Sunday, December 26, 2010

Most Of You Belong

50% said you belonged to a civic league and are active in it, with 25% members but inactive. 16% don't have a civic league in their neighborhood, while 8% haven't joined.

I was scratching for a new question, and a pretty obvious one struck me looking outside this morning: should Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) have a weather contingency plan (or plans)? Many transit systems do. (In a recent discussion, Jessica Clark gave web addresses for a few.) In the wake of the November, 2009 nor'easter, HRT began to work on improving how it got information to riders for such occurrences. However, a few weeks later the second round of light rail cost overruns went public, and that project got pushed to the back burner. Currently, HRT deals with such weather events on a case by case basis.

Upcoming City Council Retreat

The Virginia Beach City Council will hold it's annual Retreat January 21 and 22 (Friday & Saturday) in the conference room of the Department of Economic Development (DED), on the 10th floor of the Armada Hoffler Tower at Town Center. It's scheduled to run from 8:30 A.M. - 5 P.M. each day.

I've attended every Retreat since 2002. I plan to be there again this time, and certainly will blog it. At a previous Retreat, Rosemary Wilson was fretting about trying to get Council's priorities to the public. I said, "I can have them online in a few hours" and did. I've referred to the Retreat as "the Super Bowl of local politics" in that the vast majority of initiatives for 2011 will come up over the weekend and be ranked. It's from those Council discussions and voting that Staff budgets time and money for what the electeds feel is important.


The Retreat agenda is set through telephone interviews facilitator Lyle Sumek holds with Councilmen the week prior. If a single Councilman wants an item discussed, it happens.

Therefore, e-mail any thoughts to City Council no later than January 7. You'll want them to read your comments and have time to digest them before the telephone interviews. That's the main reason I write this post: the vested interests and usual suspects all know to contact Council prior, so why aren't you doing it? (I plead guilty: I've gotten in the custom of e-mailing in my own document beforehand.)


They are long, dry sessions that Jim Wood once compared to watching paint dry. However, for a local political junkie, it's a smorgasbord of prime nuggets. Consume plenty of caffeine beforehand, and even more during the meetings.

There is no opportunity for the public to comment while in session, but you may speak with Council and Staff during the breaks. There will be periodic 5-15 minute breaks, plus the lunch break.

The most important thing to bring with you: something for carrying a load of documents home in. During the full two days, you'll receive a huge pile of paper. Also, something for you to take notes of your own with.

There will be a continental breakfast available in the morning, and lunch is served at midday. Beverages and snacks are normally there throughout the day. Budget cuts in the past couple years have also hit the Retreat spreads, which aren't as fanciful as in the recent past.


While there have been some variations at times, most Retreats follow a simple template.

On Friday morning Council will look at their past goals, and successes of the previous year. Following that, each of those issue items from the telephone interviews will be covered, with some preliminary voting on ranking them.

On Saturday Council's priorities for 2011 will be voted on. The final area of the Retreat will be governance, where internal and housekeeping matters will be discussed.


The Virginian-Pravda will have a reporter there, plus there will be a few political junkies (including myself).

In the recent past interests have had representatives there, but they've dwindled as the City's Budget has tightened. The past couple there's been maybe 5-6 people plus myself, and I've known all but 1-2 of the others.


At the turn of the century, Retreats were held at the Pavilion. That building was booked in 2002, then razed. The 2002 Retreat was at the Virginia Aquarium, an awful location. Noise from the visitors outside the room made it difficult to hear in the meeting. After that, Council went to DED's conference room. The best table and chairs of any of the three, but the space is cramped and the restrooms are a nice hike away. The past couple have been at the convention center.

I'm perplexed by the decision to go back to DED. There's not only more space at the convention center, but the caterer to handle food and beverage. One of the most bizarre sights at Retreats is watching DED employees with postgraduate degrees being utilized as menial labor for the session.


It will probably be a shorter session, adjourning early on Saturday. With all 11 incumbents coming back and money tight, new initiatives should be limited. However, I still expect to see a new major initiative or two floated.

Yes, light rail will come up, and someone (cough...Bill DeSteph...cough) will probably be crazy enough to try to get Council to commit to a referendum. However, until the AA/SDEIS is back and a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) chosen, it shouldn't even be on the table.

The most intriguing may be fiscal policy. After having drawn down the cash reserves in the last two Budgets, and with the election behind them, will there be any tax or fee increases proposed for FY 2012? (Unless the economy improves, probably.)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

No Fifth Meeting!

On Tuesday night the Envision Transportation Working Group held what was suppose to be it's final meeting. Only four were scheduled for the Working Group.

Now there is a move to hold a fifth meeting, with the request coming from (ahem) John Moss, Chairman of the extremist Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA). The VBTA wants to present a proposal for a follow-on transportation effort. Yeah, that's the same VBTA that has opposed each and every proposal to build new roads, while calling for the dismantling of mass transit. Given their track record, to reconvene for the primary purpose of hearing from them would be tantamount to entertaining an offer from a pedophile to provide security services for an elementary school.

The Envision Transportation initiative is partly funded by the City of Virginia Beach, to the tune of $63,000. The Working Group meets at the Municipal Center, in Building 19. Considering the source, any proposal originating from the VBTA would be DOA across the street at City Hall.

If the VBTA had something to bring to the table, they could have come to the fourth meeting. While Moss himself was in sick bay that night, certainly others from the VBTA could have brought the proposal in for discussion. Zero VBTAers were at the fourth meeting. In typical VBTA arrogance, they demand center stage for themselves at a fifth meeting, rather than being one among many at the fourth meeting.

Your tax dollars are funding this initiative. Speak up and make it clear there should be no fifth Working Group meeting. It would be a waste of resources.

10 Points Towards An Inclusive Virginia Beach

The war of attrition towards an inclusive Virginia Beach drags on. It faces a potential flashpoint next year with City redistricting. However, no one should have any illusions: the fight will take years more. I offer this list of 10 Points to serve as guidelines on the way there.

1. Reform of Virginia Beach's obscene at-large voting system is The Holy Grail, but it won't come easy.

One of the principal lessons I learned from the 2001 redistricting process is that Virginia Beach's elite craves power above all else. They're ready to see our city reduced to a trash heap as long as they can lord over it when we get there.

I hold little hope we can get City Council itself to back reform in 2011. However, we need to fire a shot across the bow to let them know we're not taking this bullshit sitting down. It will mark the incumbents (and their backers) as anti-inclusion in subsequent years.

2. Keeping a Redevelopment & Housing Authority out 0f the hands of the City of Virginia Beach is paramount.

Listen to what neighborhoods get mentioned when the subject of redevelopment comes up, and note they're inevitably minority neighborhoods. Give a R&HA to our status quoers tomorrow and they'd start bulldozing the minority concentrations.

When Virginia Beach history is written, it may record that the beginning of the end of the status quo was the narrow loss of the 1996 R&HA referendum question. Consider what could have happened if they had won....

That said, it may be prudent to trade the elite a R&HA whose redevelopment powers are limited to the Strategic Growth Areas (minus Seatack) in return for something substantial, like a hybrid voting system.

3. Housing stock is the potential chokepoint, so take on the issue.

Fewer Whites live in Virginia Beach than a generation ago. What population growth we've had has been entirely minority. The key to continuing the influx is to look to making sure there are enough affordable housing units for them to come.

4. Light rail is the second most important piece of the puzzle.

When people can come here from Norfolk (and - later - Portsmouth) via train in minutes at bus fare, it will be a dramatic game changer. That will largely erase the city lines on a practical basis.

5. Pursue board and commission seats.

What good does it do to get to an inclusive Virginia Beach only to not be able to govern it? (See: the Congo after the Belgian withdraw.) There needs to be a cadre of inclusionists with board and commission experience capable of running the government when that prayed-for day comes.

To take Council only to leave the boards and commissions in the hands of status quoers would mean getting status quo reports from them. I don't think so.

6. Advocate for Department of Economic Development (DED) funding.

We're going to have to provide quality jobs for those here and those who want to come.

In addition, we'll need a strong commerical base during the transition. (See: Quebec when the Parti Quebecois took power.)

7. Work through the Minority Business Council towards having a thriving number of minority businesses.

We need a base of businesses friendly towards funding our City Council candidates. (Hey, it's how the elitists do it.)

8. Support greater integration into the region.

Closer ties with minority-majority Portsmouth and tipping Norfolk strengthens our hand here.

9. Don't waste gunpowder fighting plausible City capital projects.

Our elitists have an edifice complex. If they want to build things we can later reap the benefits from, let them.

10. Smash the remnants of the extremist Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA).

The all-White breakfast cult pushes an agenda that would trigger a mass exodus of minority residents from Virginia Beach. Also, they have no intention of doing single or multiple issue partnerships with anyone.

The sooner the demise of the VBTA, the quicker that City Council elections go from being fought primarily over fiscal policy to being contests about inclusion. You want to hear status quo candidates try to rationalize exclusion?

The bottom line: victory is inevitably ours as long as we play our cards smart.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

TPO December 15, 2010

The Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) met on Wednesday. In a much-anticipated move, the TPO approved the transportation project prioritization report. Please note, flat Earthers: the Virginia Beach Fixed Guideway Project is ranked 4th overall among all projects throughout the region.

This is what happens when you miss a meeting: absent Paul Fraim was named to the High-Speed Rail and Intercity Passenger Rail Task Force.

Delegate Glenn Oder attacked the recent "Ring of Fire" graphic, claiming tolls wouldn't be set as high as depicted. Also, Phillip Shucet called it a "ridiculous waste of resources."

A briefing was given on value pricing of tolls. The practice, also known as congestion pricing, will probably be part of any transportation tolling.

A second presentation on the transportation focus groups, held in part by Christopher Newport University, was given. A series of recommendations was made, including a follow-on public series on transportation.

The TPO now has it's own Facebook page. (I was the 5th person to Like it.)

The TPO will next meet on Thursday, January 20. The TPO will have a Retreat in February.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Dems Will Go Big?

In our latest poll, you were asked how many challenges you expected the Democrats to make for General Assembly seats in Virginia Beach in 2011. 38% said 4 seats, 31% said 3 seats, 6% said 2 seats, with 12% each for 1 and 0 seats.

Just one problem: the Democrats haven't mounted four campaigns for General Assembly seats largely in Virginia Beach in a generation. Possible, but larger than what we've seen in the past.

The new question: are you a civic league member? Active in it? Does your neighborhood have one?

TDCHR December, 2010

On Thursday, the RAC and TDCHR meetings fell in the same afternoon due to holiday schedules. I was at the Oceanfront for RAC, while John Uhrin wasn't there. (I presume he was in Hampton for TDCHR.) I do a short write-up based on an electronic copy of the meeting packet I received.

In October, 2010, both ridership and on-time performance was up on Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) buses from October, 2009. However, raw customer complaints were up sharply from a year prior. (I use the term "raw" as the validity of the complaint can't be determined until investigated.)

HRT is $782k under Budget for the first four months of FY 2011.

The TDCHR will next meet January 27 in Norfolk at 1:30 P.M.

Friday, December 10, 2010

RAC December 9, 2010

Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) held a short meeting Thursday afternoon, lasting only about 40 minutes.

Chairman Preston Midgett and Vice Chair Gerrie West were reelected to their positions for 2011.

In response to TPPC concerns over the draft Form-Based Zoning for the Resort Area, SGA Office Director Barry Frankenfield stated his Office might be ready to brief the TPPC in January. However, there is still work to be done on the draft, with one area being how it deals with parking issues. Also, in recent talks with the Navy, the City is trying to make clear what the draft does with lodging units versus residential units. AICUZ regulations look upon the two differently.

Despite concerns about air encroachments into the public right of way, the Plan/Design Review Committee (PDRC) endorsed Phase III of the Ocean Beach Club. The issue is that there would be overhangs from the proposed building extending beyond the property line. In addition, a law enforcement monument is in the works for 35th Street, done by the same sculptor that did the King Neptune statue at 31st Street. (Don't worry: it will be smaller.) The PDRC worked with how to make the pieces (i.e. Ocean Beach Club, monument, etc.) fit together well.

Neither the Resort Investment Committee, Green Committee, nor Communications Committee met this month.

The first meeting of the task force on Resort event food & beverage sales met on Wednesday morning, and the meeting went well. The Oceanfront Enhancement Committee (OEC) continues with the parking meters to raise funds for the homeless initiative. Roanoke, Norfolk, and Chesapeake have all inquired as to how we put our program together, as they may wish to follow suit.

Speaking of Chesapeake and Norfolk, both have pulled a page from our playbook and established Special Events offices. In fact, Chesapeake has hired one of our employees to run theirs, while Norfolk has interviewed a second member of our Staff. Finally, work is going on at the intersection of 32nd and Arctic to install brick pavers for the pedestrian crossing. It's being done later due to the original base the road was built on.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

2010 Changing Lives Breakfast

This morning the Urban League of Hampton Roads held it's 2010 Changing Lives Breakfast at the Chesapeake Conference Center. About 400 people were in attendance.

There were testimonials on the League's local work, videos shown, and some remarks made. Of course, breakfast was served: scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, assorted breads, orange juice, and coffee.

Of course, the Changing Lives Breakfast is primarily a fundraiser. Not only were there numerous sponsors, but the climax of the program was the appeal for donations. The Table Captains passed out envelopes to those at their tables, and we were asked to contribute. I wrote a small check, and promised more in January. The village nutcases, the extremist Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA), have declared that "Urban = Marxist". Therefore, I got a kick out of giving to what they'd believe was a commie conspiracy.

Prior to today, my only dealings with the Urban League were reading the occasional mention of them in the news, and being a fan of the Urban League of Hampton Roads' Facebook page. I told my Table Captain afterwards that it struck me as a cross between a social services agency and Empower Hampton Roads.

The Urban League of Hampton Roads website is at

Monday, December 6, 2010

Finnish Independece Day 2010

December 6 (St. Nicholas Day) is Finnish Independence Day. The Grand Duchy of Finland declared independence from the Russian Empire on December 6, 1917. The Provisional Government in Petrograd had been overthrown in October, and the Finns weren't sticking around for Comrade Lenin's "great proletarian revolution."

Finland's national anthem is Maamme (Our Land). I've had a couple renditions bookmarked on YouTube, but found this one last week. I thought you'd love to have the schoolchildren sing.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

TPPC December 2, 2010

The Transportation, Parking, and Pedestrian, Committee (TPPC) of Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) met this morning for about 75 minutes.

The premier topic was street signage in the Resort Area. First, surveys done by TPPC members showed that while signage could be pared down some, the vast majority will need to stay. Second, there are a number of signs that have been tagged with unauthorized stickers. TPPC wondered about removal and enforcement. (It was later determined that defacing a traffic sign is a Class 1 Misdemeanor in Virginia.) Third, the TPPC voted to replace the VB Wave logo on the Atlantic Avenue bus lane signs with Resort sector designations, borrowed from the gateway traffic signs.

A preliminary look has been taken at improving the Rudee Loop Transfer Center of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) prior to 2011 seasonal service. An estimate was given on paving the gravel shoulder where the buses now stop. Rudee Loop is the meeting point for Routes 30, 31, and 32. While no bus shelters are currently available to be deployed to Rudee Loop, the depth of the property probably means you couldn't fit a full-size shelter on it anyway. TPPC (and RAC) Chairman Preston Midgett once again raised the matter of a Shuttle 3 Day farecard, but HRT officials raised technical objections that would probably preclude it.

A formal request has been accepted by the City Attorney's Office to have the revision to the Surrey Ordinance placed on the City Council agenda.

Finally, the TPPC expressed exasperation over being bypassed so far in proposed revisions to city parking requirements. At least three entities are now considering changes, with none of them yet to come to the TPPC.

Pre-Tax Transit Benefit In Danger

Unless Congress acts prior to December 31, transit parity under the Federal tax code will be gone. Currently up to $230 per month can be provided to an employee (either through payroll deduction of wages or as a fringe benefit) towards mass transit tax-free. That's the same amount as is exempt for a parking space. If Congress fails to act, it would revert to the pre-2008 ceiling of $120.

Currently, the most expensive farecard offered by Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) is the 30 Day MAX at $95. However, two things. First, it's the principle of the matter. If the Federal government wants to reduce the number of cars on the road, why give drivers a tax break nearly twice as large as transit riders? Second, should HRT pull it's fare review off the back burner in 2011, you might see that 30 Day MAX end up in the $120 range.

Draft Transit Vision Plan Meeting

Last night the Southside meeting on the draft of Phase II of the Regional Transit Vision Plan was held in the Board Room of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) in Norfolk. It drew a standing room only crowd.

4 additional areas of the state have added mass transit, as employers are making it a prerequisite to locate their businesses there. Currently 40% of people movements in Arlington are by mass transit. Automobiles are the second largest expense in household budgets. In auto dependent areas, automobile expenses comprise 25% of the budget; in transit rich areas, only 9%.

Reid Greenmun, Vice Chairman/Chairman of No Transportation of the extremist VBTA, has tried to claim mass transit is part of a conspiracy to take cars away from people. For anyone foolish enough to believe him, Amy Inman of Virginia's Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) told the gathering, "We'll always have the automobile." (Yes, Greenmun is a paranoid nutcase.)

From the draft Transit Vision Plan:

1. By 2025 - Norfolk's light rail starter line would be extended to Virginia Beach's Oceanfront and Naval Station Norfolk, with high speed ferries across the harbor.

2. Between 2025 and 2035 - commuter rail to from Newport News to Toano, Newport News light rail, light rail from Norfolk to Chesapeake's Greenbrier area, and a streetcar from the Harbor Park multimodal station to downtown Portsmouth.

Additional measures are laid out beyond 2035.

Comments, both written and verbal, were taken after the Presentation. Also, comments may be e-mailed to DRPT.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

By A Narrow Margin

On a 52%-47% vote, you voted against the proposed Eden nightclub on 32nd Street.

Personally, I believe we have too few nightclubs in Virginia Beach, especially on the west side. If we reject proposals like Eden, what are young people visiting our beach going to do at night? (Okay, besides that....) Better there are such venues where they can have a good time in a monitored atmosphere.

The new question: how many General Assembly seats (largely) in Virginia Beach will the Democrats mount challenges for in 2011? Republicans now hold all resident member seats in Virginia Beach, though the Democrats hold a few (5th & 6th Senate and 90th House) that overlap out of Norfolk.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

2010 UFL Championship Game On YouTube

If you haven't heard yet, Las Vegas won the 2010 UFL Championship game 23-20. The Locos blocked a Florida Tuskers field goal attempt on the final play of the game to seal the victory.

However, what was extraordinary today was how myself and many others watched the game. The game was shown live on the UFL's YouTube channel. It largely was the Versus broadcast of the game. However, viewers had their choice of five different camera angles. Viewers could send in comments and questions via Facebook and Twitter, and they were scrolled beneath the game picture. When Versus would go to a commercial break, the online broadcast went to a press box where HD Net's Ron Kruck hosted the interactive portion. Kruck replied to some of the comments and questions, and had UFL personalities in for interviews. One fan said the game should be dubbed the "Interactive Social Media Bowl".

Given the nature of the Internet, the audience was international. Viewers were asked to identify where they were watching from, and there were replies from Mexico, Brazil, Great Britain, France, Germany, Poland, and Canada. Don't worry: I got in my shout out from Virginia Beach, noting it's where the Virginia Destroyers will play.

Most interesting was Ron Kruck's interview with UFL Commissioner Michael Huyghue. The UFL playing Sunday games in August - during what would be the NFL preseason - was talked about. However, with the possibility of the NFL having a lockout in 2011, Huyghue stated that the UFL would look to move it's later season games to Sunday to fill the void in the event of a NFL lockout. Be aware, Destroyers ticket holders.

I loved the webcast. If we have more of such to look forward to in the 21st Century, sports will be better off and more fun.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Transit Notes November 25, 2010

My paycheck direct deposited this morning, so it was off to Walmart for groceries and a new watch. Thanksgiving is one of three holidays (along with Christmas Day and New Year's Day) that Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) goes to a Sunday schedule for. That took me through the Military Circle Transfer Center at the 9:45 A.M. and 10:45 A.M. lineups.

1. 3 of the 4 buses I was on had smaller loads than normal. However, my Inbound 20 to Military Circle was about 85% full.

After boarding the Outbound 15 at Military Circle, I became concerned that a Flat Earther would photograph one of today's buses and cite it as "proof" of the urban legend "empty buses."

2. The Inbound 23 was MIA at the 9:45 A.M. lineup. That's what had me on the Outbound 15 for Walmart.

3. Ran into Wally Erb, as we were both entering Walmart at the same time. He said he'd be back on to comment about my local Gas Tax for transit idea.

Okay, Wally. However, how would you pay for those buses you've been talking about?

4. The 10:45 A.M. lineup could only happen on a major holiday: my Inbound 15 was four minutes early into Military Circle, two buses (the Inbound 20 and Outbound 15) were already there, while the Outbound 20 came in a short distance behind us.

5. With a greenhorn Operator on that Outbound 20 and Customer Service closed for Thanksgiving, I had to play customer service agent myself at the 10:45 lineup:

a. Centerville Turnpike and Indian River Road - that would be Route 12, which doesn't run on the Sunday schedule.

b. Lynnhaven Parkway and Princess Anne Road - Routes 12 (Lynnhaven Parkway) and 25 (Princess Anne Road) cross there, but neither runs on the Sunday schedule.

c. Robert Hall - that's the wacky Sunday 15 schedule into Chesapeake.

6. On my Inbound 15 entering Military Circle, a young woman was loudly complaining to someone on her cell phone about everything be closed today. She wanted something to eat. Seeing the adjacent Hardee's, she told her caller she was going over there for chicken.

On Thanksgiving? I don't think so.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fundraiser For The Injured

Two employees of Knuckleheads Roadhouse, Monica and Greg, were seriously injured when the motorcycle they were on was victimized in a hit and run accident. They'll be unable to work for two months while recuperating, which means their income is lost.

There will be a fundraiser at Knuckleheads to gather money to carry them over. It will be on Sunday, November 28 from Noon until 7 P.M. I'll update this post with more details when I get them.

Monica is one of the two bartenders there I wouldn't dream of walking away from the bar from without leaving a nice tip for. She's that good at her job. Obviously she can't tend bar on crutches.

Knuckleheads is at 401 North Witchduck Road in Virginia Beach, the second left (Weaver Drive) north of Virginia Beach Boulevard.

Update: the band Vinyl Headlights will play Monica's Mishap Benefit. There will be a live auction and a fashion show. (That's from the event's official flier.)

I Can Read Their Minds

First I blogged on how the extremist Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) believes light rail is "Marxist" and the Tide Guides wearing red shirts is bound to have them angry. ("We Told You It Was A Marxist Conspiracy!", 9/25/10). Now we learn that The Tide will enter revenue service on May Day (Wood Street And The Tide Launch, 11/17/10).

I can imagine what's going through the sick and paranoid minds of the VBTA now....

54% Like The Current Configuration

In our latest poll question, 54% want to keep Virginia Beach at eight traffic lanes at Town Center. 46% want six traffic lanes plus on-street parking, as Dan Burden suggested.

The new question: should the Virginia Beach City Council approve Eden? It's the proposed nightclub on 32nd Street in the old Seapines post office building.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Blunder After Blunder

The video I embed below is must-see for any soccer fan. Qatar played Uzbekistan in the Asian Games.

The online comments are being aimed at Qatar's Fahad Khalfan for failing to score when he had a wide open goal at point blank. (He could have push passed it in from there!) However, don't overlook how badly the Uzbek goalie plays this ball. Finally, the second Qatari player in simply rushes it and blows a good scoring chance.

TDCHR November 18, 2010

The Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (TDCHR), the governing board of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) met this afternoon. With the earlier meeting (due to Thanksgiving), the October books hadn't been closed out yet. Therefore, the October financial report will be presented at the December meeting. Having met just three weeks ago, it was a short (about 45 minute) meeting.

Amy Inman of DRPT gave the TDCHR her Presentation on the Transit Vision Plan, essentially the same thing she showed the TPO yesterday morning. While DRPT excluded some specifics of the Virginia Beach alignment given the ongoing study, Inman did state that Virginia Beach's land use was "very supportive of rapid transit".

While acting CFO David Sullivan was out having dental work, it was reported that HRT paid off the balance on it's Line of Credit this morning.

According to TDCHR Chairman Paul Riddick, the Executive Committee is assembling a package of what they're looking for in a CEO.

There were two contract extensions on Norfolk light rail. Both were $40,000 each and within the $338 million Cost To Complete figure.

Chairman Riddick named Commissioner Pat Woodbury of Newport News and Commissioner Cliff Hayes of Chesapeake to organize a TDCHR Retreat in April, 2011.

Finally, Sharon Foster was awarded the HRT President's Coin, only the fourth employee in agency history to receive the prestigious honor. Sharon has overseen the awarding of Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) contracts on Norfolk light rail. DBEs got 21.5% of the work, ahead of the goal, with most Virginia firms. The fun part: Foster was asked to attend the meeting on the premise that the Commission had questions about the program, only to be surprised with the big gong.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wood Street And The Tide Launch

The MSM has previously reported on the proposed move of Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) Cedar Grove Transfer Center to Wood Street. The Norfolk City Council is scheduled to vote on that and other light rail-related matters on December 7.

What you haven't read are details from the proposals. HRT's Transit Riders Advisory Committee (TRAC) was briefed Wednesday evening on them:

1. The Tide is scheduled to go into revenue service on May 1, 2011.

2. The Cedar Grove Transfer Center would be moved to Wood Street two weeks prior, on April 17.

3. The bus lineup would be on the north side of Wood. 13 shelters would be there, 3 more than at Cedar Grove. Traffic on Wood would be one way westbound, though emergency vehicles exiting the adjacent fire station could run against traffic. A fence would be erected on the south side of Wood Street. Posey Lane would no longer exit into Wood.

4. There would be toilets there for bus Operators, but none now are planned for passengers.

TRAC members immediately lobbied for them. HRT Staff retorted none were at the former transfer center on Charlotte Street. (Psst...we slipped into MacArthur Center from there.)

5. Routes 6, 8, and 45 would provide service from Wood Street into southern downtown. They'd leave south on St. Paul's, turn right on Waterside, right on Boush, then right on City Hall, heading out of downtown from there.

6. Route 23 would travel Princess Anne Road along the northern periphery of downtown, as it did in pre-Cedar Grove days.

7. The single new bus route will be Route 16, from ODU to Fort Norfolk via Colley Avenue.

8. The additional cost to the City of Norfolk in FY 2012 would be $5.9 million, $3.1 million for light rail and $2.8 million for additional bus service. (Also, additional Federal and state funds would be involved.)

It's not a zero sum game, as $1.2 million would be saved by eliminating the NET ($700k) and Route 310 ($500k).

9. Some buses leaving Wood Street would serve the Monticello Station, including Routes 1 and 3. They'd head west on Charlotte Street, then turn north up Monticello.

10. There's a proposal for a Ghent NET on the table. It would run evenings from 6-10 P.M., 6-Midnight Friday and Saturday. There are four evening (Thursday - Sunday) and nightly options being considered.

11. The Tide would begin service daily at 6 A.M. It would run until 10 P.M. Monday - Thursday, Midnight on Friday and Saturday, and 9 P.M. on Sunday.

TPO November 17, 2010

This morning the Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) met at the Regional Building in Chesapeake.

There were five speakers for the public comment period: two on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT), two on the Transit Vision Plan (including myself), and one opponent of tolls.

The big issue was the unveiling of transportation projects prioritization. From it:

1. While HRBT expansion outscored The Third Crossing, it only did so because of the recent PPTA offer, which boosted the project's viability score. Were there a PPTA offer on The Third Crossing tomorrow, it would leapfrog the HRBT.

Given that The Third Crossing can be built in phases, the project is more attractive given the limited amount of money to work with.

2. The top rated fixed guideway project was (smile, everyone!) the Virginia Beach Fixed Guideway Transit Project. It scored 205 (87 for Project Utility, 94 for Economic Vitality, and 23 for Project Viability) compared to 187 for Norfolk's extension to the Navy base (89, 88, 10).

3. The Southeastern Parkway did well, but earlier in the day the TPO received notice that the Federal government has halted all environmental work on the proposal. (Stick a fork in it.)

The TPO will give final approval at it's December meeting.

Amy Inman of DRPT gave the first public presentation on the Transit Vision Plan. (Yes, Amy, this blog may make you a celebrity yet.)

The TPO agreed to move it's meetings to the third Thursday of the month. The holdup is that, under it's By-Laws, the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) can't ratify a change of it's own until April, 2011.

Finally, the TPO agreed to join the newly-formed Virginia Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations.

Amy Inman At The ATC

The final speaker session of Envision Transportation was on Monday night, with Amy Inman of Virginia's Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT).

The original hope had been for her to speak on Phase II of the Transit Vision Plan. However, DRPT was not ready to give such a public briefing yet. Instead Ms. Inman spoke on DRPT, what it is doing statewide, and what it could potentially do here.

On a related note, the Southside meeting on the Transit Vision Plan will be at Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) Norfolk office (Monticello Avenue and 15th Street) on December 1. The meeting will run 6-8 P.M., with a Presentation at 6:30. The Peninsula meeting will be on November 30 at Newport News' City Center.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Already Thinking 2012

The Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) has already launched a website with the 2012 Federal election in mind. It's at

Shore Drive Should Be 45 MPH

56% of voters believe Shore Drive's speed limit should be 45 mph, the previous speed limit. 38% support the current 35 mph, while 6% voted for "Other".

Personally, I agree on 45. First, you'll never traffic engineer well enough to keep late night bar hoppers totally safe. Second, there are a few bus routes in that corridor being impacted. Their schedules were written based on 45 mph traffic.

The new question: how should Virginia Beach Boulevard be configured at Town Center? Four traffic lanes each direction, or three traffic lanes plus parallel parking? It's based on Dan Burden's recommendation on the Walking Audit.

Bus Riders, What Are Noteworthy Issues?

Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) President Phillip Shucet has asked HRT Transit Riders Advisory Committee (TRAC) Chairman Henry Ryto to take him bus riding so he can see issues out there firsthand. While a specific date has yet to be set, they plan to go in December or January.

For the bus riders who read this blog (and I know sometimes you comment), what should be on their itinerary? Shucet has a half day in his busy schedule for it. Ryto immediately thought of Cedar Grove and the rush hour Route 15, though the former fades much with this week's announcement on the probable move of the transfer center.

Okay, what would you add to the schedule and why? Sound off in the Comments section.

Update: it's going to be a full day with the CEO in January. Keep the ideas coming, as we have a full day's schedule to fill.

Envision Transportation Community Dialogue

As part of the Envision Transportation initiative, small meetings are being held where residents are asked their opinions on transportation. I myself went to the meeting two nights ago. The questions we're asked:

1. How do you travel now, to work, to school, to shop, to recreation, to church, where else? How would you like to be able to travel?

2. What about Virginia Beach is valuable to you that must be preserved, no matter what transportation decisions are made?

3. What principles should guide public decisions related to transportation and mobility?

4. Group: list transportation options/improvements desired.

5. Individual: if you had one dollar to divide across transportation options, how many cents to each mode?

I'm happy to report that our Tuesday night group's first reply to question #4 was an unanimous endorsement of light rail.

For those yet to participate, there are two remaining meetings. One will be November 17 at Central Library from 7-8:50 P.M., with the last on November 20 at the Bayside Special Services Library from 10:30 A.M. - Noon. To register for Central, call 385-0150; for Bayside, call 385-2680.

Envision Transportation is a collaborative effort between the Hampton Roads Center for Civic Engagement and the City of Virginia Beach. Results from the meetings will be presented to City Council and be available for public review.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Middle School Trick Play

This play by Driscoll Middle School was trending on YouTube. The defensive players had to feel like idiots afterwards.

Dan Burden In Virginia Beach

Dan Burden is with the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, and was once named Social Innovator Of The Year by Time magazine. He was in Virginia Beach for two days last week, giving two presentations on Thursday.


Burden was at the Strategic Growth Area (SGA) Office on Thursday morning. (Prior to things convening, I had to joke SGA Office Director Barry Frankenfield that he was still in business with John Moss having lost the election.)

Burden gave a two and a quarter hour Presentation. From it:

1. Walkability should be at the center of design, not moving automobiles.

2. Property values in walkable areas are 3-5 times higher than in unwalkable.

3. Retail sales on streets with tree canopies are 12% higher.

4. Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) is growing at an astronomical, unsustainable rate.

5. We should stress form, not density. Simply permitting an additional couple units per acre in current multifamily suburban areas would allow for building much more attractive housing.

6. When we started building five lane roads (two traffic lanes each way, with a center turn lane) in this country, a delegation from Australia came over to look at them. They went back to Oz determined that such monstrosities should never be built down under.

After the Presentation, we went on a Walking Audit around the Town Center area. Burden's opinions from that:

1. Streets - the streets in Town Center are too wide.

2. Virginia Beach Boulevard - three lanes each direction are more than sufficient to carry it's traffic volumes. The outer lane would then become on-street parking.

It's not a zero sum game. Narrowing the street would allow for shortening the cycle on the pedestrian signal, meaning less time sitting in a red light.

3. Crossing the Boulevard - it took us nearly 5 minutes to walk from the door of the Cheesecake Factory to Romano's Macaroni Grill, much too long.

4. Independence Boulevard/Virginia Beach Boulevard - if we have an uglier intersection, Burden said "I don't want to see it."

5. Town Center side streets - Burden suggested reconfiguring them, starting with less-used portions as a test.

Burden didn't fault builders, pointing out that they normally build to the code. It's the code that's the problem. Before you jump to the conclusion that Burden's ideas on the Walking Audit will become concrete, I overheard where engineers on the Walking Audit were already raising objections to implementation.

Afterwards, lunch was served in the SGA Office, with question time over the meal.


On Thursday evening Burden spoke at the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) as part of the Envision Transportation speaker series. He gave a shortened (how many laymen want to sit through 135 minutes?) and simplified version of that morning's Presentation. It was taped for VBTV, and will be on the Envision Transportation website as streaming video.

Questions were taken afterwards. I counted 28 people in attendance, despite the bad weather that night.


The final speaker of the Envision Transportation Series will be Amy Inman of Virginia's Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT). It will be on Monday, November 15 at 7 P.M. at the ATC. Inman will address Phase II of the Regional Transit Vision Plan. Amy is a mass transit planner, and serves as DRPT's representative to the TPO.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Save AirTran's Business Class

As most of you have probably heard by now, Southwest Airlines has reached an agreement to buy AirTran Airlines. Southwest serves Norfolk International Airport (ORF), while AirTran serves Newport News - Williamsburg International Airport (PHF). While both are low cost carriers, there's a product difference between what they offer onboard.

There's now an online petition to save the AirTran product. (Hey, we may even be able to get Southwest to upgrade it's 737s....) The website is at For those who fly either carrier, have fun!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

RAC November 4, 2010

Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) met on Thursday afternoon for about an hour.

The RAC approved the TPPC's earlier endorsement for a change in Virginia Beach's surrey ordinance. The amendment would add relocation to the criteria under which a business west of Atlantic Avenue would lose it's ability to rent surreys.

A private car collector is looking to open an auto museum in the 400th block of 18th Street. The property has a warehouse that formerly was used by Princess Anne Plumbing & Heating.

The possibility of RAC programming on VBTV is being looked into.

The GREEN Committee brought forward a motion to advocate that Virginia move to California's standard on the operation of pool water pumps, on the grounds that it would mean energy savings. It passed with CCO representative Henry Ryto the lone "No" vote. Ryto, himself a former Certified Pool Operator, was concerned about the impact on pool water quality.

The Oceanfront Enhancement Committee (OEC) decided to name a task force comprising all stakeholders to examine the issue of food & beverage sales at Resort Area events.

A link has been added to the Gift of Tourism website to take Internet surfers to the Resort Area projects landing page.

Oceanfront residents have begun a phone calling campaign over the parking impact of the proposed new Eden restaurant on 32nd Street.

Finally, Commissioners were given a presentation on the Mayor's Alternative Energy Task Force's final report.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2010 Virginia Beach City Council Election: The Day After

Okay, you've probably been waiting for my two cents worth. May even want to chime in with your own thoughts under Comments. Here I go....


Who won yesterday? Obviously all 6 incumbents. However, what political grouping?

4 of the 5 candidates endorsed by Mayor Sessoms did. However, Bill DeSteph won reelection while chosen successor Dave Redmond finished 5th in the At-Large field.

Obviously not the extremist Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA), as all of their challengers went down hard. As 2010 was the last chance the VBTA had to even make a half-baked challenge for Council seats (more on that later), fittingly the VBTA as an electoral farce came to an end on All Souls Day. (November 2 is All Souls Day in the Catholic Church, when we remember the dead.)

The biggest story of the day may have been the poor showing of the Council candidates endorsed by the African-American Political Action Council (AAPAC). (More on that later, too.) However, time is on AAPAC's side. Yesterday was an early skirmish in a much broader and longer war.

The only clear winner yesterday was (drum roll, please) City Clerk Ruth Fraser. With all 6 incumbents returning, the old stationary can continue to be used.


You knew I couldn't wait to beat up on my favorite whipping boys, didn't you? With Obama's reelection effort almost certain to drive a huge minority turnout in 2012, any VBTA Council challenges will be stillborn next time out. Most of the angry old men who comprise the VBTA's inner circle will have aged out by 2014. Therefore, 2010 was their last chance to make a Council splash and they largely blew it.

The poll workers pushing the slate of Bill DeSteph, John Moss, and Toni Hedrick yesterday were using sample ballots from the Hampton Roads TEA Party (HRTP). It's telling that they admit that the VBTA brand is ballot box poison for a candidate.

Their astonishing faux pas of the day was further down the sample ballot. They called for the defeat of all three proposed amendments to the Virginia Constitution. That's right: they openly opposed tax waivers for veterans 100% disabled in the line of duty, in this Navy town! That had to be dead weight on their Council candidates!

If you want proof positive of what a joke the VBTA is, George Furman received more votes (31,338) in Bayside District than Hedrick (29,229) did in Lynnhaven. Furman didn't even actively campaign as such until a month out, and had no visible organization. Yet Furman got 2,109 more votes than Hedrick!

How will the VBTA react? We get a hint reading the online comments to The Virginian-Pravda story about the election results. First Reid Greenmun posted a disjointed blathering about the Mayor and Vice Mayor promising a light rail referendum. (Not a word about the candidate loses.) Then Ben Krause repeated his same campaign talking points about Jim Wood. (Yeah, that message played well.)


Yesterday I did an all-day stint at Holland Precinct, at Holland Elementary School, primarily for Andrew Jackson. Jim Wood also asked me to distribute his lit, which I did with Andrew's permission.

I started the day with a Jackson palm card and the Wood piece. Running out of Jackson cards about 10 A.M., I then switched that off to the African-American Political Action Council (AAPAC) sample ballot for the remainder of the day.

Poll workers from the Republican Party of Virginia Beach (RPVB) and HRTP were there for the three busier periods of the day (morning, lunch, and evening). The Virginia Beach Democratic Committee (VBDC) and Kenny Golden campaign had people there morning and evening. Barbara Henley's Council campaign had someone there for lunch and the evening. The firefighters union had firemen there periodically during the day.

Such a day always has it's fun moments. The bizarre one was when the Democratic worker called for a Constitutional amendment prohibiting corporate campaign donations, labeling contributions by corporations "fascism". The most humorous one was using the restrooms at the elementary school. Designed for small children, the urinals are mounted low and the sink even lower. That led a retired sailor to exclaim, "Adjust your aim!" The warm moment was realizing five of us poll workers were Catholic. (We should have brought our rosary beads.)


Todd Davidson came for about 90 minutes at midday, and his time made for some of the better conversation of the day.

He also got corrected a comical problem: the school had it's SOL accreditation flag up the flagpole upside down. (Our Navy veteran had tried to get it fixed earlier, but to no avail.) School Board member Davidson charged into the Office, and within a few minutes a custodian was out to get it right.

James Cabiness and his wife came to vote just before Noon. (Yes, he lives in Holland Precinct.)

George Furman spent about 25 minutes there after 5 P.M. I tried to explain to him that he was getting it wrong. (Hey, it was late enough in the day that the advice was useless.) A candidate is suppose to spend a few hours at a few targeted precincts during the day, but he was trying to hop around a number of them quickly. Anyway, my words went over his head.


I'm always happy to do work for my best friends. Their cause is just, right, and will empower the vast majority of residents. Not only did that take me to Holland Precinct yesterday, but I wrote some basic poll working pointers for the Jackson Campaign last week. As for Andrew, at most I hoped he could slip into the 2nd Place spot in the At-Large field. In the least I wanted to beat a Kool-Aid chugger or two.

Yesterday was a mess. Not only did Tanya Bullock lose, but Jackson (6th) and Cabiness (7th) finished in the last two slots of the At-Large field. Virginia Beach continues to be diversity-challenged.

My consolation is what happened in Holland Precinct. Andrew finished 2nd, just one vote behind Rita Sweet Bellitto. Also, Tanya won Holland. (Her name was at the top of the AAPAC sample ballot.)

We lost a battle, but the war continues. Quite the contrary of the VBTA, our numbers are growing daily. It's not a question of "if" we win, but "when" we win.


The long version of the Democratic sample ballot had a section "Friends of the Democratic Party", which encouraged people to vote for a given list of City Council and School Board candidates. Also, Virginia Beach Democratic Committee (VBDC) Chair Susan Mariner e-mailed out the list on Monday.

Republican poll workers had a list of Council and School Board candidates endorsed by Governor Bob McDonnell.

Having spearheaded the RPVB's 2001 look at endorsing Council candidates, I couldn't help but think "It's about time."

Michael Ronkin At The ATC

The second in the Envision Transportation speaker series was Michael Ronkin, who spoke on Thursday, October 28. Ronkin spent 26 years with the Oregon Department of Transportation, the last 17 years as Bikes and Pedestrians Director. Oregon was the first state in the country to adopt a Complete Streets statute, in 1971. Ronkin's talk was on Complete Streets.

Complete Streets incorporate all modes of transportation: motor vehicles, mass transit, pedestrians, bicycles, etc. Under a Complete Streets statute, the burden of proof falls on government planners to justify why a given mode shouldn't be included in a new road design or revision of an existing roadway. Complete Street design works from the outside in, rather than the traditional center line outward.

Factoids from Ronkin's talk:

1. A poll by Rails and Trails found that Americans would put 41% of transportation funding in mass transit, 37% in roads, and 22% in bikes and walking. The actual is 79% roads, 20% transit, and 1% bikes and walking.

2. Would you choose a restaurant based on speed alone? If not, why have we been making speed paramount in transportation planning for the past 50 years? The paradox is that the faster we've tried to move, the longer our travel times have become. (Uh...we're doing something fundamentally wrong.)

3. Ronkin stated that traffic engineering is the only profession where you're asked to fix the very problems you've created.

4. Multimodal streets increase home values and revitalize retail.

5. 21% of those over age 65 don't drive, and 50% of non-drivers stay home some days solely due to lack of transportation options.

6. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends Complete Streets as a tool in fighting obesity.

Virginia enacted a Complete Streets law in 2003. The hitch is getting traffic engineers to break their old habits.

The next series speaker will be Dan Burden, on Thursday, November 4 at 7 P.M. at the ATC. Burden will speak on "Community, Walkability, and Livability". Burden was once named Social Innovator Of The Year by Time magazine.

(Sorry for the delay in posting. However, I had the NAACP Banquet on Friday, worked Saturday - Monday, then worked the polls yesterday on Election Day.)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

You Don't Care

Our latest question was on the impact that Mayor Will Sessoms endorsements for the Virginia Beach City Council have on your vote. 53% say it has none, 40% say it backfires, and for 7% it makes it more likely they'll vote for the candidate.

The new question: what should be the speed limit on Shore Drive? It was 45 mph, then was lowered to 35 mph. Now there's talk the issue will be revisited.

2010 Freedom Fund Banquet

Last night was the annual Freedom Fund Banquet of the Virginia Beach Chapter of the NAACP, held at the Town Center Westin. It appeared to be a sellout. (I received a Facebook message a week out that there were only 4 tickets left.)

There were some area officials present (Federal, state, and local). Who wasn't there was the Virginia Beach City Council. Mayor Will Sessoms popped in for the Reception, but left before the Banquet. Bob Dyer read the Mayor's Proclamation, but then left. When time came to recognize Virginia Beach elected officials, the only City Councilperson present was Barbara Henley. NAACP President Georgia Allen was miffed at Council dissing the African-American community's most important event of the year.

The Unsung Hero Award went to Tosha Sanders. Community Services Awards were given to Manolita "Manny" Holadia and Edna Hendrix. The Trailblazer Award was won by Gary McCollum, and the President Award by Rev. Ray Cox.

Of course, the big draw was the Keynote Speaker, Al Sharpton. His connection to our region is that he has a daughter attending Hampton University. His remarks were superb:

1. With Election Day on Tuesday, he focused on getting out the vote. He said, "The NAACP fought to get you the vote. Now we have to fight to get you to vote." He noted the sacrifices made by the civil rights pioneers, and the planted axiom in their work that subsequent generations would build upon it. What are you doing to meet that challenge?

2. Secondarily he spoke on culture. The young need to set high goals for themselves or they won't achieve enough. African-Americans need to end self-defeating trends in their own community.

The pleasant surprise was how humorous he was. From the talking head spots I'd seen of him on television, he was never as funny as he was Friday night.

Friday, October 29, 2010

TDCHR October 28, 2010

On Thursday afternoon in Hampton the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (TDCHR) met.

Norfolk's light rail Starter Line is 95% complete. Also, the TDCHR took up an agreement between the TDCHR, Norfolk State University (NSU), the City of Norfolk, and the Norfolk Housing & Redevelopment Authority that largely covers final issues in the periphery of NSU.

For the first quarter of FY 2011, Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) is nearly $1.2 million under budget.

Ridership in September, 2010 was down somewhat from September, 2009.

Finally, the next TDCHR meeting will be November 18 in Norfolk. Normally the TDCHR meets on the 2nd Thursday in November and December (due to the holidays), but the 2nd Thursday this year is Veterans Day. Therefore, the TDCHR unanimously voted to move the meeting back one week.

TPPC October 28, 2010

The Transportation, Parking, and Pedestrian Committee (TPPC) of Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) met on Thursday morning. Only one item was on the agenda going in, but three were covered.

The big item was the issue of the relatively new pedestrian signs on Pacific Avenue. The TPPC wants to monitor the effectiveness of the signs, while the RAC's Plan/Design Review Committee (PDRC) is unhappy with the aesthetics of them. The City's traffic engineers will have first year numbers on their effectiveness to present to the TPPC in May or June of 2011.

The TPPC unanimously endorsed an amendment to the City's surrey ordinance. One of the aims of the 2005 ordinance was to eventually phase out rentals of the four wheel bicycle-like vehicles west of Atlantic Avenue, so that surreys wouldn't be crossing back and forth across Atlantic between the rental locations and the bike path parallel to the Boardwalk. A situation is developing where such a business is seeking to relocate to a second location west of Atlantic. While the existing ordinance covers sales of such merchants, it doesn't cover relocations. The proposed amendment would plug the loophole.

The representative from the Resort Beach Civic League (RBCL) raised the issue of parking for Resort Area businesses adjacent to residential areas. The TPPC largely seemed to think it's a matter that needs to fall under the pending form-based zoning for the Resort Area, which is still being drafted.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Some Thoughts One Week Out

Some things on my mind one week prior to the November 2 City Council election:

Will Toni Hedrick manage to get the 38% that Bob O'Connor did against Jim Wood in May, 2006?

How much blowback does Dave Redmond face from the voters over the genie ad and website? Does it gain him more votes than it costs?

Does The Virginian-Pravda endorsement of Barbara Henley have a noteworthy impact in the Princess Anne District contest, which has been looking fairly close?

On one level, I'd love to attend the Victoryless Party of the extremist Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) on election night. The sadist in me would love to watch the Kool-Aid chuggers' reaction to the incoming election results.

Should Bill DeSteph lose (as expected and hoped), how does that change the City Council Retreat in January? That would both eliminate his junk agenda items (which other Councilmen don't care about) and his comments on the other items.

If the Sessoms/Virginian-Pravda slate wins on November 2, does that put a Redevelopment & Housing Authority back on the burner? It was in the applicant questionnaire for filling the Villanueva vacancy. We'll know by the time the Council Retreat is over.

Should Tanya Bullock and Andrew Jackson both lose, how does that change the context of next year's City Redistricting process? Does it strengthen the legal argument against Virginia Beach's at-large voting system?

Should Wally Erb tank badly (as expected), does that kill the "issue" of a light rail referendum?

I anxiously await George Furman's vote total, as that will tell us how many people will vote for any warm body over a City Council incumbent. It will be fun comparing Hedrick's numbers to Furman's.

What conspiracy theory will Reid Greenmun push about the annihilation of his VBTA Council candidates?

As political consultant/fellow blogger Brian Kirwin has said, will Wally Erb grasp that "No Means No" applies to the voters rejecting his repeated candidacies? Erb has lost for state Senate (1995), City Council (2000), Clerk of the Circuit Court (2003), and is now running for Council again. The same applies for John Moss: Council At-Large (2004), Mayor (2008), and now Council At-Large again.

What will Robert Dean do to try to rally the remnants of the VBTA afterwards? In 2008 he had two pieces on Virginia News Source (VNS) in one week, but is no longer with VNS. Then, will the VBTA even be salvageable?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

2010 Avenging Archangel Endorsements

Why endorse? When you have a blog giving political opinions, it's a natural. Besides, even French Mackes has publicly endorsed for November 2. Here I go, and - if I'm lucky - I may even sway a few votes.

House of Representatives: Scott Rigell

I went through more turns on this race than I have over any in a long time. However, in the end I came down for Rigell for a couple reasons.

First, with Republicans expected to take the House of Representatives, having Congressman Rigell in the majority party would better enable Virginia Beach to secure Federal funding for light rail.

Second, a couple polls show Rigell winning even with Kenny Golden siphoning off 5-7% of the vote. Should Rigell win in such a manner, that would show local Republican candidates that the fringe right (most are pro-Golden) can be ignored with electoral impunity. There are more swing votes to be gained going that way than wingnuts to lose. (Bob Ehrlich is learning that the hard way in my native Maryland.)

City Council, At-Large: Andrew Jackson and Dave Redmond

Andrew Jackson is the candidate for where Virginia Beach needs to go as a City: a diverse, inclusive, resident-friendly place. Andrew is an amiable man who will listen.

As I've opined on this blog before, Dave Redmond is best-suited in the At-Large field for managing today's problems. As our Planning Commissioner here in Bayside District, I found him receptive when I spoke to him about my concerns over how the Pembroke Area Implementation Plan might impact our neighborhood.

City Council, Bayside District: Louis Jones

A couple things George Furman doesn't get. First, when you're running against a long time incumbent, you don't wait until a month out to start to campaign. Second, you come better prepared for forums than he did for the Hospitality Industry Forum last Thursday.

I'm not enamored with Louis Jones, but as any viewer of Let's Make A Deal knows, trading what you have for what's behind Door Number Three can leave you looking very foolish.

City Council, Beach District: John Uhrin

Okay, John is running unopposed. However, hit his button on the touchscreen rather than writing someone or something in.

Having had the opportunity to watch him at RAC and the TDCHR, his learning curve has been high. Pretty much a Johnny Two Note when he first came on Council, he can now cover all issues with substance.

City Council, Lynnhaven District: Jim Wood

Please, try arguing that there is a better and more effective City Councilman. I dare you.

As Wally Erb noted in a letter to Virginia News Source, Toni Hedrick was the 11th hour candidate of the extremist Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA). Apparently the tiny breakfast cult thought they could throw any warm body against the previous TDCHR Chairman and win. Hedrick's candidate forum appearances have been a comedy of errors, one we should be able to lower the curtain on come November 2.

City Council, Princess Anne District: Tanya Bullock

I've never been much of a Barbara Henley fan. In fact, I voted for Jim Reeve in both 2002 and 2006.

She has a high quality challenger in Tanya Bullock, and Bullock should be elected to Council. An attorney and a great success story, she will bring a new perspective to City Hall. The clincher for me is that she grew up in a Kempsville trailer park. Therefore, she should be able to relate to us po' folk, whose issues usually get little attention by our City government.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Stewart Schwartz At The ATC

The speaker series of the Envision Transportation initiative began last night. All four events are to be held in the Technology Theater of Virginia Beach's Advanced Technology Center (ATC). The kickoff speaker was Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. Some factoids from his remarks:

1. He was "very impressed" with Virginia Beach's land use plans and thinks we're "heading in the right direction."

2. Please note, fiscal conservatives: two Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) corridors that comprise only 11% of Arlington County, VA's land area account for 50% of the county's Property Tax revenue. Not only does it pay for itself, but it provides funds for elsewhere.

3. The redevelopment around Washington Metro's Gallery Place Station would require hundreds of acres if done on a suburban model. It fits nicely within 16 blocks, squelching sprawl.

4. AAA estimates it takes $9,500 per year to own, operate, and maintain a four door car. A robust mass transit system helps family budgets by allowing them to cut the number of household cars.

5. During the housing slump, TOD has held it's value much better than properties built at suburban density.

6. The United States has less than 5% of the world's population but consumes 25% of the world's oil production, 70% of it for transportation.

Finally, Schwartz said that Dan Burden (the speaker scheduled for November 4) is "not to be missed."

2010 Hospitality Industry Candidates Forum

The Virginia Beach Hotel/Motel Association (VBHMA) and the Virginia Beach Restaurant Association (VBRA) held a joint Forum for Virginia Beach City Council candidates on Thursday afternoon.


What's an issue in the hospitality industry? There was a list of 9 questions, with the grammar and capitalization errors from their sheet:

1. In terms of economic drivers in Virginia Beach, where do you consider tourism with respect to the other major industries?

2. Do you favor the City supporting the Post-Labor Day School Opening Bill in its legislative agenda, as they are currently doing?

3. The "Dome Site" project will in all likelihood require a public-private partnership. Will you support this if the return on investment scenario is a positive one for the city?

4. Other than the Dome project, what specific programs or projects do you foresee as possibilities in the future so that the tourism industry can continue not only to remain competitive, but grow? (Do you support the possibility of a Headquarters Hotel project?)

5. The Tourism Growth and Investment Fund (TGIF), the Tourism Advertising Promotion fund (TAP), and Event funds have been approved by ordinance by previous councils to support the continued growth of the tourism industry. Do you support the continuation of these funding programs in their current form, and would you work to protect their integrity?

6. What are your solutions to the traffic issues and lack of public transportation in Hampton Roads? What are your thoughts on Light Rail?

7. How important do you think it is to listen to your constituents, and how do you plan to do so?

8. With Virginia Beach marketing itself as a "Green Destination," with nearly 200 Virginia Beach hospitality businesses joining the VA Green program and our Convention Center recently being certified as a Gold LEED building, what are other new green initiatives you think our city could champion to reduce our environmental impact with our waste, water, or energy.

9. What are your thoughts for exploring for alternative energy off Virginia's coast?


I had to leave early to make it to another event (which I'll blog on later), but I have 2 1/2 pages of notes from what I heard. From those notes:

1. Dave Redmond opened with a challenge to those candidates who had been bad-mouthing the hospitality industry elsewhere to make those same remarks at this forum.

2. With Toni Hedrick pretending to support the hospitality industry and Wally Erb trying to sound centerist, it was up to John Moss to be the bad boy of the Forum. Moss was anti-Dome site redevelopment, anti-light rail, and anti-public-private partnerships.

3. Speaking of Erb, some of the answers he gave Thursday afternoon (and previously at Thalia) were pretty good. The problem is that Wally Erb is the messenger, so he doesn't have a snowball's chance of winning. (Thank God: maybe a light rail referendum becomes a non-issue when he tanks.)

4. Bill DeSteph supports "460 all the way to Richmond." Uh...Bill...460 goes to Petersburg, not Richmond.

Also on transportation, DeSteph advocates a local Gasoline Tax that would be lock boxed for roads and could only be used in the locality where it was collected.

5. George Furman finally showed up to campaign...and dumped a couple turds. (Louis, Bayside is yours to lose.)

6. Toni Hedrick's clown act continued. Under transportation, she favors "telecomputing". Jim Wood pointed out to the assembled that their hotel staffs can't telecommute.

She repeatedly called for more attractions in the Resort Area. (Attractions her VBTA handlers would oppose.) She wants a casino (wonderful for our family-oriented resort) and called the failure to land the Dixie Stampede a "terrific loss."

Sorry, but Hedrick's candidacy is going right up there with Mike Mitchell in 2002 and Al Wallace in 2004.