Author Archive for Waldo

Robb: We Must Protect Jail from Terrorists

Sheriff Ed Robb is concerned about the jail. Not about people breaking out but, rather, about terrorists attacking the jail. He’s issued a report recommending that security fence be built around the…er…security fence and, around that, build camouflaged cement walls, put barbed wire on the roof of the building, have a video monitoring system for the jail to see what’s going on outside of the facility, and build large pillars at the entrance to prevent cars from driving into the building. None of this is to ensure that people don’t break out — it’s all to keep those nefarious terrorists from leveling an attack on the jail. The proposal is reminiscent of the Albemarle County office building’s installation of boulders for the same purpose, only a whole lot more expensive — at least $60,000, presumably a lot more.

Some may recall Ed Robb’s last brush with the media. In March of 2003, his deputy, Stephen Shiflett, claimed to have been shot at by a mysterious black man, which Robb immediately declared to be a “hate crime.” Shifflett turned out to have made up the whole story, which prompted his resignation. Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Camblos refused to file charges against him. It emerged that Shiflett had attacked and arrested a couple who had reported an unlocked convenience store when Shiflett was a Louisa deputy in 2000, with a federal judge consequently awarding half a million dollars to the couple for having their constitutional rights violated. Robb refused to admit any problem with his having hired this guy, pointing out that Shiflett was very punctional, and concluding that that he’s “ready to put this behind us.” Reed Williams wrote a damning profile in the Progress, speculating that Robb could lose reelection in November of ’03 as a result of it all. But Robb had two challengers who split the vote, and he won with 49% of the vote.

Liesel Nowak has the story about Robb’s proposal. Remember: if we don’t build a new fence around the jail fence and a new fence around that, then the terrorists have already won.

Toscano Wins 57th HoD Primary

In yesterday’s 57th District House of Delegates Democratic primary, former mayor David Toscano easily won the nomination with 54% of the vote. The other two candidates, developer Clement “Kim” Tingley and UVa professor Rich Collins, split the remainder, with Collins at 24% and Tingley at 22%. Turnout was, frankly, embarrassing, At 10% turnout , the district fared better than the 4% statewide, but with something closer to 25% forecast, it was a disappointment to see just 4,152 people take part in the process. Toscano will face Republican Tom McCrystal in the general election in November. Bob Gibson has the story in today’s Progress, and the State Board of Elections has the numbers.

Purnell Demoted

Charlottesville assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction Laura Purnell — who blew the whistle on superintendent Scottie Griffin in February — has found herself demoted to “coordinator,” whatever that is. The school board says that they’re “top-heavy in the administration,” which many parents have criticized them for recently, and saw that as a a position that should be eliminated. Purnell has been offered the new, lower position, presumably entailing a pay cut. James Fenald had the story in yesterday’s Daily Progress.

The question, of course, is whether this has anything to do with her central role in taking public the internal criticism of Griffin. It was a month ago now that Griffin tried to fire Purnell, and just a week ago that Griffin resigned. Is Purnell being punished? Or is the school board just responding to an often-heard and reasonable criticism that the school system spends too much money on central office staff and not enough on teachers?

C’ville to Build New Fire Station

WINA reports that the city has given the OK to figure out where to put a new fire station, likely somewhere on the southern end of town. The goal is to have it under construction in two years, for the purpose of improving response times.

Note, too, that this fits in with proposals to develop the area south of town. As developers well know, home insurance rates heavily depend on the distance between the home and a fire station. Building a new station on the southern end of town will make it more feasible to suburbanize Albemarle where, currently, Charlottesville dissolves to countryside within just a few miles on 29.

Cynthia Gair on Phil

Yesterday, as planned, Phil Gair’s memorial service was held. I didn’t count, but I figure there were about 60 people present. Phil’s family was present, of course, and among those was Cynthia Gair, his sister. (Those who know Phil likely heard of the weekly conversations with his sister that served to anchor him, time-wise.) Cynthia commented here this afternoon, but I want to elevate that comment to a front page post, so that everybody gets a chance to read her thoughts.

Wow. I’m amazed. This is Phil’s sister. Thank you so much, Waldo, for telling me about this site. And thank you so much – any of you who made it to Phil’s Tree Planting yesterday, as well as all of you who have been friends of Phil’s over the years.

Since Phil’s death, we (me, Phil’s mom Peggy Lou, and his brother Dan) have learned a lot about Phil’s friendships and his role in your community. It’s been heartwarming and comforting to know that so many others saw Phil’s magic. My mother and I have just read your posts about Phil. How wonderful that he was so appreciated.

The three of us had regular contact with Phil (I’ve talked to him every Sunday – at least – for, oh, 30 or more years). I’m just beginning to absorb that he’s not here anymore. There is a big gap in my life that can’t be filled (phil’d) by anyone but him. Like – for all of you – the spot outside Chaps.

I’ll keep this entry brief (or sort of brief) but can give you some information on a couple matters that were brought up in posts under the announcement of his death. We have a couple recordings (tapes) from Phil’s musical days. I haven’t played them so I don’t know what’s on them but will check them out. Unfortunately, Phil didn’t think of himself as a good musician – but in addition to guitar he played a fine banjo and was an amazing harpist (harmonica). Also, one of his best friends in the late 60s – and a member of the band he was in (sorry – can’t remember the name of the band) has gotten in touch with me in the last week – so I can get information from him (or put you directly in touch with him) if any of you wants. He now lives in Florda and doesn’t use email.

About Phil’s teeth – and his general health – a continual source of worry and concern to us over recent years. In this, as in everything, Phil was his own person and made his own way. We pleaded with him to go to a dentist. We even tried bribing him (this almost did it!) but no go- he staunchly refused to see a dentist or a doctor.

I hope you all know how important you were to Phil. The friendships with each of you were his sustenance.

With sadness and deep appreciation,

Cynthia Gair, Phil’s sister
San Francisco

At the service, we each took turns relating stories — often funny — about Phil. It was sad, but also happy, and it was wonderful to see so many Phil admirers in one place. At the end, everybody took turns reaching into the urn, scooping up a handful of his ashes, and sprinkling them around the base of the tree planted in his honor. The spring breeze stirred up the ash, sending wisps of Phil through the air, wafting towards the Downtown Mall.