Monthly Archive for September, 2012

Trump Buys Kluge’s Home

Donald Trump has bought Patricia Kluge’s former mansion, the Washington Post reports, for just $6.5M. The 23,000 square foot Albemarle House was put on the market by Kluge in 2009 for a laughable $100M, which surely makes the $6.5M hurt all the more. She got the house as a part of her divorce settlement with John Kluge. Trump had already purchased all of the land around the house itself, including the lawn and the driveway, then made the place look like hell, all to make it impossible for Bank of America to sell the foreclosed mansion. They wanted $16M, he offered $3.6M, and this is where they wound up a little over a year later.

What’s Trump going to do with it? Maybe a golf course, maybe an inn, or maybe just waiting for the market to recover and selling it all for a tidy profit.

Playboy: UVA is the #1 Party School

Playboy has named UVA the top party school in the nation, the AP reports. (Well, Playboy reports, but the story isn’t available online. I checked.) The university isn’t thrilled with the designation. It’s trailed by University of Southern California and University of Florida. This might make it tough for students to push back against city efforts to deal with noisy parties.

Radio Ad for City’s 200th Anniversary Celebration

Remember the soggy 50-year-old time capsule that was opened in March? The audio recording within it was somehow recovered and, courtesy of the Albemarle County Historical Society, here’s the recording: a cheesy radio commercial titled “Let Freedom Ring” promoting the event celebrating the city’s 200th anniversary. It’s aged relatively well; it could have aired on WINA in the early nineties without sounding out of place.

Speaking of which, doesn’t WINA have an amazing collection of audio tapes of news events from over the past 30–50 years? How do we get Saga Communications to surrender those things, since surely Saga couldn’t give a damn about them, to be properly digitized, indexed, and stored? UVA’s Special Collections would probably be psyched to have them.

Audit: County Clerk’s Office a Mess

For the second year in a row, a state financial audit of the Albemarle County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office has found that it’s a total mess, Samantha Koon writes in the Daily Progress today. The annual report by the Auditor of Public Accounts, which reviews every municipality in Virginia, can be read on the APA website (PDF), and it’s worth at least reading the two-page summary at the beginning of the document. In short, there are very large amounts of money (cash and checks) lying around the office unprocessed and undeposited for months at a time, legal documents unrecorded for months, over half a million dollars being held instead of being given to the state, significant accounting errors, and money not being deposited into interest-bearing accounts, among other problems. Perhaps most damning is the audit of a random 58 cases, which found errors in 24 (41%) of them. This is all scarcely better than last year’s audit. Notable is that last time the auditors found that Clerk of Court Debbie Shipp hadn’t so much as balanced the operations bank account since April 2008; this time they write that she “performs monthly bank reconciliations and properly identifies reconciling items; however, she does not take prompt action to correct the reconciling items.” This hardly constitutes an improvement.

Clerk of Court is, for reasons that seem increasingly foolish, an elected position in Virginia. Shipp, a Democrat, was elected to a six-year term in 2007. In Shipp’s response, also part of the report, she cites the death of her son in a car accident last year and the death of her sister (and employee), Pam Melampy, of a brain aneurysm in January. She says that the real problem is insufficient staffing levels, which county spokeswoman Lee Catlin flatly denies to Koon, saying that these problems are problems of management, not staffing levels.

The good news is the improvement in the Charlottesville Clerk’s office. Last year’s audit found that it was nearly as bad as the Albemarle Clerk’s Office. That was when long-time clerk Paul Garrett was still in office. Surely aided by that report, Llezelle Dugger defeated Garrett in last year’s election, and this year’s report finds that the office is wholly turned around. For comparison’s sake, I glanced at the reports for surrounding counties. They’re all in good shape—Albemarle is clearly an outlier.

City School Buses to Get Stop Sign Cameras

Infuriated by people blowing right by stopped school buses, the city school system is mounting video cameras on the buses to videotape traffic while students are loading and unloading at bus stops, CBS-19 reports. It’s a matter of state law that traffic must come to a halt in both directions when a school bus is at a stop, and a big red “STOP” sign flips off the side of the bus, with red lights flashing on it, just to make sure that everybody is clear on that, but some people still ignore that and drive by the bus at full speed. The danger is that many of the kids getting on or off the bus live on the opposite side of the road, and are taught to cross the road in front of the bus immediately, since traffic is stopped for the bus. Drivers are often too busy doing their jobs to take note of offending vehicles’ license plate numbers, so the intention is that the new system will allow the school’s transportation division to review the tape later to report offenders. The system should be in place this fall.



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