People to watch


Kristin Szakos: While professionally she's been a reporter/writer/translator, community organizing has always been close to the vice mayor's heart— she's written two books about it and her husband runs Virginia Organizing. Early on, she led the local campaign of another community organizer, Barack Obama, and her website photo of the president is not the standard grip-and-grin, but one in which it looks like he actually knows her. Szakos ran for City Council in 2009 and has implemented the popular town hall meetings that take City Council out to the neighborhoods. She's running for council again, and if she's elected, odds are pretty good that she's going to be Charlottesville's next mayor. Pet peeve: Civil War monuments.

Paul Beyer: When we first heard of the young VP at a local construction company that bears his family name in 2011, he was a 29-year-old running for City Council, and he didn't get the Democratic nomination. Rather than just fading away, Beyer has launched something really cool: The Tom Tom Founder's Festival, an ambitious smorgasbord of music, art, and innovation that he sees as Charlottesville's answer to South by Southwest. In 2012 he debuted a month-long event that used unusual venues for music and included the first McGuffey block party. This year the festival was more tightly honed into a long, powerhouse weekend focused on innovation and supported by UVA's Darden School— and it had a good beat and was easy to dance to. Likes: good design in logos.

Wes Bellamy: Not that we're trying to focus only on people who've run for City Council, but that's how the 26-year-old county teacher garnered more widespread attention beyond his work with a youth mentoring/boxing program called H.Y.P.E.— Helping Young People Evolve. And we're not just talking about his arrest three weeks after announcing his campaign for not showing up in court, a matter that was a mix-up of traffic violations and misunderstandings straightened out before the primary. In any case, Bellamy would be remembered for his rare June 11 tie of 1,088 votes to get on the November ballot, barely losing to Bob Fenwick by five votes. Even without the nomination, we fully expect to hear more from Bellamy. Frequent fashion statement: a bowtie.


Steve Sellers: Only the fourth chief since the Albemarle County Police Department was formed in 1983, Sellers has been putting his mark on the agency since he started in 2011. He stresses integrity and ethics for his officers, and they're a lot more likely to get a ticket if they're involved in an accident. More seriously, he's had three officers fire their weapons in the past six months, including one fatal shooting, and takes the stance that there's no rush in letting the public know who the shooters are until all investigations are complete. Meanwhile he's lobbying for a firing range. He prefers to be called "colonel," so keep that in mind when talking to the chief. Pet peeve: embezzling.

John Whitehead: The founder of the civil liberties organization, the Rutherford Institute, has been saying for years that America is developing into a police state, and with recent incidents here, such as the SWAT team arrest for two pot plants, or the ABC sting that put an ice-cream buying coed in jail, people are taking him a lot more seriously. Although he's a lawyer best known for representing people he believes are being oppressed by government (think Paula Jones), Whitehead started the well-regarded, now-defunct popular culture magazine Gadfly, and has been known to pen an article on the Beatles. His most recent book is, no surprise, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. Pet peeves: SWAT teams, zero-tolerance policies in schools.

Ann Mallek: The chair of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors is a farmer, so don't be surprised to hear her apologize for not returning a call because a cow was calving. She's a county native who has a firm, courteous manner in running the board meetings— yet she's not afraid to play hardball, which explains why she's serving her fourth year as chair in what has traditionally been a two-year gig, sort of a payback for the notorious so-called "midnight vote" by her Republican colleagues that resurrected the controversial Western 29 bypass in a rare parliamentary procedure that caught Mallek offguard. Likes: swing, square dancing.

Correction 8/2/2013: Steve Sellers is the fourth Albemarle police chief, not the third as originally reported.


Out of six, you can only find two people to watch that aren't on the public payroll or have tried to be?

Sellers is at least the 4th police chief.

Bailey, Johnstone, Miller, Sellers.

I'd love to watch Szakos admit she's clueless followed by watching her leave town. Being mayor means little in this town, but anything that even smells of a promotion for her would be waaayyyyy out of line.

@ cvillein - I believe of these 6 only ONE isn't on the public payroll or has tried to be - John Whitehead. Both Bellamy (recently) and Beyer (4 years ago?) ran in Dem primaries but didn't make the cut.

So Szakos has never actually had a job, like her hero?

Reporting and translating are real jobs, writing is more of a profession. As for her hero, working for the CIA amongst the Habibs and Haboobs in Pakistan ought to qualify to some degree. Not that I like or admire either of them. (Szakos and Obama, I mean).

People to watch? Yes, but not for the non-reason reasons in this unpaid for (?) campaign ad for several of them.

Re Kristen Szakos: As someone who’s been a watcher of and participant in local politics for more than 50 years, I can attest Szakos' uniqueness. Never have I heard any public person talk more about the need for the people to be heard. Also, never have I seen any public person more determined not to hear the people.

In last few years, my neighbors and I have had to fend off multiple predations by City government, private developers, and, most notably, private developers promoted and enabled by City government. In the course of perpetually pitifull public process, we have often used email in an attempt to register our positions with City Councilors, City boards, etc. As a result, many of us have been on the receiving end of Szakos’ patented roarbacks, in which she pours torrents of not very coherent words onto what we’ve said like so much boiling oil dumped from a citadel’s turret onto approachers. One neighbor adroitly labels these extraordinarily dismissive missives “nastygrams.” Another forwarded to me one in which Szakos began, “Where to begin?”

Well, there’s an easy answer to that question. Begin a response to a constituent who has taken the time to compose thoughts relevant to a pending issue by thanking the person for taking the time and thought, assuring the person that you will consider what what was said, then doing just that.

But what matters most about Szakos’ reaction to people expressing their concerns, opinions, et al., isn’t what she roars back, it’s that she does the roaring in advance of scheduled public hearings. That means, of course, that she has no intention of actually hearing anything said at the alleged hearing.

Add to this, the extraordinary insensitivity, irresponsibility, and illogic Ms. Szakos demonstrated in the matter of the City giving land purchased in the 1940s and ‘50s for expanding full-up Oakwood Cemetery to Southern Development using Habitat for Humanity as a junior partner/stalking horse. After claiming in emails that the public purchase documented in City Council minutes, City planning maps, etc. was “a rumor,” she voted for the giveaway of the property assessed at roughly a quarter million dollars. Then, when confronted with the fact that the vote deprived low income residents of a key resource, deprived local African Americans of what had become a communal family burying ground, deprived local history of the next three-dimensional chapters an expanded Oakwood would write, deprived the neighborhood of the perpetual green space earlier Councils had invested in, ad inf., she suggested that the City might buy land elsewhere for additional burials.

So the City should use 21st century tax dollars to buy land to use for a purpose for which mid 20th century tax dollars had already provided? And the City should do that even though newly purchased land would utterly lack the personal and historic resonance the already owned Oakwood land would have provided?

Otherwise, re Paul Beyer, who ran as a Democrat only after the Tea Party operatives he first consulted reminded him, as a County raised child, that he had a chance to win in the City only if he had a capital D after his name: Last month, when I read news accounts of the City being levied fines by EPA for pollution violations and noted that part of the penalty stemmed from transgressions by private developers not sufficiently overseen by the City, I assumed intrepid local journalists would follow up with the name of the private developer who was costing the public money. When no follow up came, I asked who the problem developer was. The answer was the Beyer family because of egregious practices at Huntley, an environmental disaster from the outset and also son/VP Paul Beyer’s real address – according to City tax records – rather than the trendy loft the NYU film major rented as his political launch pad/stage set.

I stand corrected. Thanks for setting me straight.

Antoinette W. Roades, double thanks.

Only one of these I really respect and like-Whitehead. Mallek, can't say I feel one way or the other about, never having beena county resident.
But most of all I am glad I no longer live in a city with a vice-mayor who makes no bones of the fact she'd like our Civil Wat monuments gone. Hope she doesn't move to Culpeper- the town has 3 streets side by side off Rt.522 named General Longstreet,General Lee, and General A.P. Hill. She'd have an aneurysm!

He said so himself.


Szakos On Free Spelling Lessons For Dislexic Adults

a sad collection of zombies , who can't wait
wait to knock down your door and take a bite out of you.

anywhere else and like the rolling stones sang, they
would be "yesterday's papers"

what a sad collection of people to watch.

this is the kind of news that makes people like
jay rosen at cringe.

is this the annual manual for the undead ?

Looks like he may have already

Yes, some of those people need to be watched, as per the old adage "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer."

John Whitehead is the only Mensch in the bunch...
And the real skunk at the picnic would be Colonel Klinck himself.
If what you mean instead of "people to watch" is "who to look over your shoulder for" you might be more accurate.

We better "watch" Kristen Szakos -- with an eagle eye:

Did you know she had the brazen audacity to NOT recuse herself from voting to give nearly $20 K of taxpayer money to her hubby Joe's Virginia Organizing? (honorable mention of shame goes to her four, fellow councilors...that not one of them to put their foot down for even the appearance of propriety). But she's an Organizer first and a steward of the city's interests second.

But even worse than this was her outrageous enabling of the Occupy Charlottesville debacle.

Not only did she begin it all by suggesting that, perhaps, council might donate (i.e. - stick taxpayers for the cost of) "free" Port-A-Potties for the cash-strapped activists, but she and the others displayed brazen favoritism by suspending standard code compliance and fees expected of all other groups.

* No standard application process and filing fee? No problem.

* No liability insurance? No problem.

* No license from the Health Department to store and serve food to the public? No problem.

* Allow them to sleep overnight in a park when no one else is allowed to do so? No problem.

* No prohibition on building open fires? No problem.

* No money to pay for the power bill and pass the cost to the taxpayers instead? No problem.

AND Ms. Szakos was photographed at Lee Park on eviction night, silently standing idly by while every curse word in the book was hurled at city police officers as they carried out their duty professionally and in accordance with the law. Shame on her.

Her behavior during Occupy Charlottesville ALONE should eliminate her from your getting your vote for another term on Council, let alone her seemingly pre-ordained position as Mayor.

But if this still isn't enough for you, let's not forget her desire to remove valuable statuary from our parks to satisfy her minority political agenda...and in case you missed it, her insulting comment at a March city council meeting about Charlottesville's "low income" citizens who "don't know trees from bricks". Listen here on You Tube:

If Szakos was given the power to tear down statues...a public book burning would probably be her next mission. Disgusting individual.

So, back at WhoaNelly.
Ms. Szakos suggested getting rid of the statues romanticizing the "lost cause" of the Confederacy. Actually a good idea. The Confederacy was in defense of the original "one percenter" society, an agrarian "paradise" run by faux aristocrats like Rhodesian planters, a throwback to feudalism.
While it can be argued that the states of "Dixie" should have been allowed, even encouraged, to go their separate ways and become a backwater country, it's also true that once the war was fought and won, people like Davis and Lee should have been strung up right along with Mary Surat and the rebel states' assets broken up and reverted to territorial status.
Statues of Confederate heroes were all put up during Jim Crow times as repudiation of the Federal victory and assertion of the rightness of the Southern "cause".

Gee ..thanks for the history lesson. Now back to tearing down statues, some of which are world renouned...but don't let that Taliban mind set stop you.

So, Tony H., ancient Rome was built on the backs of slaves. Maybe you and Szakos should champion tearing down the ruins.