4BETTER OR WORSE- The week in review

Worst disaster: The 7.0 earthquake that devastates Haiti has far-reaching impact and affects many in Central Virginia. UVA grad student Stephanie Jean-Charles is killed in her home in Port-au-Prince January 12 when the quake hit. Concerned locals at the UVA Medical Center, the Charlottesville Fire Department and 'Hoos for Haiti, among others, organize relief efforts.

Biggest changing of the guard: Republican Bob McDonnell is sworn in January 16 as Virginia's 71st governor. He takes office with a $4 billion budget shortfall and a vow to not raise taxes.

Most controversial lame-duck decision: Outgoing Governor Tim Kaine requests the transfer to Germany of former UVA student Jens Soering, who was convicted of the 1985 murders of his then-girlfriend Elizabeth Haysom's parents and is serving two life sentences.

Most disappointing lame-duck refusal: Kaine ignores the pleas of the ACLU, the Rutherford Institute, and other civil liberties organizations to restore the voting rights of felons. Virginia and Kentucky are the only states that automatically disenfranchise felons unless the governor acts to restore voting rights..

Most ripoffs: The university's lengthy holiday break makes it a prime time for thieves who know students are out of town; and as of January 14, 17 break-ins had been reported, with more expected to be revealed as students return, according to a Ted Strong story in the Daily Progress. Since June, 58 thefts have been reported in the student-heavy Venable area.

Most arrests: Charlottesville Police nab three people in conjunction with the Venable burglaries: Tracy Lee Warren, 20, of Franklin, Porsha L. Smith, 21, from Sussex County, and Brian Deon Smith, 19, also from Sussex. And WINA reports Andre Nathaniel Henderson is arrested for a B&E in the 400 block of Brandon Avenue.

Worst fire: A suspicious blaze destroys a Rives Street apartment early January 16, according to WINA. Police say there was a domestic dispute earlier in the evening, and the family dog and two snakes perished.

Worst shooting: Eighteen-year-old Mineral resident William H. Taylor Jr. is shot in the chest January 12. His father, William H. Taylor, 48, is charged with malicious wounding, use of a firearm in commission of a felony, firing inside an occupied dwelling, and reckless handling of a firearm. The son is in stable condition.

Craziest shooting: Some knucklehead firing a rifle at 2am January 14 hits a 19-year-old in his 1300-block Riverdale Drive bedroom, wounding him in his right arm. No arrests have been made.

Craziest reason for a shooting: A broken Dutch Masters cigar sets off an argument that leaves Aaron Dixon paralyzed. On January 13, Victor Ramon Maxey, 24, is sentenced to five years in prison with two suspended, Tasha Kates reports in the DP.

Biggest paychecks: UVA's John Casteen remains one of the highest paid public university presidents, taking home $797,048 a year and ranking fourth on a national Chronicle of Higher Education survey, while Virginia Tech President Charles Steger is number eight at $732,064. Casteen's successor, Teresa Sullivan, who takes over August 1, will earn $680K.  

Biggest bonuses: Despite budget shortfalls all over the state, 904 city employees get bonuses in December after City Council votes to hand out a $5.3 million budget carryover, NBC29 reports. All employees who have worked with the city for more than a year get $750, which works out to around $500 after taxes.

Newest bridges: Albemarle County opens two pedestrian bridges along the Rivanna River at Free Bridge to provide a continuous trail from Darden Towe Park to the new Martha Jefferson Hospital on Pantops. Brandon Shulleeta has the story in the Progress.

Best news for the road weary: Governor McDonnell vows to open rest areas closed by his predecessor as a cost-saving measure.


1 comment

One thing we've learned about Soering's spirituality: He gravitates toward strife and controversy and clings to it like a dog to a bone. Even if he is not released, he must certainly be pleased at this opportunity for outside attention, to expand on his thoughts at length, to stir up more argument. This is a platform for him to regurgitate his twisted version of the case and to insult VA justice for many years to come.