Saturday, January 2, 2010

DeSteph Will Be Toast

In the largest number of votes (163) ever cast in a poll on this blog, 85% of you thought Councilman Bill DeSteph is toast running for reelection this year. 11% think he has a good chance for reelection, with 1% each for Fair and Poor. I just hope I keep that large turnout as readers of this blog.

The new question: should HRT President Michael Townes be fired? Four TDCHR Commissioners (Wood, Uhrin, Wright, and West) have filed the necessary letter to attempt to terminate Townes' contract at the January 28 TDCHR meeting. There are two issues here. First, $50 million in additional cost overruns for Norfolk light rail construction. Second, the attempt by senior HRT Staff (on Townes' orders) to hide the overruns from Commissioners.


Anonymous said...

These are two very easy polls - get rid of DeSteph and Townes.

Just like the few VBTA-ers who voted to keep DeSteph, I'm sure some of Riddick's buddies will weigh in and vote to keep Townes!

thesh00ter said...

it's sad that this is gonna result in Townes leaving. it's not like he's a bad CEO, but he screwed up. i didn't know he ordered somebody to hide it. i must have missed that part of the article

Avenging Archangel said...


That wasn't in the article; it's inside information that I have.

I don't think it's a given that Townes is gone. However, should the TDCHR decide to keep him, they need to realize it will cripple attempts to extend LRT through the region.

Anon 9:12,

The results in both might be easily guessed at. However, two things:

1. Townes is the hot issue right now.

2. At least early on this blog I tried to balance my poll questions, alternating between ones that shot at the VBTA and ones that shot at the status quo. (As a grassroots inclusionist, I have sharp differences with both.) Therefore, since the last poll was DeSteph, I now wanted to go the other direction.

I've been toying with a poll idea aimed at the VBTA for quite awhile now, but didn't want to run it back-to-back with the DeSteph poll for even more VBTA.

Anonymous said...

Based on your "inside information" what is your opinion? Should Townes go or stay?

Avenging Archangel said...

Anon 6:14,

What I know is that Townes intentionally concealed the overruns from the TDCHR. Fraudulent financial reports were given at TDCHR meetings and senior HRT Staff was specifically instructed not to speak to Commissioners about the overruns. That amounts to insubordination, fraud, etc, certainly grounds for dismissal.

That said, I'm going to have to work with whomever is HRT President for improved transit in the region regardless of what happens January 28. Therefore, I should pull my punches publicly for now.

thesh00ter said...


i'm glad u mentioned that. that was my next thought. if they do keep him, how will it effect VB attempts at an extension. well he had a good run. who do u think is waiting in line for his spot?

Avenging Archangel said...

First of all, I don't think anyone has been waiting in the wings. However, as the news gets out, resumes are probably being updated.

Very simply, the Virginia Beach extension is clinically dead if Townes stays, probably Chesapeake, too. (Note Commissioner West also signed the letter.)

Anonymous said...

Politically how does this play in the Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Chesapeake council races?

For example, does this give Wally's referendum jihad any traction?

Does this hurt Randy Wright with a seemingly credible challenger?

thesh00ter said...


oh u bet they (resumes) are. that's actually what i meant when i asked that question. i mean i'm sure nobody was expecting this turn of events. here it is in one month they're boasting 50% complete and on course, next month or so, delayed to 2011 with cost overruns. but whoever does take his place i really hope they're as gung ho about having light rail expand throughout the 757. somebody so serious that they're even able to get Hampton to wake up and smell the 21st century

Avenging Archangel said...

Anon 11:42,

In Chesapeake, they probably withdraw their study request if Townes survives, and thus it isn't an issue.

Randy Wright's reelection will be interesting - and campaign committees in Virginia Beach will be watching closely. :) Remember that Wright is up a month before VB's filing deadline.

Here in Virginia Beach, the VBTA always fall victim to their worst political instincts. In this case, if they spend 5 months whining about LRT and taxes, voters will be annoyed to death with them by November.

The big point Erb's referendum farce misses is that the study is required under Virginia law, per Bob Tata's bill. Even if "No" won, the study is still the law.

Here's the kicker: to revoke the legal requirement would take General Assembly approval, which includes going through the Senate Transportation Committee. Yeah, Yvonne Miller of Norfolk is Chair. Anyone think Yvonne will allow a bill quashing an extension of Norfolk's Starter Line out of her Committee alive? (I didn't think so.)

Erb and his fellow Kool-Aid chuggers are deluded fools.

Wally Erb said...

Ah! Campbell soup, not kool-aid chugger here. The purpose of the referendum is not to preempt a study, but to be included in it.

First, it establishes unconditionally that a Norfolk to Naval base be established. If passed, the referendum gives public creditability acceptance for competing funds under the "New Starts" program.
On the other hand, if it fails, then it will be a Congressional funding issue.

Again, without a guarantee that the spur to the Naval Base is forthcoming, Light Rail is an amenity of convenience and a vehicle for development.

Anonymous said...

Moot point. Wally will never get the required number of signatures.

Avenging Archangel said...


What is someone from the Bronx (you) eating a soup (Campbell's) made by a Joisey (Camden) company?

I agree with Anon 5:42: you don't get the signatures. Remember that the 31st Street petition drive:

1. Was in doubt until 1 1/2 weeks out.

2. Enjoyed a spike due to Jim Spore's white Corvette rampage.

The irony being that Spore probably got the referendum question onto the ballot. This time, that doesn't happen.

wally said...

never say never

Anonymous said...

Never say never, but you according to your numbers on your blog (which may be slightly better now) you still need almost 24,000 signatures in the next 6 months.

That is assuming all of your signatures are valid- there will certainly be a small percentage that are not for one reason or another.

It also assumes that the signatures were collected properly - by registered voters who actually witnessed the signatures, not just clipboards left lying around.

Very steep mountain ahead. Unlikely to succeed.

Wally Erb said...

oh that!

Yeah, I haven't updated that since I put it up. I decided that the count would be accurate if I in fact turned them in to the Voter Registrar and post their official count, if they will provide that.
Thanks, I need to update that.

I haven't turned any petitions in yet, since they asked to refrain until after the 1st of the year with the special election and recounts. I'll probably just wait unit after the 12th special.

Oh, but there are many sheets.

I plan to take a leave of absence in February to organize sheet collection and name gathering until the count is fulfilled or July 1st (whichever comes first) There are a lot of sheets out there right now that need to be notarized and collected. I am a notary.

Admittedly, this cold snap has slowed down the effort.

It's kinda like a quest and you get to meet a lot of nice people.

Anonymous said...

I don't like you Mr. Erb. Your really in the way.

Wally said...

Anon 6:37
If my belief in exercising the process and my position of allowing the electorate to quantitatively provide pertinent EIS data has become a personal obstacle to an anonymous posting let me respond with, I don't care.

Avenging Archangel said...


You don't expect anyone to take that seriously, do you?

1. Your referendum would be before the SDEIS gets back, meaning voters wouldn't have real facts and figures to base their decision on.

2. In your letter to The V-P in response to their editorial panning your effort, you stated their should be a referendum before funds were spent on a study. (That's parroting Robert Dean's position.) Now you claim you want it as part of the EIS. Which way do you want to try to spin this POS?

Wally Erb said...

Let me ask you. What figure would find prohibitive? What is the threshold? Do you know that only after the study?

I don't think the "study" is germane to the desires of the electorate at this juncture. Either your for sporting light rail or not.

As far as the study, its true purpose is the determining factor a conditional Congressional funding level commitment under the "New Starts" program based upon cost, competitive priority and regional need. The study result is of no consequence to the electorate.

That is seriousness, not rhetoric.

thesh00ter said...

lemme ask ur opinion Henry

i'm sure u read the latest article about Townes dismissal. u think VB is using this as an excuse to get out of the LR race? cuz i have mixed feelings on the whole thing. while i don't deny what Townes has done, if it gets in the way of progress then yeah he needs to go (lol) with that being said, Washington and Routten need to zip it (u see why i argue about Hampton's uninvolvement, now it's starting to get in the way) but as i was saying, VB (Wood and now Davis) seemed to be the first ones to express distaste, almost more so then Norfolk.