The week in review

Biggest upset: Local Dems dump two-term incumbent City Councilor Meredith Richards, the party's challenger to Congressman Virgil Goode in 2002, at its February 7 convention, instead nominating newcomers Kendra Hamilton, David Brown, and incumbent Kevin Lynch.

Best reprieve for Fido: UVA med school puts its Life Saving Techniques lab on hold while it determines whether live dogs should be used to teach medical procedures.

Best reprieve for debt-burdened underHoos: UVA unveils an ambitious plan to replace loans with grants for low-income students, and cap the amount of debt students carry away from the university. President John Casteen announces "Access UVA" in a Rotunda Dome Room ceremony on February 6.

Best management: Pollstar magazine names Dave Matthews Band bossman Coran Capshaw manager of the year at a star-studded gala. (D.C.'s 9:30 Club was named best nightclub.)

Most iffy job security: A February 8 AP story claims the idea of paying $5 million to buy out the contract of UVA coach Pete Gillen, due to the squad's 2-7 ACC record, is "gaining support." Gillen says he's in for the long haul.

Most innovative ploy to get domestic partner benefits at UVA: Gay rights activists and 2003 grads Andrew Borcini and Andrew Bond ask Casteen to extend benefits to UVA employees, and threaten to start accepting donations on the website,, if the university doesn't come up with benefits, the Cavalier Daily reports.

Worst bioterrorism: The poison ricin is found in Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's Senate office.

Most embarrassing realization: What the heck is ricin? (A castor bean derivative that doesn't die under the irradiation that's now standard in Congress.)

Worst blow to Governor Mark Warner: Republicans shoot down his tax reform plan.

Coldest slap at Albemarle/Charlottesville in the General Assembly: A Senate bill demands the western 29 bypass be built, despite local objections, Bob Gibson reports in the Daily Progress. County supervisor/bypass opponent Dennis Rooker calls the measure "punitive."

Most schizophrenic bills coming out of the House of Delegates on emergency contraception: One prohibits colleges and universities from distributing the morning-after pill; another requires public schools to instruct students that the pill can be used to prevent pregnancy after a rape.

Sternest nod to affordable housing: Albemarle supervisors approve a policy that requires that developers include 15 percent low-cost housing in their projects.

Least likely candidate for Mother of the Year: Samantha Morris is convicted on two felony counts of child neglect February 3 and faces up to 10 years in prison after her five- and two-year-old sons the toddler naked– were found wandering around alone her trailer park while she was asleep with a male friend September 29, according to a Liesel Nowak report in the Progress.

Best sign bigger isn't always better: The Richmond mall called Stony Point Fashion Park, despite being about half the size of its rival, Short Pump Town Center, generated almost as much in sales, logging about $18.5 million during November to Short Pump's $20.7 million, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Best review: The mega-selling Covesville author is back at the top of his game, according to the New York Times' Janet Maslin, in a review of John Grisham's latest legal drama: ''The Last Juror does not need to coast on its author's megapopularity. It's a reminder of how the Grisham juggernaut began."

Best duet: At the Grammy Awards, Charlottesville's own Dave Matthews shares a mic with Sting and sings "I Saw Her Standing There" to honor the 40th anniversary of the Beatles' appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Vince Gill, with Virginia Beach's Pharrell Williams playing drums, rounds out the Grammy's Fab Four.

Best commercial: Brady Bushey Ford parodies Howard Dean's Iowa litany-laden concession speech. Yeeaarrgghh!