Monthly Archive for July, 2007

Downtown Business Owners Complaining About Shelter

Some downtown business owners aren’t happy about having a homeless shelter downtown, Seth Rosen writes in today’s Daily Progress. Downtown Business Association co-chair Bob Stroh says that “[t]here are locations that would be more helpful to the community than locating it right smack in the middle of the most vibrant commercial district” in response to the months old news that movie director Tom Shadyac had purchased and donated the First Christian Church to serve as the COMPASS Day Haven shelter. Of course, it’s the downtown location that makes it so perfect, what with homeless people generally having to get around on foot. If the DBA has offered to donate millions of dollars in non-downtown real estate to COMPASS, that’s not mentioned in the article. Downtown police officer Casson Reynolds even digs up an old chestnut that good services for the homeless will make C’ville a magnet for the homeless, despite the fact that the local homeless population is far more likely to be local than, say, you. To Seth Rosen’s credit, he points this out.

But not all downtown merchants are grinches. Mary Loose DeViney, owner of Tuel Jewelers (disclosure: and a friend of mine) is happy about the shelter, telling the paper that “[w]e have bums to billionaires and they all walk the same bricks, as they should.” I can’t imagine what the DBA hopes to gain with this kvetching. It certainly can’t be goodwill.

Two Teenagers Arrested in Attack

Two teenagers have been arrested after an attack on a man at the corner of 10th and Grove last night, the Daily Progress reports. Though the story doesn’t make it entirely clear (it’s a quickie until the full story comes out tomorrow), it sounds like this guy was just driving along when a group of nine kids hurled a rock at his car. The guy stopped and “a confrontation ensued” — given that the kids were charged with malicious wounding, I have to assume that they attacked him. Police don’t know whether these kids are responsible for the series of very similar attacks in the past weeks, but that’s clearly what they suspect.

“Photo Red” Cameras Planned for Area

Both city and county staff are recommending the installation of photo red cameras, Seth Rosen writes in the Progress, which could be in place in a year’s time. The General Assembly authorized localities to install the cameras during their session earlier this year. The city is permitted to add them to four intersections, the county at nine. Municipal staff haven’t made a proposal to their respective elected bodies just yet, since they’re still reviewing the available equipment.

Opponents of photo red cameras point out that VDOT’s own study shows that installing them increases the number of accidents, and that many localities don’t make any money on them at all, because the systems are outsourced. The other problem is that the $50 fine is to be paid by the owner the car; because the driver isn’t pulled over by police, though, the driver can easily challenge the ticket and claim that he wasn’t driving.

The Hook recently demonstrated that the town’s most frequently run red light has such a short green light that only one car can get through. They found a car ran that 29/Rio red every single time that the light changed. Seems to me that there’s no need for a camera — a pair of cops could sit there and tag-team light runners all day long. Heck, I’d bring ’em a glass of iced tea to thank them for their troubles.

“Prospect Fights”

Henry Graff reports for NBC 29 about a disturbing new trend: groups of Charlottesville teenagers filming street fights to share the video on Youtube. Four separate Youtube users have all uploaded footage of fights between groups of black kids at Prospect Avenue and Forest Hills Park. Though several of the videos are now gone, along with Youtube user “DatNiggaJeeze”‘s account, several other videos that certainly appear to be filmed locally [1, 2, 3] still remain. In them, 1-2 dozen people mill around, alternately egging people into fights and fleeing when things get too dangerous. Sometimes several fights break out between different people, in rapid sequence.

Most were filmed in the past two months, the same period in which groups of black teenagers have been randomly assaulting people walking downtown. Police Chief Longo speculates that there’s a connection; it’s not surprising that the aggression shown in these videos would spill over to attacks on strangers. Long says that they’ve been keeping an eye on these videos as they’ve appeared for the last couple of months. Perhaps this will provide some leads in bringing an end to these random attacks. Police say they’re making progress, but can’t disclose specifics.

“PayPal for Porn” Booted from UVa

Brian McNeill had an eyebrow-raising story in the Progress a few weeks ago about a Darden startup business that’s basically PayPal for porn. Not only was it surprising that Darden would have actively recruited the startup to join their business incubator, but that its founder would have done so little research into the existing market; there are oodles of PayPal competitors attempting to tap into the market, since the electronic payment company prohibits using their service for pornography or gambling payments. The head of the Darden program was asked if perhaps it wasn’t wise to be launching a company in this line of business, and he responded that “what is and what isn’t controversial is open to some interpretation.”

Now has been pushed out of Darden, the AP reports, a result of anger by alumni that Darden would be backing this business. (Presumably because of its premise on porn and gambling, rather than the fact that it’s a wholly unoriginal business idea.)’s founder says he’ll carry on without Darden, and expects to launch the business later this year.