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.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The TEA Party's Racist Ties

For those good little Egyptians who have been living in the land of denial about TEA Party racism, there's now a report out documenting the ties between the TEA Party and White supremacist and racist groups. It's a collaborative effort between the national NAACP and a think tank.

The report can be downloaded at I've already downloaded it.

Hampton Roads Special Needs Registry

A website has been established to serve as a portal for our region's special needs population. In the opening phase, those with medical special needs (i.e. medically fragile, technologically dependent, high risk, etc) will be able to register in the databank. The purpose is to identify those with special needs in order that services can be delivered to them in case of a disaster.

The Federal grant to establish it simply covers those with medical special needs. However, there are plans for a second phase that would allow the social needs/at-risk population to register. That would cover those who speak limited English, are low-income and/or transit-dependent, pregnant women and those with newborn children, frail/older adults, etc.

The website is at The official launch of the site is October 28, but I managed to pull up the site a short time ago.

TPO October 20, 2010

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

There is a proposed amendment to the TPO By-Laws to move meetings from the 3rd Wednesday at 10:30 A.M. to the 3rd Thursday at 9:30 A.M. The idea is to allow our region's Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) members to attend. There were some objections raised by Peninsula representatives over having to drive to Chesapeake on back to back mornings for meetings (the HRPDC meets on the 3rd Wednesday), effectively taking a half day for them each day. It was suggested that either the HRPDC meetings also be moved, or that the meetings be put in separate weeks. The vote on the amendment would come at the TPO's November 17 meeting.

The TPO approved the proposed Scope Of Work for Phase 1B of the region's High Speed Rail Vision Plan.

The TPO's Citizen Transportation Advisory Committee (CTAC) reported out, favoring a state Gasoline Tax increase that would be indexed to inflation. Also, they'd like to see a regional transportation funding package. Finally, they wish for a military representative to brief the CTB annually on the military's transportation needs in our region.

The TPO voted for it's annual Legislative Package after a stormy debate over a clause advocating a regional transportation authority. In addition, they decided to include a clause endorsing expansion of the Midtown Tunnel.

2010 AAPAC Endorsements

The African-American Political Action Committee (AAPAC) has released it's endorsement list for the November 2 election here in Virginia Beach.

For City Council, AAPAC endorses Andrew Jackson in the At-Large contest and Tanya Bullock in Princess Anne District. For School Board, Carray Banks in Bayside District and Gertrude "Bunny" Waugh in the At-Large field.

No, they didn't endorse in most contests. That's similiar to 2006, when Glenn Davis (At-Large) was the only Council candidate AAPAC endorsed.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Don't Mess With The Concessions

You unanimously voted against curbing food and beverage sales at Resort Area events. I have a couple problems with the logic of the Virginia Beach Restaurant Association (VBRA). First, it assumes that all or nearly all the reduced sales would go to Resort Area restauranters. No, locals may either stop somewhere west of Birdneck Road on the way home or wait until they get home for something. Second, it overlooks the convenience factor. You may buy something in front of you, but you might not walk 2-3 blocks for it.

The new poll question is on Mayor Will Sessoms' intervention in this year Virginia Beach City Council races. Are you more likely to vote for a candidate due to Sessoms' endorsement, less likely, or do you ignore it?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Transportation Speaker Series

As part of the ongoing Envision Transportation initiative, there will be a series of speakers on facets of the Transportation issue. The lectures will be in the Technology Theater of the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) at 7 P.M. each night.

1. Thursday, October 21

Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

2. Thursday, October 28

Michael Rankin from Complete Streets

3. Thursday, November 4

Dan Burden

4. Monday, November 15

Amy Inman of Virginia's Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) on the Regional Transit Vision Plan, Phase II

For those unable to make it, the sessions will be taped for broadcast on VBTV. Remember that there's now weeknight service on Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) Route 36, so you can make the trip in and out by bus.

Monday, October 11, 2010

SNL's Christine O'Donnell Ad

Christine O'Donnell is the Republican nominee for United States Senate in Delaware. Backed by the TEA Party, she defeated the party establishment's candidate in the GOP primary.

She now admits to having "dabbled" in witchcraft. That's the gist of this Saturday Night Live campaign ad for her.

H/T to Kevin Martingayle, who had a link to this posted on Facebook.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

First Big Powwow Of 2011

The Virginia Beach City Council is now scheduled to hold a Retreat on January 21 and 22 of 2011. It will be in the Department of Economic Development (DED) Conference Room (10th Floor, Town Center tower) from 8:30-5 each day.

Having attended every Council Retreat since 2002, after Christmas I plan to post some pointers on how you can try to have a policy impact on a Retreat.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Direct Mail Chutzpah

As an observer of Virginia Beach politics, I'm used to hearing statements made that are outlandish. However, I received a direct mail piece today that is one of the biggest ones I've seen this year.

It's from the Democratic Party of Virginia, and on the 2nd Congressional District race. It attacks Scott Rigell for contributing money to Barack Obama's Presidential campaign, and having stated in a debate that he wouldn't repeal Obamacare. That's right: the Democrats went after Rigell for giving money to their own President's campaign and not wanting to revoke his health care initiative! Do they believe people are too stupid to read who sent it? (It appears on the mailing twice.)

With stuff like that, no wonder many people are so cynical about politics.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Some Form of Regionalism

Our latest poll question was on what to do in terms of regional consolidations. 45% want to consolidate both cities and services, 13% want to consolidate services alone, while 42% want no consolidations.

As our cities become more homogeneous, I believe having separate cities side by side will make as much sense as two Germanys after the fall of the Berlin Wall. As Karl Marx would say, consolidation is a "historic inevitability".

The new question is on the VBRA request to curb food & beverage sales at Resort Area events. Do you support or oppose it? Why or why not?

RAC October 7, 2010

Yesterday afternoon Virginia Beach's Resort Advisory Commission (RAC) held it's October meeting.

Mark Schnaufer gave a Briefing on the Virginia Beach Transit Extension Study (VBTES). Of primary interest to Commissioners were the route alternatives between Birdneck Road and the Convention Center.

A letter from the Virginia Beach Restaurant Association (VBRA) to Resort Administrator Mike Eason was presented to the RAC. The VBRA wants food and beverage sales curbed at Resort Area events, believing they are taking away business from restaurants there. The RAC sent the matter to it's Oceanfront Enhancement Committee (OEC) for study and a possible action plan.

A landing page of Resort Area projects for the City's website was shown. It would give residents online information about ongoing initiatives. The RAC approved going live with it, provided an easier gateway can be established so people can find the information.

Of top interest in the Plan/Design Review Committee's (PDCR) report was that planning for the third tower of the Ocean Beach Club is underway.

Finally, on October 15 Phase I of the Laskin Gateway Project will be completed, with Phase III beginning that day. Closure of Laskin Road for work there has now been delayed until January, so as to not interfere with Christmas shopping at businesses there.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Will Sessoms Steps In It

While I didn't vote for Will Sessoms for Mayor, I've had high hopes for what might happen with him in the Mayor's Office. After all, we're finally moving forward again after four years of stagnation. However, the Mayor has made a major blunder with his list of endorsees for the November 2 election.

One huge problem: it's an all-White slate, even with a couple quality minority candidates (Andrew Jackson and Tanya Bullock) on the ballot. Next year is a City Redistricting year, where the minority communities - and others (including myself) - will probably push for reform of Virginia Beach's obscene at-large election system for City Council races. So if Sessoms blows off minority Council candidates in 2010, then eschews reform of the electoral system in 2011, what minority support would he expect to have for reelection in 2012? Will has painted himself into a corner.

Add to that Republican ire over Sessoms' endorsement of Jody Wagner for Lieutenant Governor in 2009, which is only inflamed by Sessoms choosing Barbara Henley for reelection against Tanya Bullock.

I've opined before (The V-P's Sessoms Puff Piece, 7/8/09) that Mayor Sessoms could have easily won reelection in 2012 by assembling a coalition of the business community, the Republican establishment, and the minority communities. Instead, he's now in self-destruct mode. If Sessoms believes business community money alone can win elections, ask Page Lea (2002), The Yes Campaign (2002), and Margaret Eure (2004).

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Reality For The "No One Rides The Bus" Tin Foil Hat Set

Last night I made a trip out to buy groceries. 3 of the 4 buses I was on were standing room only. (Inbound 20, Inbound 23, and Outbound 20.)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Al Sharpton Is Coming To Virginia Beach

I knew that title would get your attention. The 2010 Freedom Fund Banquet for the Virginia Beach Chapter of the NAACP will be on Friday, October 29 at the Town Center Westin. A Reception will be at 6 P.M., followed by Dinner at 7 P.M. Tickets are $75 for the Banquet plus a one year membership in the Chapter, $50 for the Dinner alone.

The Keynote Speaker will be Al Sharpton. Regardless of what you think of Sharpton, he's the kind of individual who can bring national attention to the inequities here in Virginia Beach. Therefore, his visit should be welcomed by everyone except our elitists. (Then, maybe he can save them from their own stupidity.)

I mailed in my check this morning.