Thursday, May 31, 2007

Soccer Playoffs Enfuego for Chesterfield teams

While most sports fan are watching the Stanley Cup (go Ducks) or the NBA Playoffs (could care less) we have the Central Region Playoffs with High School athletics being played out across town. My heart lies with soccer and lacrosse (since we have yet to see lacrosse played as a Central Region endoresed sport) I will stick with soccer.
Thomas Dale Knights are ENFUEGO. The varsity soccer team are two time winners of Stae and will attempt to extend a 67 game winning streek against the Titans of Cosby High. Cosby was the runner up in the Dominion District and is putting together a really nice first year run at the Region title. Cosby is 13-5-1 and Thomas Dale is 19-0-0 going into the 5:30 PM matchup at Cosby High School. Cosby is a very young team and is getting the chance to take on the State Champs at home and they have to be excited about that. While many believe that the Dominion was more competitive than the Central where Dale plays, Cosby will have some work to do. Thomas Dale has as many shutouts as most teams have wines (16).
Heart: Cosby Reality: Thomas Dale Gut: Thomas Dale
One of my favorite teams to watch is James River, whose style of play is enjoying to watch. The Rapids however, came up short against Central Region champ Mills Godwin. Rapids were winners of the Dominion and matched up well against Godwin, but in the end the Eagles defense was relentless and secured the 1-0 victory . Godwin will challenge Atlee, a cinderalla of sorts in this playoff.
Atlee has taken down Clover Hill and Thomas Dale to reach the championship game against Godwin being held at Cosby tomorrow at 5:30. Both have qualified for States. Godwin is the sure hand favorite.
Heart: Atlee Reality: Godwin Gut: Atlee in upset

Baseball playoffs begin as well:
Hanover Vs. James River (Gut: James River)
Cosby vs. Deep Run (Gut: closer than you think but Deep Run)

Thomas Dale students CSPAN premier

Two Thomas Dale High School students, Anida Kulla and Anna Halbrooks-Fulks , will have their "Peace in the Middle East: Isreal and Palestine air on friday morning on CSPAN at 6:50 am. Congratulation to these two young residents of Chesterfield for their hard work and effort putting this documentary together.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

FY2008 School Board Line Item Preschool Funding

When you hear the phrase "line item" it is almost always associated with a veto of some sort in national politics. It is very rare that a particular item in local politics is look in the same light as say alot of the "pork" we read about that is attached to bills in Congress. Usually at the local level the Board of Supervisors merely reduces the amount of funds a particlaur department will be receiving from revenues in the County budget and leave it up to the department for determining if they really want the funds going for a particular purpose. Thats politics.
In this case, the FY2008 School Boards budget proposed the inclusion of a pre-school initiative for at risk children whereby allowing these children to begin pre-school a year earlier at the age of three.
While Mr. Kaine in Richmond has been a strong proponent of a "universal" program throughout the state, this measure is more finite. The proposed initiative was to target a very specific at risk demographic within the county in the hopes have giving them the opportunity to begin early with education. Individuals meeting the requirement for the proposal are considered at or below the current national poverty line. If we are to truly believe in the idea that the only way to curb poverty in our society is through education then the story should end with the kids getting the money. It does not.
The Board of Supervisors last month heard before them 8b.12 regarding the issue of considering an ammendment to the School Boards budget endorsing the at risk intiative that the board had previously opposed. Mind you there are programs that are running currently like Headstart, Title 1 and Virginias own which targets very specific schools, but this plan was more targeted to a specific, yet small group of residents.
In the end, members of the Board took a very narrow view. By narrow I mean narrow. Two members, Humphrey and Sowder actually convinced themselves that because no residents in their distrcist would be eligible for the program saw that as an opportunity to remain unsupportive. While I understand the proposal would in reality only impact 20% of the total number in other districts who could take advantage of the initiative this go around, the fact that because the Midlothian and Matoaca distrcist are fortunate enough not to have eligibility for the program does not somehow displace those members from responsibility of addressing the welfare of county residents in other districts who may not be as fortunate. Given the fact that the School Board wanted this program and had determined to use the funds directed them by the Board of Supervisors you would think that I don't know the educators might know something more about the problem and possibly working out a meaningful solution. Afterall, this isn't a case where the School Board demanded more funds from the Board; it was in their original budget.
Supervisors King and Warren were outvoted 3-2 by Humphrey, Miller and Sowder. Another wonderful example of how one vote denies another action in the county. The fact that Sowder and Humphrey expressed their view on account of lack of particpation within their districts was very disturbing. I think there simply has to be more evolved reasoning than that if you are going to take a line item out of the Budget of the School Board.
Taking this kind of view in terms of the County seems very misplaced. With all due respect to those members, much of the proposed growth in the county moving forward appears in the districts that would not have participated in the intiative, could you imagine if those Supervisors not experiencing this growth simply used their logic and voted down zonings and growth simply because well its not in their districts.
We are all residents of Chesterfield and it is our obligation never to forget those among us that are less fortunate.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Increasing the Seats on the BOS

I recall the issue of increasing the number of Supervisors on the Board being raised last Winter after the election of 2006. I think it was the Alliance for Responsible Growth that blogged about the issue.
The RTD in its Chesterfield this Week section addressed the issue in the Sunday edition. The real issue however that must be realized is that the Board itself must vote to approve the creation of or addition of districts in order the increase the number of Supervisors. Again, we are faced with the political dilemma of what is best for the party or what is best for the county.
Only 1 of the 5 Supervisors has expressed a favorable opinion in increasing the number of Supervisors. The Clover Hill Supervisor, Art Warren, is the sole memeber of the Board it appears to favor raising the number of local distrcist to 7. Currently, each Supervisor represents 60, 000 residents but that number would surely be increased with all the new developments that are pending that have ten to fifteen year growth phases. Mr. Warren I am sure realizes that upon completion of the 360 corridor and areas like Magnolia Green the number of residents would surely increase that district substantially.
In typical Republican fashion it appears as many on the Board dismiss the idea as simply increasing government, thus supporting it would be in favor of "big" government and increasing expenditures required to run that government. This view is far too simplistic.
We are constantly being reminded just how our local government is overwhelmed and understaffed, especially in terms of those departments concerned with urban planning. In this case less in certainly not more.
Hanover County currently has 7 seats on the County BOS. Hanover is not nearly as populated as Chesterfield. There is the view that by increasing the number of seats you increase representation. I believe that is true.
However, politicians would rather have to convince two rather than three other members and that is what it comes down to. It currently takes 3 yeahs for majority. It would be interesting to review just how much of our county business passed 3-2. And let us not forget those who seek to influence the BOS, they would not be too supportive of increasing the number of members they would have to lobby. Call be a pessimist but what usually goes agianst the lobbyists interests is probably good for the rest of us.
The number of seats is not limiting to this government but a lack of leadership is. It may just be time to raise the issue of accountability to such an extent that the public will demands adding additional seats. Let them make the case that 5 can lead better than 7.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Katherine Waddell's Priorities

The latest mailing sent to residents of the 68th by Friends of Katherine Waddell identify the core legislative priorities of the Waddell tenure in the House of Delegates. They are as follows:

Improving Education

Addressing Transportation Issues

Protecting Our Young People

Lowering Taxes

Promoting Healthy Communities

The points to consider are Waddell's strong efforts in eliminating the Virginia estate tax, whioch will take place later this year and her efforts in getting the "Chip Alert" bill based in memory of Chip Ellis, a Chesterfield resident who was abducted and murdered but because of his age was an Amber Alert warning could not be issued because Ellis though a high school student was over the age of 17. Waddell's measure extends Amber Alert system to all high school students regardless of age. Waddell has also been a strong proponent of tougher penalties and stricter stalking laws throughout the Commonwealth.
Waddell's opponent in this Fall's election will be Manoli Loupassi, former City of Richmond Councilman elected from the 1st ward in the city. We will look at each of these candidates records in the coming months.

Waddell first Mailing

The first mailing coming from Friends of Katherine Waddell reached my mailbox on Tuesday, May 22, 2007. The race in the 68th has offfically begun. The Democrats have not officially placed anyone in the race as of yet, but there is talk on the street that may change. Not truly sure how that would play out in the 68th. Waddell, though an Independent, has a respectable record in the minds of many Democrats and it would not be surprising if the Democrats did not put anyone in play in the 68th this go around, unless they feel that Waddell may lose and they start the groundwork for opposing Loupassi during this election year in the hopes of defeating him down the road. At this point though its up in the air.
Not sure of the timing of the mailing, but I am sure that the turnout for Loupassi in the republican primary may have been a pretty good indication that the movement to re-elect Waddell needed to get on its horse in Chesterfield and get the word out concerning the accomplishments of Katherine Waddell.

Chesterfield Spending

RTD released on Sunday a demonstration of just how localities are using the revenues it takes in across their respectives annual budgets. Chesterfield County:

Budget is increasing 10.6%
Rising Tax burden on residents 8.8% annually

Henrico: Budget 6.9% Tax burden 3.6%
Hanover: Budget 9.5% Tax burden 9.0%
Goochland : Budget 175 Tax burden 14.3%
Powhatan : Budget 6.6% Tax: 0.0

Chesterfield spending :

Schools: 43%
Police: 7%
Jail: 2%
Fire: 6%
Works: 7%

An interesting point is how localities with lower population as a percentage are spending more in certain areas of their spending. Chesterfield population is larger than that of Henrico for example, and yet the have equal or greater spending % going towards given areas. This I believe is where we should start. When we evaluate local government we need to be looking at not only ourselves but how our neighbors are doing it if they are managing their growth better or more fiscally responsible than we are. We have to ask the questions relevant to spending. For example, why is it or how is it that Henrico can spend more than 5% more than Chesterfield on education because that % does not appear to be taking $$ away from other areas of their budget? What are they doing or what are they not experiencing in their growth that we are in Chesterfield. How are they garnering their revenues and exactly what kind of return are they getting on their investment?
These are questions every BOS member should be held accountable for in the upcoming election.
Visit for break down of the districts and look at some of the candidates.

Cloverleaf Mall reflection

Had an opportunity to drive by Cloverleaf Mall for the first time in what seems ages. I along with my family headed down Midlothian to pick up the Chipp right at the mall and head south. We were headed to Henricus Park to see the Godspeed, which was part of the Jamestown celebration. We got to talking about how that Mall is a case study for urban planning. What was once a area of great activity, in my youth Chesterfield Mall was very small and not the Towne Center it is today by any means. Cloverleaf built in 1973 was a draw for county residents and the city residents just over the other side of the Chipp. I remember seeing hospital workers shopping before and after work, business folks , as well as families shopping for years and then things began to change. The change was two fold. First the area east of the mall failed to keep up with developments. I can only assume that this area was not a priority for the City, much of it remains the same today as it did ten or even twenty years ago. Second, Chesterfield witnessed massive growth and and influx of residents drawn to the county and as developments were undertaken to meet the demand each of these gradually moved further west with each year stretching to Powhatan along Route 60 and then along the 360 corridor from the Chipp to Amelia. This western movement is still very much in play today as seen in future developments like Magnolia Green.
I reflected that traveling east along 60 from the State Police headquarters to the mall, 60 looks reminesient of what 60 looked like ten years ago east of the Chipp in the city. Why would people be drawn back to this area? Recently people have commented about the same issues relating to Chesterfield Mall, which benefited the most with the western push of residents becoming the only true retailing option from a variety point for years until alot of the "big box" shopping centers began to go up about eight years ago. Once Chesterfield converted to the Towne Center theme, Cloverleaf continued its free-fall into obscurity. The final blow was the movement of retailer JC Penney out of its home in Cloverleaf down to Chesterfield.
I still remember shopping at Cloverleaf though as a child. I saw some of my first movies at the Cineplex that moved in behind the mall after the theatre inside were closed I think. That was back when movie theatres were a requirement for any self-respecting commercial mall.
As a father of three very young children now, they never experienced Cloverleaf nor will ever experience the kind of community mall Cloverleaf was in its prime. Malls are simply different now. People get in and get out. I remember being at Cloverleaf when "hanging-out" was that may date wife much younger than myself can't seem to remember those experiences but does reflect on Chesterfield Towne Center for her childhood memories.Malls played a vital part in community back then, not so much today I think. But as friends reassure me....we have Barnes & Noble and Starbucks now...I still can't help but recall how Cloverleaf was a large part of my childhood.
Cloverleaf was purchased by the county some two years ago and will be razed next year as part of Crosland's new mixed-use development.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Immigration in Chesterfield

A VCU professor stated today that counties such as Chesterfield have seen an increase in over 200% of the number of immigrants residing within the county. That is an astonishing number when you think about it. How are we at the local level planning on addressing these increases given the fact the Federal Government is about to pass Immigration reform that will in fact allow all of those with the 200% that are"illegal" to remain. We really and no one does for that matter have a handle on just what the impact is of "illegals" within our community, but you would think that now may be a good time to begin the process of figuring it out.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

(68th) Loupassi takes Primary

It was not as nasty as say the battle between Katherine Waddell and Brad Marrs in 05 in the general election, but the Republican primary came to conclusion with Manoli Loupassi taking the primary rather handedly. No word on how much of Loupassi 260K pac warchest was used in the primary, but many were offended by a letter that was sent outby the Loupassi campiagn as well as phone messages sent out to county resident sstating that Will Shewmake his opponent was truly a "democrat".
The biggest issue coming out was not the rather easy victory by Loupassi. He is supported by a virtaul whose who list of politics in the area such as Bill Bolling, Eric Cantor, Tom Bliley, Steve Martin and Bob McDonnell.

All of us have to remember that only ONE of our Eight Delegates representing us in Chesterfield in the General Assembly actually LIVES in the county. Chesterfiled makes up roughly 60% of 68th.

Issues from both Waddell and Loupassi to follow in the coming weeks.

Planners vote down Swift Creek plan

BOS Meeting for Chesterfield is May 23, 2007 in the Public Meeting Room. Planning Commission met May 15, 2007 with the biggest piece was the vote against the Swift Creek Plan citing an need for more time. The BOS had demanded that a vote be taken and were expecting to get it before them before this Fall's election. They better. Alot of seats may indeed hinge on the Swift Creek plan. There was virtual no time for a true public hearing on the plan before this vote before the Commission. It now goes to BOS. It is striking when the Planners oppose something and the Supervisors seem set on approving it for political purposes. Shouldn't we be concerned with getting this one Right?