Friday, August 31, 2007

Vote for Nobody? - I don't think so!

This is a painted sign I came across on a parking lot wall while on vacation in Guelph, Ontario with my friend Nancy Brown (who took this photo on Sept. 6, 2006). You may have seen this before on George Loper's website too. Perhaps this is what many of today's voters believe, but I am not one of them and I hope you are not one of them either. I believe all five of the candidates for city council do care about these things, and each has a desire to make Charlottesville a great place to live for all its citizens.

Several candidate forums are scheduled where you, the voter, can learn more about what each candidate will bring to city council. As an advocate for public involvement in city planning and decision making, I look forward to a lively dialog among voters and candidates about their concerns, and how we all can work toward both setting and achieving community goals.

Charlottesville Tomorrow has an Election Watch website where upcoming forums and other local campaign activities are posted. The first forum posted is the Senior Statesmen of Virginia forum to be held September 12 at 1:30 pm at the Senior Center and I hope you will attend if you can and will consider which three council candidates will best work toward a better Charlotteville for all. I think the notion of "Vote for Nobody" is not an option. In fact when you decide who you will support for city council in the November 6 election, I hope you include me in your list. A "Vote for Kleeman" is in my mind clearly much better than a "Vote for Nobody." And, there are other candidates I would be honored to serve with on council.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Here is the poster design for my campaign. I have ordered copies of these printed on water resistant 11 by 17 inch paper at one of our local Charlottesville printing companies - and I am expecting to have them in a few days. If you would like to display one of these signs where others can see it (like a door, or wall, or window) let me know by telephone - 434.296.6208 - or email - - and I will get you one.

I will be getting some actual yard signs in the next few weeks so let me know if you would like one to display on your yard. It is a bit shocking at how much it costs to get these campaign materials produced, but I am hoping to keep my campaign expenses to a modest level. But, of course, it takes many small donations from a large number of people to get my message before the public. If you haven't yet made a contribution, I hope you will consider making one now. I have received contributions ranging between $10 and $250 for my campaign, but almost all of my contributions are $100 or less. As an independent thinker and an independent candidate I prefer to maintain this independence by having many people support my campaign with modest contributions and avoid any large support from any special interest group.

To contribute your financial support, you can click on the PayPal icon in the right hand column of this blog, or send me your check to Kleeman for Council, 407 Hedge Street, Charlottesville VA 22902. There is a printable form on my campaign website you can also use if you wish to send a contribution by mail.

These posters and signs should be appearing soon around the city. I hope you will post one in your neighborhood, too.

Monday, August 27, 2007

JPA Bridge should respect neighborhood character

Seth Rosen's August 27, 2007 article in the Daily Progress entitled "New JPA bridge urged" clearly indicates that Charlottesville's neighborhoods should be included in neighborhood impacting decisions from the very beginning of a project. Including neighborhoods in city decision making is one of the four main issues I am focusing on in my city council campaign and Rosen's article shows how not including the neighborhood in the early planning of the bridge project appears to have delayed replacement of this substandard bridge by 18 months or more.

I was aware of the JPA bridge project being designed back in about 1996 when I worked as an environmental engineer with VDOT. Had the Fry's Springs neighborhood been included in the early designs for this bridge, perhaps this bridge would be under construction by now rather than needing to be redesigned to be acceptable to the community.

If elected to city council on November 6, I will do all in my power to ensure early neighborhood involvement in developing any project that will potentially affect the quality of life, connectivity, safety, or other neighborhood concern. Early - and continuing - involvement of the neighborhood can lead to better solutions and likely be completed in less time and at lower development cost. In this case, the neighborhood preferred 54-foot-wide bridge design will likely be significantly less expensive to build than the VDOT designed 78-foot-wide bridge, even with a temporary pedestrian and bicycle bridge included to permit pedestrian and bicycle access during construction.

The city has within the past few years become the lead agency, not VDOT, for transportation projects within the city limits under the Virginia First Cities Initiative of 2004. The city can now adopt a policy to include neighborhood representation on all future transportation projects. I will work toward developing such a policy and requiring that all planning and design materials be made readily available to the public so all interested parties can provide constructive and informed input from preliminary project design through construction. A policy of this type would be both a win for neighborhoods in better realizing their neighborhood goals, and a win for the city by getting better designs in less time, and in cases like the JPA bridge, at a significantly lower cost.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A chance to get involved in Charlottesville

I just got an email from Amy Kilroy to help spread the word that the second annual Neighborhood Leadership Institute is being offered through the city department of Neighborhood Development Services. Check out the press release that contains a link to the online application form on the city website. In her email, Amy provides the following:

"This year’s Neighborhood Leadership Institute will again consist of a 12-session series, with speakers, workshops and out-of-class assignments on subjects ranging from the City budget, to transportation and affordable housing. We are looking for participants who have a strong interest in serving the Charlottesville community and mobilizing others to serve."

I attended the 12 sessions in the 2006-2007 edition of the Neighborhood Leadership Institute and found it well worth the time and effort. I can't say attending this institute made the difference in my choosing to run for city council, but I did discover many city activities where more citizen leadership could truly help make our city a better place. I also got to meet and interact with 29 other involved citizens and many members of city staff I did not know before.

If you are interested in making Charlottesville a better place to live, I suggest check out the press release and consider applying early to ensure you have a chance to participate.

Another opportunity to make Charlottesville a better place is to help elect qualified and creative leaders to city council. I hope you will review my blog entries (below) and my qualifications and goals for the city (in the column to the right) and vote for me on Nov. 6 to become the first ever independent candidate to take a leadership role as city councilor. Of course, you can also get some hands-on leadership experience helping in my campaign, too. Don't hesitate to contact me to join in this effort.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Politics, Art, Theater, Film all in our Cultural Mix

Do pick up a copy of this week's c-ville weekly and check out Brendan Fitzgerald's culture column. My put art back into the art of politics ceramic tile yard sign is pictured (and I got my first photo credit in that newspaper). I am thrilled to be included in the article along with news of the Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative bicycle ride and film even (that I unfortunately didn't get to); Live Arts' own John Gibson's report from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (didn't get there either, unfortunately); and the preview of theater production "The Clean House" that is opening at Live Arts on September 13 (I will definitely see this, however).

It is not too late to design your own artistic yard sign - and send me a photo. If it is a Kleeman for Council sign, that would be great, but there are all sorts of other options. I might make some sort of "Wage Peace" sign after the election is over to replace the "Kleeman for Council" sign pictured in the Fitzgerald column.

Friday, August 17, 2007

"You can't get there from here"

I attended the 4:30 - 7:30 pm meeting of the Route 250 Bypass Interchange at McIntire Road Steering Committee yesterday (August 16, 2007) at the Senior Center to see how the RK&K engineering consultants were progressing on the preliminary engineering and design of this project. Colette Hall, President of North Downtown Residents Association, and I were the only two members of the general public in attendance (both the time and location make it hard for interested citizens to attend). Also, having a 3-hour meeting with no background material about the items to be discussed available beforehand is a deterrent to attendance by the public when their only opportunity to be involved in the meeting is to make a 2-minute comment at the very end of the meeting.

Both Colette Hall and I were surprise to learn that the consultants are suggesting removing key pedestrian and bicycle access elements of the project that would connect the North Downtown community to McIntire Park. This is very disconcerting given that providing pedestrian and bicycle access to the park is one of the key elements in the Purpose and Need statement for this project, and that RK&K engineers recently presented the importance of these connections to both the Charlottesville Planning Commission and the City Council prior to commission and council agreeing that the interchange project is consistent with the city's comprehensive plan.

You can visit the Slide Show presented by RK&K indicating the removal of pedestrian and bicycle access elements to see for yourself how difficult it would be for pedestrians to get from residential areas adjacent to the park into the park. Pedestrian would have a long walk (over a half mile) through some highly circuitous route and across or under a number of roads though what appears to be a quite unpleasant and noisy pedestrian environment and over some difficult terrain to get to the park area that is just across U.S. Route 250 Bypass from their neighborhood. The direct connection pedestrian bridge over Route 250 Bypass is eliminated in the new design on the basis of cost. Maybe the goal of providing pedestrian and bicycle access is not as important as it has been promoted by the project team previously.

With these changes, assuming they will remain this way in the future plans, I don't believe this project is consistent with the city's comprehensive plan, and I question the desirability of spending the $30 Million and more to construct this project if it does not satisfy the stated Purpose and Need.

Another startling item presented at this meeting is that the recently developed park master plan for McIntire Park now has to be redone because the plan was developed assuming a large water retention pond being in the park that would handle stormwater runoff from the McIntire Road Extended project (the portion of the Meadow Creek Parkway proposed to run though McIntire Park) can not be constructed in that it is not in compliance with federal standards. It appears that this whole project is in disarray.

Perhaps city council, the primary sponsor of this project, needs to revisit the Purpose and Need of the McIntire Road Extended project and the Route 250 Bypass Interchange at McIntire Road project and determine if the vast amounts of money and environmental impact on McIntire Park make good sense for whatever the benefits are that are anticipated. With $30 Million and more on the line and a major goal of the project being provision of pedestrian access to McIntire Park, why is it that in the current design - YOU CAN'T GET THERE FROM HERE?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Regional Transportation Authority plan consultant promises bold vision

Frank Spielberg of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (consulting firm) presented to the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) some preliminary ideas about formation of a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) in our region. Spielberg said that he expected to start out with "a bold vision" in recommending a structure for an RTA in our region. He gave no indication of what he means by bold. I suggested at the end of the MPO meeting - my first opportunity to comment on this, but well after Spielberg had left the building - that I believe an RTA consisting of more than only Albemarle and Charlottesville is necessary, otherwise the RTA is an approximate replication of the jurisdictions and transit providers currently represented on the MPO policy board. My proposal - that I wouldn't classify as bold, but rather obvious - is to include jurisdictions surrounding Albemarle County with significant traffic flows to and from Albemarle-Charlottesville. This would potentially include at least the other counties in the Thomas Jefferson Planning District (Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa, Nelson) and possibly other areas as well. An RTA with this scope doesn't mean that the transit system would necessarily serve all of these jurisdictions immediately, but that they would be part of the long term planning for transit investments. Including these jurisdictions in an RTA is consistent with the scope of our regional long range transportation plan known as UnJAM 2025 (United Jefferson Area Mobility Plan).

The relevant online definition of 'bold' from is "beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action; imaginative." I guess I will have to wait to discover what the RTA consultants come up with that will satisfy the promise of a bold vision. The preliminary ideas presented (and that you can hear them as a podcast on the Charlottesville Tomorrow website) sounded rather conventional to me. Maybe the boldness is yet to come.

NOTE: podcast link added and a few grammatical and typographical errors correct on Aug. 18, 2007.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What is our optimal regional population?

At the August 6, 2007 city council meeting, council passed a resolution providing $11,000 to ASAP (Advocates for a Sustainable Albemarle Population) to support a first
phase of research by ASAP to define an optimal sustainable population size (or range) for the Albemarle-Charlottesville Community. I believe this is $11,000 well spent by the city. Given our limited natural resources, and city infrastructure currently pushed ever closer to their current capacity, it is essential that both Charlottesville and Albemarle County planners understand the implications of growing in population on the quality of life in our region, and on the ability of community to meet the water, sanitary sewer, education, and all other demands that grow with population. I encourage you to read the letter from Jack Marshall, ASAP president, to city council requesting this funding. It is available on the city at August 6, 2007 council agenda (with background material).

Charlottesville has gotten a variety of high rankings on a variety of lists relating to tourism, retirement places, and quality of life. But, the best list I can think on which we should strive to be number one is a list of sustainable cities. well managed growth is clearly a major element in becoming a sustainable urban area. It appears that Charlottesville-Albemarle may be the first urbanized area to carry out an investigation of this type to determine both a research methodology, and a determination of an optimal population range consistent with becoming a truly sustainable and desirable community.

If this research is successful, I believe that both Charlottesville and Albemarle County can do significantly better planning for our future, and be much more efficient at providing and maintaining basic infrastructure consistent with serving a sustainable population.

I look forward to following the progress on this effort and applaud the efforts of Jack Marshall and others associated with bringing this proposal forward.

I can't recall the exact agency that did a ranking of sustainable urban areas about one year ago (I think it was within the United Nations), but I do recall that no North American urban areas were on the listed rankings. Perhaps Charlottesville-Albemarle can take a major step toward being recognized as a sustainable urban area through this exciting work.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Environmental Objectives from the 2007 Charlottesville Comprehensive Plan

At the August 6, 2007 Charlottesville City Council Meeting, the 2007 Comprehensive Plan was approved by a unanimous vote of city council. Councilor Norris made a special comment about this being the first environmental chapter ever in a Charlottesville Comprehensive Plan, and that it would guide the city's environmental efforts. This chapter is available as Chapter 8 in the plan.

Much to my surprise, Mayor Brown proposed during the 'New Business' item on the agenda the idea of Charlottesville banning sale of water in plastic water bottles - following the lead of other cities in the US. Given that many environmental objectives of significant importance to charlottesville residents are itemized in Chapter 8 of the comprehensive plan awaiting council consideration, I thought the mayor's suggestion of considering something totally outside the plan as a first environmental initiative totally misses the point of the comprehensive planning process.

After well over a year of plan development, I as a concerned citizen (and as a council candidate, too) believe the first order of council business relating to the environment should be to address the plan objectives. There are many key items to choose from including 10 objectives relating to Global Warming; 22 objectives relating to Water Quality, Stormwater, and Watershed; 10 objectives relating to our Urban Forest; and 17 objectives relating to Green Building issues.

It appeared that Mayor Brown was hoping for council to take some action on his plastic bottle ban suggestion during 'new business.' I was happy that other councilors suggested that the idea be transmitted to the city's sustainability committee for consideration. Matters brought up and voted on in the course of the new business agenda item allows absolutely no input from the public on that matter. This council has voted on actions proposed during new business in the past, but I hope that this will not continue in the future. I assure you that if you elect me to council, I will oppose any action on items brought up in new business until ample notice of a proposed action is made available to the staff and the pubic with sufficient time for staff review and for members of the public to provide input on that issue.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

How big is too big? County and City see largest projects ever proposed.

Today's article in the Daily Progress by Seth Rosen entitled "Biscuit Run talks' end in sight" points out that Biscuit Run's 3100 residential units will be the largest development in the history of Albemarle County. His article on July 22, 2007 entitled "Coal Tower project nears start" indicated that the Coal Tower project in Charlottesville is "belived to be the largest project in Charlottesville's history" at 315 residential units.

Clearly development proposals are bigger than ever before, but will there be new competition for the dubious title of biggest developments ever?

In our national (and local) recent infrastructure experience, it is not clear that our infrastructure can handle rapid growth. Also, available funding to expand our water, sewer, transit, roadway, and other infrastructure to meet this growth appears not to be available. Not only can't this infrastructure be expanded, but the funding appears unavailable to maintain what is already in place at desired levels of service.

As a candidate for city council, I hope to ensure that our community has a lively discussion of what would be reasonable growth in our community, what our current infrastructure needs are, and how we can maintain existing infrastructure while expanding these facilities to meet this rapid growth reported regularly in our news outlets. Who will pay the costs associated with growth? Will this be paid by developers, or taxpayers who get little if any benefits from rapid growth?

Now that Charlottesville city council has just passed a new comprehensive plan, and a council vision for 2025, I believe we need to examine how our plan and vision can be realized in light of huge infrastructure needs. I suggested to council that our city sustainability committee should get involved in this issue and determine if adjustments to our comprehensive plan need to be made to keep growth within the resources in the city to provide public services at a fair cost to Charlottesville's residents. The county is negotiating proffers from the Biscuit Run developers to partially pay for infrastructure needs, but the Coal Tower is a by-right development and no proffers are being proposed to the best of my knowledge.

I believe a balance growth strategy is needed, and needed now. I hope you will join me in an effort to keep growth within our ability to support, and benefit from it as a community.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

COMPASS Day Shelter will benefit our city

I submitted a letter to the Daily Progress editor in response to Seth Rosen's July 30, 2007 article entitled "Businesses fret over site of shelter - Fear impact of homeless." I believe that the COMPASS Day Shelter will be a great asset to our community and be a major step in working with homeless members of our community. COMPASS will provide a variety of services to improve opportunities for our homeless population. Rather than fearing the impact of homeless people in our downtown, I encourage the downtown business community to join with COMPASS in addressing problems of housing and jobs facing many in our community. I hope you will take the time to read my letter that was published in the August 8, 2007 issue of the Daily Progress under the title "Shelter would have positive impact."

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Like the famous Bridge to Nowhere

Our own Meadow Creek Parkway project (also using names such as Meadowcreek Parkway, McIntire Road Extended, Route 250 Interchange at McIntire Road) seems to have some similarities to the now famous 'Bridge to Nowhere' federal ear-marked project in Alaska. It is more than the confusion about what to call the project (or if it is one project or three projects) that keeps my head spinning.

Scott Weaver adds some interesting news to the parkway story in his story "County Backs Taxes for Transportation" in the August 7, 2007 issue of C-ville Weekly. Construction of an eastern connector road between northern and eastern albemarle is one of the conditions city council has on constructing the city portion of the parkway through McIntire Park and officially known as McIntire Road Extended. Weaver quotes Albemarle Supervisor Dennis Rooker as saying "We have an interest in pursuing transportation projects in the interest of the county and the city." Rooker adds "That project [the eastern connector] is being pursued largely at the request of the city."

Interesingly, in other recent actions relating to an eastern connector project, the city and county have each committed $250,000. toward hiring a consultant to do preliminary engineering of a possible eastern connector. Both city and county have jointly established a steering committee to guide this project. I have always been surprised that the city is funding this roadway at all in that the entire eastern connector would be in the county. Clearly the city has interest in pursuing a connector, but without the county support this project will likely not move forward anytime soon.

I have been involved in the parkway discussion for about ten years now, and am convinced that an eastern connector shouldn't be constructed as a condition for building a parkway through McIntire Park, but as an alternative. I have suggested, and would explore as a member of council, that McIntire Road and the Route 250 Interchange projects be combined into one project and that this combined project, and eastern connector, and other transit or roadway alternatives be considered as alternative solutions to meeting the regional traffic demands among northern Albemarle, eastern Albemarle, and downtown Charlottesille. I believe the approximately $30 million in funds available for the interchange could be programmed toward whatever the optimal solution would be - even if the current interchange was not part of the solution. Just as in the "Bridge to Nowhere" case where the ear-marked money was reprogrammed to use on other projects in Alaska, these funds could likely be reprogrammed as well.

The parkway project that was originally conceived in the 1960's has not moved forward and I believe for good reason. It is not a very good solution to our regional transportation needs in the future. I believe it is long past time to explore some new alternatives and use the resources available to our region on our future needs as viewed from 2007, not from th 1960's.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Art of Politics or perhaps Art in Politics

I may not yet be expert in the 'art of politics,' but I am not shy about learning that art - while enjoying 'art in politics' as well. Here is a photo of my just completed and mounted mosaic 'dish sign.' Using ideas and skills from mosaic tile workshops I participated in taught by Isaiah Zagar, a mural artist living in Philadelphia (that resulted in the mosaic on Fifth Street SW) and Beryl Solla, local artist and current chair of the art program at PVCC (that resulted in a wall mural in the Ix building). I used a salvaged Direct TV satelite dish and broken ceramic tile and mirror from a variety of sources to create this prototype campaign sign. This sign currently hangs on my house on Hedge Street.

I hung painted satelite dish signs with "Vote for Dave" and "Al Weed for Congress" in recent elections that were adaptations of Dave Norris' and Al Weed's campaign logos. So this is the third satelite dish sign in the series. Dave won. Al lost. I am hoping my satelite sign series will have a 2/3 success rate with a Kleeman victory in the city council election on November 6, 2007.

If you want to put your artistic talents to work and make one (or more) prototype 'Kleeman for Council' signs, banners, flags, whatever, I encourage you to do so - and to send me a photo I can post on this blog. I will create a gallery of all photos submitted (that can legally be posted) to inspire others to join in the campaing art fun.

Encouraging public participation in issues important to our community is one of the major themes in my council campaign. If you can draw, paint, sculpt, sew, weave, or have other talents and want to participate - send a digital photo of your sign to and let me know where the sign is located. Help me put Art back into the Art of Politics.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Gettin' the Spirit

I had the great pleasure of attending the African-American Cultural Arts Festival at Booker T. Washington Park on Saturday July 28, 2007. I have been to this festival several times in its 18-year history and enjoyed running into some of my friends at the park, meeting some new people, perusing the information and craft booths, and enjoying the entertainers. I especially enjoyed Baba Jamal Koram -The Storyman, the spirit walkers, and the Chihamba dancers. If you missed this year's festival I recommend you make a point of attending next year.

I am especially thankful to Brother Ishmail Conway, the festival master of ceremony, for letting me have a minute or two at the festival microphone to introduce myself to those at the festival as an independent candidate for election to city council. He also encouraged people at the festival to be sure to register and vote in the upcoming election wherever they live.

As I was headed off to the festival site, I hoped that the spirit walker I saw at last year's festival would be there again this year. In fact there were two spirit walkers this year. Double the fun! Above are my spirit walker photos. It was a challenge photographing with the bright sky behind them, but with their black facemasks the problem of not getting enough light on their faces to recognize them was not a problem. With two spirit walkers, the evil spirits they chase from the community didn't stand much of a chance. Everyone I met seemed to have a great time.