Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I hope you get a chance to look at all three of these guides as well as the candidate forum videos, transcripts, and host of news articles and blog entries relating to this election. If you type in the obvious keyword into the Google (or other) search engine, you should find plenty of information to help you select the one, two, or three candidates from the five candidates in the race.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I, and others, have requested that the hearing include an opportunity for a podium-style input opportunity so all stakeholders interested in the project can actually hear other stakeholder's comments as they are presented at a podium through a microphone. These requests, however, were denied. Perhaps complete disclosure of the relevant information and concerns of the public on this complex and controversial project is not desired by the project sponsors. As a believer in full public participation in projects that impact our community to the extent that this project will, I am very disappointed by this project staff and city decision.
The city's project manager, Angela Tucker, included this in her letter in response to my request for more inclusive public discussion.
"This public hearing has been organized and advertised as an open forum style hearing. In discussions with our Project Team, including VDOT, it has been determined that an open forum best meets the needs of relaying project information, answering questions, and receiving public input. While we respect your request to include an opportunity to hear public comments in a "traditional manner" (i.e. podium style), all public comments will be available for inspection soon after the 10 day comment period has expired. A transcript of the hearing, including written comments received during the comment period, will allow the entire community to share in the thoughts of the other members of the community."
Unfortunately, by the time community members get access to the information as outlined above, the comment period is closed and the opportunity to reflect on other commenter's thoughts and provide written comments after the hearing is lost.
I strongly encourage you to participate in this public hearing by stopping in at the county office building between 4:00 and 7:00 pm and provide your input on a comment form or verbally to a court reporter for inclusion in the hearing record. It is no secret that I am opposed to this project as it is currently proposed and I have posted several previous blogs about this very project you can find below. To find a variety of comments relevant to this topic, you can simply Google "kleeman route 250 bypass interchange" and find an postings you might find of interest on this blog as well as on other internet sites.
Other regional transportation alternatives can be developed that will not require sacrificing our premier parkland, further pollute our already threatened waterways, or bring thousands more vehicles into our currently congested downtown area resulting in significantly increased cut-through traffic in nearby neighborhoods. I hope you will join me in suggesting that this project is not in the best interest of our city or our region, and ask that other alternatives be pursued instead.
Your opportunity to provide input on the environmental impact assessment and the other material presented at this hearing is limited. If you cannot attend the hearing on Nov. 1, you have only until Nov. 13 to submit written comments that will be considered in evaluating the future of this project.
I was encouraged that several of the students had several questions relating to the talk, and about particular issues in Charlottesville including growth, transportation issues (including Meadow Creek Parkway), environmental concerns, and putting cameras on the mall. It is great to know that programs like the LEC are involving students in current affairs in the Charlottesville community. I encouraged these students to stay involved in local issues, and consider if standing for elected office might just be something they might do in the very near future. I would truly enjoy having more people in the 18-30 year old range get involved in city council elections - as campaign workers as well as candidates. I hope one or more of the students I spoke with today will get involved in the next election.
If I am elected on Nov. 6 to city council, I will try to arrange opportunities to talk with students at other schools in Charlottesville. I think part of being a community leader is developing young people to become the leaders of tomorrow. I think that this group of LEC student might just contain some future city councilors - perhaps in some other city if not in Charlottesville.
Monday, October 29, 2007
I have been enjoying hearing the interview of Albemarle County Board of Visitor candidates to hear their positions on issues that will affect both Albemarle County and Charlottesville. I have had opportunities to get to know all of the Albemarle candidates (and the current board members) and would enjoy working with any of them on joint city-county concerns. There are many issues that are clearly regional in nature that will require cooperation among both jurisdictions to identify and implement workable solutions.
I also hope you will watch one or more of the videos online of the candidate forums on the Charlottesville Tomorrow website - or watch a rebroadcast of a forum on Charlottesville Cable TV-10. I think the forums will help any undecided voter to choose the best candidate(s) to support on Nov. 6. I recommend you check out that independent candidate named Peter Kleeman (yes, as a believer in full disclosure I must inform you that I am he and believe that I am worthy of one of your votes). Your vote could just make the difference on Nov. 6, so be sure to get out to the polls.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
I have been before council on many over the past several years asking council to connect these projects into one project, and to do a comprehensive look into whether the combined project is consistent with our community's transportation and environmental vision for the future. I believe it is essential to combine the Albemarle County portion of the parkway project, McIntire Road Extended, and the Route 250 Bypass Interchange at McIntire Road project into one project for analysis because none of the independent pieces can meet its purpose and need without the others. They are intimately linked, but are apparently being kept separate to avoid performing environmental review of impacts of the McIntire Road Extended project on McIntire Park and surrounding natural, cultural, and historic resources. It is my opinion that this artificial separation is not in compliance with prevailing federal law. Also, the most recent council action that conditionally approved granting a construction easement to VDOT in McIntire Park confirms that these projects are not separable and must be connected.
At the October 3 council candidate forum, candidates were asked where we would look first to cut funding in the city budget. I answered that I would cut spending for the McIntire Road Extended and the interchange projects and redirect a portion of those funds toward transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects in the city. Mayor Brown answered that he would cut funding from the affordable housing expenditures from the city budget. Given that this is part of the public record, I hardly think that stating these differences in response to Provence's request to identify how I differ from other candidates is anything like an accusation as presented in the Provence article. Perhaps this constitutes the 'sizzle' that I was asked to put in my Squeaky Wheel articles I wrote for the HooK prior to my becoming a council candidate. I did telephone Mayor Brown to tell him that my intention was not to attack him in any way and that the article had some extra sizzle inserted. After that was said and done, we continued to chat about some of the other fun and surprises we were both encountering on the campaign trail. I have gotten to know and enjoy interacting with all of the city council candidates and appreciate that we all seem to believe that the campaign is totally about the issues important to the residents of Charlottesville. Win or lose, I believe all five candidates will be working together in our own ways to make Charlottesville a better place in the years ahead. We are all in this effort together.
I did have to chuckle at the comment "Despite the chances of upending the Democratic machine seeming slimmer than Nicole Richie, two independents have stepped into the fray ...". I do not follow Nicole Richie's body fat index but you can decide for yourself online, but I believe that independent candidates have a very good chance of getting elected to City Council in Charlottesville. In fact I have people stopping me on the street every day thanking me for running as an independent candidate, and telling me that they will be voting for me on November 6. Maybe I will have to check if Nicole Richie has put on a few pounds lately to see if Nicole's body mass is a viable indicator of electability of independent candidates. It is a great line, and I am guessing Lisa Provence has been looking for a good place to use it. But, I don't encourage you to believe it. I encourage you to vote for me on Nov. 6 and be part of history - the election of the first independent candidate ever elected to Charlottesville city council.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Although this is the very first week of this new show, the first person I ran into on the street when I was walking from home to the downtown mall after the show was former independent Charlottesville city council candidate Blair Hawkins who said he had just heard me on WCHV radio! I hope lots of folks were up and tuned in at 7:00 am to listen. I know I will listen to this show when I can in the days ahead to hear conversations with other local candidates scheduled to be on-air with Joe Thomas. This just might be a great place to connect with others in the community on local issue both before and after the upcoming Nov. 6 election. I suggest you give it a listen, too.
I found a press release entitled "Monticello Media Launches New Morning Show on NewsTalk 1260 AM WCHV" dated Oct. 14 announcing the new show online. Perhaps this paragraph from that press release will be a sufficient 'tease' for you to tune in and see what Joe Thomas is offering on his morning show.....
Thomas has long been an advocate for citizens’ activism, smaller, more responsive government, and more emphasis on local and regional authority. “I believe that ‘We the People’ is the greatest phrase man has penned in regard to governance,” Thomas says. “However, that puts a great burden on us, and that is going to be a core philosophy of the show. What can ‘We, the People,’ do to make things work?”
Last night's NAACP forum focussed on issues of education, housing, and participation of people of all backgrounds in council politics among other issues of particular interest to members of our local NAACP. I thought the discussion was lively and all of the candidates had a fair opportunity to state their ideas, goals, and strategies for addressing those challenging issues. Clearly, the five candidates all agree on the importance of meeting the challenges identified in the NAACP's questions to council candidates, but all have different ideas about how best to work toward identifying and implementing solutions. If you can spend the two hours necessary to view the rebroadcast, I believe you will be able to make a much more informed decision on which candidates would best represent you on city council. Check it out.
If you are reading this blog entry, you have likely been to other candidate websites and are somewhat familiar with the candidates and their positions on council issues - but these forums provide a terrific opportunity to see the differences and similarities among the field of candidates. I believe that I have presented myself and the priorities I will bring to city council at these forums and ask that you consider voting for me on November 6. No independent city council candidate has ever won a council seat - but your vote could help change that. And, if you are visiting this blog for the first time, I invite you to browse the many previous postings that indicate in much greater detail than possible in a candidate forum where I stand on many of the issues currently being considered by our city council. Good information is key to making good decisions. I have tried to present the best information I can about my candidacy and will be counting on your support on election day (Nov. 6).
Friday, October 12, 2007
I hope you will listen to 1260 AM on Thursday. It appears that Joe Thomas is keen on local issues and you might even find his show to be a great place to listen and discuss many of the issues in Charlottesville in the future. I plan to check out this 5:00 to 9:00 show (although I am not sure what day it starts).
If you are reading this blog, you are likely interested and involved in local issues. This show sounds like it just might be a valuable resource for generating some lively discussion of local issues. Check it out!
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Major areas of Charlottesville parkland and natural area are under significant pressure to meet the infrastructure 'needs' of growth in our region. Charlottesville Tomorrow just reported (see "Pen Park route for Eastern Connector back on the table") that Pen Park is again being suggested by Albemarle County planning staff as a possible route for an eastern connector road - in spite of project consultants recommendations against use of Pen Park due to federal section 4(f) parkland protection for that land. Pen Park is also protected under the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act as most of Pen Park was purchased under federal funds acquired from this fund.
Every week there is news about possible 'reprogramming' of our parks for other uses. Ragged Mountain Natural Area is likely to be flooded as part of the planned reservoir system to meet growth in our water demand. More than twenty-two acres of McIntire Park is likely to be given under easement to VDOT for construction of the McIntire Road Extended project and additional acreage possibly to be leased to the YMCA for construction of a YMCA recreation facility. Bailey Park will be lost if the Route 250 Interchange at McIntire Road is constructed. Riverview Park and the Rivanna Trail are under threat from possible plans for additional roadway crossings of the Rivanna River. Is any parkland off limits?
Parkland and natural areas are essential to the health of our region and our residents. We can't continue to believe that these lands should be sacrificed to allow more (and faster) development. The Charlottesville City Council and Albemarle Board of Supervisors need to explore other alternatives than reducing our parkland and natural areas to feed growth.
Growth issues and protection of our natural area are issues in both the Albemarle Board of Supervisor and Charlottesville City Council elections on November 6. I keep up with these issues as best I can through news reports, attending public meetings, and visiting the Charlottesville Tomorrow website to read meeting transcripts, view video of meetings and public forums, and listen to Podcasts of public discussions. I hope you too will keep yourself informed of these rapidly changing projects and proposals - and be sure to make an informed choice on these issues in the voting booth on November 6.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
I chose the bus. I could take the trolley from the downtown mall - and switch at UVA hospital to the UVA Blue Route that goes to the Law School after circling much of main UVA grounds. That is a trip I have done many times and it would get me to the law school in about 30-40 minutes (if my memory is any good on these experiences). But, I could also take the CTS Number 7 - and it is Free CTS Fare month. So I went off to the nearest CTS stop (right in front of Second Street Gallery on Water Street) and in about 3 minutes I was heading off to Barracks Road Shopping Center on the Number 7. In about 20 minutes I was off the bus and walking the short trip along Arlington Blvd. to the Law School. I was there with thirty minutes to spare before the seminar. The trip was fast, fun, and I got to read most of the current issue of C-ville Weekly on the bus. I spent my 30 minutes of 'wait' time in the Law School Library (a favorite spot for me to do a variety of legal research tasks among other activities).
After the seminar (that was well worth the trip) I walked back to the Arlington Blvd. CTS stop and was back on the mall in about 35 minutes. I expect I will be doing this trip about one or two times each week and the free bus service makes the trip fast, convenient, and free. That is a deal that can't be beat. And, I met some very interesting folks on the bus ride home, besides.
If you are headed anywhere along a CTS route I recommend you take CTS and see how well it can work for you. The Number 7 has the shortest time between buses but with a bit of planning you can leave your car or bicycle behind and try CTS. Now is a terrific time to discover how an expanded bus system in Charlottesville, Albemarle, and beyond can improve the quality of all of our lives. Give it a try if you haven't already become familiar with CTS - and in October you can ride any CTS bus for free! And, don't hesitate to say hello if you see me on the bus. It may well be the best way between lots of places in Charlottesville and Albemarle County.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Seth Rosen's October 2, 2007 headline article in the Daily Progress - "Council takes action on parkway" - suffered some of the same problems as the discussion by council. Due to likely last minute production issues at the Daily Progress, only the first three paragraphs and part of the fourth were printed. The online story is complete, so you will have to read it online. Like so many of the discussions about this project over its history, much relevant and essential material to the viability of the project were not available.
The McIntire Road Extended project development is not yet ready for commitment of right-of-way. Granting of a construction easement to VDOT of this type for roadway construction is not even a common practice. The VDOT project development process indicates that preliminary engineering should be complete before right-of way is acquired - and without stormwater management or workable intersection designs preliminary engineering is not complete.
I asked the city's VDOT project coordinator, and VDOT project staff if VDOT has ever stated that the McIntire Road Extended project design was declared to be a workable design that meets the stated project purpose and need and ready to move beyond preliminary engineering. I have not yet been provided any such statement and am not confident that this important conclusion could even be determined given the current missing design elements. I question the leadership of our current council in moving forward (if this action is a forward movement) a project that may not even meet its own design goals. The McIntire Road Extended project includes an at-grade intersection at route 250 bypass - a design that has been demonstrated to operate at failing level of service in all through and turning motions when the facility opens. Moving this project forward demonstrates no council leadership at all to me.
Moving this project forward in its current state is also inconsistent with our city's goal of becoming a sustainable city. We need to reprogram our McIntire Road Extended funds toward expanded transit, bicycle, and pedestrian projects if we will ever expect to become a sustainably developed city. New leadership is needed, and we all need to demand it from our current and future city councilors.
I am committed to moving forward only projects consistent with our city's goals and vision for the future. I am convinced that the McIntire Road Extended project is not one of the projects that will move us in that direction.
Seth Rosen's article closes with the following: "But Morgan Perkins, owner of Sage Moon Gallery, summed up the thoughts of parkway supporters, and, apparently, the council:"
'How long can we study something before we make a decision?'
My answer would be: At least long enough to develop all of the essential designs and impacts of those designs necessary to make a responsible decision. We are clearly not there yet. Decisions need to be bases on sufficient infomration - not the passage of time.
Monday, October 1, 2007
Questions 5 - 8 from Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club's Survey of Candidates for Charlottesville City Council (with my answers)
5) Do you believe the City Council should determine an optimum sustainable population size and use this information for future planning?
Yes. Clearly population growth drives many of the environmental impact, transportation demand, and natural resource availability concerns in our community. I do not believe that population growth can be separated from the city’s sustainable development vision. Our current availability of natural resources (land, water, etc) as well as infrastructure currently in place (sewer, roads, schools, etc.) can only support some upper limit on population. As part of the comprehensive planning process, I believe population levels, investment in natural resource development, and investment in infrastructure must be considered jointly to ensure that the quality of life for all residents of the greater
6) The City of
I believe that our local environmental challenges follow no recognized jurisdictional boundaries. Our watershed is clearly being heavily utilized and must be jointly managed through city-county efforts. I believe joint consideration of stream protection activities, ground water management, regional tree-cover expansion, and waste management (including material reutilization, recycling, trash disposal) all could result in greater regional benefits and a healthier regional environment.
7). As a private citizen or elected official, what do you consider to be your most significant contribution, to date, in the preservation of our local environment?
I believe that my efforts as an involved citizen in promoting sustainable transportation development in Charlottesville-Albemarle is my most significant local environmental contribution. I have promoted use of transportation planning funding opportunities to improve the range of transportation choices available to residents and visitors to our area that will reduce reliance on single occupancy vehicles, reduce air pollution emissions, reduce consumption of fossil fuels, reduce the need for additional roadway, and reduce the impact our transportation systems have on our sensitive ground and surface water systems. I have served on several transportation planning committees, served on the board of the Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation (ACCT), done independent studies on the environmental impacts of proposed highways (including the now defunct Western 29 Bypass and the Meadowcreek Parkway), reported my findings and suggestions to our Metropolitan Planning Organization, city council, and the Albemarle County board of supervisors, and provided information to a broad range of organizations working to support a healthy urban environment in Charlottesville.
8). Once elected (re-elected), what would be your top three policy priorities that focus on preserving our local environment?"