You can pretend to do something.
Once there, doofus, you can claim to belong.
An extremist cult the VBTA,
So much time spent doing nothing.

Drink the Kool-Aid at the VBTA
Drink the Kool-Aid at the VBTA

No need to be constructive or honest,
You are there simply to complain.

VBTA
Drink the Kool-Aid at the VBTA
Doofus, doofus belong to a group
Doofus, doofus accomplishing nothing

VBTA
Sane people hate the VBTA
Doofus, doofus you can yell all you want
Doofus, doofus be part of the anti-conspiracy
VBTA

Thursday, December 25, 2008

80% Want Town Center to Proceed

By a margin of 80%-19% you voted in favor of Virginia Beach continuing with building out Town Center. The next phase was pending before City Council earlier this month only to have them defer.

The new poll question (as promised): does the VBTA really supporting studying light rail from EVMS to Norfolk NOB? At the December 17 MPO meeting, Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) Transportation Chairman Reid Greenmun spoke, claiming the VBTA endorsed such a study. Do you believe him and the VBTA, or was it a ruse?

Why "Avenging Archangel"?

Some have wondered about the name of this blog. This blog has even been linked without mentioning it by name. Now that you know the previous two stories, you should be able to get it.

Public Affairs have become my lay mission. Having been brutalized by the system, I have every motivation in the world to change it. Taking four buses to a public meeting on the Peninsula doesn't faze me. If I can save one person from going through what I've survived, I've paid back. If I can save many more, a rich reward awaits me in heaven.

So fire away. Neither my blog nor I will be silenced. Merry Christmas!

My Religious Conversion Story

What's Christmas without a religious story? I'll let the Lectors at Mass handle The Virgin Birth in Bethlehem. I'll give you my religious conversion story.

My early religious training epitomized my entire nightmarish childhood. From rugrat to age 10 it was Presbyterian. (My adoptive "parents" former landlord was Presbyterian, and they opportunistically joined the church.) From ages 11 to 17 it was Methodist. I was sent to a year of Baptist Bible School because a neighbor was Baptist. I was sent to two years of Episcopalian Bible School because my adoptive "mother's" best friend was Episcopalian. Needless to say, none of that was going to stick.

I always knew in my heart that there was a God. At age 17 I began reading about other Faiths.

My epiphany was during my residency at trade school when I was 18. Students were from all over the Eastern United States, from many different backgrounds. However, I realized the 3-4 I liked best had one thing in common: they were all Catholic. They had something I didn't, I went looking for it, and found it.

I started taking a Knights of Columbus correspondence course in Church teachings. (Yes, today I'm a 4th degree Knight.) I got Catholic penpals. Finally, I went to the Catholic church in the town I grew up in and caught the pastor in the parking lot. The parish's Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) classes were to begin a week and a half later. (The parish's Deacon believed my timing must have been Divine Intervention.) I became Catholic at Easter Vigil, 1986.

Over 22 1/2 years later, I can tell you becoming Catholic was the smartest thing I did in my life. If searching, go to a Catholic church for Mass. (I'll even join you at St. Gregory's - my parish - to explain the Mass to you.) Parishes should begin forming new RCIA classes after Easter.

Why I Do Public Affairs

I was born the son of a Finnish immigrant, a lady who later repatriated to Suomi. Separated from her first husband at the time of my birth, I was put up for adoption.

At 16 months, I was adopted by a Federal bureaucrat and his crazed tyrant of a wife. Their only purpose for a child was as a prop in their quest for social acceptance. I was subjected to physical abuse and neglect.

By my Junior year of high school, Social Services had discovered what was going on. Their response: simply put me in an in-school counseling program to deal with the damage after the fact. Nothing was done to either stop the abuse or get me out of the house. That would have meant Social Services having to admit their mistake in putting me there in the first place.

Having been adopted into the house of a Federal bureaucrat in a state adoption, at a very early age I came to look at the system as my number one enemy. Accordingly, I grew up to be a reformist politico.

Some in Virginia Beach have attacked me, deluding themselves into thinking they could force me from the political arena. You can no more take away my motivation than you can erase my childhood. Such a strategy backfires, as the attackers become the new abusers, hitting me just like my adoptive "parents" did.

Many of my personality characteristics are left from my childhood. Among those which will show up on this blog:

1. Rosemary Wilson had noted how I love the little guy versus the big guy fights. Remember that as a child I was the little guy being savaged by the big guys.

2. As the textbook child who failed to bond, I'm off in the world of ideas. You'll see me float some here.

3. My going in with guns blazing style derived from rarely getting anything worthwhile as a child without a fight.

4. I'm an acute Introvert who is infinitely more comfortable in front of a keyboard than at a social event.

I disowned my adoptive "parents" years ago. (I celebrate Disownment Day every February 4.) My adoptive "father" died in 2007. (I found his obituary in a web search.) As my adoptive "mother" would be 80 in May, not much longer until she joins him in Hell.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Value City Closes

The Value City department store at the intersection of Virginia Beach Boulevard and Witchduck Road closed on Tuesday. Christmas Eve was spent removing some final items.

This presents the City with an interesting challenge. On the northwest corner of the intersection you have the just-closed Value City. On the northeast corner is a former furniture story, way underutilized as used car overflow. Virginia Beach's long term plans have Witchduck Road as the western gateway into an expanded Central Business District.

How will we get quality redevelopment of empty big boxes in a soft economy? (Psst...I want a nightclub in one of them. Party!)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Slow News Month

With the holidays, I expected news to slow down and that I'd have trouble with blog copy in December. However, a couple things I've been working on:

1. I've long had planned three posts for Christmas.

They should help give you an insight into one of the most misunderstood figures in Virginia Beach public affairs.

2. I've been writing a satire of the VBTA.

Okay, I've beaten that horse before. However, I grasp that readership is overwhelmingly anti-VBTA and I like writing humor.

The disappointing note was that I was unable to recruit additional posters, so it looks like I'll have to carry the load myself into the mid-term.

In January we have the new City Council, the new administration in Washington, and the General Assembly session in Richmond. That should make for plenty of material.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Queen Rania of Jordan Goes YouTube

Queen Rania, wife of Jordan's King Abdullah, has her own YouTube channel. It's at http://www.youtube.com/user/QueenRania It has her commentary on subjects, and a link to her official website.

You have to watch the kickoff video in which she spoofs David Letterman's Top 10 Lists. (I wanted to embed the video on here, but it wouldn't give me the usual code.) It's hilarious!

Update: I found a way to get the link to embed. Here it is:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Where Art Thou Seaboard?

As of this afternoon Norfolk's downtown library was still Kirn Memorial Library. Two weeks after they were supposed to be in the Seaboard Building.

When Norfolk can't even move a library diagonally across the street, no wonder they're having such problems with light rail construction.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Portland Snow Follies

Video of drivers on the streets of Portland, OR after a snowfall.

H/T to HR Transit Ideas

UCAC December 17, 2008

On Wednesday evening Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) User Citizen Advisory Committee (UCAC) held a Strategic Planning Meeting.

Three goal areas were set, with action items under each. The list now goes to HRT administration for review. Once the list is approved, the action items will be assigned to individual UCAC members for bottom line responsibility.

Richmond Is Painful To Watch

I meant to post this yesterday morning, but had to get out the door to the MPO meeting. Governor Kaine released his proposed Budget amendments, and it's an ugly plan http://hamptonroads.com/2008/12/gov-kaine-propose-big-cuts-doubling-cigarette-tax

As for Kaine's plan:

1. How is tapping nearly half of the Rainy Day Fund in a single year sound fiscal policy?

2. Given that the Virginia Constitution mandates that all Lottery profits go to Education, how does Kaine think they can legally be diverted?

3. After the Commonwealth has spent the past 15 years trying to rein in the costs of Medicaid through regulation, where does Kaine think there's $400 million to be found?

Then there was Speaker of the House Howell. His first instinct: defend Fillup Morgues (a.k.a. Phillip Morris). It's political acumen like that that threatens to cost Republicans the House of Delegates next November.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

MPO December 17, 2008

This morning Hampton Roads' Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) held it's December meeting.

First of all, Paul Fraim made an issue out of the name of the MPO itself. He wants one that is more descriptive of what the MPO actually does.

The headline matter of the day was the reorganization of the MPO itself. A recent Federal review hit the MPO with 11 Corrective Actions (CAs) needed. (Most reviews find only 1-2 CAs.) It had been anticipated that the MPO might act on them today. They received a consultant's report. However, their own MPO Committee wanted to move only on minor and urgent matters today, dealing with the major ones at a special meeting in February. The major areas left to tackle are Membership (including weighted voting), Advisory Committees, and the Metropolitan Planning Agreement.

One of the CAs attacked the MPO for lack of public comment allowed at meetings. 4 of us spoke this morning; you should have seen the look on the Staffer's face when I handed her two sign-up cards (one for me; one for another gentleman). Two addressed the governance matters. I spoke on Agenda Item 6, which included extending light rail both Newtown Road - Dome site and EVMS - Norfolk NOB. Reid Greenmun was one of those who spoke on governance; he got in a last minute stab at light rail. (Reid, forget that was on the agenda when you wrote your remarks?)

Speaking of which, the MPO unanimously approved $1.5 million for the LRT extensions study. The funny part: Reid Greenmun said he supported studying the EVMS - Norfolk NOB line. (That Reid would support LRT anywhere in Hampton Roads made for some laughs afterwards.)

The MPO received a Presentation on Gilmerton Bridge replacement. Doing so will require that traffic be reduced to two lanes for a considerable time, leading to much discomfort among members.

Finally, there will be an attempt to schedule a joint MPO - Hampton Roads (General Assembly) Caucus meeting on Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel expansion. However, the holidays and the looming session will make that difficult.

Monday, December 15, 2008

No Light Rail Referendum

You voted 52%-47% that light rail in Virginia Beach shouldn't be put to referendum. The Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) has been clamoring for a referendum, but there are several reasons why we shouldn't:

1. The VBTA's position is entirely self-serving. The VBTA is on life support after November 4, and light rail is the only issue looming that could rejuvenate the group. They want to kill light rail at referendum so they can claim credit for it, using that as a tool to market themselves.

2. Anyone think it has anything to do with the consent of the governed? You actually believe that if light rail passed at referendum, the VBTA would jump on the train? No, the day after the victory they'd be complaining at least as loud as the day before. They simply realize they don't have the votes among City Council or the General Assembly delegation to stop it.

3. Light rail is too vital to the future of Virginia Beach. If a referendum question lost, what would we then do to improve our sorely lacking mass transit? How would we redevelop the Strategic Growth Areas? A loss would put Virginia Beach back at least 20 years.

4. Just go to the November 4 election results: all anti-LRT candidates lost, with pro-LRT Mayoral candidates getting over 84% of the vote.

5. The VBTA and it's Board of Directors members have shown they have no intention of being honest about light rail. A referendum campaign would have them running around town telling every lie they could dream up. (Oops...they're doing that already!)

6. In a 2005 Survey, 47% of residents said they'd go to the Resort Area more often if not for parking problems. The local share for light rail to the Dome site would be less than 3 Oceanfront parking garages, and we'd get much more for the money.

The new poll question: should Virginia Beach proceed with the next phase of Town Center? Council deferred the matter for a month.

Friday, December 12, 2008

TDCHR December 11, 2008

On Thursday morning the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (TDCHR), the governing body of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT), met.

The unusual starting time (10 A.M.) was at the request of the City of Norfolk due to light rail eminent domain public hearings. The funny part: no one showed up to speak. Even after the special accommodations.

The annual Audit Report was distributed to Commissioners and explained. They will now read it over, and formally receive it at their next (January 22) meeting.

President-elect Obama's economic stimulus package is slated to have a transit component. Transit agencies across the country have been asked to identify projects to get into the queue. HRT has four:

1. new Southside facility - to replace the aging administrative offices and garage in Norfolk.

2. Cedar Grove replacement - a permanent downtown Norfolk transfer center with light rail access.

3. Norfolk light rail - more Federal funds to help cover the increased cost.

4. Virginia Beach light rail - towards extension of Norfolk's Starter Line to Virginia Beach's Oceanfront.

The Commission unanimously passed a Resolution calling for mass transit to be considered in all major new transportation projects in Hampton Roads.

The revised budget for Norfolk's light rail Starter Line was distributed to Commissioners. A few facts to cut through the doom-and-gloom. First, Charlotte, Phoenix, and Portland have all had similar problems recently due to Federal Transit Administration (FTA) regulations. Second, while The Virginian-Pravda has reported a 24% cost overrun, the actual overrun is under 10%. Over three-fifths of the increased cost are from add-ons, requested by either the City of Norfolk, Norfolk State University, or the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT). Third, speaking of DRPT, they requested $7 million in safety enhancements. Those would be unnecessary for a 7.4 mile line, but DRPT sees a need for the Virginia Beach extension and doesn't want to have them retrofitted later. Yes, the $7 million is all about light rail for Virginia Beach.

Finally, the TDCHR approved the Strategic Plan and Business Plan, which were both originally unveiled at the TDCHR's November Retreat.

Methodists Don't Get It

Taking Route 15 on my way to the Hampton COA meeting (previous post), I went past McKendree United Methodist Church. On their sign, they were advertising free Santa Claus pictures on Saturday.

Excuse me, but what kind of a "church" teaches children that Christmas is about Santa Claus? What next: the Easter Bunny for the Resurrection of Our Savior?

HRT COA Meetings

The last two weeks Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) has been holding public meetings to get input from bus riders on it's ongoing Comprehensive Operations Analysis (COA). I attended 3 of the 4 meetings this week.

Virginia Beach (Monday)

After trouble getting into Princess Anne High School and the right room, this turned out to be the most cordial.

HRT is now looking at it's bus stops, looking to space them about a quarter of a mile apart to reduce frequent stopping. One gentleman spoke up against such a long walk.

Virginia Beach's MAX Route, Route 960, initially had equal ridership with the vaunted Route 961 (Southside - Peninsula link), but about 50 more frequencies. The frequencies were reduced in September to put the two roughly in line.

Routes 26 & 29 will look very different within a year. Route 33 is planned to be restructured to help on-time performance.

A Senior services representative was there who gave a couple numbers on the region:

1. 1 in 5 Seniors don't drive.

2. 1 in 7 persons is disabled.

That makes for a waiting mass transit market.

Travis Campbell of Virginia Beach's Planning Department, who also serves as the Beach's alternate HRT Commissioner, came and took notes.

Hampton (Wednesday)

A pleasant surprise: only token congestion on the HRBT riding Route 961 across.

In the meeting before the meeting, I was hit with two telling facts:

1. Newport News' economic development committee has been told how two major corporations looked at coming to Hampton Roads in 2008, only to jilt us over inadequate mass transit.

2. Williamsburg projects that it will need 50,000 additional workers within a decade. It's going to need mass transit from the seven cities to bring up many of them.

The feature of the meeting was representatives of the Virginia Defense League showing up, calling for training of bus drivers in dealing with passengers legally carrying arms. They spoke of an incident in Norfolk where a man reportedly was denied transport even though his gun was legal. One identified himself as being from Virginia Beach...and a John Moss voter. (I rolled my eyes: you can't even get away from the VBTAers in Hampton.)

Finally, WiFi service on the MAX will begin it's test phase in January.

Norfolk (Thursday)

Despite heavy rain, it had the highest attendance of the three. The crowd was lively: scheduled for 90 minutes, hearing all the comments actually took 135 minutes.

I had to laugh when the first topic up was toilets. I've tried making the case for toilets at Transfer Centers with HRT before; now they had an entire room of passengers demanding them. HRT Staff noted that the request had been heard in 4 of the 7 meetings.

About 20 minutes were spent on that mess known as the Cedar Grove Transfer Center.

Before I could say it, a Nauticus employee across the table asked for the Azalea Garden/Robinhood diversion to be eliminated from Route 15 to enhance on-time performance of the habitually late 15. That very same move had been the number one Norfolk issue on my previously-prepared Norfolk submission.

A few issues on making transfers were raised. Many were unhappy with Route 310 (Downtown Shuttle).

Mark Schnaufer of Virginia Beach's Planning Department was present.

Closing

While attendance wasn't as good as hoped, HRT got many quality comments which should help churn out a COA that will substantially improve bus service in Hampton Roads.

The COA recommendations are tentatively slated to be presented in a pair (one Southside, one Peninsula) of public meetings the second week of February.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library

This evening the Virginia Beach City Council voted to rename Central Library after our outgoing Mayor. http://hamptonroads.com/2008/12/beach-council-names-library-after-mayor-oberndorf Geez, wonder where they got that idea from http://avengingarchangel.blogspot.com/2008/11/meyera-oberndorf-library.html

My next suggestion for municipal renaming: let's name Virginia Beach's sewage pumping stations after members of the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) Board of Directors. We'll have to give Reid Greenmun one in sight of a bus transfer center or the planned light rail line.

Since this blog is obviously read, what memorial do I want when I'm gone? A poster case-sized display at the Witchduck Road LRT Station. It would have my photo and a brief write-up. My hope is that my fellow transit users would recognize me from the picture, know one of their own achieved things, and it might inspire them to do something in the community.

Monday, December 8, 2008

For All You Redskins Fans

Your sorry excuse for a football team lost to my Ravens 24-10. http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/football While we prepare for the Playoffs, Redskins fans prepare for...uh...another Dan Snyder screw-up.

For anyone wanting to jump on the bandwagon, try http://www.baltimoreravens.com

Monday Morning Funny

Today is Sinead O'Connor's 42nd birthday.

Insert your own joke.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Saturday In P-Town

Today I went to Portsmouth. There was the last in a series of public meetings on the redrawing of Portsmouth's Master Transportation Plan.

1. The meeting at Norcom High School was pretty well attended for a Saturday. There was a reporter there who took my picture and name.

The plans were only in the embryonic stage. That included no recommendations on mass transit yet. The two Staffers working on that portion and I had a nice talk.

What struck me was the excellent land planning. It was classic urban: focus points with Transportation corridors connecting them, mixed-use in the corridors, etc.

However, where Virginia Beach could learn a lesson was in how the public involvement is being handled: earlier in the process, more public meetings, given more latitude, etc. If we used the Portsmouth model at the Beach, we might not have the public outcry over some of the City's proposals....

2. Leaving the meeting, I walked from Norcom back to the High Street Ferry Landing. (Great exercise.) On the last portion, I went via London Street. There were two "For Lease" signs and one "For Rent" sign. After a few minutes something struck me: no "For Sale" signs either on London or the streets heading north.

Here's the rub: the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) is constantly telling us that people are being taxed out of their homes at the Beach. Uh...Portsmouth has by far the highest Property Tax rate in the region. By the VBTA's logic, Portsmouth residents should be selling their homes in droves. Why was no one at all selling?

3. If you have problems with the 7-11s in Virginia Beach, don't shop 7-11 in Portsmouth. You've been warned.

Everyone Wants A Playoff

All voters wanted NCAA Division I-A college football to institute a playoff system.

Now the VBTA will call for going back to the single wing and leather helmets.

The new question: should Virginia Beach put light rail to referendum? A referendum on whether there should be a referendum.

Finnish Independence Day 2008

Finland, which had been a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire since 1809, declared independence on December 6, 1917 in the wake of the provisional national government having been overthrown in Petrograd.

More on Finland's declaration of independence at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finland's_declaration_of_independence

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"Jump-Starting Economic Development"?

Thursday's Beacon contained an interesting tidbit in Bill Reed's column. On Page 14 (Bayside edition), Reed wrote:

"In a flier circulated in November among the members of the Virginia Beach Hotel-Motel Association, (Mayor-elect) Sessoms, a banker and former vice mayor, said his primary focus will be reviewing city operations with and eye towards cutting spending and jump-starting economic development in the city."

How do you cut spending and jump-start economic development at the same time unless you're thinking of issuing debt for a plethora of new capital projects? Why leaflet the VBHMA unless Resort spending will be a top priority of the program?

Can't wait to see this program publicly unveiled....

RAC December 4, 2008

Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) met Thursday in what was a brief 35 minute session.

The Plan/Design Review Committee (PDRC) reported on two building proposals on Laskin Road. Both involve demolishing existing structures to build new restaurants. The hitch is that both involve drive-thru windows, which the City's planning documents want to eliminate in the Resort Area. That produced a lively discussion at the PDRC.

Councilman John Uhrin, Council's Liaison to the RAC, spoke on City Council adopting the Resort Area Strategic Action Plan on Tuesday night. It passed Council 10-1, with the lone "No" vote by (you guessed it) Reba McClanan.

The RAC endorsed a proposal for multipurpose sports facilities at Sportsplex. CCO RAC representative Henry Ryto cast the only "No" vote. As a former high school soccer player, Ryto refused to endorse a plan that would put artificial turf on all soccer fields, including the existing Sportsplex pitch. It enacted quickly by City Council, the field house could be open as early as November, 2009.

All RAC committees were asked to brainstorm strategic priorities for 2009.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bizarre Cheesewagon Spotting

Seen this afternoon on Weaver Drive in Virginia Beach at 1:15 P.M.: Newport News school bus #50.

What was a Newport News school bus doing in Virginia Beach? Going into a residential neighborhood on a Saturday of a holiday weekend? I'm sure Newport News taxpayers would love to know.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Patrick Muldoon Running For LG?

When I got home from work this evening, I had a robocall from Patrick Muldoon in my voice mail. He's running for the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor, claiming Bill Bolling isn't conservative enough.

His website is at http://www.muldoon2009.com

87% Prefer November

87% of voters want to keep Virginia Beach City Council elections in November, while 12% want to move back to May.

The new poll is a non-political one: should college football hold a playoff? The last week of the Presidential campaign, Barack Obama came out for an eight-team playoff. In a 1990 letter to The Sporting News that was never published, I advocated an eight-team playoff. (Remember that the 1983 Miami Hurricanes went from 5th ranked to the National Championship.) Division I-A football is the only NCAA sport that doesn't hold a playoff for the national championship. However, some are still wedded to the bowl games and there's the BCS television contract to deal with.

Monday, November 24, 2008

HRT COA Open Houses

Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) will be holding a series of Open Houses as it conducts a Comprehensive Operations Analysis (COA). The COA will look at existing services and stops and consider how they could be improved.

The full schedule of meetings is at http://www.gohrt.com/pdf/announcements/nov/FlyerOpenHouse.pdf

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Michael Jackson Converts To Islam

Yes, he had been living in Bahrain for quite awhile and Jermaine had already converted. The Daily Mail reports on Michael Jackson converting to Islam and changing his first name to Mikaeel http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1088225/Michael-Jackson-Muslim-changes-Mikaeel.html

Okay, when was the last time you bought a record from the self-proclaimed "King of Pop"? (I haven't since I bought his Thriller album on cassette.) However, I thought you'd enjoy and Wacko Jacko is always good for some humor. I'll take the first shot: under sharia, don't they stone to death for what he does with kids?

H/T to Jihad Watch

Friday, November 21, 2008

TPPC November 20, 2008

On Thursday morning the Transportation, Parking, and Pedestrian Committee (TPPC) of Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) met. The short meeting went only about 40 minutes.

Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) had met with veteran drivers of the VBWave seasonal service to hear from them why they though ridership was down in 2008. First, there was less traffic on Atlantic Avenue, especially after 8 P.M. Second, many didn't grasp the hybrids being the replacement vehicle for the trolleys and would stand at a bus stop waiting for one of the red vehicles. On the bright side, the new routing north of 25th Street worked well, while bunching was only a problem on major holidays.

Parking lot collections were down slightly in 2008 due to a rainy September. The lots were ahead by about 20,000 vehicles and $100,000 going into September, only to have it rain 11 of 30 days. However, the elimination of Camp Pendleton shuttle service on major holidays (which was paid for out of parking revenues) meant net revenue was actually up for the year.

In the ongoing 16th Street saga, Plan C is now to cul-de-sac 16th Street in the 400th block, the second time the proposal has been pushed back a block. In addition, traffic calming measures are suggested on Arctic Avenue in the neighborhood.

This coming Tuesday proposed revisions to the Residential Parking Permit Program will go to City Council.

7% Of Hits For This Blog

Now that I have StatCounter installed, I can see that the 4th largest ISP for hits to this blog is the City of Virginia Beach. 7% of all hits are coming City computers.

The next time critics try to dismiss this blog, please note those writing policy are obviously reading.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

UCAC November 19, 2008

The User Citizen Advisory Committee (UCAC) of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) met Wednesday evening at HRT headquarters in Hampton.

Tom Holden gave a report on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). UCAC Chairman Henry Ryto had requested it, wanting UCAC members to be aware of their obligations under the statute.

An update was given on pending changes to the UCAC Guidelines. By consensus the name Transit Rider Advisory Committee (TRAC) was accepted. The previous recommendation of Passenger Advisory Committee (PAC) had been rejected by HRT Staff, as it used the same acronym commonly used for HRT's Department of Public Affairs and Communications.

UCAC Staffer Tamara Poulson covered incident reporting procedures. UCAC members were asked to follow the template used by HRT's Customer Service Department.

Staff had a full set of answers for the questions submitted by UCAC members in their City Reports.

Some HRT reports were distributed to UCAC members. The ridership report showed that ridership in October was up 8.86% over October, 2007.

The next UCAC meeting will be Wednesday, December 17 at 6 P.M. in the Norfolk office. There the UCAC will do Strategic Planning.

84% Back Regionalism

In our latest poll, 84% backed Virginia Beach looking at a regionalist approach to local issues.

15% wanted to go-it-alone, but that's a dinosaur that demographic changes will eclipse. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, fewer Whites lived in Virginia Beach in 2007 than in 1990. What population growth we had during those 17 years was entirely minority, mostly former Norfolk and Portsmouth residents. Given their ties to their former communities, there's a different mindset towards Regionalism. Despite the futile efforts of some VBTAers to cobble together an artificial Virginia Beach-Chesapeake MSA (in an attempt to secede from the region), Virginia Beach policy will become further fixed westward (not southwestward) with time. Regionalism is a historic inevitability.

The new poll question: which date do you prefer for Virginia Beach City Council elections?

What Next For Obama's Organization?

Having given a small amount of money ($25) to Barack Obama during the Democratic primaries (obliterate Hitlery!), I'm on the Obama e-mail list. This morning I got an intriguing e-mail.

It was an e-mail with a link to a four page survey. It appears that the Obama campaign is looking to morph into a permanent political organization. It would not only support Administration policies, but field state and local candidates.

How would the new organization interact with the existing Democratic Party structure?

The only campaign in memory I can remember doing anything like this was Pat Robertson's failed 1988 Presidential campaign, which became the Christian Coalition.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Meyera Oberndorf Library?

Now that the short lady is on her way out the City Hall door, it's appropriate to consider how Virginia Beach should remember her. Here's an idea I first tossed out three years ago: rename Central Library after her.

Prior to her 32 years on City Council (the last 20 as Mayor), Meyera Oberndorf served on the Library Board. In addition, she's served as the Council Liaison to it during her tenure on City Council. Given her longtime advocacy for the libraries, it would be fitting.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Is Cumulative Voting An Alternative?

Today's Virginian-Pravda brings us the story on how Virginia Beach's African-American community leaders are discussing the need to change our City Council electoral system http://hamptonroads.com/2008/11/virginia-beachs-black-leaders-discuss-shift-voting-system While a change is needed, what next?

An alternative system is cumulative voting. Cumulative voting is a neo-proportional system in which multiple votes are cast across the field or stacked on a single candidate. Here's the Wikipedia article on it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumulative_voting

A cumulative system in Virginia Beach would mean 5 Council seats up every two years. All candidates would run in a single field, with the residency districts eliminated. Voters would have 5 votes (or points) to cast across the field in whatever manner wished. The top five finishing candidates would win Council seats.

Why cumulative? First, none of the publicly stated reasons for opposing a ward system apply to it. You would still vote for everyone, have to see the City as a whole, there are no districts that could become fiefdoms, etc. Second, it's harder to go negative in campaigning when it's everyone against everyone. Third, the neo-proportional nature would provide for a more diverse Council (in more ways than one).

In the case of the African-American community, African-Americans make up 26% of Virginia Beach voters. If the majority of the community can rally behind a single candidate, that candidate should be able to win a seat. In addition, any other group that can cross the effective 20% threshold could be seated. (Note the Wikipedia article even uses a 5 seat example.)

While my personal preference is for a ward system, I've long pushed cumulative voting as a possible alternative. With electoral reform on the front burner, I thought I'd toss cumulative out to get it on the table.

The "No Mandate" Myth

We can always count on the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) for political myths. One of their newest was spewed by Reid Greenmun on hamptonroads.com on Saturday: 61% voted against Will Sessoms, so he doesn't have a mandate. http://hamptonroads.com/2008/11/virginia-beach-sounds-retreat-voter-turnout I saw the same line in the Comments section of a Virginia News Source letter a few days ago. Therefore, I wish to dismantle the myth.

First, Will Sessoms received two and a half times the number of votes that John Moss did. Second, "mandate" really only matters when a minority party tries to form a government in a parliamentary system. Third, if Sessoms doesn't carry out his program in office, whose program does the VBTA expect him to implement? (Let me guess....)

As others have pointed out, during the campaign Moss tried to minimize the differences between the other three Mayoral candidates. As a Scott Taylor voter, let me point out the two big differences between Taylor and Sessoms were level of resident participation and how much public funds should be used in an expanded economic development effort:

1. Economic development - financial facts (i.e. dipping assessments, state budget cuts, etc.) are going to curb any large spending spree.

2. Resident involvement - here's where the 39% kicks in: Sessoms is going to need to reach out to Oberndorf and Taylor voters. If not, he faces being a one-termer and/or seeing his allies routed in 2010.

The irony is that fiscal and political realities are going to push Sessoms towards a policy line closer to Taylor's platform than what he himself ran on.

So how does Sessoms build a new majority? The key player is Glenn Davis. Remember that Davis won election with a coalition that had at it's core the duo of the Chamber of Commerce and the African-American Political Action Committee (AAPAC). A business community-minority communities alliance would not only be formidable, but open the door for a full-blown political realignment. Give Davis a high-profile role in dealing with the public.

The bottom line: while the VBTA is deluding itself into believing Sessoms is in a weak position, he's actually holding a strong hand. Now we get to see if he can play his cards smart....

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Clifford Goes To 18th Street

As trolley replacement in Virginia Beach is going slow, Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) has had to use a hodgepodge of equipment to keep the outlying routes rolling. Opuses were brought in when Norfolk's hybrids arrived, and some small buses even came from the Peninsula. The idea was to avoid using the remaining trolleys.

Among the buses from the Peninsula were two ad buses. They are painted a red-orange color for the Virginia Lottery. Bus 1500 was nicknamed "Clifford" by a Beach-based driver. Clifford is named for the reddish cartoon dog.

With the Summer season over, HRT has been able to put the 10 existing hybrids onto mainline service. That has allowed it to...uh...send Clifford to 18th Street (Southside garage).

Last night I spotted Clifford coming into the Cedar Grove Transfer Center. I text messaged HR Transit Ideas' Michael Ragsdale "Clifford on Inbound 23". Michael immediately called to verify that it was Bus 1500. (Bus 1503 looks similar).

Any TCC students wishing to visit their old friend Clifford, take the 25 to Military Circle, transferring there to the 20 or 23 to go to Cedar Grove.

Portsmouth Public Libraries: Land Of the Pharos

Yesterday HR Transit Ideas' Michael Ragsdale and I went riding on Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) newly-established Route 65, the Jordan Bridge Limited. (As for yesterday's operational execution by HRT, I don't use that kind of language on my blog.)

Arriving in Portsmouth about 90 minutes ahead of Michael, I went a half-block to Portsmouth's main library. I had been there twice before.

The building itself looks nice from the outside. Inside, it's small by the standards of main libraries in Hampton Roads. We have a few branches in Virginia Beach about the same size.

The amusing thing was their Internet computer system. Only 6 computers are available, but the highlight was the registration system they used. The Pharos program has you register on an unit at an adjacent table. Your name then goes into the queue. A monitor displays the names in order with the estimated wait time for each. When your unit opens up, the monitor tells you which unit to report to. It's similar to an airport flight display.

The appalling thing in Portsmouth is the lack of quality meeting rooms. The main library and Churchland branch each have small meeting rooms. However, nothing on the scale of Chesapeake or Norfolk, yet alone Virginia Beach,

The Nanny State Goes "Quack!"

Today's Virginian-Pravda tells us that Virginia Beach wants to ban bird feeding on City property. http://hamptonroads.com/2008/11/feeding-ducks-it-could-soon-cost-you-virginia-beach

Not only have I fed ducks before, but I fed seagulls at the beach while growing up. The City doesn't like the diet? Elsewhere I've used machines that dispensed corn for feeding ducks with. If the City did that, not only would the ducks and geese get fed a healthy diet, but it would become a small revenue source.

Alaska prohibits feeding moose, as the large animals roaming into residential areas poses a public safety issue. However, ducks and geese?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Give Idiots Enough Rope....

Today's Virginian-Pravda carries the story on how City leaders are panicking and want to move City Council and School Board elections back to May. http://hamptonroads.com/2008/11/beach-leaders-question-switch-nov-voting

First, does anyone seriously think the Obama Administration Justice Department would grant clearance to go back to May? Not only would it mean cutting turnout by at least two-thirds, but November meant a large minority turnout we hadn't seen in May.

Second, they're making the huge mistake about this election that I predicted shortly after the change. Don't learn too many lessons from November 4! In November, 2010 there will be neither a Presidential nor Senatorial race on the ballot. Therefore, turnout should be 40-45% rather than the 70% we just saw.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

2009 CCO Officers

This evening the Council of Civic Organizations (CCO), Virginia Beach's civic league federation, had it's election for the 2009 Executive Committee. The Nominating Committee's slate was accepted by acclamation:

President: Sam Reid

1st Vice President: Jermaine Hannah

2nd Vice President: Jim Glynn

Treasurer: Joe Yurso

Recording Secretary: Henry Ryto

Corresponding Secretary: Julie Strader

Director: Dr. Maggie Sizer

Director: Jennifer Acey

Director: Melinda Lunchun

With Jim Glynn moving up, John McMullen will serve the final year of his Director's term. Entering the second year of Director's terms are Chris Wiemken and Jay Kerr. Chandler Scarborough will continue to serve as Past President.

StatCounter

This morning I completed a "get around to it" project: switching from Bravenet to StatCounter as the hit counter for this blog. It's a much better service that is free, just like Bravenet.

StatCounter was already in use by 757Hampton Roads and HR Transit Ideas.

Monday, November 10, 2008

PICH Is Coming To Virginia Beach

The Peninsula Institute for Community Health (PICH) will be opening a clinic in Virginia Beach "after the first of the year". It will be in the former Oceana Urgent Care building on General Booth Boulevard.

PICH offers medical and dental services primarily to low-income people. Based in Newport News, they already have satellite offices in Mathews County and Suffolk. There is a three-tier fee scale, with payment dependent on income.

While medical only will be provided in Virginia Beach at first, the PICH administrator I spoke to this afternoon left the door open that they may add dental at the Beach later.

PICH's website is at http://www.pich.org

City Charter Reform, Anyone?

I've been talking about this off-and-on for 5-6 years now. Virginia Beach is in a strategic political impasse which has crippled this City Council and the two previous. There are those who think simply putting Will Sessoms in the Mayor's office will break it. While Sessoms will be more aggressive in pushing agenda items, swapping out Mayors won't mitigate the political fallout from actions. In fact, this election no opposed incumbent got a majority of the vote.

So what would I do? Five things for starters:

1. Implement a ward system

At least 7 district seats; you really need 8-9 districts to make the numbers sing. Add all the at-large seats on top of that you want. It would mean a larger Council, but a larger Council would mean a smaller workload for each member.

2. Increase Mayoral powers, including a veto

If you go to a ward system, the Mayor needs a veto to prevent the Balkanization of the Council. As he'd be elected at-large, he can block a tyranny of the majority.

3. A Redevelopment Authority, limited to the Strategic Growth Areas as mapped in the December, 2003 Comprehensive Plan

Not only do I not personally like the idea, but Virginia's new eminent domain law limits the utility of one.

However, I need something to horse trade for a ward system. The current SGAs avoid healthy existing neighborhoods, while promoting redevelopment in the SGAs along the Norfolk Southern Corridor strengthens to case for light rail. Grudgingly offer it in return.

4. Raise the amount of debt the City can issue annually.

The current Charter limit is stuck in 1963 dollars. Needless to say, 45 years of inflation have left the figure silly.

5. Enshrine a Residents Bill of Rights

Both the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions have one, but not our City Charter.

Closing

I know I'll get shot at from some quarters for some of the specifics I mentioned. However, to pass a new Charter at referendum (which the General Assembly will almost certainly require), there needs to be something for everyone to vote for in the reform package.

With the election over, I thought I'd toss the idea out for discussion. Don't like something? A suggestion for addition?

Use The Rooms Tax

56% of you voted to use the Rooms Tax in part to finance the next phase of Town Center.

I wouldn't seriously consider it. With a recession looming, Rooms Tax collections may very well go down. If so, the Town Center receipts will be needed to help cover current obligations.

Since I'm going to Newport News today, I thought I'd ask a question regionalist in nature. Which way should Virginia Beach policy lean: towards Regionalism or should we go it alone?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Deanlusional VBTA

The Virginia Beach City Council election is over, and Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) Chairman John Moss finished with only 15.71% of the vote in the Mayoral race. Things get even more grim for the VBTA when you see that Leona Shuler got only 8.07% in the Council At-Large race. The true believers were routed: Libertarian Bob Barr received a minuscule 0.31% of the Presidential vote. The pipe dream of a VBTA electoral breakthrough is simply Deanlusional.

Having been schooled by both the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) and GOPAC (a big, national Republican PAC), I know coalition building is a vital part of winning elections. GOPAC teaches a model where you shoot for a coalition that will get you 52% of the vote. You can't build a 52% coalition around the far right-wing VBTA. In fact, their idea of a coalition is the VBTA, the Tidewater Libertarian Party (TLP), and the Citizens Action Coalition (CACI) together.

Honestly, who in Virginia Beach is looking to go into coalition with the VBTA? First, they're so far to the right that you can't build out a coalition far enough to the center off them to win. Second, their obsession with reducing the Property Tax rate is an albatross that drives off potential partners.

The usual VBTA electoral progression:

1. The Marian Manor breakfast group is their sounding board. They believe that the Kool-Aid chuggers actual reflect the community.

2. They delude themselves into believing that disagreement with City policy and support of the VBTA agenda are synonymous.

3. When their candidates and door knockers hear discontent, they assume their candidate is winning.

4. Their candidate - inevitably - gets clobbered.

Moss' clobbering is the beginning of the end of the VBTA. They were shown to be political impotent, and all the Viagra in the world won't get them going again. What's left of the VBTA, if it can ditch it's extremist Officers, has a potential life as a junior partner in City conservative and center-right coalitions. However, VBTA City Council candidates will never be a serious threat again.

2008 HRT Retreat Day 2

The TDCHR reconvened this morning for Day 2 of their annual Retreat. Things began with a recap of yesterday's proceedings.

The Business Plan was taken up. It's based on the same 5 Goals as the Strategic Plan:

1. Promote and Advocate Transit-Oriented Development in Hampton Roads.

2. Make Hampton Roads Transit a Transportation Provider of Choice in the Region.

3. Achieve Financial Stability & Efficiency.

4. Develop a Workforce that is Highly Qualified, Efficient, and Motivated by Excellence.

5. Increase and Improve Capital Assets.

No one had any major problems with the Business Plan.

Under Governance, the focus was on committee structure and function. With 9 existing committees, consolidation of three of them was considered.

Today I was given the opportunity to participate in the full session with the Commissioners and HRT Staff. I'd like to thank HRT for that and two good meals.

Christmas Music Already?!?

On Friday, 2WD (101.3 FM) went to an all-Christmas music format. On November 7. Why that far out?

Some Christmas music is okay a couple of weeks out. Furthermore, as a Catholic, let me point out Easter is the more religiously significant holiday.

Therefore, I won't be tuning in 2WD again until after Christmas.

Friday, November 7, 2008

2008 HRT Retreat Day 1

After completing this morning's TDCHR meeting, the tables were reset for the annual Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) Retreat. The TDCHR reconvened, with five major areas covered on Friday.

It started with an overview of the Fare Policy document being drafted. The big item: the consultant suggested that HRT peg it's fares to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), with annual increases based on the CPI figure. The TDCHR will take up the proposal at a later date.

A briefing was given on the Comprehensive Operation Analysis that is in progress.

The Hampton Residential Services, seasonal bus routes targeted for middle and high school students, will be discontinued no later than June, 2010. HRT is one of seven transit agencies in the country that offers a product aimed at students. Not only have Federal Transit Administration (FTA) regulation changes made it more difficult to operate, but capital needs to keep it's older buses running make it cost-prohibitive to continue.

The proposed Strategic Plan was covered. It's a series of principles and measures for operating HRT. Commissioners wanted to spend little time on it, as what's in it are common sense things that - Randy Wright noted - HRT should already be doing.

Then came the fun part: the Vision Plan. Representatives working on the MPO's regional mass transit plan gave a quick overview of the early ideas. There was a passionate discussion on where everyone wanted to see mass transit in Hampton Roads in the long term. CEO Michael Townes graciously invited the observers (including myself) to come sit with the Commissioners and HRT Staff to join in the discussion of the Vision Plan. (Yes, I got a couple noteworthy things in.)

The session ended at 4:15 P.M., a half hour earlier than scheduled. The TDCHR reconvenes at 8:30 A.M. for another half day of the Retreat. On the Agenda are the Business Plan and Governance Issues.

Congratulations To The New City Council

Over 27,000 absentee ballots were cast in Virginia Beach for this election. Counting was finally completed today. Will Sessoms replaces Meyera Oberndorf as Mayor, while Glenn Davis defeated Reba McClanan in Rose Hall District.

The new Council should be great for the Resort Area and very good for light rail. Watching Council after New Year's should be fun!

TDCHR November 7, 2008

This morning the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (TDCHR) held it's November meeting. Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) governing body was delayed 35 minutes as late arrivals were needed to muster quorum, but then the meeting itself lasted only 20 minutes.

7 contracts were covered: 5 Change Orders for light rail, 1 new contract, and 1 contract extension. Three of the Change Orders actually lowered the cost of the project, by a total of $1,939,366.00.

The TDCHR adopted it's 2009 Legislative Package. Among it's requests: a dedicated funding source, additional funds for hybrid shuttle vehicles, and money to cover further study of light rail.

For the first time since I've been attending TDCHR meetings, HRT has no vacant full-time bus driver positions. There are 4 part-time vacancies in Hampton.

Finally, the location and time for the December TDCHR meeting has been changed. It will now be December 11 in Norfolk at 10 A.M. The change was requested by the City of Norfolk due to light rail eminent domain hearings that day.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

RAC November 6, 2008

This afternoon Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) held it's November meeting. It was a short session, going only about 35 minutes.

Oceanfront Enhancement Committee (OEC) Chairman Jim Davis labeled the Transportation, Parking, and Pedestrian Committee's (TPPC) plan for the 16th Street area a "good compromise".
The plan would cul-de-sac 16th Street just west of Arctic and implement traffic calming measures on Arctic in that area. The OEC has now requested that the neighborhood's civic league gather petition signatures in support.

In addition, the OEC is discussing signage to create a "sense of arrival" into the Resort Area. That led Staff to bring up that the entertainment RFP includes a solicitation for "creative ideas" on such. The deadline for proposals under the RFP is November 18.

In the works is a demonstration for LED lighting along the Boardwalk. Four fixtures will be used to test the concept.

RAC Chairman Ken Taylor and Vice Chair Gerrie West were reelected to the same posts for 2009.

Finally, CVB Director Jim Ricketts noted in his remarks that Tourism didn't become a large issue in the just-concluded City Council campaign. It was anticipated that VBTAers would try to run against the Oceanfront.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

As We Await The Counting Of The Absentee Ballots

Both Diezel and Wilson lead (and will probably win) on pluralities. Sessoms is up 10,036 votes while Davis leads by 9,472. Some quick thoughts:

1. The most interesting fact: no opposed Virginia Beach City Council incumbent has a majority of the vote. Diezel is at 48.85%, McClanan is at 46.31%, Wilson is at 43.16%, and Oberndorf at 33.93%. Political thought is so splintered in Virginia Beach that no incumbent has the support of a majority of residents.

As the new Council goes to move forward, that's well worth remembering. Major initiatives will require fluxing coalitions and plenty of ground work.

2. Once I get John Moss' final tally, I'm changing my blog banner. The new slogan will be "(83.86%) of voters rejected the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) and it's extremist agenda."

3. I hope Joe Flores enjoys his pieces of silver for being Harry Diezel's splitter.

4. My personal little joy: here in Aragona Precinct Georgia Allen defeated Rosemary Wilson 50.81% to 30.99%.

5. If it's any consolation to Meyera this morning, she did win here - barely.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

2008 Election Day Thread

Share your comments and observations. I plan to be back on here this evening as the returns start to come in.

BTW, on Sunday evening I outlined my post-election post ripping the VBTA if John Moss tanks as expected.

6:23 P.M. - downstairs having dinner, it occurred to me to make a bold prediction: no matter what the election results tonight, Reid Greenmun will be complaining that the new government isn't far enough to the extreme right.

6:53 P.M. - The Virginian-Pravda reports that a flier is being distributed to African-American voters with which the Sessoms Campaign tries to go for Obama's coattails. http://hamptonroads.com/2008/11/fliers-beach-candidate-sessoms-mccain-backer-tie-him-obama

Nice try, but you see what's missing on it? That's right: Sessoms makes no commitment to scrap Virginia Beach's at-large voting system. In addition, without an "Authorized By" tag, the flier is illegal. (Sorry, Bruce.)

8:47 P.M. - With Obama up in the Presidential race, celebrations have already started in our apartment complex, which is about 85% African-American. Pots are being banged on; one man said all he needs now is to see Jesus walk on water.

9:45 P.M. - Still only 2 precincts (Point O View and Malibu) from Virginia Beach up on the State Board of Elections (SBE) website. WTF is going on?!? Granted, it's been nice to see Georgia Allen with the lead for the past 90 minutes....

The neighborhood has quieted down. They may have figured out what I have: the Presidential race looks like it will be at least 'til Midnight to call.

11:12 P.M. - It's official: Obama looks like he has enough electoral votes to win. In our neighborhood, the pans were beaten and shouts of "Obama!" went up.

On the City side, very interesting. Stay tuned.

12:10 A.M. - I'm going to try to get some sleep. Diezel is winning with just over 50%, as Flores splits off of Jackson. Sessoms is up about 6,500 votes over Meyera. Rosemary is winning on a plurality, as in 2004. The big thing is Glenn Davis is ahead.

John Moss is doing better than conventional wisdom, but that means nothing for VBTAers if they wake up with Mayor-elect Sessoms. With Sessoms in the Mayor's Office, the only thing that could stop light rail is the FTA.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Free Starbucks For Voters

Simply vote tomorrow and Starbucks will give you a free cup of coffee for the asking.


$12 Economy Seats To Europe?

It's being considered by Ryanair. Ryanair, an Irish low fare airline that's the European equivalent of Southwest Airlines, is considering 10 Euro service to the United States. http://cbs2chicago.com/watercooler/ryanair.transatlantic.flights.2.854744.html

It's part of European jargon to say "Let's do a Ryanair". They're well-known for offering extremely low fares on some seats as a lead-in on chosen routes. Ryanair's website is at http://www.ryanair.com

Sunday, November 2, 2008

If You Haven't Heard This Yet

Sarah Palin got prank called by a radio duo in Montreal.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

2008 AAPAC City Council Endorsements

The African-American Political Action Committee (AAPAC) has made it's endorsements for the Virginia Beach City Council:

Mayor - Meyera Oberndorf

Council, At-Large - Georgia Allen

Council, Kempsville District - Andrew Jackson

Council, Rose Hall District - Glenn Davis

The vote for Mayor was close.

The humorous part: John Moss didn't even show up for an Interview. With The Obama Effect hitting the polls November 4, Moss writes off over 30% of the voters? Even funnier will be the fact that the VBTAers will never figure out how John got creamed.

Friday, October 31, 2008

GRHA Blasts Reba McClanan

In a letter from the Green Run Homes Association (GRHA), Past President Chandler Scarborough blasted Councilwoman Reba McClanan for her repeated ignoring of questions from the GRHA.

Since Green Run makes up a huge chunk of Rose Hall District, Reba's behavior is appalling. When the GRHA recently had a candidates night, McClanan was off at a Mayoral forum as a spectator. It's not the first time for her: on Day 2 of this year's Council Retreat, McClanan was off speaking to the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) rather than attending to her Council duties.

Click on the images for a larger picture. H/T to Michael Ragsdale of HR Transit Ideas for helping me with the PNG.

It Can't Be Done?

There are those who argue that mass transit can't be done in Virginia Beach. They usually point to either how the city is built or it's demographics. The latter is changing rapidly, while the former is slated to change through the Comprehensive Plan.

For those who think it can't be done, bus ridership on Virginia Beach's outlying mainline routes operated by Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) base here were up this year for the third consecutive Summer. The routes served (25, 26, 27, 29, and 33) had a 5.2% increase for the May 1 - September 30 window over that period in 2007.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

88% Think Robert Dean Has Harmed Conservatism

88% of voters thought Robert Dean has had a negative impact on conservatism in Virginia Beach, while only 11% said he was a positive influence.

The new poll: should Rooms Taxes be included in the Town Center TIF? They're not currently, but Armada-Hoffler has floated the idea for the next phase of construction.

FYI this is the 400th post on this blog.

CACI To Fold?

The Citizens Action Coalition (CACI) has called a general meeting for Thursday, November 20 to decide the fate of the organization. CACI's Board of Directors wants:

1. An increased number of sponsors to float the group financially.

2. More sponsors willing to sit on the Board of Directors.

3. More sponsors willing to make regular submissions to The Monitor (CACI's newsletter).

If the above conditions are not met, CACI may cease to exist.

Please Mr. Postman

Taking the bus to this morning's TPPC meeting, a postal worker boarded who I recognized as a regular rider. He explained that it was his day off, but that he had been called in to handle political mail. With the election next Tuesday, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is swamped with last minute direct mail pieces. The extra help is needed to get them to you on time.

So when you get that glossy in the next few days saying how fiscally conservative the candidate is, remember that the USPS had to pay overtime to get it to you.

TPPC October 30, 2008

This morning the Transportation, Parking, and Pedestrian Committee (TPPC) of Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) met. The meeting lasted about 80 minutes.

At the top of the Agenda was the VBWave seasonal trolley service. After a slow start, it rebounded in August, getting back to 2006 ridership levels. The problem was that September was 42.3% below 2007, with the year ending 28.0% down. Farecard sales were down 31.61% for the year.

An attack strategy is being mustered. First, a robust marketing plan for 2009. Second, a survey in early 2009 to find out why people ride and don't. Third, improved signage and amenities.

Finally, the trolley fleet will soon be down to 15 vehicles, as the excess trolleys will be auctioned off next month. Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) needs 21 vehicles at peak, so 10 hybrids and 15 trolleys would give them 25 to work with.

The Oceanfront Enhancement Committee's (OEC) recommendations on street closings were discussed again. The TPPC sent to the OEC a proposal to cul-de-sac 16th Street just west of Arctic and to implement traffic calming measures on Arctic.

The previously approved changes to the Residential Parking Permit Program (RPPP) will go to City Council on November 25 for the required Ordinance change.