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April 10, 2009 - April 16, 2009
Community | News | Per spective
School Board Votes to Privatize Bus Service The school board chose to delay voting on attendance zones changes past our press time - look for full coverage in next week’s issue. The Roanoke City School Board postponed a decision regarding revised attendance zones, but did vote Brian Gottstein Tuesday to privatize its bus service. The Pennsylvania-based George Krapf Jr. and Sons transportation company will take over for the school system in July, hiring its own drivers and purchasing new buses over the life of a five-year P4– Gottstein reports that members of Congress are hypo- contract. The 4-3 vote to privatize bus service crites when it comes to taxing was not popular with some of the drivthe bonuses of others.
Roanoke Battles Budget on Many Fronts
Car-less Soiree P6– Roanoke’s very own Car-less Brit kicks up his heels in celebration of reaching the half-way point.
Salem Sox P8– Successful Salem “Sox Fest” ushers in a new era for baseball in the Roanoke Valley.
Roanoke City Council will hold a public hearing April 20, to review budget cuts and fee hikes outlined earlier this week, as part of a Sherman Stovall $257 million dollar 2009-2010 budget. More than $7 million in service cuts could mean an end to things like loose-leaf curbside pickup, the Bookmobile and the downtown mounted police patrol, as well as the closing of library branches on certain days. A number of fee increases and parking garage rate hikes could also be in the offerings if the budget package is passed as proposed at the May 11 meeting. Two days after giving Roanoke City Schools less than half of the additional $3.7 million requested to avoid more teachers’ layoffs, city council was grappling with its own shortfalls. The result could mean that public pools at Fallon and Washington
ers present, who will have to apply to 5.5 offered by the city. Those changes work for Krapf, although most of them didn’t sit well with drivers in attenare likely to be rehired, according to dance at the meeting. deputy superintendent Curt Baker. The city has the right to terminate “Their job is to take what we do and the 5-year deal with Krapf at any time, make it better,” said Baker. He with 120 days notice, and the Education also said the reports concernmoney it saves every year will ing the transportation propay for buses the city would vider, received from other dishave to buy back if it takes the tricts, were positive. service in house again at the end of Drivers will have to pay more for the contract. School Board chairman health care benefits and will be sepa- David Carson wants that fund put in a rated from the city’s retirement system, special account so it cannot be used for which drivers just earned the right to other purposes. join a year ago. The hours guaranteed Roanoke City doesn’t have any monevery day will also fall to 4.5 from the ey for bus driver raises in the next bud-
> CONTINUED P3: School Board
[Roanoke’s VT Nation]
Hokie Pioneer Honored George Will
George Will Brings Lessons to Roanoke
1896 was a good year for Virginia Tech. That was the year the Virginia legislature changed the institution’s name from Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College to Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute. After that, the school was popularly known as VPI. That was also the year the college
> CONTINUED P3: City Budget
get year, Krapf promises a 10% hike for the drivers it hires. The age of Roanoke’s bus fleet, currently about 14 years old, will dip to 9 years, as Krapf buys more buses, noted Carson. And most busses will have video cameras and phones installed by the end of 2009. Carol Underwood, a driver with 30plus years of service, said, “[I feel like] we’ve been kicked in the stomach. It’s just not right. It took us years to get benefits [like retirement]. We’ve always been put on the back burner.” It was also revealed that close to 60
adopted its motto and seal and the school colors of Chicago Maroon and Burnt Orange. Perhaps the most influential change occurred when the school held a contest for a new spirit yell. The ranking cadet officer that year was O.M. Stull of Lexington, Va. He wrote the > CONTINUED P3: Hokie Pioneer
Syndicated conservative columnist George Will addressed an audience of more than 1,400 Monday night at Roanoke College’s Bast Center as part of the Henry H. Fowler Public Policy Series. Will, whose column is featured twice weekly in over 500 newspapers in the United States and Europe, is a regular contributing editor of Newsweek Magazine and has been featured in the Washington Post since 1974. He received a Pulitzer Prize for his work in 1977, and is generally accepted as one of the brightest spokespeople for conservatism in the country. Prior to his address, I found Will relaxing in a small room behind the stage with College President Michael Creed Maxey and C. William Hill, the Director of the Henry H. Fowler Lecture Program. Will looked tired if not > CONTINUED P2: George Will
Elmwood Park Recommended for Amphitheater
Studio Roanoke P11– Live theatre returns to downtown as Kenley Smith and Todd Ristau open the doors to Studio Roanoke.
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A computer generated rendering of the Pedestrian Promenade as it flows around the proposed amphitheater at Elmwood Park. Red Light Management, a consulting firm hired by Roanoke City Council to research the feasibility of an amphitheater, recommended Elmwood Park Monday as the best site for potential construction. Red Light, (which also runs the Charlottesville Pavilion), along with Grimshaw Architects, selected Elmwood Park over Reserve Avenue (the old Victory Stadium site), due to several factors, including cost, topography, and location. “We wanted to find a site that would be commercially viable, and that would be a long-term asset to the com-
munity,” Ken MacDonald, the director of venue management at Red Light, said during a public meeting. The proposed amphitheater would seat approximately 5,000 people, 3,000 under covered seating, and 2,000 for lawn seating. The consulting team stressed that an Elmwood Park RED LIGHT amphitheater wouldMANAGEMENT possess a “synergy” with other area venues, including the Virginia Transportation Museum and the Taubman Museum of Art, as well as downtown restaurants, helping increase revenue flow to the city. The consultants also estimated that the amphitheater
would host an additional 50-75 events per year in comparison to the Reserve Avenue site, including many local events. However, the long-term financial viability of a proposed amphitheater remains in question. 17 Though the consultants appeared confident that the Elmwood Park TECHNOLOGIES location would SPEC create additional spending at other downtown locations, there were no such assurances offered that the capital investment needed for the project > CONTINUED P2: Amphitheater
Page 2 | The Roanoke Star-Sentinel | 4/10/09 - 4/16/09
> George Will From page 1
comfortable reclining on a sofa as he prepared to offer his lecture entitled, “Lessons Drawn from the Twentieth Century.” When I asked him if it was alright to take some up close flash photography as he began his talk, he quickly replied with a warm smile, “My 24 year old daughter is a photographer and I know the challenges – feel free to take all you wish.” But his voice belied some level of fatigue, and I got the impression that this was just one stop on a long road of speaking engagements that, while profitable and professionally rewarding, was often exhausting as well. But after a well received introduction Will showed no signs of fading. He hit the ground running and didn’t let up for over an hour and twenty minutes as he pounded his fist and drove
home his points with almost no reference to his notes. He left the lectern frequently and seemed such a master in the ordering of his own extensive knowledge and thoughts that one quickly forgot that they were watching a commentator known more for his writing than for his oratory. Will punctuated his well conceived points with witticisms garnered from both history and baseball – his other abiding passion – and the well-placed anecdotes framed up his ideas with an almost Rockwellian Americanism that served to further validate his succinctly conveyed, yet sometimes complex, arguments. They also brought relief from the effort required to keep up with his fast moving presentation. The apparently partisan crowd seemed very well
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pleased in spite of his, “having talked dangerously close to tip off.” (Will taught Political Science at Michigan State who didn’t fare as well as their former professor in Monday’s College Basketball Championship.) But if he was in a hurry to watch his old school play, it didn’t show as he fielded several questions from the crowd as presented from a panel of two Roanoke College students and a professor. Before leaving the stage, Will was presented with a complimentary Roanoke College T-shirt. One can safely assume there was a sizable honorarium at the bottom of the bag as well. Roanoke College continues to impress bringing some of the world’s most evocative and respected speakers to the region. The evening concluded with the announcement that the next speaker in the Fowler series would be none other than former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner. (Sept. 2009) Quotes from George Will’s “Lessons Learned from the Twentieth Century.” •“Be wary – be very wary of the power you give the government - the state - to essentially erase the distinction between the public and private sectors . . .” • “Ladies and Gentlemen the relationship between the government and the economy has changed more in the last seven months than it has in the last 75 years.”
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•“We are getting ready to see government intrude itself more than ever before into the 17% of our economy that is healthy . . . including the energy sector - which is a little bit alarming when you consider that the speaker of the house said not once but twice that we should use more natural gas than fossil fuels. Unfortunately, we are not always governed by the brightest Crayolas in the pack . ..” •“I believe we are seeing a recasting of the liberal / conservative argument, and it turns on the two polar values of western political thought that are always in tension and always being adjusted – they are freedom and equality. Today liberals tend to stress equality – not equality of opportunity but equality of social outcome. To that end they believe the multiplication of government entitlement programs enhances the public good - which is perfectly defensible by men and women of good will. Conservatives tend to stress freedom over equality and are willing to countenance wider inequalities of social out come and income and tend to regard the multiplication of entitlement programs as subversive of the attitudes and aptitudes essential for a free society to prosper. This is the argument and it is growing rapidly.” •“Today’s welfare state exists to subsidize two things that did not exist in 1934 – protracted retirement and competent medicine . . . The average retirement has expanded from 2 years to about 20 years . . . and 23% of the average family’s pre-
tax income goes to medicine and on a current trajectory of 20 years it will be 41%. That is unsustainable. Something has to be done. The problem is we are going to let government go deeper and deeper into this until we think we’re somehow going to have free medicine. If you think medicine is expensive today, just wait until it’s ‘free.’” •“Americans spend $100 billion a year treating what is now called “Type II Diabetes” brought on by obesity. It used to be called “Adult Onset Diabetes” – they changed the name because so many children were getting it. 1 in 3 American children today are overweight and 1 in 6 are technically obese . . . Why are American children so obese? It could have something to do with the fact that the average 8-10 year old spends 6 hours a day in front of a television screen or computer terminal . . .” •“Because of this entitlement mentality a majority of Americans feel entitled to an exemption from the income tax. The top 1 percent of American wage earners pay 40% of the income tax - the top 5 percent pay 60% of income taxes . . . The bottom 60 percent pay only 5% of the income taxes. That means for an American majority, in terms of the income tax, there is no incentive to restrain the growth of the government - so more and more Americans are taking advantage of an entitlement system that they are not paying for. The question is can the top 5% of income earners pay for the entire demands of
an exploding government.” •“I think its time Americans grow up, become more mature, less infantile, less preoccupied with entitlements, more preoccupied with facts, and with the complexities of the life they live. Our problem is that we have a kind of galloping economic illiteracy driven in part by the way we discuss these things. We live in the age of television and television is the survival of the briefest . . . where the average sound bite is 7 seconds.” I believe that Winston Churchill was right – that the American people will always do the right thing . . . after they have exhausted all the other alternatives . . .” •“I think that although our entitlement mentality is subverting the American character in important ways that the American majority still understands that the benevolent government is not always really a benefactor – that capitalism doesn’t make us better off that it makes us in fundamental ways better . . . I think the American people still understand what Robert Frost meant when he said I do not want to live in a homogenized society, I want the cream to rise . . . I think they understood what Ronald Reagan meant when he said I do not want to go back to the past but I want to go back to the past way of facing the future . . .”
By Stuart Revercomb firstname.lastname@example.org
> Amphitheater From page 1
would be recouped. No revenue forecast was presented at the meeting, and when asked, the consultants remained vague, saying only that revenue projections were not involved within the scope of their research. “One thing that the city council has to think about is the difference between operational versus capital cost,” Brian Townsend, Assistant City Manager for Community Development, said. The issue of a new amphitheater, which has been hotly debated since 2006, comes during a time in which the city is considering other expensive capital projects, including renovations to the pool at Washington Park and Countryside Golf course. The total cost of building the proposed Elmwood Park amphitheater is a just over $12.2 million. The Reserve Avenue site was rejected by the consultants, in part, because of the high price tag associated with building an amphitheater at that location. The total cost of an amphithe-
ater there would have been projected at $21.3 million, with much of the additional money allotted to demolish the National Guard armory building, flood-proofing the area, and altering the natural (flat) topography of the site, in order to give customers a better view during concerts and other events. Elmwood Avenue is not without its issues, however. Limited parking and traffic could present major headaches during events, though Townsend estimated that upwards of 5,000 parking spaces existed within one-quarter mile of the park. In addition, as a smaller site, Elmwood Park presents a greater challenge from a design standpoint, according to the consultant group. Public reaction to the plans was skeptical. Duane Howard, a community activist, voiced several concerns regarding the proposal. “For one, I would imagine that security is going to be an issue,” Howard said. “The potential that the place would be van-
dalized…and the large homeless population in Roanoke possibly seeking shelter there could be problems.” Howard also noted his reluctance to alter the history of the park, and suggested, if built, the amphitheater be named the Terry Pavilion, after Peyton Leftwich Terry, who once owned an estate on the land after which the park is named. “What is personally upsetting for me is this history seems to be forgotten,” Howard said. “Elmwood to me is, and should continue to be, a memorial to that man.” Construction for this project is not likely to begin anytime soon. The city this week tentatively approved massive budget cuts for 2009-2010. Townsend indicated, if approved, the amphitheater is still between two and five years away from becoming a reality.
By Matt Reeve 42!.30/24!4)/. /&