Monthly Archive for May, 2009

Downtown Mall Overhaul Done-ish

Old Mall Bricks
The gnarly old brickwork that’s been replaced.

The city held a ceremony to rededicate the overhauled Downtown Mall last night, Rachana Dixit writes in the Daily Progress. The old, mortared bricks were all replaced with bricks laid in sand, the aging electrical infrastructure was replaced, and some of the slab underlying the brickwork was replaced. The great bulk of the work was done a few weeks ago, but minor development has continued for the past few weeks. The project manager describes it as “99.9 percent done.” The final bill hasn’t come in, but the city has said all along that the project will come in below their target price. With the job also completed more or less within the four-month timeframe, neither of the main concerns raised by critics have come to pass.

School Board Discussing Restructuring System

The Charlottesville school board held a workshop about restructuring the school system last night, Henry Graff reports for NBC-29 , about which reader Aileen writes:

I attended the forum last night, and what NBC doesn’t mention, is the fact–confirmed by Rosa Atkins last night—that the school division has complied with changes recommended by the efficiency review, and that restructuring, i.e. closing an elementary school or returning to K-5 elementary schools and two middle schools, is not mandatory. Last night, we listened to remarks by Rosa Atkins and Gertrude Ivory—Ivory’s plan to realign the curriculum with the “real world” and “career skills” was troubling to me, but I don’t know how other people felt. Then we broke into small groups and were given the opportunity to share what we thought were pros and cons of each of the four restructuring possibilities. The meeting ended with each group presenting a summary of its discussion, and Rosa Atkins answered questions from the community.

Rachana Dixit writes about parental fears of the effects of redistricting in today’s Daily Progress, specifically the concern that establishing a second middle school would basically result in a black school and a white school. The school system is trying to figure out if greater efficiency could come of rethinking how we divide up kids between grades and schools, but there’s not yet any commitment to doing anything at all.

Kiplinger’s Rates C’ville #4

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has ranked the best cities in the country to live in and, damn it all, we’re number four. We’re behind Huntsville, Albuquerque, and Washington D.C., and just ahead of Athens, Olympia, Madison, and Austin. (Kiplinger’s apparently has a soft spot for liberal college towns.) It was in 2004 that Frommer’s rated Charlottesville’s the top city to live in, which put Our Fair City in the spotlight and led legions of people to move here from New Jersey, driving up the cost of housing. Then, in 2007, Frommer’s dropped us to #17…because of the high cost of housing. So remember, if anybody asks, Charlottesville’s cost of living, housing shortage, skyrocketing unemployment rate, terrible schools, gang violence, and industrial waste problems all make it an awful place to live. Thanks to SBE for the tip.

Garrett Settles Hook Lawsuit

Huckster and chicken farmer Thomas Garrett has settled his lawsuit with The Hook, editor Hawes Spencer tells me. Garrett has agreed to have the case settled with prejudice (meaning he can’t sue the paper again) and, in exchange, they’ve agreed not to sue him. The good news is that this means we’re all off the hook—no longer am I compelled to turn over the identifying information for every reader of The bad news is that by dropping this case, it’s not possible to set the precedent that needed to be set, which is that bloggers functioning in the capacity of a journalist are deserving of the same legal protections as a journalist for the purpose of a subpoena. Basically, Garrett managed to waste a lot of people’s time and money over the course of five months, using the power of subpoena for the purpose of harassment, with absolutely no negative repercussions, other than reinforcing his public image as an unrepentant and incompetent buffoon. On the other hand, it’s a clear win—Garrett ran off with his tail between his legs, having to plead with the target of his lawsuit not to sue him.

I want to give particular thanks to the attorneys who worked tirelessly and selflessly (and for free!) in protecting all of our privacy: Paul Levy of Public Citizen, Josh Wheeler of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, and Rebecca Glenberg of the Virginia ACLU. I intend to make the most generous donation that I can afford to each of these organizations, which won’t even be close to covering their costs, but it’s a start.

At least one precedent has been set here: Journalistic bloggers won’t be bullied. The next time a jackass like Garrett is considering intimidating a blogger via a subpoena, thirty seconds on Google should reveal the folly of going down that path.

Pedophile Distributes Racist Newsletter in Crozet

White supremacist newsletter The Aryan Alternative was left in Crozet driveways this morning, Jenn McDaniel writes for NBC-29, courtesy of the “National Vanguard.” The same group last did this in 2005, leaving the publication around Rose Hill. (Which is probably not the demographic they were going for.) The group appears to consist of one guy, Kevin Strom, who you might remember for his child porn collection, pedophilia habit, wife-beating, and trolling this here website. He was arrested a couple of years ago, had the pedophilia and wife-beating charges dropped, served time for his kiddie porn collection, and got out in September. This all started when National Vanguard became headquartered in C’ville a few years ago. That’s the price that we pay for being a tolerant town.

The shame is that he does all of this for the attention, and here I am, giving him more of it. If somebody could scan in a copy of this rag, I suspect it’d be worth posting here. The foolishness spouted by this no-talent assclown withers when exposed to sunlight and mocked accordingly.

Jim Duncan’s got more from the Crozet perspective at his blog.

05/22 Update: Here’s a PDF of the issue (5.1 MB) for those who want to know what the fuss is about. If you’re easily offended, you’ll want to skip it, but it mostly ranges from laughable to pathetic. These dopes’ heads are spinning on the topic of Israel, because they know what who they hate more: Jews or Muslims. The schtick with this whole thing is that one guy with apparently no more than an hour’s experience with Adobe InDesign puts together an issue (about once a year, by the looks of it), sells them in bulk for a dime a piece, and lonely misanthropic losers across the country buy a few hundred and, under cover of darkness, put them on people’s doorsteps. Then they track the outrage on their website. Remember, we “take offense”—you have to choose to accept it. These guys are lifelong losers who can’t accept that it’s their own fault that their lives suck, and are looking for somebody to blame. Pity them. Ridicule them. But don’t waste energy being offended.