Monthly Archive for July, 2005

Water St. Parking Lot for Sale

We recently witnessed the closure of the last free downtown parking lot, which took a chunk out of the ever-dwindling available on-street free spaces. Today comes the news that Charlottesville Parking Center (a private corporation) is negotiating to sell their open lot on Water Street, which would remove another 125 parking spaces from the paid pool of spaces. (David Hendrick and John Yellig write about it in today’s Daily Progress.) The lot is assessed at $7M, so a sale is certainly the right thing for the corporation, but not so great for parking downtown.

Bob Stroh, manager of CPC lots, points out that there are generally about 100 spaces free in the Water Street parking garage (with Market St. often near or at capacity). That sounds good, except that this would still be a net loss of 25 paid spaces, and doesn’t allow for growth. With the amphitheater having their grand opening on Saturday night, 3,800 people are about to start wanting a place to park. I don’t think those 25 spaces are going to do it.

I got a parking ticket for no apparent reason today, parking in the metered lot on Water Street, so perhaps I’m just in a bad parking mood.

Feds Fund Parkway

Approved or not, it’s long looked like the Meadowcreek Parkway would never happen — state transportation dollars are stretched far too thin to be used to build a big new road not strongly supported by the community. Today, that’s all changed: Bob Gibson reports in today’s Daily Progress that Sen. John Warner has secured $25M in federal funds to fund the new road. (Exactly where this money is coming from and how it has been secured isn’t clear to me.) With only $6M remaining to be secured, there’s little standing in the way of paving two miles of McIntire Park. Sen. Warner, a UVa Law School graduate, describes the funding as “an old student’s expression of gratefulness to the community.”

07/29 Update: Big Al points out that this funding is a part of a $300B highway bill currently under consideration in Congress, with the purpose of the bill being to fund projects like the Meadowcreek Parkway nationwide. The Post writes that it “will send nearly $300 billion to the states to build and fix roads, create thousands of new jobs and — lawmakers hope — save lives and cut hours wasted in traffic.”

At Last, We Are Fulfilled

My life was dark, and without meaning. I moved through the days as a blind man through fog, my vision obscured but I too blind to know.

Yesterday, the heavens opened up, trumpets pealed, and the angels descended. My pathetic life, at long last, has meaning. Verily, Chez Target has opened.

No longer must I cover my face in shame as I skulk through Wal-Mart among those of my financial class and, yet, to whom I know I am innately superior. No longer must I suffer the slings and arrows of an outrageous drive to Short Pump. My empty life can be filled with cleverly-designed consumer goods, very much like those found at Wal-Mart, yes, only somehow better, in ways that I could not explain. Target is my shepherd, I shall not want.

It’s like when Krispy Kreme opened. Only the high will last longer this time. I just know it.

Griffin Explains Her Lawsuits

Former Charlottesville superintendent Scottie Griffin (who now goes by “Scottie Jo Griffin”) had an interview with the Fall River school board yesterday, in an effort to take the top post there just weeks after her C’ville fall from grace. As reported by the Herald News today, she explained what led to her being sued in New Orleans:

Griffin explained that the lawsuit in New Orleans stemmed from complaints that had begun previous to being hired. She said she attempted to rectify a situation in which the secretary did not receive pay for overtime work, but the employee did not respond to those attempts.

“I left the school system and was not asked to give a statement or show up (in court),” Griffin said about a hearing concerning the employees’ grievance.

Griffin’s statement stands in stark contrast with reality. In fact, the lawsuit had to be settled, because Griffin “disconnected her telephone numbers and refused to get in contact with lawyers,” and then failed to show up on court, as described by her own attorney. Her dismissal of the lawsuit as “complaints that had begun previous to be hiring” are also at odds with the truth. As Bob Gibson uncovered in the Progress some months ago, the woman who sued her was a 36 year veteran of the New Orleans school system. She requested a transfer away from Griffin, shortly after Griffin took the reigns there as an area superintendent, citing “intolerable working conditions,” unpaid overtime, and invented allegations of theft. As conditions became worse, Clay’s health deteriorated, until her doctor ordered her not to work until she could get out from under Griffin’s thumb. Griffin denied her medical leave. Clay sued. Griffin left the job shortly thereafter, remaining there for just eight months.

But Griffin doesn’t settle for merely misrepresenting her time in New Orleans. Then there’s Our Fair City:

She continued to explain that her shortened term in Charlottesville was in part an issue of politics after an attempt to reassign a veteran employee of the school district.

“I came under attack from a person who was very well politically connected,” Griffin said. “That attack continued throughout the school year. I could handle being attacked and I could handle the slander, because I knew it wasn’t true.”

She said as the matter progressed she found it was taking away from her efforts to focus on student achievement, and that led to her decision to resign.

“I decided if I cannot focus on student achievement, I would resign my position, and I did,” she said.

That’s rather a simplistic way to describe the proceedings. Others might describe it as Griffin attempting to fire a whistleblower who made public widespread concerns among teachers and administrators that Griffin’s “decisions” and “behaviors” were “significant barriers to the success of our efforts to close the achievement gap and to provide excellent educational experiences for all students.” After Griffin’s public embarrassment and subsequent further exposure as a fraud, she was forced out and paid a quarter of a million to please just go away.

In her interview in Fall River, MA, Griffin described herself as “one of the best candidates you’ll ever encounter,” and bravely offered to move there from Charlottesville if selected for the position.

Interviews with two other candidates are scheduled for Monday.

07/26 Update: James Fernald has a story in today’s Daily Progress.

Professional Putt-Putt in C’ville

jamesw points out that Charlottesville’s Putt-Putt, down on Rio, is featured in this New York Times photoessay on professional miniature golf. Professional miniature golf? One of the stars is 10-year-old Olivia Prokopova, of the Czech Republic, who has an entourage that includes a coach. It turns out that our local miniature golf course is noteworthy because it was “designed to make competitive putting possible by taking chance out of the equation.” I guess that’s why I lose there every time — no windmills.