Thursday, April 30, 2009

TPPC April 30, 2009

The Transportation, Parking, and Pedestrian Committee (TPPC) of Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) met this morning.

Keith Johnson of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) gave a Briefing on seasonal VBWave service, which begins tomorrow. Changes for 2009:

1. An additional vehicle will go into service at Noon to help with the lunch rush. The full night rotation will run 5:15-9 P.M.

2. Route 31 won't loop into the Virginia Aquarium or Ocean Breeze in early morning or late night due to low ridership at those times. The 31 will continue to be operated by the old red trolleys.

3. The hours saved from the 31 will be applied to Route 32. There will be one earlier trip and one later trip to Lynnhaven Mall this year.

It had been hoped to have 10 trolleys painted in a blue scheme similar to the hybrids for the season to help visitors realize the new hybrids serve the same function as the old trolleys. However, funding cuts mean the 2nd one is now being painted. There will be an attempt to find money to paint more.

The TPPC discussed surreys in the Resort Area. While the number had been previously capped by the City, developments suggest there will be a decline in numbers in the near future.

Finally, CCO RAC representative Henry Ryto brought to the TPPC's attention planned service cuts on HRT's Route 960. That MAX route is the one that brings workers to the Resort Area. If HRT Staff's proposal was implemented, there would be no weekend service 8 months of the year. That would inhibit Resort businesses in staffing their workplaces.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jessica's Rants

Jessica Blaine, who has been a regular commenter on here, now has her own blog. Jessica's Rants is linked on the sidebar.

Yes, Jessica, the Red Sox suck.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Messnerism-Greenmunism Is Alive And Insane

Yesterday's Virginian-Pravda brought us an article on City Staff's move to divert money from Seaboard Road to 31st Street.

The comments are plentiful. Scroll down and you'll find Reid Greenmun's on Sunday at 6:44 A.M. The Chairman of The Laughingstock Party (TLP),er-Tidewater Libertarian Party and Transportation Chairman of the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) ends with "We need John Moss, not Will $e$$om$."

1. Someone needs to remind Reid that the election was on November 4 and that Sessoms won. In fact Will Sessoms (74,386) got more than 2 1/2 times as many votes as John Moss (29,528).
That Reid refuses to accept the election result nearly six months later is telling.

Then, he has a history of refusing to accept votes that don't go his way: the original 31st Street group rejecting his draft By-Laws in 2000, the CCO endorsing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in 2005, etc. The same Reid Greenmun who clamors for a referendum on virtually everything is the first to disparage a vote that he loses.

2. Note that he spells Sessoms' last name with dollar signs replacing the "S"s. That tactic was first used by Barbara Messner on Talknet. Yes, the same Messner that Greenmun was allied with in splitting the 31st Street Park movement. Further proof that Messner and Greenmun are effectively one in the same. Messner + Greenmun = Marx + Engels.

94% Want To Privatize SPSA

94% of voters wanted to privatize SPSA, while 5% were opposed.

The new question is which road should get priority in the Budget: 31st Street or Seaboard Road? In the draft Budget amendments, Virginia Beach City Staff moved money from Seaboard Road to speed work on 31st Street.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

TDCHR April 23, 2009

This afternoon the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (TDCHR), the governing board of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT), held it's April meeting.

The top story was the granting of a contract for the Study of two extensions to Norfolk's light rail Starter Line. The one is the Alternatives Analysis (AA) and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Newtown Road to the Dome site in Virginia Beach, the other is the AA for Eastern Virginia Medical School to the Navy base in Norfolk. The AA is only included for the latter given that there are a number of possible alignments. In Virginia Beach, the purchase of the Norfolk Southern Right-Of-Way pretty much cements that routing.

It was a historic occasion. Not only was Debbie Messina of The Virginian-Pravda covering the meeting (as usual), but WAVY-TV sent a camera crew. That's the first time I've seen a television crew at a TDCHR meeting.

Staff has proposed eliminating MAX Route 963. In addition, they want to pare down Route 960 during the off-season to weekday rush hour service only. There will be a Public Hearing on the changes at the May 28 TDCHR meeting. Opposition to the 960 changes is expected from Virginia Beach Resort Area businesses.

The TDCHR entered into a Comprehensive Agreement for Phase I of a new Southside facility. The new building would provide maintenance and operations space, replacing the current structures, which are over a century old and originally designed for streetcars.

In related news, the TDCHR agreed to a lease on the former Ford Launch Facility on Indian River Road to house maintenance and operations during construction. The lease is for two years with a six month option. The Launch Facility is part of the former Ford plant.

Finally, MV Contract Transportation was awarded a contract to provide paratransit for the next three years, with two subsequent one year options.

I Have Seen The Future

I was at the Newport News Transportation Center late morning on Wednesday. They were installing the new automated farecard vending machine. If you hadn't heard (and you probably hadn't), Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) is going to farecard machines to replace buying farecards from Staff at customer service windows. That will eliminate the pay and benefits costs of the associated Staff. Having seen two of the machines (a second was on the truck), they look great. However, given HRT's track record on bringing new technology online, I'll only take it seriously when it actually works the way it's suppose to over a period of time.

For those still wanting to buy a farecard from a human, HRT is being more aggressive in getting merchants to sell HRT stock.

Marketing Genius

On Wednesday Popeye's Chicken held a one day only sale, 8 pieces of chicken for $4.99. I was at the Janaf location in Norfolk at 3:10 P.M. and the place was swamped. If that was mid-afternoon, I can only imagine dinner hour.

Hats off to those at Popeye's who came up with the idea.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Miracles Never Cease

This morning the Inbound Route 15 arrived at the Military Circle Transfer Center at 8:41 A.M.

What's news about that? As any Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) regular can tell you, the 15 is chronically late at rush hour. The stretch between the Little Creek (a.k.a. Evelyn Butts) and Military Circle Transfer Centers is arguably the most difficult drive in HRT's system. Therefore, 4 minutes early at rush hour was stunning.

Have fun with that one, my fellow bus riders.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Featured In Today's V-P

My post two previous was (largely) reprinted in today's edition of The Virginian-Pravda. Since the blog name was printed, we might be getting some new readers. A quick introduction for any newbies.

The blog Avenging Archangel isn't meant to be everything; it's a niche blog. Here you'll find some things you won't anywhere else on the Internet. With write-ups from RAC, TDCHR, and TPO meetings, you can get news here you can't get elsewhere. I then toss in some personal opinions and fun stuff. In addition, I run polls to give the blog an interactive dimension.

I've done everything myself since the beginning. Last Fall I tried to recruit additional posters from among the volunteers on the Georgia Allen and Andrew Jackson campaigns for Virginia Beach City Council. No one joined, but the blog program does give me the ability to add additional posters in the future. My goal is to average a minimum one post every two days, a pace I'm well ahead of this month.

I'm a Republican who backed Mike Huckabee for President and Bob Marshall for U.S. Senate last year. Given my ties to the African-American community leadership, I'm a pro-inclusion urbanist on local and regional issues. I can drive status quoers and VBTAers nuts with the same post.

If You Want Fiction

Today at work my relief arrived early, leaving a few things at our work station. Among them were two romance novels, which she said I could read.

I replied, "If I want to read fiction, I'll read the Democratic Party platform."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

82% Support A Dedicated Mass Transit Funding Source

82% of you voted for a dedicated source for mass transit funding in Hampton Roads, while 17% were opposed.

Personally, I long avoided going there. However, I've come to the realization that Hampton Roads will continue to limp along with the same poor transit service until such a revenue stream is in place. For those opposed, you like taxing people's homes to pay for mass transit? Yeah, that's largely how the local share is being covered now. Just under one-third of the cost of operating Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) buses is local subsidy, and that's where the cities are getting the money from.

The new question: should SPSA be privatized? It's a mess, and there's been a company in New York wanting to buy the agency.

...And God Created Finland

This joke was posted in a discussion thread on Facebook. It's so good I thought I'd share it with you.

Once upon a time in the Kingdom of Heaven, God was missing for six days.

Eventually, Michael the Archangel found Him, resting on the seventh day. He inquired of God, "Where have you been?"

God sighed a deep sigh of satisfaction and proudly pointed downward through the clouds, "Look, Michael, look what I've made." Archangel Michael looked puzzled and said, "What is it?"

"It's a planet", replied God, "and I've put life on it. I'm going to call it Earth and it's going to be a great place of balance."

"Balance?", inquired Michael, still confused.

God explained, pointing to different parts of the Earth, "For example, northern Europe will be a place of great opportunity and wealth while southern Europe is going to be poor; the Middle East over there will be a hot spot." God continued, pointing to different countries, "This one will be extremely hot and arid while this one will be very cold and covered in ice."

The Archangel, impressed by God's work, then pointed to a large landmass and said, "What's that one?"

"Ah," said God, "That's Finland, the most glorious place on Earth. There are beautiful lakes, rivers, sunsets, and rolling hills. The people from Finland are going to be modest, intelligent, and humorous. They are going to be found travelling the world. They will be extremely sociable, hard-working, high-achieving, and they will be known throughout the world as diplomats and carriers of peace."

Michael gasped in wonder and admiration, but then proclaimed, "What about balance, God? You said there would be balance."

God replied wisely, "Wait until you see the idiots I'm putting next to them in Sweden and Russia."

MPO April 15, 2009

This morning the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), Hampton Roads' Federally-mandated Transportation planning group, held it's April meeting.

The meeting begins with a Public Comment period. I rose to speak on mass transit items under Agenda Item 8, having no idea that I was being followed to the microphone by Phil Shucet, Delegate John Cosgrove, and Delegate Glenn Oder. The latter three addressed issues surrounding the MPO's reorganization.

Speaking of which, the MPO gave initial approval to a series of amendments to it's By-Laws. It was debated whether to pass them today or not. Given that the draft hadn't appeared in the MPO meeting packet, only initial approval was given, allowing the public to comment at the May 20 meeting prior to final approval.

The issues covered today? First, to change the name from the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to the Transportation Planning Organization (TPO), better indicating to the public what it actually does. Second, to include 4 General Assembly members as members: one Delegate from the Peninsula, one Delegate from the Southside, one Senator from the Peninsula, and one Senator from the Southside. Third, to invite the military to send Liaisons, recognizing legal barriers to having even non-voting military members. Fourth, meetings temporarily will be moved from 9:30 A.M. to 10:30 A.M., flip-flopping with the HRPDC. Staff will then examine the possibility of a new permanent time and location.

There was a move made to reopen the region's 2030 Transportation Plan, in light of the fiscal impact of the Hampton Roads Transportation Authority's (HRTA) taxes and fees having been struck down. In the end, Staff will examine the pros and cons of such a move, especially with work soon to begin on the 2034 Plan.

The MPO moved to standardize traffic light preemption devices for emergency vehicles throughout the region.

I mentioned transit earlier. Two big moves:

1. The final approval for the last installment of money to cover the studies of the light rail extension package of Newtown Road - Dome site and EVMS - Navy base.

2. Under Agenda Item 8, a list of items for funding via Federal Section 5307 funds for Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) was given initial approval.

My kudos to the MPO's much-maligned Staff. When I looked for a copy of the draft By-Laws and they were all gone, a Staffer gave me her copy. In return, I offered to help Staff with the possible rescheduling of MPO meetings. One of the criteria is that they be transit-accessible, and I can do that off the top of my head.

Finally, thanks for further improving the refreshments. In addition to coffee and tea, there were pitchers of ice water. The amusing part was that Slim Jims were among the snacks. Slim Jims?

Cooch's (Unorganized?) Phone Pollers

I was previously selected to be a delegate to the Republican State Convention in Richmond in May. One of the big issues: selecting the Republican nominee for Attorney General.

Now twice in three days I've been called by Ken Cuccinelli Staffers wanting to find out who I'm backing for AG. Are they that disorganized that the second caller didn't know I'd been called earlier? Are they repolling after Jerry Kilgore's endorsement of John Brownlee for Attorney General? Go figure.

Economic Indicator? 3rd Edition

The Super Family Thrift Store on Virginia Beach Boulevard in Norfolk has gone out of business.

When things get so bad that even the thrift stores are tanking....

2009 NFL Schedule Release

Last night were you watching the City Council meeting? I was having more fun: ESPN had a special on the NFL schedule release for the 2009 season. Some thoughts:

1. The "Life Isn't Fair" Award goes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. They win the Super Bowl, then get the 4th easiest schedule in the league. (Only the three other NFC North teams that get to play the 0-16 Lions twice have easier schedules.)

2. My Ravens don't have to play the Steelers until Week 12.

I'm thinking about catching one of those charter bus tours to Baltimore for either the Bears or Lions game.

3. Think the VBTA is an embarrassment? Reid Greenmun's 2-14 Rams go to 0-16 Detroit in Week 8 in what should be the Lions first win in two seasons.

4. The Miami Dolphins have the most difficult schedule in the league.

5. In Week 15 former Eagle Brian Dawkins makes a return to Philadelphia. How do the notorious Philly fans treat the now-Bronco?

6. As for you Deadskins fans, who cares? Dan Snyder will inevitably screw up your team anyway.

There's great schedule coverage this morning on the NFL's website at

Monday, April 13, 2009

What Happens on April 17?

The Virginian-Pravda brought us an article on the planned anti-tax rallies on April 15, including the one planned for Virginia Beach's Town Center Plaza.

So they hold their rally on the 15th, probably get media stories on the 16th...but what happens on the 17th? The article doesn't mention any long-range plan; it simply states they want frustrated people to know that they're not alone.

In addition, how much do you want to bet that the Virginia Beach rally isn't dominated by the usual suspects?

Finally, now having set the benchmark at 500 for attendance in Virginia Beach, anything less is a failure.

Cute idea that wasn't thought through.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

City Council Visits CCO

This evening 9 members of the Virginia Beach City Council took time to answer questions from civic league representatives at the April meeting of the Council of Civic Organizations (CCO), Virginia Beach's civic league federation.

The most questions of the night were on the issue of - ahem - animal control. Among other areas of interest were the Lake Edward neighborhood, jobs creation, street and pedestrian issues, group homes in residential neighborhoods, and getting information to residents.

I was expecting VBTAers to show up and angrily confront City Council. (So was VBPD: two police officers were stationed at the ready.) In hindsight, I wish they had been there, as they would have seen how far out-of-touch they are with the residents the VBTA claims to represent. First, there were zero questions on taxes. Second, no one directly attacked light rail. There was one question on the reported "look back" clause for the Circuit City property, then a question on the price paid for the Norfolk Southern Right-of-Way.

DeSteph Gone Wild

Things got a bit crazy on the 2nd Floor of Virginia Beach's City Hall yesterday. Councilman Bill DeSteph was on a rampage to try to kill the light rail AA/EIS process. (The VBTA gave him his marching orders?) He went off at City Manager Jim Spore and a couple of Spore's assistants. DeSteph claimed they couldn't do it, there was no authorization, etc.

The fact of the matter is that the AA/EIS process is being paid for by Federal funds allocated by the MPO for a contract to be issued by the TDCHR. Neither is City money being used nor is a City Council vote necessary.

Are DeSteph and the VBTAers delusional enough to think they have 6 votes on City Council to stop the process? Why are they afraid of a Study? Frightened that numbers will come back to justify light rail in Virginia Beach?

My take: the entire thing is a sham to try to get a Public Hearing on light rail. The VBTAers want face time on VBTV to angrily shout their anti-LRT propaganda at the cameras. Even they can't be stupid enough to believe they actually have the votes to stop it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chris Stolle To Make It Official

Dr. Chris Stolle will once again run for the 83rd District House of Delegates seat. His Campaign Kickoff will be Saturday, April 18 in the Haygood Point Park from 1-3 P.M.

In 2007 Stolle narrowly lost to Joe Bouchard. That contest was for the seat being vacated by the retiring Leo Wardrup.

Monday, April 6, 2009

55% Don't Want Pedicabs At The Oceanfront

55% of you don't want pedicabs at the Oceanfront. On Thursday Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) approved a one-year pilot program for them to operate on the bike path parallel to the Boardwalk.

The new question: should Hampton Roads have a dedicated funding source to pay for mass transit?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hampton Roads Civic Engagement Summit

On Saturday there was a Hampton Roads Civic Engagement Summit held in Suffolk. Over 180 people from throughout the region participated.

Shortly after arriving on Saturday morning I met fellow blogger Missy Schmidt. During the main sessions I sat with CCO President Sam Reid and CCO Previous President Chandler Scarborough. State Senator John Miller came in and sat in front of us.

The meeting started with audio comments by Bob O'Neill, followed by the introduction of the Summit Moderator: Suzette Denslow, Chief of Staff for Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones. The Key Presentation was given by Chris Gates, Executive Director of Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE). Dr. Quentin Kidd did a Presentation on the Batten Surveys. That was followed by breakout groups. Everyone then reconvened for a final round of voting.

A large contingent from the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) showed up: Dean, Moss, Greenmun, et al. Virginia Beach's embarrassment became the region's as they engage in their usual antics. One observer from Virginia Beach tried to pass it off: the hijinx were mild "for them."

The VBTAers were thrown for a loss when Keynote Speaker Gates commented on the history of referenda. The original intent of referenda was not for day-to-day government, but simply to release pressure when things got very bad.

On the Batten Surveys, the two top priorities that both the elite and general population agreed on were the economy and transportation.

It will be interesting what becomes the use of Saturday's input and results.

Jeff Frederick Removed As RPV Chairman

Yesterday afternoon the Republican State Central Committee removed Chairman Jeff Frederick by a 57-18 vote.

My two cents worth: I'm glad Frederick is gone and the bloodshed over. What Frederick didn't seem to get is that the Chairman's primary duty for the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) is to be chief fundraiser, not chief ideologue. In addition, 3 Virginia Republican House of Representatives lost their Congressional seats last November, the worst record in the country.

On Facebook I've joined the group "Draft George Allen as RPV Chair." George is not only capable, but the best consensus candidate available. We need to unify the RPV behind the new Chairman and push on to wins this November.

Jason Call Running In the 90th

Yesterday morning I met Jason Call, who is running for the House of Delegates in the 90th District. That's the seat currently held by Algie Howell. Jason's website is at

His politics? Jason came up and introduced himself. He thought he knew me from somewhere, asking if I'd been at the "Ron Paul meetings". (No, I'm not a Paulistinian; I was a Mike Huckabee supporter.)

Only On Sunday On HRT

For my fellow bus riders, you'll be amused by this one. What little bus service Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) runs on Sunday can make for some stories. I have one from today.

Route 310 is the Downtown Shuttle that serves downtown Norfolk from the Cedar Grove Transfer Center. Occasionally HRT will make a mistake and put a low floor Gillig on that route, a vast underutilization of their best equipment. (Orions are the best fit for the 310.) Today there were two low floor Gilligs on the 310, Buses 2022 and 2023. Given the lack of service on Sunday, they could get away with it.

Friday, April 3, 2009

RAC April 2, 2009

On Thursday afternoon Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Committee (RAC) held it's April meeting.

Michael Jenkins has been given a 4 month extension to put together a firm proposal for redeveloping the Dome site. Jenkins had asked for 2 months, while the Virginia Beach Development Authority (VBDA) granted 4 months.

The RAC voted to endorse a proposal for a one-year pilot program to operate pedicabs exclusively along the bike path adjacent to the Boardwalk. Some discussion ensued as to whether or not a permanent arrangement should have a single company or multiple companies competing.

Commissioners were show plans for a Walgreen's proposed to be built on the site of the former post office at 24th Street. Some wondered whether the current building could be morphed into a Walgreen's, rather than the planned new building. In addition, concerns were expressed over how the layout would interface with nighttime loitering along Atlantic Avenue.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Greenmun Named Light Rail Project Manager

Reid Greenmun has been chosen to be Virginia Beach's Project Manager for light rail construction. Norfolk named a construction czar for it's major downtown projects, and now Virginia Beach is following suit.

When asked about the appointment, Greenmun replied, "As the old saying goes, 'If you can't beat them, join them.' I came to realize that the VBTA's campaign against light rail is futile. It's based on lies, distortions, and outdated information. It was getting to the point where I couldn't look at myself in the mirror anymore."

Explaining his flip-flop, Reid stated,"I've now received professional help for dealing with my paranoia. The TOD Conspiracy that used to obsess me was only a figment of my imagination. I've come to embrace rational land planning and urbanization."

Asked if other VBTAers would cross the line to advocate for light rail, Reid said, "Given their short-sightedness, prejudices, and failure to understand basic economics, I'm not holding my breath on it. However, Virginia Beach would be a much better place if we could all come together to hammer out a sensible mass transit plan for the Beach with light rail at it's center."

Bob O'Connor Named CVB Director

Virginia Beach City Manager Jim Spore today named Bob O'Connor as the new Director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). O'Connor replaces the retiring Jim Ricketts. Spore elaborated, "Bob's 4,000 page Investigative Report on the Resort Area shows that he's more knowledgeable than anyone else on Tourism policy. Therefore, he's a natural pick for the job."

Bob O'Connor was elated at the appointment, "I plan to decimate Virginia Beach's Tourism industry like I destroyed CACI. First, the VBTA Board of Directors will replace the RAC as the Tourism policy advisory board of Virginia Beach. The VBTA has never met a Resort Area project that it didn't hate. Second, the Virginia Aquarium will be converted into an institution for the study and worship of Robert Dean. Finally, the Gift of Tourism Campaign will be replaced by the Gift of Bob O'Connor Campaign. Residents prefer my blathering to facts any day."

When asked if such policies would destroy the fiscal dividend the City receives from Tourism, Bob snarled, "The only dividend I care about is the paycheck I'll now be receiving from the City."
When asked whether or not City Council and Staff couldn't keep the Tourism industry afloat, O'Connor replied "I've always opposed each and every City initiative. I won't change now. Whatever that want, I'll reject."