Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tyler Lynn-Gainous Shot

As you may have read or seen by now, Tyler Lynn-Gainous was shot on Weaver Drive late Friday afternoon and killed.

I haven't been one for blogging crime stories. (Then, I haven't seen a blog that regularly does.) However, this shooting is quite different for me. The victim died about 35 yards from my apartment's front door. One of my neighbors was taken into custody by the Virginia Beach Police Department (VBPD) as a "person of interest" for questioning. Therefore, I won't take the usual approach to such an event, but want to look at how such a tragedy impacts a neighborhood. With (hopefully) a murder trial in the months to come, this may become a series.


My home neighborhood for over 8 years now. Weaver is a cul de sac with two apartment complexes on it. Aden Park Apartments is the front of the two, providing about 10% of the units in its price range in Virginia Beach. Behind it is Ebbets Plaza, one of the few directly-subsidized apartment complexes in town. The neighborhood is poor, and about 90% minority. (I'm used to being the only White at a social gathering.)

The neighborhood was troubled in the 90s, but brought back through a concerted effort. VBPD came in and did community policing. (Among those who served here was current VBPD Deputy Chief John Bell.) A new company acquired Aden Park and upgraded it. The Community Manager chosen has been excellent: a firm but fair lady who will refuse to renew leases, and even evict, on those who are problem residents.

However, I've seen symptoms of backsliding over the past 10 months and have spoken to a couple of people about it. If there's a silver lining to this tragedy, maybe it will be the alarm that triggers a comprehensive process for improving our neighborhood.

For the purpose of the shooting, let me set the geography. Tyler Lynn-Gainous lived on Williams Court, the first cluster of apartments on the left side of Weaver Drive as you come in. The person of interest lived on Jasper Court, the first cluster of apartments on the right side of Weaver as you come in. The shooting was on Weaver, with the victim dying on the sidewalk on the Williams side of Weaver.


I worked Friday afternoon. With HRT's Route 20 messed up at rush hour, it was about 6:30 before I reached my home neighborhood. As I approached, I could see VBPD had Weaver blocked off. At first I thought we'd had a traffic accident, but then noticed how large an area was cordoned off with yellow crime scene tape. Something serious had happened. I told the cop at the entrance of Weaver that I was a resident, and he told me to walk through via the fields to the north. I had already figured that was probably the only way in, but had never walked it as long as I've lived here.

Entering Jasper, the crime scene tape came to within yards of my door. A black screen concealed the body on the sidewalk on the far side of Weaver. Small groups of residents stood along the edge of the crime scene trying to see what was going on in our neighborhood.

After dinner and a short Internet session, I came back outside. Some were still watching. I grabbed my favorite lawn chair and took a seat. The body was removed in a body bag about 8:30. Policewomen were combing the grass for evidence, and photos were being taken. VBPD pulled out shortly after 9 P.M.

Once the tape came down, I wanted to go look at where my neighbor had died. Before I could get out of my lawn chair, two women were already there. I went over and said a prayer. Despite the area being sprayed to clear blood at the end of the investigation, I could see it in a couple places. Within minutes, neighbors began erecting a makeshift memorial at the site of the death.


I noticed on Saturday morning that the memorial was growing. Already having planned a shopping run for Saturday earlier in the week, I bought a candle for the memorial while I was out. Shortly after getting home, I took it across the street. I blessed it in the manner of a priest, lit it, and placed it among the others.

Today was eerily quiet in our neighborhood, especially for a Saturday. I neither saw nor heard any children outside playing, despite the great weather. Parents may have been keeping them inside.

I've been checking the Internet throughout the day for updates on the case, but haven't seen anything yet.

I thought I should go relight all the candles at dusk. Taking out garbage in the early evening, I noticed someone else already had. They look beautiful in the dark tonight.

TDCHR May 26, 2011

Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (TDCHR) meetings normally run about an hour. Thursday's went about 130 minutes, featuring a stormy debate around the fare verification & security services for The Tide contract.

You all want the light rail news. The Tide's maintenance facility is down to the punch list phase. Communications systems are on the ground. Systems integration testing will be completed by mid-June. Phase 1 of the Military Highway park and ride will be done by the second week of June, with the others done by July. The revenue service launch date will be announced by June 15, probably on June 9. It will be a date "in the near future".

Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) is $1.33 million under Budget for FY 2011. A plethora of bus maintenance issues during the past month cut into the surplus. In addition, the Budget for FY 2012 was passed.

Ridership for FY 2011 is up 4.6% over FY 2010, and ridership in April, 2011 was 3.3% greater than in April, 2010.

Four contracts were awarded on Thursday. Three were routine: for The Tide marketing campaign surrounding revenue service launch, Phase 2 of the Military Highway park and ride (which involved a four party land swap), and repairs on Elizabeth River Ferry II.

The fare verification & security contract sparked a broader debate about the fairness in awarding Tide contracts in general. Staff will now prepare a report on contract awards. After a heated discussion, the contract was awarded on a 7-3-1 vote.

For the buffoons in the extremist Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) who have tried to make issues of both fare verification and safety on the trains, Top Guard Security will now be patrolling them. Shut the hell up!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

They're Coming To Take Them Away

64% agreed that Napoleon XIV's They're Coming To Take Me Away should be the theme song of the extremist Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA). 35% chose Red Rider's Lunatic Fringe, while no one voted for Steve Miller's Lost In Space.

The new poll question: does the Virginia Beach city government care about the average resident?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Top 10 Reasons I'm Glad The Rapture Didn't Happen

Protestant preacher of heresy Harold Camping claimed The Rapture would happen at 6 P.M. this evening, but it didn't. While I was waiting for the hour to come, I drafted my Top 10 list of why I'm glad it didn't happen:

10. I want to see Zoe Saldana in Colombiana.

9. I don't want the world to come to an end having never married. (I still hope to meet a good African-American woman out on the buses.)

8. I want to see what challenges the Demonrats mount for General Assembly seats in Virginia Beach in 2011.

7. I want to hear the warped "logic" the Virginia Beach City Council espouses in defending the obscene at-large voting system. (I don't know whether I'll laugh or scoff more.)

6. I want to see an agreement for building an entertainment venue at the Dome site and read its details.

5. I didn't want the world to come to an end with the UFL's Virginia Destroyers having never played a game.

4. I want to see the tantrums VBTAers throw when John Moss isn't appointed to Rita Sweet Bellitto's vacant City Council seat.

3. I want to find out exactly which Virginia Beach City Councilman Virginia News Source is accusing of sexual misconduct.

2. I'm having too much fun laughing at the joke that is Protestantism. After this red herring, maybe more people will see it for what it is.

1. I want to ride Norfolk's light rail starter line before the world comes to an end.

2011 Virginia Beach City Redistricting Schedule

This is the proposed schedule for the redistricting of the seven Virginia Beach City Council residency districts. Also during this process, residents may advocate for reform of our at-large voting system:

May 25 - Public Meeting at Green Run High School, 6 P.M.

June 16 - a public meeting at a location and time to be determined.

June 28 - the proposed plans will be presented to City Council.

July 14 & 27 - Public Meetings on the proposed plans.

August 9 - a Public Hearing on the proposed plans in the Council Chambers.

August 23 - City Council votes on their preferred plan or multiple plans.

The consultant will be available to meet with interested residents on May 25 & 26, and June 16 & 17. By appointment any resident can meet and submit a plan.

Some Mood Music

With The Big Event about an hour away, here's some mood music from Blondie....

Thursday, May 19, 2011

7th Annual HRACRE Property Tour

Today the Hampton Roads Association for Commercial Real Estate (HRACRE) held their 7th annual property tour. Participants boarded a double decker motor coach at Virginia Beach's Town Center for the five stop tour that focused on Transit-Oriented Development (TOD).

The first stop was 31Ocean. Catching even the organizers off-guard, PHR/Gold Key prepared a special welcome for the tour. The group was taken to the 31st Street Hilton's Sky Bar for desserts and drinks. (No, I didn't. I can't stand the taste of rum.) There on the rooftop, Bruce Thompson gave a talk on what he was doing in the area, pointing to his nearby projects at 34th Street and across Pacific Avenue. He related it back to the City's vision for the Resort Area. For those who have tried to portray Bruce as entirely self-serving, he offered to partner with other developers to get projects done, and even offered to aid projects PHR/Gold Key wasn't even involved in. As a parting gift, tour participants were given passes for themselves and a guest to return to Sky Bar during the 2011 season.

There was then the bus ride into Norfolk, which produced a couple nuggets. First, while the City of Norfolk is hoping for an earlier launch, Tide revenue service will probably begin in September or October. That's due to safety system testing. Second, the City of Norfolk Staffer pushed St. Paul's Quadrant, redevelopment plans that (at least publicly) had appeared to be on the back burner. (St. Paul's Quadrant also came up later at MacArthur Square.) Norfolk's current downtown is 93 acres, while St. Paul's Quadrant would add an additional 110 acres.

The second stop was Fort Norfolk Plaza, one block west of the western terminus of the light rail starter line. It's the first medical office building "of scale" built in the periphery of Norfolk General Hospital in 50 years. It's already about 90% leased, as it offers competitive rates and amenities that the older buildings in the neighborhood don't. We met on the unleased 2nd Floor. Looking across Plum Point Park towards the Elizabeth River, I thought, "For us, that's beautiful; for the VBTA, it's a conspiracy."

The third stop was the Wells Fargo Center, where we met in a Willcox Savage conference room on the 22nd Floor. (You could see the rail line going west to Fort Norfolk.) The site for the building was chosen based on the neighboring Monticello Station, and having light rail right there was greatly helping leasing of the 121 apartments. There's a 1st Floor restaurant, Bite, that some were crowing about. (Memo to self: check it out for breakfast once the adjacent train is running.)

The fourth stop was MacArthur Square, where City of Norfolk Staff spoke to us. First, Norfolk is looking at placemaking around the station: the Slover Library diagonally southwest, a mural was planned for the post office wall facing the station, and the MacArthur Memorial is going to raze the existing theater and build a new $6 million facility facing MacArthur Square. (The current one has its back to it.) Second, TOD overlays are being prepared for all light rail stations. Noted were that there will be bicycle parking requirements in construction of new buildings, and that any such new buildings will be required to be a minimum 30 feet in height.

The final stop was Virginia Beach's Newtown Strategic Growth Area (SGA). (Actually, the meeting was in a hotel on the Norfolk side of Newtown Road.) SGA Office Manager Barry Frankenfield gave a brief overview of Beach SGA policy, covered some of the particulars in Newtown's seven subareas, and made a sales pitch to work with developers who want to come in and make the vision a reality.

However, Frankenfield made one statement that deserves bold print: the primary public spending in the SGAs will be roads and stormwater. That's it. For those knuckle-draggers who have tried to portray the SGAs as never-ending money pits, the City of Virginia Beach will simply cover transportation and stormwater.

My thanks to HRACRE for being allowed to go on the tour as a guest. Not only was it informative, but that was a nice box lunch and the beer was a pleasant surprise (I do like Coors Light.). For the extremist Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) regularly portraying the business community as the enemy (real conservatives are pro-business), HRACRE welcoming some grassroots activists onto their bus tour shows forward-looking forces can work together.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

84% Want Economic And Military Sanctions

84% want economic and military sanctions against Pakistan for harboring Osama bin Laden, 16% want no sanctions, and 0% want economic or military sanctions alone.

The new poll question: what should be the theme song of the extremist Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA)? I give you a choice between Lost In Space by Steve Miller, Lunatic Fringe by Red Rider, and They're Coming To Take Me Away by Napoleon XIV.

Where Will The Social Conservatives Go?

I admire Mike Huckabee. I endorsed him for President in 2008 (Huckabee Rally, 2/11/08), and was ready to support him again in 2012. Alas, last night he announced he isn't running. That raises an obvious question: where do social conservatives go with Huckabee out?

On another blog, a commenter suggested Rick Santorum to me, but the former Pennsylvania Senator doesn't have a snowball's chance of winning the nomination.

Mitt Romney is a phony.

Tim Pawlenty is an apostate Catholic, so many Catholics (including myself) would never vote for him.

There's an online draft Bob McDonnell movement, but Bob isn't going to run in 2012.

Does someone else get in to fill the vacuum?

Friday, May 13, 2011

How Do We Fix Route 1?

It's Norfolk Greek Festival Weekend, and the only bus there is Route 1. Therefore, I was on the 1 today to go and get my pastitsio for lunch. The bus was running late, and obviously wasn't going to make the Wards Corner lineup. While eating, I saw the next 1 pass...also late. That got me thinking about the 1 in more general terms. What should we do? A few things:

1. Is it as simple as having it jump earlier from the Cedar Grove Transfer Center?

2. Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) efficiencies report puts every 15 minute service on Route 1 throughout the day on weekdays between Cedar Grove and Ocean View. What kind of impact would that have?

3. IMO, the long term solution is a streetcar along the current Route 1 alignment from downtown Norfolk to Wards Corner. That would not only relieve the 1, but help economic revitalization at Riverview and Wards Corner.

My fellow bus riders, chime in under Comments. What would you do, and why?

A New Zoe Saldana Movie

I went to see Jumping The Broom on Thursday afternoon, which was a pretty good movie. However, the highlight was that I saw the trailer for a new Zoe Saldana movie. Zoe is my favorite actress, and I've been smitten with her since watching Guess Who. Her new film is Colombiana, which is scheduled to be released on September 2. I embed the trailer below. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

More YouTube Soccer Footage

You have to love this one. The Goalie thinks he's stopped the penalty kick, celebrates, and walks away. The camera crew believes the shot was missed, and television coverage pulls off the ball.

Better wait and see what the backspin does on this ball....

Friday, May 6, 2011

Go For It!

56% of voters lean towards light rail extended all the way to the Oceanfront, 39% are leaning towards the Lynnhaven option, while 5% want an extension to Town Center.

While all three options are in play, I'll explain why I'm one of the 39%:

1. The gap between Lynnhaven and the Resort Area could easily be bridged transit-wise. Simply run a shuttle bus between the Lynnhaven Station and the transportation center planned for the Dome site complex.

2. You can run feeder service to Oceana NAS nearly as easily from Lynnhaven Station as you could Oceana Station.

3. The Lynnhaven alignment would bring in 4 of the 6 Strategic Growth Areas (SGAs) along the Norfolk Southern Corridor. Remaining would be AICUZ-constricted Hilltop, and the Resort Area. (Obviously the dynamics of the Resort Area are quite different than the other five.)

4. The estimated $251 million lower cost than the Resort Area option would be easier for the public to swallow.

5. One of the two major obstacles an Oceanfront extension faces in getting Federal funding is the constrained redevelopment opportunities adjacent to Oceana NAS. (The other is the large sum of money.) Stopping just west of the Oceana doughnut hole negates that, and also boosts us on the other count.

Should Oceana lose Master Jet Base status in outlying years (as many anticipate), the AICUZ footprint around the base would shrink dramatically for choppers or turboprops. We can then extend Lynnhaven - Dome site without breaking our commitment to the Navy.

The new poll question: should Pakistan be sanctioned for harboring Osama bin Laden? If so, how?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Barf Bag!

Late last night John Moss put out an e-mail announcing that he'll be a candidate in the November special election to fill the seat being vacated on the Virginia Beach City Council by Rita Sweet Bellitto.

As Wally Erb would tell John, "No means no." Is the guy so arrogant that he doesn't get the message from election losses in 2004, 2008, and 2010?

First, he has no chance of winning. Second, next time the extremist VBTA complains about government not listening, point out that the VBTA doesn't listen. Rerunning the same retreads with the same stale and rejected message is downright anal.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

India Must Be Laughing

Osama bin Laden is dead. The neighborhood his safe house was in has four Pakistani military installations, so it's implausible that the Pakistani military didn't know where he was. After all, wouldn't an oversize house having 12-18 foot walls topped with barbed wire draw your attention?

While bin Laden's death was a great adrenalin rush for we Americans, they must be laughing in India. Pakistan has been caught red-handed working both sides of the street in the War On Terror. As more evidence comes in, Pakistan will probably face a draconian sanctions regimen from the international community. The world's largest democracy (i.e. India) stands to reap huge benefits here.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Springfest 2011

Saint Gregory's Roman Catholic Church (my home parish) will hold it's annual Springfest May 13-15. It will run Noon - 10 P.M. Friday and Saturday, and Noon - 6 P.M. on Sunday.

There will be games, a few kiddie rides, live entertainment, and plenty of food. There will be American, Filipino, German, Greek, Hispanic, and Italian cuisine. (No Hispanic food on Friday.) In addition to soda, beer and wine will also be available.

Saint Gregory's is undergoing a three phase renovation to it's sanctuary. The lighting has been replaced, and the ceiling repainted. If Springfest is a success, we'll have the funds to replace the carpet.

Be sure to come!

Rolling About April 30, 2011

With yesterday off, I spent Saturday rolling about. Five buses, and quite a bit of walking.

1. I've heard strategic planning meetings compared to watching paint dry. Full government reports can be boring, if you're not interested in the issue.

However, I discovered a new definition for painful: watching open tryouts for a professional football team. I went to Dick Price Stadium to observe the Virginia Destroyers open tryouts. After 80 minutes of watching slow guys trying to run 40 yard dashes, I was heading for Route 9.

2. Finally got to The Jewish Mother Backstage. Good food, and their second floor dining room had a great view of the parade passing on Granby Street.

What struck me was the small size of our local high school marching bands. My high school had only about 440 students, but our marching band was larger than the Booker T. Washington and Maury bands combined.

3. Having taken care of a major hunger problem, I then walked over to MacArthur Square for Light Rail Safety Days. I took the tours myself. A few fellow bus riders/transit advocates showed up.

After hearing the officials butcher a couple answers to questions, I started the "Ask The Experts" table. There was a vacant literature table where a quartet of bus riders (including myself) set up shop to give definitive answers to questions, especially the feeder bus system. We figured between the four of us, we could answer any HRT bus service question.

[For my TDCHR thread commenter, there you have it.]