While it may seem like this is the same newsletter and podcast over and over again, it will be unlike any other of the 492 other editions. It will be the 493rd and it will have its own distinct flavor. Which may be odd because as far as I know, there’s no way to convey narrative through the taste buds. But Charlottesville Community Engagement is intended to do what it can for aural and visual pathways. I’m the host, Sean Tubbs, still hesitant to experiment with an olfactory version of the program.
On today’s show:
Charlottesville City Council whittles 20 candidates for a replacement seat down to six in advance of Monday’s public hearing
A longtime member of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has died
A top Albemarle County executive is set to retire
There are now two candidates seeking the South District seat on the Nelson County Board of Supervisors
And Albemarle Supervisors commemorate Black History Month
First shout-out: Charlottesville Jazz Society/WTJU Jazz Concert Series
In today’s first subscriber supported shout-out, the Charlottesville Jazz Society wants you to know about their first concert of the 2023 season. On Saturday, February 11, the Charlottesville Jazz Society/WTJU Jazz Concert Series will welcome electrifying drummer and composer Allison Miller and pianist Carmen Staaf to Charlottesville. The duo will perform at First Presbyterian Church on Park Street on Saturday February 11th at 7:30 pm. Carmen will play the church’s exquisite Fazioli piano. Want a sample? Check out a recent recording on YouTube.
Tickets are available online. General admission is $23 in advance. Paid supporters of The Charlottesville Jazz Society pay $20. All tickets will be $25 at the door. For more information visit cvillejazz.org, or call 434-249-6191.
Council picks six to consider for replacement member
The four remaining members of Charlottesville City Council have privately selected a shortlist of six people who will move forward to a public hearing Monday to be selected as a replacement for former Councilor Sena Magill. They are:
Alex Bryant, former executive director of the Ix Park and former executive director of the Tom Tom Foundation (application)
Former City Councilor Kathy Galvin (application)
Current School Board member Lisa Larson-Torres (application)
Twenty-eight year Charlottesville resident Natalie Oschrin (application)
Former School Board member Leah Puryear (application)
Former City Councilor Kristin Szakos (application)
The press release that was sent out this morning does not give any indication about how these six were selected. Previous information did not indicate that there would be a short-list, so I reached out to all of the Councilor and all of the eliminated candidates to learn more. This is a story in development, but here’s what I have as of 2:30 p.m.
Charlottesville Mayor Lloyd Snook reached out to his fellow Councilors, according to Vice Mayor Juandiego Wade.
“It was a very fluid process,” Wade wrote in an email to me this morning.
Wade was the only Councilor to respond before publication time. I asked all of the Councilors what they sought in a replacement for Magill.
“I was looking for candidates that would had experience with budgets willing to work with Council and others to move the city forward,” Wade responded.
I also reached out to all of the applicants and will update this post on Information Charlottesville as new information comes in.
One person who was not chosen said he was disappointed to have not made the cut. John Santoski was on the Planning Commission when it began work on the Comprehensive Plan in early 2017.
“I always thought I was a reasonable and thoughtful School Board member and Planning Commissioner and I know we (the planning commission) put in an enormous amount of work on the development of the comp plan that was taken out of grasp at the eleventh hour and handed off to consultants,” Santoski said. “It was a good plan and cost a heckuva lot less than the current plan.”
However, Santoski said he understood the need to reduce the number of candidates. He said he is not likely to seek a full term due to a large workload at his job at the Arc of the Piedmont.
Another applicant said she was concerned that the process appeared to have changed after the full list was announced.
“Once the 20 were posted, there was a sudden change to that process, essentially shutting down input from the Charlottesville voting community on not only these candidates for the appointment, but also the major issues about to be voted on by the Council,” said Carla Manno.
Manno said that deprived the opportunity for community members to communicate to the Council views on the budget and the zoning rewrite.
Two others said they understood the need to be a short-list.
“They had so many experienced and qualified applicants, they surely had to whittle down the list,” said Kate Bennis, who said she would not seek the office through the electoral path. She added she appreciated the opportunity to apply.
“It gave me the opportunity to reconnect with the city government, deepen my understanding of the current issues, reach out to many in our community to get their expertise and advice on processes from how the city runs, to climate policy, to zoning ordinance,” Bennis said.
Margaret Gardiner said she was surprised that there was a short-list after being instructed to sign up for the February 6 public hearing.
“On the other hand, there are several exceptional women running for the position, so I'm not surprised I'm not in the running,” Gardiner said.
Gardiner said she was not likely to run for office given the “different level of commitment” but said she has learned a lot from this experience.
I have many more questions out and will update this story on Information Charlottesville as other responses come in. Look to other media outlets for stories on this, too. A Council appointment like this hasn’t happened in over 55 years.
According to the minutes of the June 19, 1967 Council meeting, the four Councilors present met to select a replacement for Robert S. Johnson, who resigned in his first year of office. Three weeks after his May 29 resignation letter, Council opened up the floor for nominations. Councilor Bernard Haggerty nominated Planning Commission Chair Bill Rinehart to fill out the rest of the term.
Councilor Burkett Rennolds nominated five other candidates but there was only a roll call vote on Rinehart, who won on a 3 to 0 vote with Councilor Dutch Vogt abstaining.
Longtime Albemarle Supervisor dies
At the beginning of yesterday’s meeting of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, Supervisor Donna Price announced the passage of one of the people who has held her seat representing the Scottsville District.
Lindsay Dorrier Jr. has died at the age of 79.
“He was raised in Scottsville, attended public schools, graduated from St. Christopher School Trinity College, enlisted in the army, graduated from infantry officer candidate school and served as military intelligence,” Price said.
Dorrier returned to the area to attend the University of Virginia School of Law. He was first elected to the Scottsville District on the Board in 1975 and was also elected as Albemarle’s Commonwealth’s Attorney. He also served as the director of the Department of Criminal Justice in the administration of former Governor Doug Wilder.
Dorrier returned to the Board of Supervisors in the election of 1999 and served two additional terms before retiring in 2011. That was also the year in which he provided the fourth vote to change Albemarle’s position on the Western Bypass in an event known locally as “the midnight vote.”
Walker to retire as Albemarle’s Deputy County Executive
There’s a top opening in the executive leadership in Albemarle County. Deputy County Executive Doug Walker has announced he will retire effective August 1.
“Our organization has been so fortunate to have Doug for the final ten years of his career,” said County Executive Jeffrey Richardson in a press release. “His ability to adjust on the fly in almost any situation, with a focus on true organizational and community problem-solving and improvement, is rare.”
Walker began work for Albemarle County in 2013 after having served as county administrator in Shenandoah County. He has also been city manager in Waynesboro.
Walker started in Albemarle as the Assistant County Executive for Community Services and also filled in for several months as the interim County Executive after Tom Foley stepped down in early 2017.
A search for a successor will begin in the coming weeks.
Second person files for Nelson County’s South District Supervisor seat
There are now two Republicans seeking the nomination for the South District seat on the Nelson County Board of Supervisors.
Philip Purvis of Shipman has filed a statement of organization for the seat, which is currently held by Democrat Robert Barton. He joins James C. Bibb, a fellow Republican who turned in his electronic paperwork on January 12.
The second seat up for election this November is in the West District. That seat is currently held by David Parr.
Second shout-out: Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards
In today’s second subscriber-supported shout-out, an area nonprofit wants you to know about what they offer to help you learn how to preserve, protect, and appreciate! The Charlottesville Area Tree Stewards holds several events throughout the year including a Zoom webinar on how to identify different trees by season.
On Tuesday, February 7 at 7 p.m., Tree Steward Emily Ferguson will help strengthen your tree identification skills with a ground-up approach. Literally! Ferguson will help you know how to check the forest floor for clues before scanning upward to look at bark texture, tree shape, and branching as needed to confirm an identification. You can register for that event here.
And then on Saturday, February 11, Ferguson will lead a walk at the Ivy Creek Natural Area to test out what you’ve learned! Attending the Zoom webinar is highly recommended. For more information, please register and visit https://charlottesvilleareatreestewards.org/.
Albemarle Supervisor commemorate Black History month with a proclamation
The stories that you’ll hear about Black history in the next 27 days took place throughout the entire year, and every February is an opportunity to think about the topic year-round and how our community might become more equitable.
This is the 47th year of the federal recognition of Black History Month, according to a proclamation adopted by the Albemarle Board of Supervisors on Wednesday.
“It’s a significant achievement to acknowledge the contributions of Black Americans nationally but also locally,” said Jesse Brookins is the director of Albemarle’s Office of Equity and Inclusion.
Brookins took the opportunity to introduce Sam Spencer, a self-sufficiency program manager with Albemarle County’s Department of Social Services. Spencer serves on a variety of different committees, including one that oversees the Thomas Jefferson Planning District’s work on eviction diversion.
“Sam has worked for the past few years behind the scenes to give others the opportunity for success, empowerment, and confidence to thrive in a community which we all know and love and appreciate,” Brookins said.
Spencer formally received the proclamation but said he is not one for the spotlight.
“I accept this because I know the work is hard but we’re all servant leaders in this work that we do and being a leader means that you have to serve those in the communities,” Spencer said.
Supervisors took the opportunity to provide comments.
Supervisor Bea LaPisto-Kirtley of the Rivanna District noted she’d recently read about a book on the desegregation of libraries in Northern Virginia. That book is by Chris Barbuschak and Suzanne S. LaPierre, and LaPisto-Kirtley read a quote from LaPierre from a recent news article.
“Progress doesn’t happen just because time passes,” LaPisto-Kirtley wrote. “Progress happens when people take action to make things better.”
Supervisor Ann Mallek of the White Hall District said she is supportive of efforts to tell a broader picture of places in the rural area, such as a recent historic market at Union Run Baptist Church.
“And helping them to tell their own story much more fully now has really been a wonderful accomplishment over the last several years and I hope that we will continue to do that,” Mallek said.
Here’s a description of Union Run Baptist Church from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
“Union Run Baptist Church in Albemarle County took shape soon after the Civil War when the Rev. Robert Hughes and other freedmen organized the congregation, which purchased a nearby church building and re-erected it on land deeded to them in 1867. The church served as a school and a community center and the property as a burial ground.”
Supervisor Ned Gallaway of the Rio District said the proclamation made him recall the work of Dr. Frank Henderson, a late professor at Ohio University in Athens whose classes Gallaway attended. According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansa, Henderson was one of six people who integrated North Little Rock High School in September 1957.
“And he had a very distinctive voice because during a Civil Rights protest, he had his throat partially crushed during the event,” Gallaway said.
Supervisor Diantha McKeel of the Jack Jouett District took the opportunity to read the recent joint statement from Albemarle Police Chief Sean Reeves, Charlottesville Police Chief Michael Kochis, and UVA Police Chief Tim Longo on the recent death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee.
“We are profoundly saddened by the actions that led to the untimely, senseless, and brutal death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of five former members of the Memphis Police Department,” McKeel read. “Once again, police officers around the globe who hold dear their oath of office and work diligently to preserve public trust and confidence have been irreparably harmed by the callous actions of others who abandoned their commitment to peace, justice, and the humanity.”
Supervisor Donna Price of the Scottsville District said she is a member of the local chapter of the NAACP and serves on its executive committee. She said the appropriate word to use is “commemoration” rather than “celebration.”
“You cannot celebrate when the battle has not yet been won,” Price said. “We know the history of America since 1619 has been one of prejudice and discrimination, lawful discrimination.”
Price warned about a rising tide of new discrimination by the barring of African-American studies and defunding of equity programs in some places across the country, as well as censorship that’s intended to stop discussion of what some call “woke” topics.
“I call it simply treating people with dignity and respect,” Price said.
Price said continuing to proclaim events like Black History month are important to reaffirm Supervisors’ recent decision to make equity a “community value.”
Rivanna River pedestrian bridge not recommended for funding, Metropolitan Planning Organization not giving up, Dryden Quigley, January 25, 2023
Animal Care Manager at CASPCA resigns over leadership concerns, Carly Haynes, CBS19, January 26, 2023
Animal shelter reacts to letter to its board, CBS19, January 27, 2023
Group of protesters gather outside CASPCA amid allegations, Garrett Whitton, CBS19, January 28, 2023
A Conversation with Virginia Eubanks, UVA Data Points podcast, February 1, 2023
In the doghouse: CASPCA refuses to fire controversial CEO, Brielle Entzminger, C-Ville Weekly, February 1, 2023
‘No evidence’ - Defendants in Brackney lawsuit relieved it’s been dismissed, Courteney Stuart, C-Ville Weekly, February 1, 2023
Housekeeping for #493
If you go back to the opening words of this installment, you’ll see that I state clearly that this one’s not like any other! All of the work I do at Town Crier Productions is an experiment in journalism, just like all of the work I did at Charlottesville Tomorrow was an experiment in journalism. The idea of being “press” is one I take seriously and I point to the hundreds of paid supporters as evidence I’m independent as I go about the work.
The opening story today is one that will no doubt be out of date as more information comes into my inbox and into my phone. Sena Magill’s resignation is a piece of history as it has been half a century for a City Councilor to be appointed by elected members. So I’ll be updating that story on Information Charlottesville.
Almost every time I begin writing one of these, I’m not entirely sure what will be coming out. I am looking forward to the days when I’ll be able to hire people to produce a few more stories as there’s a lot more I want to get to, each and every day.
As I said, I’m doing this work full-time and I’m able to do so because of the people who have come to rely on me being here. It’s my hope as more people opt for paid subscriptions, I’ll be able to hire others to do the work. I’m fortunate to have followed my dreams of municipal journalism. So many others I’ve known in my career have looked down on this work, and I’d say: their loss.
If you do pay for a subscription through Substack, Ting will match your initial subscription. I can’t stress how much that helps me keep this business running, which means paying for things like deed searches, websites, and the electricity that allows the digital work upon which this version of the “press” relies.
Ting also wants to help with your highspeed Internet needs.
If you sign up at this link and enter the promo code COMMUNITY, you’ll get:
A second month for free
A $75 gift card to the Downtown Mall
As for other things? Wraki can thanked for the incidental music you hear, and the Fundamental Grang’s noisy punctuations are also something that can be heard. Now it’s time to begin thinking about the next edition, and then the one after that, and so on into an end point that is not yet known. Follow along and let’s see how far we can go!