Category Archives: Charlottesville

Did Connaughton lie to the CTB and Albemarle about the Western Bypass price tag?

Sean Connaughton probably won’t sleep very well tonight.

A FOIA request reveals that he low-balled the estimate for building Charlottesville’s proposed Western Bypass, which might help explain why he pushed through approval of the thing, getting a four-person majority on the Albemarle Board of Supervisors to hold an unadvertised midnight vote to sign off on it in July. VDOT’s study just one month beforehand found that the road would cost $436M, but he told the BOS—and the Commonwealth Transportation Board—that it would be just $197M, less than half of the real price. He promised the BOS $197M in funding if they’d OK it, and then he got the CTB to allocate the money. Now it emerges that he knew that it would cost a great deal more than that. Folks in Albemarle are pretty pissed about how this has all gone down, just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Here it is.

The only possibility that Connaughton has for redemption is if somehow, mystically, the bids come in at less than half of VDOT’s estimates, and then the work actually gets done for that price. And if that’s the case, he’s got another problem—his engineers can’t even get in the ballpark of how much a road costs.

Beagle Puppies for Adoption

We’ve been fostering four little beagle mutts for the past couple of weeks (and puppy-sat their two litter mates last weekend, which was three days of chaos). It’s time for them to go back to the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA to be altered, and then they go up for adoption. Naturally, I want to promote them here in hopes that they’ll all find homes!

All four of them know their names, they all know how to sit on command, and they all know that they have to sit in order to get attention. They’ve all been socialized pretty well, and none show any bad signs like food guarding or defensiveness.

This is Bruno, a serious little man. He’s lazy, if such a thing is possible for a puppy, very easy-going, and generally calm. He plays with his brothers and sisters, but often while they’re tearing around the house, he’s kicked back in his crate, watching from under sleepy eyelids.

Bruno being serious

And this is Hugo, the second boy. He’s the biggest of the bunch. Though he tries to act manly, like Bruno, he’s really a lover. Hugo is definitely a people-dog. Between the two boys, if somebody is crying for attention, it’s bound to be Hugo.

Happy Bathtime

Here’s one of our two girls, Dizzy. She’s so named because of her playfulness outstripping her own balance—she routinely gets so excited as she frolics around that she simply collapses in a heap of legs, always popping right back up and dashing off again, only to get tangled up again. She’s pretty independent for a little puppy.


And, finally, there’s Kate. She’s our favorite. When the others are asleep in a puppy pile in their crate, Kate is up at the gate that blocks off their room, waiting hopefully for one of us to come and play with her. She’s clever, very affectionate (you’ve got to like puppy breath to adopt this one), and more than a little mischievous.


My wife taught Kate to bay a couple of weeks ago—something every good beagle puppy should know how to do. Here’s Kate, baying along adorably:

Kate will probably have to live with us for a couple more weeks—she’s got a cold, and needs medication for a while, which will delay her spaying. But we’re happy to make an appointment if anybody thinking about adopting Kate wants to come by and meet her. The others go back to the SPCA this morning.

“Don’t be like that, baby. I’ll get you DMB.”

John Edwards, giving it his all for the 2009 World’s Biggest Bastard award, courtesy of the New York Times:

In the proposal, which The New York Times examined, [former Edwards aide Andrew] Young asserts that he assisted the affair by setting up private meetings between Mr. Edwards and [his mistress] Ms. Hunter. He wrote that Mr. Edwards once calmed an anxious Ms. Hunter by promising her that after his wife died, he would marry her in a rooftop ceremony in New York with an appearance by the Dave Matthews Band.

DMB will not be thrilled to find themselves dragged into this affair, violinist Boyd Tinsley’s 2004 support of Edwards notwithstanding.

“Who cares?”

I want to stitch together a few highlights from Brian McNeill’s lengthy profile of local Tea Party chapter head Bill Hay in today’s Daily Progress:

“I have a lot of respect for Tom Perriello,” Hay said, taking a break from selling his Righteous Bean coffee at the farmer’s market in Meade Park on a recent Wednesday. “He’s a good guy. … He does what he truly believes is best. I don’t question his integrity at all.”

Hay’s kind words might seem a bit odd from the leader of the anti-tax and anti-government-spending Jefferson Area Tea Party, which has organized protests outside Perriello’s district office at which the congressman was called a “traitor,” a “coward” and a “political prostitute.”


When asked about some of the harsh rhetoric espoused at Jefferson Area Tea Party events, Hay said he regrets it when things gets out of hand.

“I don’t think it does any good,” he said. “I like to see people totally avoid name calling. Stick to the facts.”

At several Jefferson Area Tea Party events, members carried signs with a photo of Perriello with a red slash across his face that reads “WANTED: Congressman That Will Uphold the Constitution.”

“I feel a little bit bad about that sign at times,” Hay said. “But it does make an effective statement.”


At the town hall meetings, some Tea Party supporters have questioned Perriello’s ability to read, his intelligence and his love of the United States.

At the protest outside Perriello’s office last week, a supporter of health care reform stood on Perriello’s office steps and told the crowd of supporters and opponents about how his health premiums have skyrocketed and his family is struggling to keep their health insurance.

“Who cares?” shouted a Tea Party supporter.

I’m pushing the boundaries of fair use here, but the point is obvious: we’ve got a bunch of people whose actions are nowhere near their words. That “Who cares?” really sums up the positions of the teabaggers: We don’t care about anybody but ourselves. Newborn needs expensive surgery to live, but the parents lack insurance? Sucks to be born. Guy loses his health insurance, and his job along with it, and now can’t get coverage because of a preexisting condition? Good luck with that, bub. This bunch is more like the Go To Hell Party.

But the quote that I really want to preserve from McNeill’s article is Keith Drake, the disastrous recent chair of the Albemarle County Republican Party, saying this of the Tea Party: “It’s a real movement. It’s not a flash in the pan.”

Like the Bull Moose Party, the Free Soil Party, and the Nullifier Party, this “nonpartisan” group is here to stay. Well, until Republicans are in power again.

Is the local food movement a passing fad for the wealthy?

I’m putting on an event for Left of Center on Tuesday night here in C’ville. It’s about three topics that are important to me: food, local economies, and sustainability. Here’s the description we’re circulating:

Tuesday, June 2, 7:00pm at Rapture (Facebook RSVP)

CSA HaulIs the local food movement a passing fad for the wealthy, or is it possible that it can permanently alter how we all eat, work, and live? How do we expand it beyond weekly sales in parking lots to something accessible to—and affordable by—everybody? Kate Collier, an owner of Feast! and Founding Director of the Local Food Hub, and Melissa Wiley, Director of the Piedmont Environmental Council’s Buy Fresh Buy Local program, will speak about the direction that the movement needs to take in order to overcome these hurdles. They’ll address how local food initiatives can succeed in having a lasting impact on preserving open farmland, supporting endangered small family farm businesses, and promoting agricultural diversity and sustainable environmental practices.

Come on out, join some friends for a beer and join the discussion.

Many thanks to C’ville Market / Cavalier Produce, Horse & Buggy Produce and Integral Yoga Natural Foods for co-sponsoring this event.

I’m particularly glad to have Kate Collier and Melissa Wiley speaking. They were my first two choices for speakers, and I feel really lucky that they’re both willing and able to participate. I really hope that y’all who are in the Charlottesville area will come out for this.

Lt. Gov. candidate forum on Wednesday night.

Left of Center is holding a lieutenant governor candidates forum at Rapture, in Charlottesville, on Wednesday. Mike Signer will be there, with Jon Bowerbank and Jody Wagner’s campaigns sending representatives. Come on out from 7:00 PM—8:30 PM, hear what the campaigns have to say, learn how to get involved, and hoist a beer with some friends and your candidate of choice.

Left of Center: Poverty in Charlottesville

You’ve heard the stories about tent cities springing up around major cities throughout the U.S. We’re not quite at that point in Charlottesville, but with 20% of the city below the poverty line, it’s time for some innovative thinking to tackle this problem. Tomorrow night’s Left of Center forum is on that very topic:

The federal government’s definition of poverty for a household of one adult with one child was income below $14,291 in 2007. Yet, according to one estimate, a single mother or father with one child in Charlottesville would need $34,000 a year to be self-sufficient. What can our community do to help all its members become self-sufficient? What can we learn from what other cities have done to address this problem?

Speakers: Buzz Cox, director of Charlottesville’s Department of Social Services; Holly Edwards of Charlottesville City Council; Overton McGehee, executive director of Habitat for Humanity in Virginia; and Ed Olsen, a professor of economics at the University of Virginia.

Join me at Rapture tomorrow night at 7:00 PM. Have some drinks, see some friends, and learn about how the recession is affecting those in our town least able to weather these financial doldrums.