4BETTER OR WORSE- The week in review

Ugliest gaffe: Senator George Allen's "macaca" comment to UVA student/opposition filmer S.R. Sidarth provokes a firestorm of debate. What exactly was he trying to say?

Faintest support of Albemarle's attempts to control growth: "Central planning didn't work in Russia, so I don't know why we're trying to do it here," Supe Lindsay Dorrier tells breakfasting Albemarle-Charlottesville Republicans August 12.

Most like your mom: The Albemarle School Board votes to ask the General Assembly to allow police to notify schools of underage drinkers, Matt Deegan reports in the Progress. Lone dissenter Jon Stokes calls it a "kneejerk" idea and asks whether the schools should take on the responsibility of monitoring off-campus misbehavior. 

Worst loss of a community activist: Grace Tinsley, 72, the first black woman to serve on the Charlottesville School Board, dies August 9.

Boldest protest: Gay UVA students Rachel Miller and Wyatt Fore notify the media in advance of their August 9 attempt to enlist in the military despite its "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. The rejected wannabe recruits are part of a national gay rights organization called Soul Force, based in Lynchburg, of all places.  

Worst James River accident: A 16-year-old teen from Scottsville falls off Rock Island August 13 and strikes his head. The youth is in serious condition and on life support, Rob Seal reports in the Progress. Four teenagers with the boy are charged with underage possession of alcohol.

Most fecal: At least eight streams in Albemarle and Buckingham counties that feed into the James River have high levels of fecal bacteria, according to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Impaired streams include Totier and Ballenger creeks. Aaron Kessler has the story in the Progress.

Worst day for fires: August 10, when a 136-year-old Stony Point house, a Lonesome Mountain Road barn, and J. Bruce Barnes Lumber in downtown Crozet all ignite.

Worst vandalism: Several homes, vehicles, and construction equipment at Old Trail in Crozet are vandalized August 13.

Biggest copper bust: Tony Dirk Park is arrested August 10 in Louisa for allegedly stealing 59 rolls– 300 pounds– from the county's railroad tracks, WCAV reports. With copper at $3.65 a pound, the wire has a street value of nearly $1,100.

Wisest plea bargain: Taylor Behl-murderer Benjamin Fawley, 39, gets 30 years August 9  for the death of the 17-year-old VCU freshman, who disappeared September 5, 2005. In return for his second-degree murder plea, prosecutors drop 22 counts of possession of child pornography.

Most chilling survey: A Mason-Dixon poll shows that 56 percent of Virginia's voters are likely to approve a state constitutional amendment in November banning gay marriage– in spite of the state's ample laws prohibiting such acts. Bob Gibson has the story in the DP.

Best review of a local writer in the Washington Post: Donna Lucey's Archie and Amelie: Love and Madness in the Gilded Age is reviewed July 30.

Worst week for flying home from London: A terrorist plot creates mayhem at Heathrow, and in the U.S., shampoo and bottled water are banned from carry-on luggage. 

Worst press intimidation (besides the Albemarle commonwealth's attorney subpoena of all media outlets): Tina Mae Bickley gets 15 days in jail for attacking News Virginian reporter Michael Owen when he came to her house April 21 to ask about her assaults earlier that day of Waynesboro City Manager Doug Walker and human resources manager Jim Fitzgerald outside City Hall, the News Virginian reports. Bickley, who'd been fired from the Waynesboro public works department, was sentenced to five days in those attacks.