Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tim Kaine For Veep?

With virtually everyone else sounding off on this subject, I thought I'd add my two cents worth.

Okay, Tim Kaine's record of accomplishment as Governor has been...what? However, he strikes me as a decent guy, and it wouldn't hurt to have a sane Virginian (read: not Mark Warner!) in the Old Executive Office Building. Even if you don't like Barack Obama, it doesn't hurt to hedge your bet in case he does win.

Therefore, if Obama wants Kaine, I'd be happy with the choice.

TPPC July 31, 2008

This morning the Transportation, Parking, and Pedestrian Committee (TPPC) of Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) met. Preliminary movement was made on three issues.

First, there have been talks about bringing pedicabs to the Resort Area. (They already operate at Town Center.) More information was requested. The Virginia Beach Police Department (VBPD) has a number of concerns about allowing them onto Atlantic Avenue, while the bike path along the Boardwalk is too narrow for two to pass.

Second, a lighting demonstration is to be arranged for the outlying blocks in the Resort Area. White lights, which give off clearer light and are more energy efficient, would replace the yellow lights now used.

Third, there was a discussion on using Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) buses for shuttling convention delegates. Recent regulation changes by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) have tightened use of transit buses for charter purposes. Councilman John Uhrin said chartered motor coaches would be the primary haulers, with HRT supplementing them. Thinking out loud, CCO RAC representative Henry Ryto tossed out an idea for Resort service that would clear the largest FTA hurdle. HRT Vice President of Operations Mike Perry stated it was doable, but can it clear the Resort political minefields?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Moss To Finish In Single Digits

88% of you said that Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) Chairman John Moss will only poll in single digits in the November 4 Mayoral election. 48% said 1%-5%, 40% said 6%-9%, 4% said 10%-14%, while 7% believe he'll get 15%-20%. Personally, I voted 6%-9%. He has a committed core of supporters, but I don't see how he can break out on the Presidential ballot and with the field he is in.

The new poll addresses workforce housing. The Workforce Housing Program enacted by the Virginia Beach City Council so far has delivered zero new units. What more would you do to correct the problem? The choices in the poll:

1. Expand VBCDC - the Virginia Beach Community Development Corporation (VBCDC) is a city-held corporation that provides low-income housing (and a few other services).

2. Tax Abatements - give developers tax incentives to build units.

3. Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning - campaigned for by Empower Hampton Roads, it would require most larger developments to include lower-income units as a portion of units built.

4. Zoning in the Comprehensive Plan - with the Comprehensive Plan up for renewal, rezone in it to induce units being built.

5. Play Ostrich - a Virginia Tech study found Virginia Beach over 14,000 units short of what it needs, but some (including the VBTA) deny that there is a problem.

For the first time ever on this blog, the poll is enabled to allow you to vote for multiple choices. Therefore, it you believe more than one option is a piece of the puzzle, choose more than one.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hip Hop Republican

Being both a Republican and a grassroots urbanist, I had to love this blog when I found out about it earlier this evening.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Lousy V-P Editorial On Light Rail for Virginia Beach

Sunday's lead by The Virginian-Pravda was an editorial calling for the Virginia Beach City Council to rescind the 1999 Resolution withdrawing from light rail.

The "logic" is like Hugo Chavez's argument that his election as President of Venezuela "justified" his attempted coup d'etat as an army officer. No, the 1999 proposal was over $69 million per mile. The national benchmark for light rail is $40 million per mile. Given the outrageous cost, it's unlikely we could have received Federal funding for something that looked like that.

There have been a number of changes since 1999 that now make a strong case for light rail: Town Center has been built, downtown Norfolk rejuvenated, gasoline prices have more than doubled, the Strategic Growth Areas (SGAs) along the Norfolk Southern Corridor have been added to Virginia Beach's Comprehensive Plan, greenfields for development have dwindled, urban redevelopment is planned for the Resort Area, etc. In addition, Norfolk has a Federally-funded Starter Line (who thought that would happen?) and Portsmouth is planning for light rail through the proposed second tube for the Midtown Tunnel. None of that existed in 1999, when Virginia Beach voters rightfully killed an out-of-control plan.

If you read the comments section of the story, you'll see remarks by Deaniacs demanding a referendum:

1. It has little to do with light rail and nothing to do with the consent of the governed. It's about resuscitating the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA), which is on life support. The VBTA was only able to muster Moss and Shuler as Council candidates, and killing light rail is the only issue looming that could revive the cult. Therefore, they can't say "light rail" without using the word "referendum".

2. The VBTA's own "Transportation Plan" from earlier this year covers light rail, setting a referendum threshold for any Transportation project at $2 billion. Since light rail for Virginia Beach would be about one-quarter of that, by their own parameter it doesn't require a referendum.

Maybe they should read their own documents before making stupid statements....

Friday, July 25, 2008

Light Rail In Virginia Beach Is In The Public Interest: It's The Law

I've had the LIS page for HB 6028 bookmarked. When I just went to it, it's marked as now official: Governor Kaine has signed the Virginia Beach light rail bill.

Thank you so very much, Governor Kaine.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Governor Kaine, Where Are You?

A week ago all the signatures were affixed to HB 6028 but one: Governor Tim Kaine's. Delegate Bob Tata's light rail bill for Virginia Beach passed the General Assembly during the Transportation special session with only one member (Ken Cuccinelli) voting "No".

The delay is perplexing given Kaine's previous support on associated issues: he attended the Norfolk light rail groundbreaking, put money in the budget to purchase light rail cars for Norfolk, proposed a Transportation plan that included much increased transit funding, etc. Why the delay in signing?

It's very simple, Governor: pick up a pen and put your name on the bill.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Reid Greenmun: The Song

I've long wanted to write a song lampooning Reid Greenmun and the ideology he cofounded, Messnerism-Greenmunism. I played with quite a few tunes, but couldn't make the lyrics fit.

About 11 days ago I was listening to Carly Simon's You're So Vain and the chorus hit me. The last couple days I've been working on it:

You believe everything is a conspiracy in Hampton Roads
The VBTA joins you with other kooks
Intellectual as toads
We're in the 21st Century but you live in the past
Your model is from the 12th Century
And "Leave It To Beaver"

Reid Greenmun, Barbara Messner's ideological twin
Reid Greenmun, you realize we all know you're a nutcase
Don't you? Don't you?

Splintered the 31st Street Park movement along with Barbara
Tried to use the CCO for extremism
Left it as a pariah
Down to your last strike you've hitched your wagon to the VBTA
That group will be a spent farce by Thanksgiving
You'll be finished with them

Deluded yourself into believing Council
Would about-face on taxes
You still believe Council will go to the far right because that's what Reid wants
Paranoid about TOD conspiracies
Can't accept that light rail is coming here
You live in a world that is long gone
Angry at the present
Nothing left but to play with your Messner blowup doll
Your Messner blowup doll

Monday, July 21, 2008

TDCHR Retreat Postponed

The Retreat for the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (i.e. HRT's Board) has been postponed. It was scheduled for this Friday and Saturday. It has not been rescheduled yet.

Once I know the new dates and location, count on me blogging it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Got Polled By Rasmussen

Earlier this evening I received a call, and was part of a telephone poll by Rasmussen.

The poll largely focused on the Presidential contest. I was asked not only my preference, but then asked to rate the candidates on a number of issues. I was asked my Party, and my opinion of the current President.

There was only one muddled question at the Congressional level. It wrapped both races (House and Senate) into one, and whether I supported "the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate."

In short, not that great of a poll.

59% Believe In Global Warming

59% of you said global warming is fact. While I'm not sold on it, how else do you explain what's happening in the Arctic?

The new poll: what percentage of the Mayoral vote will John Moss get?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Norfolk Airport Authority Would Love This

I'm nearing the end of a round of an online game, Airline Mogul. My airline has hubs at Norfolk, Oklahoma City, and Portland, OR.

Being a hub airport not great enough for Norfolk? What would have the Norfolk Airport Authority salivating is that I have nonstop service from Norfolk to 15 cities in Europe: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Dublin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Kemi (of course!), London - Heathrow, Madrid, Milan - Malpensa, Munich, Paris - Charles De Gaulle, Rome, Stockholm - Arlanda, and Vienna. I would love to have Athens, but the Ilyushin - 76 TD doesn't have the range to fly ORF - ATH nonstop.

If you'd like to have a go at it, try

Kiss Me or Diss Me

If you've ever had fun with the website "Hot Or Not", you'll love our local version. 105.3 Kiss FM has on their site "Kiss Me Or Diss Me"

I rated every woman currently on there, and was shocked with some of the scores. There are a few women on there that I'd take but who have below average scores.

Have fun!

South Hampton Roads Avoids Starbucks Closings

Previously Starbucks announced intentions to close 600 stores in the U.S. The list is out, and none are in South Hampton Roads.

There is one each in Newport News and Hampton. Surprisingly. Patrick Henry Mall. You can't get enough traffic there?

My one concession to bourgeois values: Starbucks Vanilla Bean Venti. (I'm not a coffee drinker.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Region's Leaders To Get Serious About Mass Transit?

According to The Daily Press, that's Plan B now that the General Assembly has failed to enact a roads plan.,0,4977485.story

It's about time! Even if the General Assembly had enacted a plan to build the 7 major road projects, as Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance Transportation Chairman Reid Greenmun is fond of pointing out, none of the MPO package covers secondary roads.

The cost-effective solution is mass transit. Bus service for a city for a year could be funded for about the same price as one medium-sized street project.

I certainly stand ready to do my part in enhancing Hampton Roads' mass transit system.

UCAC July 16, 2008

The User Citizen Advisory Committee (UCAC) of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) met on Wednesday evening at HRT's Hampton headquarters. The 85 minute session accomplished quite a bit.

The longest item on the Agenda was a markup of the UCAC's committee guidelines. Originally adopted in 2002, a number of amendments were proposed. Any changes will need the approval of both HRT management and the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (TDCHR).

With the City Reports now submitted via e-mail in advance, Staff had the answers to most UCAC questions. Of particular note is movement on two concerns: HRT will try to get portajohns installed at Cedar Grove as soon as feasible, and Staff is compiling information to make a case for a 30 Day Senior & Disabled (ED) Pass for the MAX. In addition, newcomer Lauree Peoples' (appointment pending from Portsmouth) suggestion for improving the Portsmouth Loop timing has already been implemented.

UCAC Chairman Henry Ryto addressed the committee, outlining a twofold need for the UCAC moving forward. First, to help improve HRT's product, which would aid building public support for increased mass transit. Second, countering anti-transit propaganda.

The UCAC was informed of a few personnel shifts. Gloria Allen, who had been Southside Transportation Superintendent, is now Senior Dispatcher. Kristen McCaughey, who had been Northside Transportation Superintendent, takes Gloria's former position. Superintendent on the Peninsula is now Peter Katranides.

The UCAC will be moving it's meeting time from 6:30 P.M. to 6 P.M. The next two meetings are September 17 in Norfolk, then November 19 in Hampton.

Monday, July 14, 2008

2008 TDCHR Retreat Agenda

The 2008 TDCHR Retreat will be held Friday, July 25 and Saturday, July 26 at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott. The session will be all day on Friday, followed by a Saturday morning session.

Things will start Friday morning at 9 A.M. with the regular July TDCHR meeting. Retreat items are fare policy, Hampton school service, Strategic Plan, and Board Governance.

The Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (TDCHR) is the governing board of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT). The Retreat is open to the public. You're welcome to come and observe; it's all the more intriguing as one Commissioner has remarked that nobody attends the Retreats.

I plan to be there both days, so watch this blog for reports.

Friday, July 11, 2008

RAC July 10, 2008

On Thursday Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) met. The meeting lasted only forty minutes, one of the quickest in memory.

From the Plan/Design Review Committee (PDRC):

1. There's an ongoing attempt to clarify and simplify the outdoor cafe regulations in the Resort Area. This is paramount with the amount of new redevelopment expected west of Pacific Avenue.

2. The proposal to extend the Virginia Legends Walk has been dusted off and is being advanced. The portion between Atlantic Avenue and the Boardwalk would cover Virginia Beach and Princess Anne County figures.

From the Resort Investment Committee (RIC):

1. The RIC looked at parking within the context of the pending Resort Area Strategic Action Plan.

2. There will be a business analysis done of the proposals for a convention center headquarters hotel.

3. Light rail was discussed. Not only is it being looked at for being able to bring locals to the Resort Area, but the possibility of putting Resort Area satellite employee parking out along the rail line.

The Virginia General Assembly's Legislative Information System Is Obscene?

It is according to the Virginia Beach Public Libraries. The filters on our public library computers block access to the website.

On Thursday I arrived early in the Resort Area for the RAC meeting. To kill time, I went into the Oceanfront Library and signed up for a computer. Sure enough, it wouldn't allow me access to LIS.

Okay, each session there are bills introduced in the General Assembly that are obscene. However, there are clear reasons why people should be allowed access to the LIS website.

Almost as funny as filtering the Virginia Lottery's website because it's a gambling site.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

71% Support HB 6028

71% voted in support of HB 6028, Delegate Bob Tata's light rail bill. 25% were opposed, while 4% thought it should be a city - not a state - project.

My post this morning inspired a simple poll question, "Do you believe in global warming?" Have at it!

Delegate Tata's Light Rail Bill Passes The House 93-0

Delegate Bob Tata first had to substitute out on the bill, but it passed with flying colors. HB 6028, which would extend Norfolk's light rail Starter Line to Virginia Beach's Oceanfront, passed the House of Delegates 93-0. The substitute isn't on the LIS website yet, but should be soon

The last place the Flat Earther's could make a stand now is at the Senate Transportation Committee hearing. Just one problem: the Committee is Chaired by Senator Yvonne Miller of Norfolk. Think Yvonne would allow this one to die in her Committee? Can you say "It's going to be the law, VBTA!"?

Have a great night; I'm certainly going to.

UPDATE: the Substitute is now on LIS, and it's a much better bill! While leaving the option open for a PPTA, HB 6028 now reads that "the project may be advanced under any available development options."

My big question was how you would structure it financially as a PPTA. HRT Staff I spoke to were dismissive of being able to build light rail as a PPTA. Folks, celebrate!

G-8 Agrees to 50% Cut By 2050

G-8 nations, meeting in Japan, agreed to a 50% cut in emissions by 2050. Unclear was whether that was from the 1990 benchmark (used for the Kyoto treaty) or the 2007 figures.

Even if it is the 2007 figures, it would mean a drastic reduction for the U.S. Why blog on this? It would have profound policy implications for the U.S. The most dramatic way for reduction is to go to an Europeanized transportation model, relying much more on mass transit and rail.

Here in Hampton Roads, that means a regional light rail network with a system of hybrid feeder buses. Should this become Federal policy, how would our Flat Earthers make such large reductions here otherwise?

While I'm not sold on the science of global warming, both Presidential candidates are. That means a greater U.S. commitment is likely in 2009.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Housing Subsidy Payments To Go Up In 2009

I think most everyone is familiar with the fact that Dominion Virginia Power was granted an 18% rate increase. The consequence I have yet to hear discussed is that that means housing subsidy payments through the Section 8 program will go up in 2009.

One of the basic tenets of Section 8: rent plus utilities shall not exceed 40% of total household income. Thus, in calculating the subsidy payment for a tenant, the electric bill is deducted from income in figuring how large the subsidy will be. Therefore, when the annual recertifications come up late this year, the electric hike will force larger per household subsidy payments.

Before a couple of my readers scream, I'm simply pointing out an effect of the electric rate increase given Federal housing rules. Our local governments should begin planning on how to deal with the matter.

General Assembly Reconvenes Tomorrow

The General Assembly reconvenes on Wednesday in it's Transportation special session.

On the House floor is HB 6028, Delegate Tata's light rail bill. It has undergone it's First Reading, and was then passed by for the day.

Stay tuned for the fun!

Rescheduled RAC Meeting

Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) will meet this Thursday, July 10 at 3 P.M. at the convention center.

That's a rescheduling of the meeting that was originally slated for last Thursday but postponed. As always, the public is welcome to attend.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Glenn Davis' Website Is Up

Thanks to the ad on Bearing Drift, I now know that Glenn Davis' website is up

Pretty nice, but I've seen few "Issues" pages that said that little about the issues. Yes, we need to tackle economic development and transportation. However, the issue that soured me on Glenn in 2006 was affordable housing. What's he going to roll out there this time?

Then, Reba McClanan's Issues page would need only one word: "No".

Okay, William, tell us how Davis is Sessoms puppet-in-waiting. Even if that were the case (and the only thing pushing that so far are your comments), what happens if Davis wins and Sessoms loses?

Flames Club 2008

Today I received the return mailing on my 2008 renewal of membership in the Flames Club, the athletic booster club for Liberty University. It's my fourth year as a member.

For as little as $50 per year, you can join and support Liberty's athletic programs. Your annual gift is dedicated to the particular sport of your choice. As a former high school soccer player, each year I have my money routed to the men's soccer program.

Liberty did play football every other year against Norfolk State. This Spring the baseball team came to play Norfolk State while the softball team played ODU. My hope is that with ODU football on the horizon, we can have a regular Liberty - ODU football series.

You can learn more about the Flames Club, and Liberty University athletics in general, at

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Norfolk Sanctioning Obama For President?

I was at Norfolk's Janaf branch library today. Posted on the front door as you entered: a notice for a "Norfolk for Obama Organizational Rally" tomorrow.

Okay, if there's a community bulletin board, you might be able to make a case for it there. However, this was on the front door where everyone entering the library would see it. The obvious point was to push Barack Obama's candidacy.

A taxpayer-funded service shouldn't be used that way.

RAC Meeting Postponed

The July meeting of Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) has been postponed. As normal, it had been scheduled for the 1st Thursday (July 3) at 3 P.M. at the convention center.

What's annoying is that this was so predictable; in fact, I predicted it in speaking to a CCO Director last week.:

1. The RAC normally meets on the 1st Thursday at 3 P.M.

2. That regularly brings it up against the Fourth of July holiday.

3. Some Resort businesspeople will object to meeting then.

The RAC needs a standing policy for dealing with the July meeting. Since the 2008 meeting schedule has been out for months, someone shouldn't have just discovered it this week.