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.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The VBTA's "Line of Death"

If John Moss finishes in 4th Place and/or gets under 10% of the vote, you can begin writing the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance's (VBTA) political obituary.

Just as the May, 2000 election effectively destroyed CACI, November 4 should be the end of the VBTA.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mayoral Candidates "On The Record"

The streaming video is up on the WVEC website where you can watch Sunday's On the Record with Virginia Beach's four Mayoral candidates.

I saw it just a little bit ago. My thoughts:

1. Scott Taylor - helped himself; the best performance I've seen him give. I loved it when he attacked Sessoms and Oberndorf for voting to slash bus service in 2001.

2. Will Sessoms - pretty good.

3. Meyera Oberndorf - largely on the defensive.

4. John Moss - spent the entire show in negative mode.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

V-P Editorial Board Doesn't Get It

As we've come to expect from The Virginian-Pravda Editorial Board, they endorsed as status quo a slate as possible for the Virginia Beach City Council.

For all the fishwrapper's lecturing on Regionalism, they can't fathom a simple fact: Virginia Beach's status quoers are largely go-it-aloners, only accepting Regionalism where it will allow them to get policy areas outside the review of voters. If The V-P wanted Virginia Beach further integrated into Hampton Roads, they should have endorsed Georgia Allen and Andrew Jackson rather than Rosemary Wilson and Harry Diezel. Trying to prop up Virginia Beach's status quo isn't going to achieve The V-P's policy line.

It took a voting rights suit to push Norfolk forward; it then took 14 years for The V-P to admit that Norfolk was better off for it. It will take fundamental political reform in Virginia Beach for us to work all our talent into the game. The sooner we do it, the sooner we can move forward at full speed. The last 6 years have seen City Councils paralyzed in Virginia Beach, afraid to do anything due to the political strategic deadlock. Progress will only be made when all the new realities are publicly admitted to and dealt with.

Friday, October 24, 2008

India To Engage In Military Buildup?

India now spends 1.99% of it's GDP on Defense, but on Tuesday the Defense Minister stated the government goal is to boost that to 3%.

The article makes it clear that China - not Pakistan - is India's main adversary. With China already engaged in a large military buildup, are we heading for an arms race in Asia?

2008 CACI City Council Endorsements

The Citizens Action Coalition (CACI) is still around, though it's been clinically dead since 2006. They mailed me a copy of the November edition of The Monitor (their newsletter), which contains their City Council endorsements:

Mayor - John Moss

At-Large - Lee Shuler

Rose Hall - Reba McClanan

Kempsville - Harry Diezel

Two thoughts:

1. Please note that none of the candidates on the Avenging Archangel endorsement list were endorsed by CACI. That proves I'm still sane.

2. I can't resist: a vote for Harry Diezel is a vote for the CACI line! ROTFLMAO!

The Pembroke Mall Shuffle

Two store changes at Pembroke Mall this week:

1. Dollar Tree has pulled out. The story I was given is that it was too close to their Loehmann's Plaza store.

2. A new restaurant is in the former Gyro Wraps location in the Food Court. The menu board today was a mess: empty spots, some old Gyro Wraps signage (!), then some paper signs with the new establishment's menu. The choices sound good.

With the White Horse Pub having left last weekend, you need a program to know who is there.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Navy Field

Navy Field is a game based on World War II warships of four countries: the United States, Japan, Germany, and Great Britain. With experience you can move up in ship type. It's interactive, as you battle players from around the world.

You start as a neutral with a frigate. Once you reach Level 12, you can choose a country. I'm now Level 18 Kriegsmarine, as the Germans have longer range guns.

The unrealistic thing about the game is that, in so narrowly focusing on ship construction, it overlooks advantages and disadvantages the actual WW II navies had.

In this Navy region, I thought many would enjoy Navy Field. Just one catch: it's a large (418 MB) download.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

2008 Virginia Beach City Council Endorsements

Mayor: Scott Taylor

While a political novice, Taylor has crash-coursed himself on the issues: went to Norfolk Southern to learn fixed-rail transit, went to the Department of Economic Development (DED) to learn economic development, rode the buses with Virginia Beach's HRT UCAC delegation to see transit firsthand, etc. He has a background, both as a former SEAL and a businessman, to lead.

Meyera Oberndorf has been a good ribbon-cutter and ambassador, but hasn't led on an issue in 5-6 years. After 32 years on City Council, if she hasn't accomplished what she's wanted to, how much longer does she need?

Will Sessoms has been a great Mayoral candidate, but was a lousy Vice Mayor. If elected, let's hope we get the former rather than the latter.

John Moss is a decent, intelligent man. However, Moss in the Mayor's office with the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) Board of Directors as his sounding board should scare the crap out of any sane resident of Virginia Beach.

City Council, At-Large: Georgia Allen

Georgia Allen was already a very busy woman, regularly putting in 18 hour days. Why then did she take on an uphill battle for City Council? Rosemary Wilson has the worst record on inclusion of anyone on the Virginia Beach City Council. One African-American leader once told me Rosemary had been on the opposite side of every issue of particular interest to their community. Wilson couldn't be allowed to run unchallenged, so their best-known leader (Allen) was drafted to run.

That same sense of self-sacrifice would make a refreshing change on City Council. In addition, Georgia Allen could be counted on to press on many issues being ignored now.

City Council, Centerville District: Bob Dyer

Bob Dyer was a longshot in 2004; conventional wisdom was that Margaret Eure would win reelection "in a walk". Not only did Dyer win, but his four years of service has won over many Eure supporters while maintaining the lion's share of 2004's "mosaic coalition".

I just ran into Bob around Noon today. Even though he had a Council Workshop to get to, he saw me at a bus stop, picked me up, and drove me to my destination. We had a nice chat during the trip. Great guy. (Bob, if you're reading this, please reply to my Sunday e-mail to your City account.)

City Council, Kempsville District: Andrew Jackson

The fundamental question in the Kempsville race is whether we're simply going to tweak the status quo (Diezel) or take a fundamentally different path (Jackson). If you want "change" at the City level, you definitely want to vote for Andrew Jackson.

At a meeting of the African-American community leadership in March, I was the second speaker while Andrew was the third. I wish you could have been there to see tears come to his eyes as he told us how his single mother worked three jobs to put him through Catholic grade school.

Joe Flores is the Dave Kingman of City Council candidates: he occasionally hits a question for a spectacular home run, but usually whiffs. Flores has burned his bridges to the African-American community leadership running against Jackson, so expect him to be on the outside on Lake Edward issues once he gets clobbered.

City Council, Rose Hall District: Glenn Davis

Reba McClanan is a nice lady. However, she has regularly opposed measures both for greater resident involvement (community input on the legislative package, a ward system, and - initially - a Public Comment session at City Council meetings) and an urban services model.

Given who is backing Glenn Davis, I don't expect the full package from him on the former. However, those same interests back much of the latter, often for entirely different reasons than I. Therefore, take the half full glass in Davis over the empty glass in McClanan.


Okay, some will argue I just endorsed four underdogs. However, to quote Eugene Debs, "I'd rather vote for what I want and not get it than vote for what I don't want and get it."

2008 Federal Endorsements

The 2008 Federal candidate endorsements by this blog;

President: None

Neither John McCain nor Barack Obama (don't start me on Bob Barr) rises to the level of an endorsement.

McCain would make the better Commander-in-Chief, as we would go for the win in Iraq. In addition, Obama's tax proposals could finish off what's left of an economy heading towards a serious recession.

However, McCain's hostility - as Senate Commerce Committee Chairman - to subsidized fixed-rail service makes him a threat to Hampton Roads' Transportation future. Finally, a big prize looms: the Obama Administration Justice Department Civil Rights Division intervening in Virginia Beach to pull our political model into the 21st Century.

If you care more about Federal issues, vote McCain. If you care more about local and regional issues, vote Obama.

U.S. Senate: Gail Parker

If Bob Marshall had won the Republican nomination, this would be a no-brainer. I would have been busting my butt the last 4 months to get him elected.

Alas, Jim Gilmore is the nominee and - predictably - is down huge in the polls, some by as much as 30%. Make no mistake about it: Mark Warner would make one of the worst United States Senators in Virginia history. Warner's legacy as Governor: the largest tax increase in Virginia history. What would he do with our Federal taxes next?

With the blowout on, there is one way to make your vote count: vote Gail Parker. A vote for "Gail For Rail" is a signal to our elected officials that our Transportation model is broken, and we want them to fix it.

House of Representatives (2nd District): Thelma Drake

Thelma Drake has not only done a good job in Congress, but has excellent character.

On Election Day in 2004, it was Thelma's first run for Washington and I was Republican Captain in Aragona Precinct. Thelma spent the last four hours of voting at our Precinct, and remembers me since. Case in point: the Final Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) Signing Ceremony for Norfolk's Light Rail Starter Line. With all the VIPs there, she saw me and came over to have a chat. Folks, few elected officials would abandon the fat cats for one of the worker bees. Thelma did.

Most importantly, Drake is a member of the House Transportation Committee, sitting on the subcommittee that handles mass transit funding. With a large increase in mass transit needed in Hampton Roads, reelecting Thelma is crucial to getting it done.

House of Representatives (4th District): Randy Forbes

Like Drake, good in Congress and remembers the worker bees.

Andrea Miller's clueless campaign was typified by her comment in The Virginian-Pravda attacking former Staffers of her's for not raising more money. If Miller knew anything about politics, she'd realize the heavy hitters want to hear from the candidate herself, not a twentysomething Staffer.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Comprehensive Plan Update Input Form

Virginia Beach is now in the process of updating it's Comprehensive Plan. Virginia law requires each locality to do so every five years. If you'd like a say, there's a form on the City's website you can fill out and send.

Currently a series of a dozen public meetings is being held around the City to seek resident ideas on the germane issues. Earlier this evening I attended the meeting at Princess Anne High School, the 10th of the 12. It was enjoyable to sit down with other residents and discuss such matters. All public input is being compiled in a document that will be part of the public record.

A new draft Comprehensive Plan should be ready in late Spring or the Summer of 2009.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

81% See Tourism As An Economic Engine

81% see Tourism's economic impact as positive, 12% negative, and 6% neutral.

The new question is whether Robert Dean's impact on conservatism in Virginia Beach has been positive or negative. No, this isn't a poll on the VBTA: most of you (and I) don't think much of them. This is a broader conservative movement question. Has he been good for conservatism or not?

Route 20 Riders, Read This!

On the one hand, Sunday is by far the worst day of the week to ride Hampton Roads Transit (HRT). Hourly frequencies everywhere that's running, many routes not operating, etc. On the other hand, between the greenhorn drivers who draw Sunday duty and the others who think no one is watching on a Sunday, it makes for some amusing fiascoes. We had one this evening on Route 20.

For those who don't ride HRT, the weekday daytime routing for the 20 between Military Circle and Pembroke East is straight down Virginia Beach Boulevard. Evenings and weekends (with Route 25 not operating), it makes a loop to Leigh Hospital. Coming from Military Circle, the bus makes a right on Kempsville Road, loops through the hospital front area, continues on Kempsville, left on Newtown Road, then right on Virginia Beach Boulevard to get back on the straight shot. (Vice versa coming the other direction.)

The 6:45 P.M. bus this evening went straight down Virginia Beach Boulevard, as if on the weekday day route. At Newtown Road, the bus turned right, the driver apparently wanting to check for people at stops down there. Then the really fun part: the bus turned left on Greenwich Road, left on Witchduck Road, then right on Virginia Beach Boulevard to get back on route.

That's as far as I've ever seen a bus go off-route. Sadly, that trek probably left a number of people stranded at their stops, having to wait an hour for the next bus.

Don't worry: I've already e-mailed an account of the entire debacle to HRT.

Virginia Beach Mayoral Candidates On Light Rail

Check out this report from Channel 13, if you haven't already

For those who are demanding a referendum, I cite such as proof positive that light rail can't be built in a vacuum. There will be at least 3 City Council elections between now and construction, and light rail will be an issue every time.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Stay Tuned

Readership is up, but content hasn't kept pace. As I mentioned earlier, it's my hope to draw another 1-2 posters from the Jackson and/or Allen City Council campaigns after the election is over. I plan to send out an e-mail on November 5.

In the meantime, I'll try to keep you hanging in there.

Bizarre Ticket

This morning I saw a truck heading down Lynnhaven Parkway. It had bumper stickers for both (get this!) Barack Obama and Jim Gilmore.

Say what?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

MPO Transit Plan Opening Public Meeting

Today was the opening public meeting by the MPO in the drafting of a Hampton Roads regional mass transit plan. The 5 P.M. Power Point in Chesapeake was seen by a nearly full room of attendees, with a video hookup to Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) headquarters in Hampton.

As for content, citizens were shown information compiled from an assortment of previous studies, then asked for comment.

The Study's website is at

Devoid of Substance

Looking at Rosemary Wilson's website, anyone else notice what's missing? That's right: Issues. You're asked to volunteer and contribute to a candidate that takes a stand on nothing.

The website is at Granted, it's better than her 2004 webpage.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The White Horse Trots Off Into The Sunset

White Horse Pub, long a fixture in Pembroke Mall, closed this weekend. They were open for business on Saturday night. On Sunday things were being moved out, with a padlock on the door later.

I've talked to two sources who give me divergent stories on what happened. However, this is what they agree on. White Horse changed ownership about a year ago. Previously it had been a break-even operation. There was a core of regular customers who kept the place floating. Inexplicably, one of the first things the new ownership did was run all the regulars off. Yeah, the people who were covering the bills. Some changes were made that might have saved it in the long run, most notably the "Home of Local Rock" bringing in urban acts on sweetheart financial deals. Nevertheless, White Horse Pub was still bleeding money.

The rest - as I mentioned - I've heard conflicting stories on. Regardless, the Pub is now history.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Non-Perishable Food Donations Needed

There was only one Announcement at Mass today at St. Gregory's Catholic Church: the Food Pantry is running very low. There's been a sharp increase in need for food, depleting much of what was in stock.

Therefore, donations are needed. Take what you can to St. Gregory's Catholic Church on Virginia Beach Boulevard, across from Haynes Furniture.

Thelma Drake Leads 51%-37%

H/T to Not Larry Sabato, where I saw this poll story linked up

Glenn Nye has mounted yet another feeble Democratic attempt to retake Virginia's 2nd Congressional District. The only thing that might save Nye at this point is what's left of Wall Street tanking.

Can't wait for Thelma to be reelected: I have a bill idea to take up with her office.

Former President Ahtisaari Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Martti Ahtisaari, who served as President of Finland from 1994-2000, has been named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. A former diplomat, he won for his efforts in brokering peace not only while in office, but afterwards.

Ahtisaari's Crisis Management Initiative has hosted peace talks for internal struggles in Iraq and Indonesia. The website is at

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Progressive Future

This morning at Town Center there was a young woman putting leaflets on cars for the group "Progressive Future". I had never heard of them, but they have a website

Compare the website to the legal disclaimer on the leaflet, "Paid for by Progressive Future. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee. For more information, visit" Uh...what's the first thing you notice at their website?

Finally, Town Center is hardly the demographic that this group needs for the workers the leaflets seek.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Someone Does Listen at HRT, Second Edition

A change in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) regulations forced Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) to discontinue the Oceana and Norfolk Navy base tours. The tours used special buses with high-backed cushioned seats, overhead bins, etc. Bus riders compared riding them to Greyhound when they were occasionally pressed into mainline service. The buses all have numbers in the 1800s, the tell-tale sign when you see one at a distance.

With the tours gone, what becomes of the buses? On September 24 I was mortified to see one of them put on Route 310 (Downtown Shuttle) at rush hour. I e-mailed HRT pointing out that it was overkill. With their comforts, they would be much more appropriate on HRT's longest routes, such as Routes 1 and 20.

Therefore, I am very happy to report that Buses 1805, 1806, and 1808 were all on Route 20 on Wednesday. Someone at 15th Street (HRT's Southside administrative offices) is obviously paying attention to my e-mail.

Annual CCO Banquet

The annual Council of Civic Organizations (CCO) Awards Banquet will be held Saturday, March 14 at the Wyndham Hotel at 57th Street. The CCO is Virginia Beach's civic league federation.

Last year's Banquet was at the Wyndham and was so great that the CCO is returning. You'll want to be there.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Day Pass Launch Day

Monday, October 6 was launch day for a fare structure change by Hampton Roads Transit (HRT). As voted on by the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads at their March meeting, free Transfers were eliminated while a Day Pass was instituted.

Personnel were deployed to the major transfer centers to deal with expected problems. I had volunteered for damage control duty and had the Military Circle Direct Transfer Center on Monday morning.

It turned out to be HRT's version of the Y2K scare. Nothing happened. A few minor incidents, but a mole hill compared to the expected mountain. When I called HRT's Tamara Poulson to exchange status reports just after 9 A.M., I was the third person to congratulate her on how well things went. As a Community Relations Specialist, Tamara had been point person in trying to get the word out. She did much better than any of us had hoped.

While at Military Circle I picked up a couple Transfers laying on the ground from the previous day as souvenirs. I probably should give Tamara one to mount on her office wall.

Build the Hospital

Virtually everyone favored allowing Bon Secours to build a hospital on S. Plaza Trail, with only one Sentara lackey voting "No".

The new question is the first question from the list at yesterday's Hospitality Industry Candidates Forum. Being online, I have to make it multiple choice rather than essay.

2008 Hospitality Industry Candidate Forum

On Tuesday afternoon there was a Virginia Beach City Council candidates forum at the Virginia Beach Resort and Conference Center, cosponsored by the Virginia Beach Hotel/Motel Association and the Virginia Beach Restaurant Association.

It was a pretty tame affair. Most candidates took the line of recognizing the value of Tourism as an economic engine, but not committing to much new local funding given the national economic picture.

Interesting was that Reba McClanan no-showed, after having indicated she would attend.

The humorous moment of the day was when the Moderator drew for the first person to answer the light rail question...and it was John Moss.

There was an entire entourage of VBTAers there, with one taking photos. Therefore, we should be hearing more from them on it. I had to chuckle when he went to get one of me...and his flash didn't work.

The Long And Winding Route

Those familiar with Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) in Norfolk realize that Routes 4 and 9 are catch-all bus routes. They pick up a number of neighborhoods that otherwise wouldn't have service, crossing major routes where passengers can transfer. No regular bus rider would take the 4 or 9 end-to-end as a through route.

As I was riding Route 23 home on Sunday afternoon, a young lady said, "The number 9 will take you to Hell and back before it gets you to where you want to go."

FYI, Route 4 is scheduled to be split when light rail comes online, leaving us with the 9 to deal with.

That's Why He Has So Much Time

The last few times I've posted on light rail, Wally Erb has been on here to comment in the negative. Wonder why he has so much time to do so? That's because he can't go to a candidate forum without getting kicked out.

On Wednesday evening, October 1, the Shore Drive Community Coalition held their forum. Wally showed up, and started after Rosemary Wilson. He wanted to do one of his candidate Interviews for Virginia News Source (VNS). Rosemary didn't want to, given the personal attacks Wally had previously launched against her on VNS. Erb denied making the attacks. In short order, Wally Erb got thrown out of the building.

Granted, Rosemary isn't on my Christmas card list. However, it's symptomatic of the behavior of members of the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA). They've disrupted City Council Budget Hearings, trying to intimidate speakers who disagree with them. Given that record, at least two Council candidate forums this Fall have had beefed up security in case VBTAers showed up and tried to cause mischief.

Friday, October 3, 2008


For football fans, there's a new European-based fantasy football management game, "Grid-Iron". It's in it's first season.

I signed up this past weekend, inherited a club off to a 1-5 start (wonderful!), and play my first game tomorrow. The internationalization of the game is humorous, as the first two new players I've bought are a Dutch quarterback and a Slovak offensive lineman. (The first player my Fighting Flamingos bid on was a quarterback from Iceland.)

The site is at

Ira Goes To The Woodshed

Today's Virginian-Pravda gave us the Chamber of Commerce's endorsements for Virginia Beach City Council, with the short story focusing on the Mayoral race. The Chamber endorsed both Will Sessoms and Meyera Oberndorf.

The story on the dual endorsement carried a major gaffe by the Chamber's Ira Agricola:

"You could put a credit card between their answers," Agricola said.

Uh...Sessoms has spent thousands of dollars on advertisements trying to market him as the "change" candidate, then Agricola blows it away in one sentence.

Scott Taylor and/or John Moss would be foolish not to play that quote prominently.

Transit Notes October 3, 2008

1. There are people at Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) that do listen. Going into downtown Norfolk this morning, HRT had Bus 1226 on Route 310 (Downtown Shuttle). The 1226 is an undersized former Pentran bus, too small for the 310. Sure enough, the 9:30 A.M. run out of Cedar Grove was standing room only.

My fourth stop downtown was the Kirn Library, where I used one of the computers to e-mail HRT about the 1226 (and a couple other operational issues). I pointed out the situation would be even worse using it at rush hour. I then went to MacArthur Center to see The Miracle at St. Anna (pretty good).

Afterwards I had lunch and then headed for HRT's offices on Monticello Avenue. Passing me as I walked up: Bus 1226 heading for the garage.

2. Reid Greenmun's favorite group of "subversives", MoveOn, had a voter registration table at Cedar Grove this afternoon. They're the fourth group I've seen registering voters at bus transfer centers this year.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

JT Walk and Beach Party For ALS

On Sunday, October 19 there will be a walk and beach party to raise funds to combat ALS, more commonly referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease". The walk will be at 11 A.M. (check-in starts at 9:30 A.M.) beginning at the Ocean Beach Club at 34th Street. Later the beach party will be at 31st Street.

The website is at

RAC October 2, 2008

This afternoon Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) held it's monthly meeting. (It's normally the 1st Thursday at 3 P.M. at the convention center.)

Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) Director Jim Ricketts gave a Presentation on Tourism figures through August. Hotel occupancy is down 5.4% to 65%. However, our visitors are spending more, with revenue up 2.1%. Virginia Beach is one of only three cities with a revenue increase in 2008, the other two being Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

Of concern is state Tourism funding. In 1996 Virginia spent $22 million on Tourism; in 2008 it is spending $14 million. With state departments being asked to prepare cuts, that figure could drop another $2 million.

Councilman John Uhrin, Council's RAC Liaison, presented Commissioners with figures from the 31st Street Hilton project. The City is reaping a net gain of $1,330,519 annually. That triggered a largely self-congratulatory discussion on 31st Street and public-private partnerships in general.

The Plan/Design Review Committee (PDRC) looked at two proposed projects of note. First, a mixed-use development where the Viking Motel now is. The hitch is that it was designed by a Texas architect, with the initial drawings looking like "something that belonged in San Antonio." The PDRC's design professionals suggested changes to make it more appropriate for the Beach. Second, there's a proposal to replace the Burger King on Laskin Road with a new one adjacent. However, the proposition faces a few hurdles: the new restaurant wouldn't mesh with the urban redevelopment in the pending Resort Area Strategic Action Plan, any restaurant drive-thru in RT-3 requires a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), and they want to continue operating the current Burger King while the new one is built - a zoning violation.

Fact of the Day: 17% of City lodging revenues come from Sandbridge rentals.