Nov 3 • 28M

November 3, 2022: Albemarle Supervisors approve Southwood's second phase; Good and Throneburg answer Chamber question about national security and the local economy

Plus: Info on two meetings that should have been in the Week Ahead

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Regular updates of what's happening in local and regional government in and around Charlottesville, Virginia from an award-winning journalist with nearly thirty years of experience.
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The first Thursday of November is never Election Day, but the third installment of this eleventh month does play that role every several years or so. One time was in 1953. The next time will be in 2026, a time that will arrive whether it’s been prepared for or not. Between now and then, the goal is to have as many installments of Charlottesville Community Engagement as possible to help keep track of the trivial, the travails, the triumphs, and the travesties. 

On today’s show:

  • Albemarle Supervisors approve a second rezoning for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville’s rezoning at Southwood

  • A brief look at previous attempts to end the practice of Daylight Saving Time, which ends early Sunday morning 

  • The Charlottesville School Board will meet today and will consider a bonus payment for employees

  • The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will receive the almost final Regional Transit Vision Plan

  • The two candidates for the Fifth Congressional District answer a question from Chambers of Commerce on the role defense plays in the local economy 

    Subscriptions are free! But this time around, I’m using this text to make sure you know you’ll have to click through to the website to see the entire post.

First shout-out: Piedmont Master Gardeners class on reducing chemical use

In today’s first subscriber supported public service announcement: Want to learn how to reduce the amount of chemicals used to treat your lawn and garden? The Piedmont Master Gardeners are teaming up with the Virginia Cooperative Extension to offer a class on Saturday, November 19 at 2 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church on Preston Avenue.

The class will introduce an approach known as Integrated Pest Management as a practical alternative to chemicals in the landscape. It will also look at the basic issues with commonly used insecticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers and will cover best practices for lawns, edible gardens and ornamental gardens.  Space is limited. To reserve a place in the class, register at https://piedmontmastergardeners.org/events/. Registration closes at 5 p.m. November 18.

Supervisors approve rezoning of Southwood’s second phase

After taking a six-week pause, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors has approved a rezoning for the second phase of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville’s redevelopment of the Southwood Mobile Home Park. 

“Phase 2 would include a minimum of 527 residential units up to a maximum of 1,000 units,” said Rebecca Ragsdale, a planning manager in Albemarle County. 

Ragsdale said a minimum of 227 units would be required to be rented or sold below market to eligible households but there could be more depending on build-out. 

“There is a maximum of non-residential of up to 60,000 square feet and there is a commitment to a minimum of 10,000 square feet and that provides for the neighborhood center that is recommended in the master plan,” Ragsdale said. 

A rezoning to Neighborhood Model District includes a Code of Development which governs how the site will be developed. Review the plan here. (Credit: Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville.

Supervisors were close to a vote on September 22 after a public hearing but wanted certainty about the cost Albemarle will pay Habitat for a seven acre school site. Albemarle has until July 1, 2027 to decide if it wants to purchase the property for a cost not to exceed $680,000. 

“If it’s not sold, it may be developed under the uses that are permitted in the code of development which could include affordable units,” Ragsdale said.

If residential ends up that site, 20 units must be designated as affordable. 

Charles Rapp, the deputy director of the Department of Community Development, told Supervisors about various transportation improvements that will be made on Old Lynchburg Road and Fifth Street Extended as well as Southwood’s primary thoroughfare. 

“Hickory Street is currently a substandard road,” Rapp said. “It lacks stormwater management infrastructure. It doesn’t have sidewalks. It doesn’t have curb and gutter. It doesn’t have on-street parking and the paving along that road in multiple locations is severely deteriorated and in need of some attention.” 

Rapp said the county could apply for grants to help pay for that work jointly with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville or possibly through the Virginia Department of Transportation’s revenue-sharing program. 

Other solutions include a road diet on Old Lynchburg Road that would replace vehicular lanes with a shared-use path. 

The vote to approve was unanimous. 

Daylight Saving Time ends Saturday; Will there be legislation to end the practice? 

Tomorrow at 10 a.m., the Albemarle Board of Supervisors will meet with legislators to discuss potential legislation for the 2023 General Assembly. On Saturday night, most of the United States will turn back clocks to mark the end of daylight saving time. 

Albemarle’s legislative wish list does not include a request to end the practice, nor has the topic been discussed on the legislative agendas of any of the 24 localities in the Fifth District. Read my other newsletter for more on those localities.

However, legislation has been filed in the past to end Virginia’s participation in the practice, which began in 1918 with the federal Standard Time Act as a wartime cost-savings measure. The practice dropped in 1919 but became permanent again with the Uniform Time Act of 1966.

Delegate Nicholas Freitas (R-30) filed a bill earlier this year (HB303) that would have disconnected Virginia from the federal requirement but it died in a General Laws subcommittee on February 3. 

Here’s what a bill generally looks like. Bits that will be eliminated are striked through and new wording is in italics. This one failed. (HB303)

Another bill in 2022 (HJ6) sought to direct the Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade to study the effects of daylight saving time, but that was also left in committee. That also happened in 2019 and in 2021. A 2018 bill sought to have the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission review the effects. That legislation also died in committee.

Will it come back again this year? Will there at least be a study? What do you think? How is your life affected by the twice-annual shift in clocks? 

Leave a comment below. 

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Today in meetings: Charlottesville School Board to consider employee bonuses

There were two oversights in this week’s Week Ahead newsletter. 

First, the Charlottesville School Board will meet at 5 p.m. in the Booker T. Reaves Media Center at Charlottesville High School at 1400 Melbourne Road. You can register to participate via Zoom or watch along on Facebook

Items on the agenda include an allocation from the state for a one-time bonus that comes from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. Charlottesville gets $414,603.21 for the effort, and is kicking in funding of its own. 

“Charlottesville City Schools has 793.32 [full-time equivalent] instructional and support positions including custodial and nutrition workers,” reads the agenda item. “The total cost of the one-time bonus payment is $854,009.”

Full-time workers would get $1,000, and those who work fewer hours would get paid a lower bonus based on their workload. 

There will also be an update on pupil transportation. As of October 27, there were eight regular drivers and two leads, with four drivers in training. On November 9, a new bus route will start which will allow the waitlist for students to be reduced. 

An update on school transportation will go before the Charlottesville School Board this evening (view the presentation)

The second meeting is that of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission which meets in person at 7 p.m. at the Water Street Center in downtown Charlottesville. (meeting info)

One item on the agenda is a presentation on design work for the Zion Crossroads Gateway Plan as well as recommended transportation improvements created as part of a small area plan. Another is the Regional Transit Vision Plan, which I wrote up in yesterday’s newsletter. That story was based on the plan’s presentation at the October 27, 2022 meeting of the Regional Transit Partnership chaired by Albemarle Supervisor Diantha McKeel. 

“We’re not making a decision on this money and what we’re doing right now in the next month or two,” McKeel said. “We have the ongoing governance study that is going to be playing out over the next year. That will determine the players at the table, who wants to participate, and we have to figure out what counties want to participate and what the governance would actually look like.” 

McKeel welcomed the presence of Delegate Sally Hudson and Senator Creigh Deeds at that partnership meeting and said the word about the transit vision plan needs to get out to other representatives in the General Assembly. Legislative action will be needed for additional tax powers to pay for expanded transit. 

That Regional Transit Partnership ended with some updates from transit providers.  

  • Jaunt has an alternative fuel advisory committee that last met on September 22, 2022. There are representatives from the University Transit Service, but none from Charlottesville Area Transit. There is a member of the CAT Advisory Board on the Jaunt panel. The CAT Advisory Board has not met for at least two years. 

  • Charlottesville Area Transit still seeks to recruit new drivers and hope an increase in hour pay will help. There was no update on changes to CAT routes that are on hold until enough drivers are hired. 

Second shout-out: Global Values and the Future of Work 

In today’s second subscriber supported shout-out, UVA Lifetime Learning, Office of Engagement, has an event this Saturday morning that provides an expert view on a potential future. Will robots displace workers? Does automation mean the end of work as we know it? Jennifer Bair, Associate Dean of Social Science and Professor of Sociology, will be on hand to answer those questions at Alumni Hall at 10 a.m. for a free event. 

While much of the discussion about the future of work centers on technological innovations, changes in the way work is organized may ultimately prove more consequential for the well-being of workers, particularly in developing countries. Bair’s talk explores the causes and consequences of changes in the world of work through a focus on global supply chains. Register on Eventbrite. 

Register on Eventbrite for Global Values and the Future of Work 

Good, Throneburg offer differing visions on defense’s role in local economy

We are very close to the election, and many people have already cast their ballots. Many more will do so as early in-person voting and they have until Saturday at 5 p.m. to do so. In our part of Virginia, the main item on the ballot this year are elections of the U.S. House of Representatives. 

In October, the Chambers of Commerce in Charlottesville, Lynchburg, and Danville areas invited the two people seeking election to the Fifth District Congressional to have a virtual conversation. Republican Bob Good and Democrat Josh Throneburg sat down in two separate chats, but this newsletter and podcast puts them together.

Yesterday’s version presented the opening statements, but now we’ll get into the questions. Here’s Barry Butler, the director of government relations for the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance. 

“Areas that we’re going to be covering today:” Butler said. “ National defense; regulation and taxation; workforce development; economic development; public safety; and public health.” 

We won’t get to all of those today, but let’s start with national defense. Here’s Nick DiGeorgio, a financial advisor with United Bank who is on the defense committees for both the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance and the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce. 

“National and security defense spending by the federal government are a massive part of Virginia’s overall economy,” DiGeorgio said. “While to a lesser degree than along Virginia’s Golden Crescent, the [Department of Defense] has significant investments up and down the U.S. 29 corridor. For example: 

  • In the Charlottesville region, more than 4,500 workers are employed by the U.S. Army National Ground Intelligence Center, the U.S. Department of Defense intelligence agencies, and the private defense and intelligence contractors, which represents an estimated $1 billion in annual local payroll. 

  • Global leaders in nuclear energy and manufacturing, such as BWXT which produces small modular nuclear reactors for the submarine fleets and Framatome call the Lynchburg region home. 

  • Recently the United States Navy launched an additive manufacturing center of excellence at the Danville Institute of Advance Learning and Research and a larger training facility to be built nearby. 

“National defense authorization acts come up for renewal each year. Tell us some about the ways you would protect that federal investment in our local economy and what steps you would take to support this  large sector of our economy,” DiGeorgio concluded. 

Candidate Throneburg on national defense and the local economy

Bob Good went first yesterday, so let’s hear first today from Democrat Josh Throneburg. The written version just features some of the highlights, but the audio contains the whole response. You are also encouraged to watch the videos, with links below.

“There was a joint [Department of Defense] luncheon that we had here in Charlottesville a few months ago that was really laying out kind of the relationship between some of those entities and the local economy and we heard a lot about the really incredible numbers in terms of the employment and the local kind of economic importance of those groups and I think what I can say is that I will, number one, work to have a full understanding of those things and I have already begun to do that,” Throneburg said. 

“We want to create the kind of environment that brings opportunity into the district, the kind of opportunity that not only has jobs and that, but where we have great schools and where families want to move here, where there’s affordable housing and they feel like this is a place that they can call home,” the Democratic candidate answered. 

“Part of supporting and maintaining that great work is also having the kinds of communities that are going to draw great folks in who want to work in those spaces,” Throneburg said. “And then to support and encourage the kinds of incredible investment that we have at the level that you’re talking about.” 

“My thing is compassion and common sense,” Throneburg said. “That’s the framework through which I try to look at all things and certainly when you look at the economic investments of these groups in Charlottesville and down all the way through the district, we have a huge reliance on that so I want to make sure that we protect that, we preserve it, and offer opportunities for it grow and increase. Especially Pittsylvania County. We have some opportunities to bring in more and more opportunity for creating jobs. We’ve got a ready site down there that I think can put up to 6,000 or 7,000 workers if we have the right facility. I think those are the kinds of opportunities that we want to push.” 

Incumbent Good on national defense and the local economy

When this question was asked of Congressman Good, the Chambers of Commerce added a question. Let’s skip ahead to that part. 

“In the past, you have voted against the annual National Defense Authorization Act,” DiGeorgio said. “Tell us about some of the ways you are protecting the federal investment in our local economy and what steps you would take to support this  large sector of our economy.” 

Good had a long response and all of the audio is in the podcast version. He began by thanking DiGeorgio for mentioning the  Danville Institute of Advance Learning and Research. 

“The reemergence of Danville is really wonderful to see,” Good said.”I've been just privileged to be part of that, to encourage that to support.” 

“But to speak to the National Defense Authorization Act and defense spending in general, let me frame it again,” Good said. “Because this must always frame every discussion that we have about spending on the federal level. And some people don't like this. And sometimes this is not popular. So people don't want to hear the truth on this,” Good continued. 

“But the fact is, we have $31 trillion in national debt. That is $90,000 per citizen. It's about $250,000 per taxpayer, meaning those are actually paying taxes. We are running at record deficit levels. In other words, increasing the national debt like we never had before. Our debt again, versus our [Gross Domestic Product] is the highest it's been since World War Two. “However, unlike the World War Two generation, we're not in any position to pay off our debt, we're making no real serious efforts to pay off our debt. 

“I'm on the Budget Committee,” Good continued. “We're on track in the next 30 years to be $131 trillion in national debt… Right now, we pay about $500 billion dollars a year just to service the debt. That's just interest on the debt without touching the principal. And that's before the new increased interest rates begin to take their full effect in the next 20 to 30 years, that's gonna go to over two, five to $6 trillion a year, just to service the debt, far more to service the debt than our total budget is currently. 

“We have to be reminded that the federal government has no money. For that matter no government has. Government only has money that it takes from its citizens. 

“Now, to your point about national defense, national defense issues, and national defense spending should be based upon national security, military readiness, military effectiveness, and should not be made in the interest of spending or or investment in a community or jobs in a community even as primary. 

“It's about the national security. It's about national defense. It's not about special interest groups or somebody's district where they have spending on national defense that benefits them politically, it's got to be based on national defense, national security, American national security interest first has to be the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is about $800 billion. 

“I voted against it two or three times now each time it's come up. It's going to come up again… and I'm actually part of a letter that I just sent with my colleagues in the House Freedom Caucus, to… Senator McConnell and Leader McCarthy, saying all Republicans should oppose the NDAA. In its current form, all Republicans should…

“No Republicans should vote for the NDAA in its current form, so that we can force a clean bill that prioritizes national security, national defense and eliminates all the bad stuff. Number one, number one in that was we need to end the vaccine mandates on our troops.

“We have dismissed or discharged some 100,000 troops because they didn't get a vaccine they didn't want and didn't need, 25-year-old healthy individuals who've had COVID many times over like we all have by now have natural immunity or are not susceptible. 45-year-olds nearing retirement who got discharged, I've had scores of them reach out to me personally begging me for help. It's an egregious violation of our freedoms and our military readiness that we're kicking out members of our military at a time by the way, when we're reaching about 40 to 50% of our recruitment goals for all the branches. We are also having the academies reach out to us because they're not getting the applications they used to get and they're they're just putting out word just that applications are way down… With their feet, the American people are saying they have concerns about this commander in chief, this military leadership. And what we're asking for in the NDAA, as again to reverse the vaccine mandate immediately, and restore back to the military with all benefits, all compensation, those who were discharged improperly because of the vaccine, number one. 

“Number two, we need to eliminate everything in the NDAA that's has to do with woke ideology, critical race theory, diversity, equity and inclusion that has nothing to do with net military readiness, radical transgender policies, you know, joint, you know, bathrooms and things for trans gender, we need to eliminate all of that military funding because it has no place in our military to make us more effective to to deter wars or to win wars if necessary. Same thing on the climate, environmental extremism that's in the military. We've got in there converting our military to electric vehicles. Think about that in the theater of war, that we would have electric vehicles for our military, when we got in there requiring our planes to fly on sustainable fuel, which costs two to three times as much has nothing to do with military readiness. 

“The President told the military that the greatest threat to the country when he first got inaugurated was climate extremists, or climate, environmental issues. I can only imagine this administration when Putin invaded Ukraine said how can they do that without considering the climate implications? John Kerry went hand in hand pleading with the Russians not to invade Ukraine because of the climate, how embarrassing to the United States to show the weakness that we did with that. And of course, Putin didn't care. General Lloyd Austin when he was put in place, as the Secretary of Defense, he told the military that and we were told that we needed him he said, The greatest threat to the military was white supremacy and racism in the ranks. That is a lie, to demonize our military to disparage our military like that. It's just not true

“And then what they're doing now is they're purging conservatives, patriots, Trump supporters out of the military, we are weakening our military… it's a disaster, what we're doing and with that all needs to be taken out of the defense bill. 

“Finally, we also need an inspector general's investigation, to be an inspector general to point to investigate the US involvement in Ukraine, how that money is being spent, how it's being utilized, what the US is doing behind the scenes, in terms of supporting Ukraine in a way the American people may not know about that in terms of escalating our involvement in that war, as we sit on the brink of nuclear war, according to the President, and according to some in his administration. 

“So I will proudly vote against the NDAA in its current form. And I am loudly exhorting my Republican colleagues to do the same, so we can defeat it and force a good clean defense bill that truly puts military readiness at the forefront.” 

The full responses for both candidates are in the audio. 

Other writing material for your consideration:

Acknowledgments for #454 

It’s another long episode, and we’re at the end of it. Thanks to everyone who made it to this point and if you didn’t, that’s okay, too. There’s always a lot in these installments and I know your time is limited.

My time is mostly spent producing this program as often as I can because I know there are lot of people who want to know what’s happening and this is my attempt to capture as much as I can. About one in four of you are contributing, most of you with a paid Substack subscription. Every single penny helps to cover my time and effort some are invested in things like transcriptions which is making the Congressional Chamber Chats easier to produce. 

An added bonus is that Ting will match the initial payment if you decide to contribute $5 a month, $50 a year, or $200 a year through Substack! You’ll get the occasional first-look at some content, and you will know that you’re helping me write and produce a great amount of material each and every week. 

And even if you don’t sign up for a paid subscription to this newsletter, Ting wants your business, and if you sign up through a link in the newsletter you will get free installation, a $75 gift card to the Downtown Mall, and a second month for free. Just enter the promo code COMMUNITY.

Thanks today to Bree Luck of Charlottesville for providing a soundbite for the podcast version. In return her shout-out to a nonprofit is for Live Arts as well as the Blue Ridge Abortion Fund.

What’s next? Tomorrow’s installment of course. Thanks for being here, and let me know what else there is that’s missing. Bonus points if iambic pentameter is used.