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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Quote of the Year

"They gave you some uniforms, a badge, a gun, six bullets. They told you, 'Don't load that gun in here, and when you do, don't shoot yourself.'"

-Chesapeake Police Chief, Richard Justice

....That explains ALOT....

Has everyone forgotten about our Bridges?

Back when that bridge collapsed, everyone was up in arms about our local bridges. Chesapeake even had one that ranked 2 out of 100. Then they decided that for 'security purposes' the bridge ratings would not be released any longer. As a recap, the 22nd St. Bridge got a 2, the Gilmerton got a 3, and the Jordan got a 4. If you might recall, the I64 bridge at Willoughby got an 81.3. Keeping the I64 rating in mind, here is a sample of what an 81 gets you:

Notice the broken concrete and visible substructure? I think that it is time to demand that these problems are looked into again before a tragic accident happens here.

HRT Listened - I can work with this

This is much better than leaving passengers in the lurch. This will allow downtown passengers to actually continue to reach downtown. Thank you, HRT.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Transfer Point Relocation

If you haven't heard yet, the HRT transfer point at Monticello and Charlotte will be relocated due to the construction of the Wachovia project. It will be moved to the Cedar Grove Lot.

This transfer station serves 14 bus routes. That is alot of people. So why are they moving it FARTHER away from the new light rail line? I thought they wanted the light rail to succeed. It certainly will not if they sever it from the rest of the city.
I know it takes me about 25-30 minutes to take the #3 bus down town. If I wanted to get on the light rail and go East, I could have done that. Now I will have to take the #3 down to Cedar Grove and transfer to a bus going out past downtown (like the #13). There will be no bus that services downtown except the NET, and we all know how reliable THAT is.
In order for this Light Rail to work we need to tie it in with the buses. I think that all of the bus lines should be aligned to get to the Tide stop as quickly as possible. This CAN be achieved without cutting service to customers. We need to fix this or the whole light rail project will be a waste of 232 million dollars.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Completely Unrelated

This isn't really related to much, I just thought it was funny. I take these survey things for the Virginian Pilot. This question really stuck out:

This looks like it should be on some sort of government form.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hampton Roads Transportation Authority

(sigh) Where do I start? Hampton Roads needs thA regional transportation authority, not particularly this one but we still need one. We need one that focuses on FIXING our problems and not delaying them. That means NO third crossing and NO Southeastern Parkway. We DO need a wider HRBT, a wider Downtown Tunnel and a second Midtown Tunnel. We DO need a reliable, efficient REGIONAL mass transit system. That means Regional Light Rail and a complimentary bus system. This Regional Light Rail would cost LESS THAN the 3rd Crossing. We also need a passenger rail connection to Richmond that connects to the Southside.
Currently, our VA Supreme Court has ruled that non-elected bodies cannot hold a taxing power. I agree. What I do not agree with is our illustrious General Assembly sitting back with their thumbs up their .. nose. They have the power to tax and earmark that money to transportation. They do not want to tax though, that might hurt their zero-tax reputation. They don't think of what their reputation will be if they don't fix our problem. Here's an idea. Let's just deduct the money from their pay. They don't get paid until we get a plan. Or lock them in. They can't leave until we have a plan. No food or water. We'd have a plan real quick. So what if they cease to exist, maybe we could get a new, progressive legislature.

Chesapeake needs to watch it

Two years ago, Corner Stone Christian Center, located off of Cedar Road, was running a skateboard program for youth. They were shut down because the city said that their use permit did not explicitly allow sports programs. Try as they might, they could not get the appropriate permit to continue their program. This, of course, was following a long drawn out battle between Corner Stone and the City of Chesapeake that involved a lawsuit, the Department of Justice, and a bad reputation for Chesapeake.
Recently, Greenbriar Christian Center, a majority white church, had the same thing. The city even shut them down. When they applied for their permit however, they get a 8-0 vote yes from City Council. Interesting, considering that their church sits about a mile from the city run skate park.
You know, this may be entirely coincidence, but it would be very interesting to compare the arguments used for each case and find out why one got their permit and one did not. This would be a good case for a citizen advisory board. Chesapeake desperately needs one. It seems to be run by people that don't take anything but their short-sightedness into account when making decisions.

Monday, March 17, 2008

RE: Kirn Idea

I recently emailed my idea to the Library Director. He replied that a similar idea has been posed by a local architectural firm. I am going to give him a call this week to talk more about it. Stay tuned.

Norfolk Auditor - Thumbs Up!

I'm glad that Norfolk has hired this City Auditor. Independent of the City Manager, he sits in the perfect place to criticize nearly every position in the city. This should be very good for the long term health of the city. It would be a good thing for every city in our region to look into this. Virginia Beach has an auditor, but she is under the City Manager, which completely undermines the integrity of the position. Chesapeake's auditor, like Norfolk, is independent. Even better than each city having an independent auditor would be for the region to have its own independent auditor. The job would audit what regional agencies we do have, as well as (gasp) the city council of each city. There have been instances in the past where there have been shady goings on in each of the city. There are still questionable ties between council members and private enterprise. Take Randy Wright of Norfolk for example. I am not accusing him of wrong doing, but the fact that his wife happens to be a real estate agent is hairy. I am sure other connections exists similarly in other cities. I am not saying that these connections are unethical in and of themselves but there should be someone to keep them in check. I think one of the largest impediments to a regional push is the lack of trust and/or respect for the governments of our neighboring cities. Residents of each city (even those that distrust their own city) think that their city is better than the others. I think that an independent auditor could help fix that.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

No Justice in Chesapeake

I know I've written a lot about the shortcomings of the Chesapeake Police Department but this one is a must. Early this morning (1 AM) my girlfriend was involved in a car accident on Dominion Blvd. She was traveling South when the bridge opened. She stopped and waited. When the bridge opened, he Blazer failed to start. She put her flashers on and waited inside her car with her seatbelt on, just as she should do. She called her mom to come help her. She then called me and talked to me for 8 minutes. In these 8 minutes, she described her situation. Her battery was dieing. Her lights were dim but still blinking. She was in the middle of the Southbound lane, a couple of hundred feet North of the bridge. She tells me of the dozens of car that pass her on the left (through the oncoming lane) and on the right (through the grass). As they pass they blare their horns, as if they believe that shes stopped for fun. At the end of the eight minutes, I hear her say "Oh my God, this guys not going to stop! Oh my God! Oh my God!" She screams. I hear the buttons on the phone get pressed and the call is ended. Of course, I hop in my car back in Norfolk and fly to see what has happened. I continue to try her phone and on the second or third try, her mom answers and say, "Shes been hit," and hangs up. I am at the scene in under 10 minutes, where I find a totaled Blazer approximately 60 feet from where it broke down. I also find a totaled Escalade. My girlfriend is taken by ambulance to Chesapeake General (where she is discharged 5 hours later with a minor concussion). After she is taken away, her mom goes with her and I remain to take some pictures and find out where the car will be towed. Upon my inspection, the Escalade only left about 30 ft of skid marks. The Blazer was about 2 feet shorter than it was supposed to be. Her mom saw the entire accident. The driver of the Escalade claimed he couldn't see her because her lights were off.
Here's the part that gets good. 200 ft or less from the draw bridge. The bridge tender never came out to help. The police responded to make a report. The officer never took a statement from my girlfriend or her mom, but only from the driver of the Escalade. The area is lit with her Blazer originally in between 2 street lights. Now, although the Escalade had to have been traveling at 60 mph and it rear-ended the Blazer with barely a slowdown, the officer stated to me that he doesn't "want to get involved with this," and that he will "let the insurance companies hash it out." WHAT ARE THEY PAID TO DO?! HE DOESNT WANT TO GET INVOLVED? THAT HIS JOB!
Chesapeake needs a fix. Their law enforcement system is so screwed up, they need someone to provide oversight. If they don't want citizens to try, let the state police or the US Department of Justice do it. This is ridiculous. That was the absolute WORST investigation that I have ever seen.


UPDATE - Monday, March 17, 2008: We got the police report. The cop says the estimated speed of the Escalade was 50 mph! The speed limit is 45 there, by the way, even though he had to have been going much faster. The coop also acknowledged that the street was lit by streetlights. (REMEMBER HE DID NOT WRITE A TICKET) This guy could not see an SUV in the light even with his headlights?! Its scary that these people are on the road. Whats worse is I looked up his driving record online. My God! Did the cop not check this. The guy has a pending 75/55 ticket and a no license in possession ticket. He has at least 5 other moving violations... IN THE PAST 2 YEARS! Last thing: the cop said on the report that she should have put flares out. ... He's joking right? DMV tells you to stay in your vehicle with your belt on when you break down. Its on the insurance card too. this cop thinks that it would have been safer for her to get out and put down flares. No, then she would be dead. It was all of 16 minutes since she broke down to when she was hit.

Mal Vincent - A Sham?

Recently in the VA Pilot (March 14, 2008), the film critic Mal Vincent had a review of "Horton Hears a Who." I use the term review loosely. The majority of this 'review' was not even about the movie. The first half is where he compares the movie to the Pokemon movies. He made this comparison before he watched the movie. He also compares it to "Cat in the Hat" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."
While there may be some times when comparisons would be useful, this was not one of them. Mal Vincent went into the movie with a predetermination of failure and failed to see the for what it was. At the end of his 'review' he basically calls it a kiddie movie that is worthless for adults. I will be 21 years old in 2 months. I found the movie to be absolutely excellent. It was an entertaining and engaging movie. It carried a good moral, something which most new movies lack. It taught viewers that no matter what a person looks like or who that person is, that they should be treated the same as anyone else. It also had the minor message to have faith. Although you may not have empirical proof of something, you have to still believe that it exists.
The VA Pilot needs to get rid of old Mal. Every movie he reviews he is wrong about. I figure if he says it is bad, I'll go see it and if he says its great, I'll wait for the rental.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Hope for HRTA

The Supreme Court of VA found that HRTA could not leverage taxes because it was unconstitutional for a non-elected body to tax residents. Now theres talk of how much HRTA will fail. Here is my idea. Why not have the General Assembly levy the taxes earmark the money for the HRTA. Same for Northern VA. Then an elected body is taxing residents. Is this so difficult for our representatives to figure out? I don't think so. Instead, I think that they have some sort of allergy to taxes. They are more concerned about their popularity then about our well being. They do not realize that with out improving our transportation, our area will economically die. I still do not agree with the projects. I think that instead of a forward path to a solution, they are more of a sidestep around the problem. It is still, however, not a stagnant plan or a regressive plan. Hampton Roads needs help. Since we cannot all pave our own streets, we need the help of the government.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wachovia Buiding Approved

While I do like the idea of the Wachovia project, I must ask one question. Why was it JUST approved yesterday? They have been driving piles in the Monticello Lot now for months. Shouldn't they have approval before they start building? I think I might try that next time I put an addition on. Built it then ask for a permit. Sorry. Just a thought.

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