Hamilton Considering Skipping Tuscan Junket

City councilor Kendra Hamilton may not join the trip to Italy “if her presence would overshadow the cultural and educational goals of the visit,” Seth Rosen writes in today’s Daily Progress. She’s ruled out spending her own money. Presumably that means that she’s not going since, as Bob Gibson makes clear in the Progress today, the junket has been thoroughly overshadowed. On the other hand, lacking clear goals for this trip, there may be no “cultural or educational goals” to worry about. So far it’s been explained both that the purpose of the trip is to establish a student exchange and, as Hamilton told NBC-29 yesterday, that it’s to “help local restaurants by working with people in the Italian marketplace.” Hamilton was less committal in talking to Gibson, to whom she said “maybe I’ll go and maybe I won’t” if her attendance were damage the trip’s nebulous goals.

School board chairman Alvin Edwards said Thursday that he’d be paying his own way, though not because of fiscal concerns, but “so no one gets bent out of shape over it.” Mayor David Brown is “definitely going,” and sees the problem being a lack of transparency, since there was no discussion about the trip at a city council meeting or any other public setting.

The city hasn’t been clear on the total cost of the trip, but it’s estimated to run $1,300 per person. The city has a long history of visiting our sister cities (former mayor Blake Caravati visited Besançon eight times in as many years), but the trips have been paid for from private funds. Italian is not taught in any city schools.

69 thoughts on “Hamilton Considering Skipping Tuscan Junket”

  1. I’m not sure that City Councilor Kendra Hamilton’s “decision” to maybe not go to Tuscany help matters much. Aren’t airline tickets non-refundable and non-transferable? What about her hotel bookings? Are they able to be cancelled?

    I’d like to challenge any of the elected officials making the trip, who are unable to afford to pay the cost out of their own pockets, to do a bit of private fund-raising on their own over the course of the next week. Let them make the case to their friends that this trip is important and see if they can garner sufficient financial support.

    By the way, I just came back from a vacation in Tuscany a week ago. It’s beautiful this time of year. When the credit card bills come in, I’ll pay them myself.

  2. Must be nice. I can’t afford it, plus they’re are other places I would like to go…like get the hell out of here and go to Montana.

  3. IMHO they should all pay their own way since airline tickets usually cannot be refunded. I doubt that the city can get back Hamilton’s airefare at this point.

    I still see absolutely no reason for this trip to have been scheduled in the first place. Dumb move. I’m glad there’s been an uproar.

  4. I can’t imagine a 6 or 7 day trip to Italy with airlines, hotel, etc. is only $1300.00. Somebody should check on that. I just hope the uproar is reflected on election day Tuesday…….

  5. The most amazing thing is the arrogance of this clueless bunch……………..I would love for each of them to spend a day at the high school with real kids. Real kids who need the basics first. We are working with new ESL kids daily, children who have been abused beyond belief and kids who are battling so much more just to survive. Sure, Italy would be a pipe dream for some, but we have SUCH bigger fish to fry……….and teachers talk all the time how NONE of these decision makers are ever in the building. Why are people who don’t work with kids taking this trip? Why did our Foreign Language department get turned down to persue more trips on their OWN teacher’s dime? The funniest thing of all was the “table and chair” comment from clueless and self-righteous Edwards. Do you think there is a requisition place for teachers to get chairs, tables, filing cabinets? No! You email the rest of the staff and beg for a table or chair they aren’t using. MANY teachers go out and buy their own…..$4800.00 may not look like much to Ned or Peggy Van Yahres (as they have said in emails), but it is almost 200 teacher hours, lots of school supplies, money to pay hall monitors to keep kids safe, field trips for low-income kids, transportation for homeless kids, new books,several white boards, I could go on and on….We have many basic needs that there is no funding for so yes, Italy seems ridiculous.

  6. Kendra “thinking” of not going? All 5 of these people will go………..Edward’s “offer” to pay his own way will never be accepted and they all think that “this too will pass”……..
    They will not do the right thing and not go…….None has shown that kind of integrity.

  7. And of course Edward’s most arrogant comment of folks getting “bent out of shape” over this.
    Well yeh, while teachers have to buy their own supplies, and school and city officials take a little jaunt over to Italy for no reason, folks will get bent out of shape. Maybe next time they’ll get some input from taxpayers before they make stupid expensive decisions.
    Or not.
    Can’t wait for Tuesday.

  8. Thank you, Ned Michie, for sending Kendra’s email out to your constituents. I, for one, am greatly relieved that our city official is concerned about the clothing and shoes available for our citizens to purchase at Belk’s and I will reconsider my avoidance of Fashion Square Mall in the future.

    —– Original Message —–
    From: NedMichie@aol.com
    To: NedMichie@aol.com
    Sent: Saturday, November 03, 2007 8:33 PM
    Subject: *** SPAM *** Italy

    I and the other School Board members have gotten a number of e-mails about the trip to Italy expressing very understandable concern about the cost of it and why the trip was not publicized until this week. It was clearly an error not to have made the scouting trip and exchange idea an item on our agenda. But I wanted to let you know how the error occurred and why I still support the scouting trip.

    Early this summer, a six-person delegation from our sister city in Italy came over to visit. During this trip, the delegation met with our superintendent and others from the school division. As I understand it, during those meetings the delegation from Italy raised the idea of renewing a student exchange like the one that had been done with our schools in the early 1980s. They invited our educational leaders to join our city leaders when they did their long-planned comeback trip to Poggio this fall (i.e., this coming week), so that the idea of a student exchange could be explored further.

    Ms. Atkins notified each Board member individually of the invitation to join the city delegation and the idea for redoing a student exchange with our sister city. She further notified each of us at the end of August, through her normal school division updates to us, and she specifically asked for our input. I spoke with Ms. Atkins personally about it thereafter, and I imagine other Board members did as well. The idea in the works was/is that if we go through with the exchange then it will be funded through a community-wide fundraising effort like the Orchestra had last year, not through our operational budget.

    At no point were there any meetings of Board members — secret or otherwise — to discuss it. Indeed, that is the crux of the error: that we never met to discuss it and flesh it out. Rather, when we were notified about it individually, it apparently sounded reasonable to each of us — no one voiced any objection until this week. In any event, Ms. Atkins rightfully assumed that we were on board with accepting the invitation extended by our sister city to further explore the exciting prospect of a student exchange that would not be funded out of our limited operational budget.

    Keep in mind that we are obviously spending your tax dollars all the time without discussing the individual expenditures as agenda items at our meetings, including spending money on things that were not specifically anticipated in the budget (e.g., leaky roofs, broken HVAC units, new dictates handed down by the state or federal government . . .). Moreover, with a $ 55 million budget, the expense to accept the Italians’ invitation was a drop in the bucket. (I note that funding a relatively small, one-time expenditure is significantly easier than agreeing to fund an ongoing expense obligation of the same initial size — ongoing expenditures are just that, and they also tend to grow with time.)

    Nevertheless, this was not only an unplanned expenditure (because we did not know we would be invited when we adopted the budget last March) but it was also an unusual expenditure, and as such it merited making it an agenda item. Furthermore, while at this time in this year there is enough money available in the operational budget (which, like any good budget, always builds in some allowance for unplanned expenditures), I’m sure that even this relatively small amount would not always be there to take safely. In addition, the other Board members and I are very aware that even small expenditures need to be spent wisely. Through participation in many school fundraising drives, I — and I’m sure my fellow Board members — know that a little bit of money can make a difference.

    I do, however, continue to support spending a few thousand dollars to send a delegation to Italy to further the dialogue with our sister city about a possible student exchange, but I am happier that we are only funding two people, thereby matching the number in the city’s delegation. Had we discussed the idea together as a Board, as we should have, we may well have come to this same conclusion or perhaps even some other conclusion about the size or composition of the delegation. The total cost will apparently be $3,200 because the host city is picking up the tab for everything but travel and lodging. I actually think it would be irresponsible for us to decide to send our children to live and go to schools in a foreign city without sending a delegation to check the place out and meet some of the people who would be involved in keeping, educating and entertaining our students.

    I also support sending more than one person. When I was on the Jefferson School Task Force, a subset of us was sent to check out an unusually successful alternative type school/job training center in inner-city Pittsburgh. I was very glad that others were there with me to discuss observations and thoughts during the trip; just as importantly, I thought it was rather critical to have other people along so that when we reported back to the full Task Force there would be other perspectives than just mine (or any other one person’s) on whether the idea was worth pursuing. I further note that while we did have some fun on the trip getting to know each other, visiting the interesting school, and eating out, we had a busy itinerary, and it is not the itinerary I would have chosen had I been on vacation in Pittsburgh. The trip on the little bus was not fun and I was spending time away from my family and other joys in my life. I am sure our delegation will have about the same feeling about this trip.

    The fact that a student exchange is not specifically listed in our Strategic Plan is not significant to me. We obviously had not been invited to engage in a student exchange when we wrote the Strategic Plan a year and half ago, and at all times the intention for the Strategic Plan has been for it to be a living, changing document because we knew opportunities would come along and new ideas would come forth. I am also comfortable that the student exchange would fit in with the goals and objectives of the division to engage and support the whole child and partner with our community on programs that benefit children. Not only would any exchange benefit the children leaving from here on the exchange, but it would also benefit all those who come into contact with the foreign students who come and live and learn with us. Moreover, such an event could potentially engage the entire community just as the CHS Orchestra trip did.

    The fact that we don’t currently teach Italian is certainly something to consider, but there is no real downside to students learning about another culture in addition to the one they are studying in school. Indeed, I and perhaps everyone reading this thought (and still think) that it was a great experience for our Orchestra students to go to perform in England, even though the language and the culture there are not altogether different than our own. An exchange to Italy would clearly be an even more mind-opening experience and would be a trip of a lifetime for many of the students who would participate. It would create lifetime memories and impressions even for those who will travel abroad again in the future. ( I also note that we apparently did plan to offer an Italian class this year but ended up having to cancel it because there were not enough students and/or the teacher’s schedule was full. Perhaps if we do decide to go forward with the exchange, it would provide further motivation to recruit students and arrange staff time.)

    I have rambled on enough, but rest assured that when our scouting team returns we will have their report be an agenda item at one of our meetings. Then we will have a regular agenda process to consider whether to go forward with the student exchange our sister city is offering us, and we will certainly welcome any and all input.

    I apologize again for our error in process, but I hope you will be able to join us in giving fair consideration to this potentially exciting exchange idea as we move toward a final decision.

    PS Below is an e-mail that Kendra Hamilton sent in response to concerns about the trip and I think it is worth your further consideration.

    I guess I’m surprised that this is coming as such a surprise to everyone.

    This is the 30th anniversary of the Sister City relationship with Poggio a Caiano. On the city side, this fact was discussed and planned for during city budget sessions, in City Council meetings, and through half a dozen public planning meetings for the past year and a half. If you were watching the news this summer, you might have even noticed that the city hosted a delegation of six political, tourism, and business officials from Poggio in June or July. If citizens thought the plan to participate in the 30th anniversary of the Sister City relationship was stupid, there has been ample opportunity to say so. But the plan was always for two councilors to represent the city in the 30th anniversary festivities planned in Italy for this fall.

    I think, if one has never participated in any of these exchanges, it may seem like a waste of time and perhaps of money. But these are working trips. And their aim is to create business, school, and cultural ties that can be of mutual benefit to our citizens.

    My special interest in going is to facilitate economic exchanges for City Market vendors and local restauranteurs. The mayor has a special interest in bringing tourism to Charlottesville and in artistic and athletic exchanges, particularly for local youth soccer teams. The school administrators are interested in creating opportunities for children who do not have the means of ever seeing a foreign country.

    When I went to Poggio initially, three and a half years ago as part of a joint Chamber-city-county delegation, there was no interest and no participation from the school division. This struck me as tragic because there are children in our division who desperately need the opportunity that sister city relationships provide. For all our sophistication as the self-proclaimed arts and cultural capital of central Virginia, we have no participation, or opportunity to participate, as a community, in the global economy and the global marketplace.

    The same goes triple for 75% of the youths who graduate from CHS. Italian youths graduate from school speaking at least two European languages plus English. Ours can barely speak English. Ours can tell you all about the latest video game or rap video or reality TV show. They can tell you nothing about the wider world–the politics and languages and technologies and economies of other countries–and they don’t even know why they should care.

    Why should they care? And why should Charlottesville City Council and the rest of Charlottesville care? Why should you care? (Please forgive me for getting on a soapbox here, but apparently I’m going to have to answer this question many times between now and Wednesday.) Because like it or not, Charlottesville kids and Charlottesville adults are not in competition with people from Richmond or the Shenandoah Valley–they’re in competition with the world. The number of scientists and engineers produced in China and India is beginning to far outstrip the U.S. production of native-born people in these professions. Companies are sending technology and biotechnology jobs to Belarus, Bulgaria, and Slovenia because they can find the highly literate, tech-savvy workers that they need *there* more easily than they can here.

    To return to the case at hand, our sister city Poggio, the Italian family that hosted me took me to Florence where I was able to see the treasures of the Italian Renaissance as well as the textile/shoe production and design facilities that determine what’s available for you and me to buy at Belk’s.

    For a Charlottesville child from a lower class background, who’s teetering on the edge of deciding what direction his or her life should go in, seeing such sights and meeting people from the warm yet highly cultured Italian civilization could be a life-changing experience.

    Kendra Hamilton
    Vice Mayor
    City Council of Charlottesville

  9. Kendra writes, “For a Charlottesville child from a lower class background, who’s teetering on the edge of deciding what direction his or her life should go in, seeing such sights and meeting people from the warm yet highly cultured Italian civilization could be a life-changing experience”

    Then let a low income student or a teacher go in your place. Rumor has it you have been 3 or 4 times in the last 4 years……why do you need to go again?

  10. Amen Fred. How about we get on with the so-called exchange-if folks really think this is important-and start letting the kids or teachers go instead of sending this brigade of political officials? C’ville is not a rich city. How about some private donors or even the Italians put up some $?
    This is all just ridiculous. Huge waste of time and resources.
    The whole damn thing should be cancelled.

  11. Ahh, back to ‘its for the kids’ ploy … perhaps a few will be cleared to go in 2020.

  12. I don’t think anyone is disputing that a trip to Italy would be a fabulous opportunity for a local student–particularly one who has not had much opportunity to travel otherwise. And I think most C’ville parents are well aware that our children must be well educated in order to compete in a global job market. Hamilton’s implication that her critics don’t think cultural or educational opportunities are important is specious.
    Also, Belk is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.

  13. Fred and Jan,

    Great idea!! I know of several CHS kids that we could send AND an Italian teacher at the high school who is teaching Spanish!!!!

  14. quote Kendra Hamilton >> “… 75% of the youths who graduate from CHS….. can barely speak English.”

    Maybe this is the best reason the money should be spent on our local kids. Instead of on 5 people’s fall vacation.

  15. The problem with the “It’s for the students” angle is that 95 percent of the time the students that will go on an exchange program are the “Academic/advanced” level students who are already usually from affluent families. With a poverty student who’s “teetering on the edge…” the directional choice is probably going to be do I “stay in school (which the way the track students usually means a Catech path and only rarely college)” or “drop out and get a job or do something else.”

    I and the other School Board members have gotten a number of e-mails about the trip to Italy expressing very understandable concern about the cost of it and why the trip was not publicized until this week.

    The trip wasn’t publicized until this week and probably wouldn’t have been publicized at all if not for a ducktroller’s comment on Cvillenews.

    Every reference made to the trip by a public official seems to me to imply “well you should’ve known.” Should have known? Should’ve known if we knew where to look as if everyone knows the ins and outs of the city bureaucracy. Should’ve known if we had the time to ride shotgun on our elected officials to make sure they aren’t spending 18k for 3 rainwater barrels. But no unfortunately many people have jobs (sometimes 2) and obligations that demand so much of our time that we can’t keep so close an eye on our elected politicians as we’d like.

  16. Take 2 (the corrected version)

    The problem with the “It’s for the students” angle is that 95 percent of the time the students that will go on an exchange program are the “Academic/advanced” level students who are already usually from affluent families. With a poverty student who’s “teetering on the edge…” the directional choice is probably going to be do I “stay in school (which the way the track students usually means a Catech path and only rarely college)” or “drop out and get a job or do something else.”

    I and the other School Board members have gotten a number of e-mails about the trip to Italy expressing very understandable concern about the cost of it and why the trip was not publicized until this week.

    The trip wasn’t publicized until this week and probably wouldn’t have been publicized at all if not for a ducktroller’s comment on Cvillenews.

    Every reference made to the trip by a public official seems to me to imply “well you should’ve known.” Should have known? Should’ve known if we knew where to look as if everyone knows the ins and outs of the city bureaucracy. Should’ve known if we had the time to ride shotgun on our elected officials to make sure they aren’t spending 18k for 3 rainwater barrels. But no unfortunately many people have jobs (sometimes 2) and obligations that demand so much of our time that we can’t keep so close an eye on our elected politicians as we’d like.

  17. Trvlmn, that’s sound like a good argument in favor of consolidating the city and county governments. Yes, I heard this in a civics class and dumbly still believe it: We can not have an effective democracy if informed citizens are not actively participating in it, as voters, candidates and as watchdogs. City residents will have to start finding the time. (If the City’s budget hadn’t gone up almost 50% in about ten years, perhaps fewer people would need two jobs). Our government’s minutes are on the web, school board meetings are partially aired on TV, Council and Planning Commission meetings are on TV and the web, agendas are on the web, City Notes and newsletters from NDS and Parks and Rec are out there. City officials’ contact info is also on the web. We can all do better. And if we don’t, we should let the County do it.

  18. If Kendra Hamilton believes that 75% of CHS graduates can barely speak English, then why does she think an exchange program with Italy is a priority? That makes no sense. Also, she mentions the students who “can tell you about the latest video game or rap video or reality TV show.” This might be true about some of the students at CHS, but I don’t think it is indicative of students who take foreign languages. It seems to me that any exchange program should benefit the students who DO take languages in school.

    The council members and school board members have not failed to point out that they were invited by the Italians. I think we have an important lesson to teach our children about keeping up with the Joneses here. It was lovely to be invited to go to Italy. But, when our budget is as tight as it is, it seems like a good response to that invitation would be, “it is so kind of you to invite us to visit you (again), but for the time being we have more pressing needs in our community.” It’s the truth.

    If Kendra truly believes our kids only know about rap and video games, I certainly don’t think it’s a good idea that we send those kids as ambassadors abroad. Yikes!

  19. From Kendra:
    “I guess I’m surprised that this is coming as such a surprise to everyone.”

    When I read that from her, I can’t help but hear her voice in my head. It’s in the same sort of whinny dismissive tone that she has always used to address citizens with whom (ok grammar police?) she disagreed. She’s a privileged girl from Charleston and I don’t think she understands or gives a damn about the lower class kid she mentions or most of the voters in the city for that matter.

    “For all our sophistication as the self-proclaimed arts and cultural capital of central Virginia, we have no participation, or opportunity to participate, as a community, in the global economy and the global marketplace.”

    I really wish Kendra was around so I could ask her to explain that bizarre and confusing statement. UVA constantly brings in loads of people from around the world. Live Arts has annually sent a group to Edinburgh for years now. Charlottesville High School’s orchestra has travelled overseas (with funds they’ve raised). Raphael Bell has played all over the world and brought a host of international musicians here for Charlottesville’s Chamber Music Festival.

    Market Street Wine Shop seems pretty well connected to the global economy. International Auto Parts may be in the county, but so what, it’s local enough and it’s a major distributor of Italian automobile parts. The local economy isn’t manufacturing based, so we don’t send a lot abroad, but even a five week vacation in Italy wouldn’t change that.

    I could fill pages listing Charlottesville’s participation in the global economic and artistic communities. How did she miss all of that. If she can be so oblivious, why should she then expect citizens to be tracking every expenditure that gets snuck in?

    I almost wish she was running again just so I could have the satisfaction of seeing both her and Brown being kicked out of office.

    p.s. Anyone got a quick tutorial on how TrvlnMn indents quotes?

  20. You know, Charlottesville is basically just a fairly small Southern college town…with a huge case of pretentious attitude. The facts are we are a landlocked 10 square mile SMALL City which has a larger poverty rate than just about anywhere in Virginia, with a huge gap between haves and have nots and with an ever shrinking middle class of REAL workers who cannot afford to live here.

    I personally don’t give a damn about Charlottesville’s “participation in the global economy”. I would rather someone pay attention to the basics and the situation that many find themselves in rather than all this “feel good” BS. I hope to God Edwards and Brown get blasted at the polls but it ain’t gonna happen. This town is now governed by rabid leftists with way too many pretentious elitist leftists in support. These are not true Democrats folks…Wake up before it’s too late!

  21. Anyone got a quick tutorial on how TrvlnMn indents quotes?

    It’s pretty easy. To quote what you wrote just now, I wrote this:

    <blockquote>Anyone got a quick tutorial on how TrvlnMn indents quotes?</blockquote>

    You just wrap the bit you want to quote in those “blockquote” tags, making sure to put a slash before the second one, which closes the quote. Some day I’ll install a plugin or something to provide Word-style icons for people to format their posts without learning Greek.

  22. It’s clear from several threads on this blog, as well as others, that many people who voted for Ms. Hamilton or Mr. Brown the first time around would not vote for either again. What they should try to answer is why they voted for that person in the first place? Do they think either is acting out of character? Do they think either’s values have changed in the last three years? Or, is it that they didn’t know that much about these individuals in the first place and just voted along with the pack?
    Tonight, Mayor Brown just said in an interview on CBS19 when asked about locating the YMCA in McIntire Park, “It is easier to find another location for a small ball field than another location for the YMCA.” What is he talking about? The ball field costs less to maintain than the Y does to build (and the new road to get there and parking lots to park there). The Y had already found another perfectly good location at PVCC before it approached the City, and that field isn’t hard to find at all. That offer still stands. The same children who can ride free buses over to the park can ride free buses out to PVCC. Brown isn’t old, maybe just confused. Statements like that should tell anyone he’s not up for the job. We’re talking about millions of taxpayer dollars in recurring expenditures here people, not plane tickets to Italy. If he would vote “no” to the Y in the park, I’ll gladly pay his ticket this one time.

  23. The condescending tone and garbled logic of Kendra’s email to all the “little people” should come as no surprise. She’s been mostly a dud as a councilor– unless you count smirking, eye-rolling, and peevish sighs as desirable qualities for the position. And then, to cap it all off, there’s the utter and very public disinterest in any topic that doesn’t promote her personal agenda.

    I’m cheered by the thought that whoever replaces her couldn’t possibly be that bad… at least I hope not.

  24. I voted for Kendra Hamilton–did she first run in 2004?–because I believed she would do something to shield middle class city homeowners from skyrocketing assessments. I had a vague notion that her involvement in a relatively low-income neighborhood (Rose Hill) meant that she could relate to people like me who worried that taxes would rise so high, we’d no longer be able to pay our mortgages. I had a personal meeting with her about this topic (after the election) and was sorely disappointed with how she responded to me.

    “Parent”–I agree, Ms. Hamilton is painting CHS students with a pretty broad brush.

  25. I agree with you all and just pray most voters do also on Tuesday……….
    When reading Kendra’s letter I too could hear her voice in my head and it was condescending as usual.

  26. Cville Eye, the people that I know that voted for (and gave money to) Brown and Hamilton- and that’s a LOT of people!- honestly didn’t know how they would end up behaving once they had been on Council for awhile.

    Kendra wasn’t condescending when she met with folks and asked for their votes. Like Patience mentioned above, many thought she would walk the walk.

    Who knew David was going to end up seeming kind of angry most of the time, or that he would just fold when under pressure?

    That’s not to say that either of them hasn’t done some good. But going before them at Council can be very painful at times, like walking on eggshells. They just don’t seem to listen– you can literally see them tune people out. Certainly, what they’re hearing doesn’t seem to weigh into their decision-making.

    There’s more reacting than thinking going on with the current council. Maybe it’s because some personalities just aren’t as effective when on a team together. When you get two people with an attitude, they can bring everyone else down.

    As far as people with a track record that we can trust, the wonderful thing about Peter Kleeman is that he’s already been around for a long time. Many of us know him to be a tireless worker and fair guy. He loves to discuss issues with people and is actively engaged. I think that he and Dave Norris could get a lot done together. He’s incredibly well educated- Harvard and MIT, dang!- but there’s absolutely no ivory tower condescension in the man.

    My fear though is that some people will just vote a straight Democratic ticket out of party loyalty, more than anything else. It’s okay to just vote for the candidates you like.

  27. On Cville’s comments wrt the YMCA

    …I don’t know if there is another blog on the YMCA for a separate discussion, but I would like to offer up a few comments.

    * There will be NO re-occuring costs to the City on this one. The YMCA has stated on numerous occasions that it will cover ALL THE OPERATIONAL costs for the facility.

    * PVCC is a real possibility, however, the YMCA feels that they really are not going to reach City residents, and in particular the less affluent, if they build at Peidmont. The McIntire site is a ~0.3 mile walk from the Charlottesville High School and a ~0.5mil drive from the Walker Middle School. It is a ten mile drive to PVCC and PVCC is located on the other side of major Highway 64. It just isn’t on the ‘map’ for many kids in our City. Please, the sites are very different.

    * Some folks have argued, as well as a few councilors, that the City can not afford the $2M lease of Land (Land is still owned by the City) for this ~$14M YMCA project. In light of the substantially higher projected costs ($9M-$11M) for fixing or replacing the City’s failing P&R infrastructure to only a 1970’s standard (a cost which would NOT HAVE to be borne if the YMCA is approved at McIntire), it is hard for me as a tax payer to understand how we can not afford this $2M land loan. With the YMCA bringing $5M and the County $3.5M to the table.

    * Parks and Rec Director Mike Svetz and staff, charged with the health and future of the P&R system, are also fully behind this choice of site and direction. Additionally, realizing a single signature facility is exactly what was recommended by the consultant hired by the City at a cost of $100,000 in 2005 to study the indoor recreation needs of the community. So comments to the effect that this plan is not compatible with the City’s Parks & Rec programs are simply wrong.

    * In the last four years, the YMCA ‘gave away’ 20 percent of its $1M budget to underprivileged youth, enabling them to use YMCA programs. Their motivation and emphasis is undeniably youth-oriented. They could more easily have already committed to the opportunity of the PVCC site and be done with it, but instead they so strongly desire a site in the City and available to Charlottesville Youth that they have pushed their decision off until the last possible moment before the Perry Foundation matching grant is lost and the PVCC is demanding a commitment.

    * Despite the YMCA indicating that they would work with the City to provide transportation to its facilities, there have also been some arguments that our youth and families, who live further away from the McIntire site, would not be able to get to the facility. It seems a no brainer that the Park should be on the City bus route (shouldn’t our parks be accessible to those without cars anyway?).

    * Finally, the one argument against this that I personally see as having much merit is those who don’t want to loose park land to a building. However, I point to the great costs saved and the broad use, from our community, of the YMCA at the site. The site doesn’t infringe on any softball fields (and hey, lets have the County build some more softball fields instead of us supporting much of this sport) or golf (which are both huge users of our park land). It would be a totally different thing for me if someone wanted to build a store or a movie theatre etc. So while I also value open space, I see the positives of what the City and community get from the YMCA as greatly overweighing this concern.

  28. “So comments to the effect that this plan is not compatible with the City’s Parks & Rec programs are simply wrong.”

    I disagree with this statement. The Parks and Recreation Department has a city aquatic program. Giving land to the YMCA (a private institution) is NOT compatible with a city program. The city would lose two indoor city pools and the public high school would lose their “home” pool.

    It’s public vs private. Why is it beneficial to close down the city pool and let a private institution decide when, where and how our city kids can use that facility?

  29. Hi Parent,

    The city is not ‘giving land’ to anyone. The land still belongs to the city. This was a demand by the City, and the YMCA immediately agreed.

    The city, in reality, has already ‘lost’ their two indoor pools. They are in TERRIBLE shape, are costing an arm and a leg to run do to all the water they are loosing and maintenance needed to keep them running and it would cost an order of magnitude more in money to try and fix them. This much is not up for argument- it is the reality the City is facing. They have already pretty much decided, with the Boys club (who are footing a good chunk of the bill), to tear down the pool at Buford and rebuild a new facility… one that has lap lanes but also water features that are MUCH MORE appropriate for youth, the elderly/therapy, adolescents and those learning to swim for the first time.

    The pool at Walker is also in terrible shape (worse in fact) and is going to come down. THe question, then, is do we want to have swimming facilities that serve our city and our community, or not. The facility proposed by the YMCA would have the lap lanes (and they are asking for extra money from the City to be able to guarantee lap lanes for our swim team when we want them and more to replace the Walker pool folks) AND swim features that are also suitable for the youth, adolescents, elderly/therapy, and those learning to swim. The city investment is one time- the YMCA will pay for running and upkeep. THIS IS AN INCREDIBLE DEAL for the city. All the mismanagement of its pool systems over the years disappear.

    If you say why not PVCC, then you are in fact saying that we care about is the organized club swim programs in the county and city. They will be able to drive there. They will get up at 4 in the morning or go at 9 in the evening to get their swims in. There will not be as many swim lanes at PVCC, our city school system will no longer have easy access, nor any guarantee of getting swim time after school. So to me, the PVCC option is one that serves the upper class, but not many in our city.

    To boot, the YMCA facility is much more than a place to swim. Courts of all kinds, a healthy place to hang out for the youth, music, entertainment… People also become MEMBERs. Folks who can’t afford the modest sum will get free scholarships. Being an actual member, with a membership card etc is a pretty cool thing for the many folks who can’t ‘do Farmington’ !

    Sorry if any of the above sounds heated, but I am passionate about this. It is unfortunate that the City has let the pool infrastructure go down the tubes. It is unfortunate that it will take some money now (instead of appropriate investment in maintenance over the last few decades) to fix this problem. However, the McIntire solution is one time, and for what the City is getting, is incredibly reasonable. If they don’t take it, the drop back solution perhaps continues to serve the County folks, but it is a BIG step back for the city.

    (and this barracuda doesn’t even swim!)

  30. Back to the schools…

    Ned’s email, reprinted above, is fascinatingly infuriating…

    First off, the current budget is $66,078,263, not $55 million as Ned reports (http://www.ccs.k12.va.us/CCS_facts.html)

    That is $16,500 per student, for the 4000 (and dropping) students in the division. Ouch!

    Perhaps Ned and the other School Board members can understand the public outrage about this trip less because of the dollar amount than what it symbolizes: a bloated, top-heavy division that isn’t meeting the needs of teachers and students IN THE CLASSROOM but happy to bid us buon giorno on Wednesday for a week in Tuscany…

    As for Ned’s comments on the Strategic Plan: “…the intention for the Strategic Plan has been for it to be a living, changing document because we knew opportunities would come along and new ideas would come forth,” I say AMEN.

    But I repeat what I told the School Board last week: There is nothing in the Strategic Plan to justify this trip or this new program. Nothing, nada, NIENTE! If Ned and others would like to set up a new program about which the Stategic Plan says nothing, he should raise the subject in a Board meeting, explain how it will be funded, and change the Strategic Plan.

    Also if Ned really believes that fixing a leaky roof in a school is no different than paying for airfare, food, and Tuscany hotel for three people, then we are in worse shape than I imagined.

    Back to the budget: what’s the quickest way to save $2 million? By reducing the size of Central Office. Last time I looked we had more than 70 people in Central Office. Harrisonburg, a similarly sized division (which is growing), had about 50 people. We adjust the number of teachers in the division according to the number of students, why not administrators?

    The fact that Ned and the other Board members (other than Charlie Kollmansperger) didn’t see the Tuscan junket as a problem, while everyone else in the community did, raises serious questions about their judgment on other spending issues. I have grown weary of the fact that involved parents like me get waylaid by teachers all the time to be shown substandard equipment and told of faulty programs. Where are the School Board members?

    FYI, I received an email from Kendra saying that she will bow out of the trip. Haven’t seen that news publicly yet (but I was out of town over the weekend).

    I’m SURE the city has trip cancellation insurance.

    Teachers of Charlottesville: call parents you know well and ask them to vote Tuesday–and to ask their neighbors and friends to vote. It’s likely the winners and losers will be separated by dozens of votes.

    Galvin, Blount, Dugger, McCord

  31. I support Brownrigg, McCord, Dugger and/or Blount/Galvin. No one has yet to persuade me on the benefits of Blount vs. Galvin. I know Grant Brownrigg has an excellent view on how to make the schools more efficient and a better place to learn for all children. It would be unfortunate for that to be clouded by Alvin Edwards.

  32. Barracuda,

    I am passionate about this too. I DO SWIM. I do NOT want the city pools privatized. I am a city resident and see nothing cool about a membership card, period. I am proud to swim at the city pools and wish to continue to do so. I have no intention of joining any PRIVATE pool be it the YMCA or Farmington. Membership breeds exclusivity and I think the YMCA youth basketball league and the city recreational basketball leagues are perfect examples of how that works. No thank you!

    Build the Y pool at PVCC. They obviously want it!

  33. I collected petition signatures for Grant, so it pains me to say that he has lost my support. I was shocked that he decided to run with Edwards, and asked him why, and was surprised to learn that there didn’t seem to be any programmatic reason for the pairing, just a desire to save some $$ on yard signs. Given the Jonathan Spivey abuse scandal, Grant’s willingness to run with Edwards indicates a serious lack of judgment. We need judgment more than ever right now. I fear that Grant won’t be assertive enough for the School Board we need.

    Galvin and Blount are my top two choices: Kathy Galvin, first, because I have known her for years and respect her immensely. She has visited all the schools during this campaign, talked to teachers and staff; she asks good questions and she knows how to listen; and she knows how to work on a Board. Colette Blount has my vote because I like what she says about setting higher goals for underachieving kids. She did that will success in the classroom at Clark. I support her because teachers I respect support her. She will give the Board the reality check that Charlie Kollmanperger is currently supplying. (I would always like to see a teacher on the School Board.)

    Llezelle Dugger and Sean McCord are friendly and well-spoken. Both have lots to learn about the schools (Llezelle especially–her kids aren’t yet in school). Neither seem to have a firm handle on the issue of discipline, which concerns me. More time at CHS would help them both. Still, I’m voting for them with the hope that they will grow into the job. I like what Sean wrote on this blog and I sense Llezelle has aspirations to higher political office. I would to see more of our politicians punch their ticket on the School Board.

  34. Dear Parent,

    You might like to and want to swim in a pool in the City, but it isn’t going to happen for those who used Crowe unless they build at McIntire. As I stated before, the two city pools are in terrible shape. The money needed to fix them is in the tens of millions of dollars. IT ISN’T going to happen, especially when they can replace Crowe pool in the City with a much more modest investment of ~$2M (and get much more than a pool) and have no maintenance costs. So if the pool goes to PVCC, don’t think that somehow Crowe pool with pull a Phoenix and be around much longer. The end result will be our permanently being down a city pool. So while you may be proud to swim at the city pools and wish to continue to do so, turning down McIntire means you will probably be swimming in County water (certainly not Crowe).

    ps, its very hard to understand how the YMCA memberships could possibly breed exclusivity! They will give them out to the disadvantaged for free! It does, however, often instill a sense of ownership and respect for the facilities from the youth…

  35. Hi Jennifer,

    I initially supported Brownrigg as well, but I can’t make sense of his pairing with Edwards on the signs/campaigns… when they haven’t presented a unified campaign of issues etc. Why together… was it really to save money?! And who was really benefiting whom (Waldo, help!) on this arrangement? Given the Spivey situation, I have to agree with Karl that it didn’t show great judgement.

    Galvin has been everywhere. There is no question that she has done the most legwork and listened/talked to the most people in the school systema and city. She has been involved in the school system for years (PTO president several times), has kids in the system and is thus first hand aware of the important issues facing our schools.

    I like effeciency as much as the next fish, but it doesn’t always translate into good education- so a business background and talk of streamlining etc doesn’t get me excited.

  36. As far as I know from speaking to the council members who will vote on this issue, nothing has been decided yet. I certainly don’t think it is fair for anyone with vested interest in the YMCA to be deciding what will happen with our city pools. So, let’s let the elected officials decide what they will do for the public they represent with that public’s funds. Again, I am strongly against privatization of any of the city’s public programs.

    It may be hard for you to understand how “YMCA memberships could possibly breed exclusivity,” but look at the basketball program and it will be crystal clear to anyone. Believe it or not, there are a lot of city citizens who love to swim but have no desire to belong to a membership only pool (regardless if those memberships are given to some or not)!

  37. Hi Parent,

    I don’t think anyone on the YMCA should be voting on this issue either, but nobondy on the council is on the YMCA board. Just to be clear, I hold no position or connection with the YMCA either.

    I would say that the money has already decided that Crowe will not be rebuilt or replaced on site. How could council possibly justify spending $10M on a renovation of Crowe pool when it could spend ~$2M and get the YMCA facilities at McIntire. If it goes to PVCC, do you think the arguement will become any eaier to rebuild Crowe?

    That is why I pose this as a choice to keep the second pool in the City or loose one permanently.

    You also may not be aware, the YMCA is more than happy to have two City and two County reps on their board.

    I guess I philosophically differ with you on private/public issue. Except for cases where it clearly is in the public good (I would suggest education, police, military…) If the private can do it better and cheaper, then get governement out of the business, but leave regulatory and supervision structures in place.

  38. Yes, we definitely differ on the public/private issue. You say that building the YMCA pool in McIntire would “keep the second pool in the City.” The YMCA pool will not be a public pool. That is a big difference to me and others who will swim there. We are not interested in having a private business tell city swimmers when and how they can use a members only pool. I am a huge proponent of public education and the public run Parks and Rec programs.

  39. All of this talk obscures the more fundamental question: if the city representatives do not make the trip, will our town’s pizzerias lose a potentially vital tomato and mozzarella trading partner? Is that a risk we’re willing to take?

  40. LOL Dave. Thanks for keepin’ it real. How did we get off Italy and on to swimming pools???

    So what I want to know is the trip still on for Wed. and are we still paying for it.

  41. Hey Jan & Dave,

    maybe they are going to visit some of the ‘baths’ while they are in Italy to help with the design of the cville pools?

    Dear Parent,

    So if I hear you correctly, you would rather pay $10M to have Crowe rebuilt than pay $1.25M (sorry, I had the $2M wrong) to have the YMCA build in the City. I can give you 8.75 million reasons why that is not a good idea. Can you honestly believe that it is worth 8.75 million dollars to have the title ‘City Pool’ on the facility instead of ‘YMCA’?

    I don’t think you understand what membership at the YMCA means. There is no exclusivity here. EVERYONE who wants to be a member is a member… so it will be us telling ourselves what we want. If anything, you will find the YMCA board, made up of community members, to be more responsive than a government agency. We are not talking ACAC etc…

    Finally, your public run Parks & Rec director, Mike Sventz and his staff are 100% behind building the YMCA pool at McIntire. Parks & Rec will have direct input on programming and hours etc.

  42. I’m SURE the city has trip cancellation insurance.

    I’m pretty sure that Karl Ackerman was being sarcastic with this comment, but thought it might be helpful to point out that, even if they did purchase trip cancellation insurance, no such policy would provide coverage for the situation at hand. Trip cancellation insurance would cover events such as death, illness and weather-related cancellation. There’s no insurance policy that’s going to cover “I changed my mind about going because the political heat forced me to and it was a bone-headed decision to go in the first place”.

  43. Again, I think you will find that city swimmers do not want to be members of any pool, that goes for YMCA, ACAC, etc. Mike Sventz quotes a years old survey which he has never backed up with any documentation. Mike Sventz is not speaking for the people of Charlottesville anymore than Kendra Hamilton is concerned about the foreign language students at CHS.

  44. Waldo,
    Please start a YMCA/city pool blog………..so we can stay on topic here……….and

    I am with you……….has the trip been canceled or are they hoping we will all cool off and move on………

  45. Hi Parent,

    Well, with that point of view, you may be choosing not to be members of /have access to any pool.

    ps, I think Mike is a standup, caring and dedicated guy. He has often been put in bad spots by the current council.

    happy swimming,

  46. Mike is doing his job by bringing forward this proposal. He had three proposals and council choose to move forward with this one. If the City doesnt replace the pools, which by the way they wont, then our facilities will continue to deteriorate to the point no one will be able to go into them because of the health and safety issues.

    I like the collaborative approach of the Y proposal and I specifically like that the idea of not spending taxpayer money to get a facility dedicated to recreation for youth and family. What actually happens to the other two pools isnt even clear yet, it is putting the cart before the horse to say we wont have an indoor pool program if the Y proposal goes forward.

    The schools dont use the pools to teach swimming, why should taxpayers continue to pay $10,000 a month per pool to heat the large, inefficient behemoths? One taxpayer funded indoor pool and one YMCA pool would suit this city of 40,000 fine- we are just too wedded to spending tp money to continue receiving these ridiculously expensive services that are delivered most inefficiently.

  47. Nice discussion, folks. Best way I can see to respond to the Tuscany Tomfoolery is to support the insurgents for school board–Galvin and Blount, and Dugger and McCord, too, but not Rev. Edwards or his running mate Brownrigg. For council, consider a vote for a smart guy in Kleeman and for the fiscal restraint candidate in Haskins. I am, however, supporting David Brown. Of the five, he has been the most willing to talk about the Tuscany matter, and not lash out at anyone; also, as mayor, he’s most entitled to go, IMHO.

  48. “The site doesn’t infringe on any softball fields” I wish to clarify something here. The issue of softball fields has been documented with a previous link. Please use it. Those were not my words; they came from the Mayor. If what he says is untrue, then he is either confused or a liar. I’m interested in knowing which one Barracuda will pick.
    There is the issue of CONSTRUCTION COST. How much does a new airport cost? It depends on what’s in it. How much does a brand new “superior facility” cost? Again, it depends upon what’s in it. How can a dollar figure be used here when the proposal is still in the conceptual stage? It can be well used when one is trying to make it appear as though it is clearly the cheapest option. I remember when the public was told that the renovation of the east end of the Mall would cost $6.5M, total. After multiple cost overruns and many unforseen obstacles, I have been told it cost well over $10M. Does anybody know? Well, I do know a private partner has a Pavilion and the public has an over-sized seventies-styled football field concession stand. But let’s try using the $14M figure, which will probably end up being somewhere between $25M – $30M depending on how many soccer fields will be requested down the design phase road..
    The County comes up with $3.5M over a period of several years and the Y comes up with $5M through its one-time fund-raising efforts. That leaves $14M – ($5M $3.5M) or $4.5M. Is that the City’s share? I’m not seeing that number anywhere. Who’s picking up the cost of the new utilities to this “superior” structure? Large, new water and sewer lines to this location can be very expensive or is that included in this $14M? Parking lots and storm water costs will be whose responsibility? The City owns the land. Whose responsible for infrastructure repair down the road? Usually it’s the responsibility of the landlord. Maybe that’s why the Y is not asking for title.

  49. Then there’s OPERATIONAL COSTS. How many millions will it take to equip and operate this facility each year? I know no one can estimate because it’s still in the conceptual stage and nobody knows what exactly will be in it or on its grounds. Federal and state grants for this kind of thing can not be counted upon. It appears that the Y will be using memberships and local contributions from kind citizens to come up with its share. Millions annually? The Y’s board will be in total control of its budget and not the City or County, even if they both have two members each on its board. After the board votes on its annual budget, it will be up to the localities to make up the difference between what the Y can raise and what it wishes to spend for this “superior” facility. It always happens that way with the jail authority. After budgeting, each participating locality is sent a bill. Salaries will rise annually as in the City and last year’s state-of-the-art equipment will need to be replaced frequently because of public demand. I suspect each locality will be sent a bill for each “scholarship” used by it residents, as at the jail. They will pay because by this time memberships will have become a “need” (entitlement) in both communities. The net result of this public/private partnership will be the localities will still be picking up a substantial part of the annual cost of this facility and neither or its citizens will have much to say about it. Who’s to say the other members of the board will be locals who cares about local taxes? By the way, you’d better believe down the road, the school system will be billed for its priority use. It’s only fair.

  50. And, there’s the question of setting up a NEW WELFARE ENTITLEMENT program at the local level. “The McIntire site is a ~0.3 mile walk from the Charlottesville High School and a ~0.5mil drive from the Walker Middle School.” How far is it from Buford and all of the schools in the County? I bring in the County because I do not expect for the County to come up with a lot of money if the emphasis is being placed by the Y on the City kids. “Parks & Rec will have direct input on programming and hours etc” The County already give through revenue sharing and may decide that’s enough. Also, the original reason that two pools were built instead of one was that most kids in the central city could walk to either. Now,, all of these kids will need transportation home. As I said before, a fareless bus ride is fareless, whether its from McIntire Park or PVCC. Both options will require greatly enhanced bus service. Where is the welfare? “*In the last four years, the YMCA ‘gave away’ 20 percent of its $1M budget to underprivileged youth, enabling them to use YMCA programs.” “Folks who can’t afford the modest sum will get free scholarships.” “Despite the YMCA indicating that they would work with the City to provide transportation to its facilities…” With either scenario the government will create a new burden on its tax payers for membership costs and transportation that does not exist today. Next thing you know, snacks will have to be provided because there’s nowhere nearby for kids to purchase them. And the police costs will go up because residents will be frightened of the “new” kids in the neighborhood that they don’t feel comfortable with (I know its “with whom…”). I suggest that instead of starting a new “welfare” program relying heavily upon local tax payers, why not encourage them to engage in academic enrichment programs in their after-school programs and bus them out to PVCC with weekend scholarships? They may become so used to being at PVCC that they might just want to attend. And, who knows, maybe their children won’t be described as “underprivileged” or “disadvantaged.”

  51. Fred asks for a separate blog, yet the topic is the same. The city has a real problem with the way it handles the money it is in-trusted with. We are told that 50% of the students in the city schools are low income, yet the board proposes an exchange that will require fund raising that will compete with the type of fund raising that helps the poor. It was a bit sad to see the CHS Orchestra receiving the 5% funds that Whole Foods donates to local charities, and now they will compete with the Italy trip. We have pools in poor shape mainly because preventative maintenance was not kept up. The city had been warned for years that the boiler at Crowe Pool needed work, yet waited until the boiler blew to work on it at a much higher cost. I’m sure most of us would have a hard time defending to our selves, our families, and/or our businesses, that we need brand new (fill in the blank) because we did not take proper care of what we had.
    I think Cville Eye raises some very important points about the big picture of the total cost of a project. Keep your eyes open and your hand on your wallet!

  52. Dear Cville Eye,

    Great questions. What I can add is:

    (1) My understanding is that the exact piece of land and the exact placement of the building is still not decided. The placement that the Y suggested, earlier this summer, did not displace a football field. The first draft of the land use agreement has a number of different land and building placement options that were put forward by the City. The YMCA explicitly decided not to nail this (what land and where building) down in the agreement so that there would be no appearance of having a hidden agenda in their negotiations with the City. The YMCA in fact wants to allow the City to develop the master plan here, since the facility will be in the city. I believe ONE of those options in the first draft of the land use agreement had a softball field displaced… and that is what Mayor Brown was referring to (so he is neither on this occasion). But as of tonight, the final land and building site is not etched in stone. (I would like to note that the softball fields are disparately used by the County, even more than the swimming pools).

    (2) I believe that the estimates cover bringing all utilities into the site… but I will see if I can track this down (the documentation on all of this, are all over the place). The Y has, however, a very specific description and quotes concerning the facility- it isn’t a figure they have pulled out of the hat. There is a question of extra lanes, which will of course cost more. Certainly nobody can say any project will cost X or Y amount with total certainty until it is finished, however, you can’t just throw your hands up and say that is impossible to do anything because construction costs might go up.

    (3) The YMCA has a grant, it has County money and it wants the City money. The Y wants $1.25M from the City (not $4M)- unless they need to expand the number of lanes to meet the needs of the swim team(s). In the short term they plan to use a lien on the building to help finance the project while the donations/pledges come in.

    (4) The YMCA will cover all operating costs. This is standard practice for most Ys in America, and most get it done just fine. It is a non-profit, so all money goes toward the Y. They have the ability to raise dues in order to do so; however Y’s across America, in the last twenty years, have generally been healthy non-profits. I actually have a lot more faith in the Y, than the City, to keep on top of maintenance of facilities (though you could argue that is because I have close to no faith in the City on this issue). The Y isn’t asking for title, because when they first asked for the title, the City balked. The Y acquiesced. They have been trying cooperate and find common ground with the City through out the entire process.

    (5) The Y has agreed to 2 rep on the board to be named by the City, and two to be named from the County, The Y has also agreed that its over all board membership should be close to 50-50 City-County. Its not a private club of blackballing board members. The folks on the current board give an enormous amount of their time to charity. If they wanted the easy way out, the board would have built at PVCC a long time ago. Instead they want to be in the City because they believe there are amazing opportunities to bring lots of different kinds of people together, and to particularly serve the less advantaged.

    So, its $1.25M and a land lease which is really no skin off the City’s nose (and the land isn’t being given away, it is still City Land), and the City gets a lot of bang for its buck.

    Happy Voting, or working the polls, tomorrow!

  53. I don’t want to be rude and hog this issue on this blog.
    Why is the YMCA board so concerned about the needy in the City and not the needy in the County? Is it because the City spends millions more on give-away programs than the County? I still don’t see where the YMCA will get the $4M in construction except from the City. So, they have a one-time grant. Where do they expect to get millions in operating, maintenance and program funds for the next twenty years before a new facility needs to be built? Donations and dues from the County residents? They’ve already been told tonight that it is expected that their high shool swim teams must take back seat. It was clear from the discussion at tonight’s Council meeting is that the only thing that anyone knows for sure is that the YMCA board and Dave Norris definitely want the facility “in the City.” Nobody knows anything about what programs, what size, or what costs (just keep believing Dorothy and click some heels and snap some fingers in that kooool way.) In a few days, I hope the video of this Council meeting will be at the City’s website so that the public can watch it. It should be an eye-opener for a lot of people. It started about an hour into the meeting which began at 7 PM and ended promptly (the discussion at 9). Council had a lot of questions and were making a lot of demands that impressed the listening public (most of whom spoke were adamantly against this proposal), then, as usual, voted in favor of the first reading of the Y’s proposal without modification. Most people have enough sense not to let their children go holiday shopping with their charge cards; I wonder why Cvillers don’t do that with City Hall. My prediction? It will pass. This has been a pet project of a former Councilman and I have not seen where this Council has the backbone to say “no” to anything, really. Nobody there seems to be able to do simple arithmetic. No need, just raise taxes and float bonds and pass the debt on to the next generation. Love those diamond-encrusted platinum charge cards.

  54. I can assure cville eye despite that it wont change his or her mind on the project that this is not a council-driven effort OR a former councilor’s effort. This is purely a Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee effort. We heard what the Y had to say- appreciated the effort and LIKELY savings of taxpayer money and decided this should be a political decision, NOT just a behind the scenes death by doing nothing. The proposal was dead, but given the entire recreation programming and funding generally, the Advisory Board honestly believed this debate should be public since it ultimately will save money. Too bad many in this community have to believe even transparent processes are really conspiracies to spend taxpayer money.

    The debate has been transparent, the facts are available, Mike Svetz answers phone calls and emails on all matters. The ultimate decision is up to council- nothing is set in stone. I believe the best decision for the city is to partner with the Y because I would rather make sure our City residents can stay here through lower taxes and tax rebates than make sure we can pay indoor facilities
    utility bills for the foreseeable future.

  55. Every thing that Jennifer says is true, to a point. Mike Svetz did an outstanding job working with the consultant to involve the public in the process as well as this committee. However, the Boys & Girls Club and YMCA have both been shopping around in the City, looking for a location in the City, with City financial help for quite some time. It was the talk of the south side neighborhood associations for many meetings. Some members on Council long before Svetz was ever heard of here, decided that the best thing for the City financially would be to get funds from some non-profit structure to help pick up the tab for our parks and recreation budget. I would not be surprised if Mr. Svetz was hired with this particular charge: do not question if it should be done here in Cville, just show us how partnering can be done here. Conveniently, the YMCA, which had been out 29N for a long time with admittedly few clients was looking for a home. Since the City is known for the “disadvantaged” dole-outs, it’s only natural that they would be directing their efforts where the money flows more freely – to “under-priviledged” children. City’s easy on that budget line item.
    I can believe that the staff can come up with estimates of how much money it would cost to repair existing city facilities. Can you say how anyone can come up with estimates on how much a facility whose purpose is still in the design stage and whose watercolors have not hit the paper yet will cost? If they can do that then I would like to know how much it will cost to build my niece’s new house wherever they wish to eventually build it with whatever square footage and appurtenances they haven’t decided upon. That’s where the report loses its credibility. You can’t price vapors, plain and simple. So far, they have just started talking about one vague pool. So, how can you talk about construction savings and long term operational savings and say confidentially which is the cheapest option? I think everybody knows I didn’t go to the prom last year and they know I’m not buying this wagon train of dry goods from back East when it hasn’t left Cincinnati yet.

  56. According to today’s Daily Progress, Kendra’s not going on the trip. There is no mention of how much money will be lost due to her last-minute cancellation.

  57. Cville Eye wrote: “It’s clear from several threads on this blog, as well as others, that many people who voted for Ms. Hamilton or Mr. Brown the first time around would not vote for either again.”
    More importantly, it’s more obvious that I do not always know what I’m talking about. –
    Cville Eye

    By the way, didn’t I see a post somewhere from Karen Waters herself concerning the rain barrels? Could somebody let me know where (I’ve looked for over 45 minutes) so that I can respond? I wanted to wait until after E. Day to give it the proper attention due. Thanks.

  58. I must comment, to preserve my sanity, on the atatement by several of the Italian Connection travelers, to the effect “We have learned we must discuss the use of funds with the citizens before we spend these funds”

    Well, By God, Duh ! Here we have public servants, well beyond maturity, and in positions of responsibility for several years, admitting they have “only now learned” they must make public, plans to spend our money.

    I am flabbergasted – not only at the ignorance involved but then admitting this is a new thing – cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeese.

  59. I just received this e-mail regarding the trip:

    From: “Cass Cannon” Save Address Reminder

    Subject: [CitySchoolsINFO] Trip to Italy
    Date: Wednesday, November 07, 2007 4:19:14 PM [View Source]

    A statement on behalf of the Charlottesville City School Board:

    In light of messages we have received from our Italian hosts, the Mayor and the School Board have unanimously urged Mrs. Atkins to represent the school division on our trip.

    This has been a joint effort between Poggio a Caiano and its surrounding county, Prato. Planning has involved both governments, many schools, hundreds of students, and dozens of community members over the past year and a half. The significance of official representation is extremely important to our hosts and we want to respect that as we continue to build this relationship. Many community members here in Charlottesville support us in this choice.

    In the interest of sending a smaller delegation, Ms. Ivory will not be going. Private donations will cover the costs of school staff; Dr. Edwards will pay his own expenses.

    This is a working trip. We hope to build a stronger relationship and to explore the possibility of a future student and musical exchange.

    Cass Cannon
    Community Relations Specialist
    Charlottesville City Schools
    1562 Dairy Road
    (434) 245-2962 FAX 245-2603

  60. As a writing assignment, I’d grade this statement a D for lack of clarity. Does this mean Ms. Adkins IS going? How I have missed all of this extensive planning and the involvement of hundreds of children? And, am I nuts, or has the prospect of music reared its head for the first time?

    How are all of these activities going to occur in the heavy schedule of two half day meetings?

    The inept attempt to change the discussion to the mission, rather than the process, is insulting. This debacle just keeps getting worse.

  61. Does anybody know if either Council or the School Board has a clearly stated policy for the use of public funds for employee and board travel? The School Board did in the seventies but so much has gotten thrown out over the years because of the lack of public scrutiny. It seems some have problems with the decision process for this trip and others have problems with any trip paid for with public money.

  62. The issue is priorities………and reality.
    A young teacher was planning to “sneak money out of her grocery budget” last week in order to help a homeless child. We are told daily there is no money and to spend “20% less than what is in our budgets”.

    If you house is flooding, you clean it up! You don’t go on vacation to Italy with the clean up money….

  63. People:
    Jefferson must be spinning. “It is our duty and our interest to cultivate with all nations… a spirit of justice and friendly accommodation.” –Thos Jefferson, 1802. A very close friend of Phillip Mazzei from Poggio. The quote is from a UVA site, BTW. Travel, expanded knowledge and foreign relations are highly valued in a *university* setting, even if it means paying for it.

    This Cville skirmish is neither World nor Class. I used to believe the talk about this “special” place but the tide has turned. Maybe the notion of democracy is in decline, having been swapped for a new form of political consumerism: If your latte has caramel rather than a hazelnut shot of flavor, by Gawd, FIRE someone or torch the company!

    Elected officials serve the public, yes. But the public also has an obligation to accommodate the discomfort of “representational” democracy and engage in civil discourse. Consider that the actual job, not distrust and cynicism is the first consideration of many leaders—which used to be the business of governance. Look at recent gains in City school achievements and programs for the evidence.

    Shame is a quaint concept these days but shame on all you sideline cynics—who know the price of everything but the value of nothing (Oscar Wilde on that one.) This was so mean-spirited that it hurt people on both sides of the ocean. Principle is just a fancy word to hide behind. When are we going to do the real work of “community?”

  64. chsteach: There is never a time that a teacher needs to go into his pocket to “help” a homeless child, or any other child for that matter. There are agencies working within an effective system who do a more appropriate job. Teachers should teach and let the other hundreds of people doing social work in the community do their job. There are also resources (funds, food, clothing, paper, pencils, notebooks, etc.) in the principal’s office for emergency purposes. Most people are not impressed with the martyrdom act. Charlottesville has welfare coming out of its ears, nose, mouth and butt. So, spend your time teaching and your money on your groceries. If I were a teacher, I would get every teacher in the school to save his receipts for anything he purchesed for instructional purposes, itemize them in a ledger, collect them, then hand to the school board and the press during budget time. It’s been done before and got results.

  65. Werdsworth, you speak as the community leaders did when I was a child. Your words are beautiful and true, but my favorite are “…by Gawd, FIRE someone or torch the company!” This attitude is very prevalent today and I believe that is why so many people who should do not participate in the public work. Thanks.

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