Charlottesville Breaking News

Last day: Mike Farruggio turns in his cuffs

If a guy has been a cop for 25 years in Charlottesville, yeah, there are going to be some stories.

"We had some prior information that UVA students were going to be streaking," reveals Captain Gary Pleasants. "I told everyone not to go to UVA. The next day I see on the cover of the Cavalier Daily Mike Farruggio and another officer, standing there with a naked guy in the picture."

It's Farruggio's last day with the Charlottesville Police Department, and Pleasants relates the story while eating a piece of raspberry drip cake as colleagues file in to say farewell.

Sergeant Bobby Haney, who succeeds Farruggio in staff development and accreditation, recalls SWAT training. "We hadn't rappelled in a couple of years," he says, standing in Farruggio's old/Haney's new office. "Mike says he'll go first. He gets out on a 40-foot fire tower, sits back in his gear, flips back, and he's hanging upside down."

Brooklyn-born Farruggio remembers the culture shock moving down to Charlottesville after working two years for NYPD, including a stint in New York's notorious 77th precinct, where a colleague left the windows open in his squad car, and returned to find the car on fire.

On the mean streets of Charlottesville, Farruggio started as a beat cop on August 29, 1988, and worked night shift for six years. He spent six years in narcotics. He made detective. He met the woman who's now been his wife of 16 years, Jan, who's still a dispatcher. And he...

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UVA expat: How Nobel winner Coase got pushed from Charlottesville

Credited with launching the field of Law and Economics, Ronald H. Coase was one of the world's most acclaimed living economists. That is until Monday, September 2, when he died at the age of 102.

"If there's such a thing as the founding fathers of Law and Economics, he is up there," says University of Virginia law professor George Cohen. "He got the whole enterprise started."

For the past five decades, Coase's ideas have brought accolades to the University of Chicago, acclaim that, ironically, could have gone to UVA, where Coase was teaching when he published his most famous treatise— except that UVA let him leave due to what appears to have been a misunderstanding.

His seminal paper, "The Problem of Social Cost," was published in 1960 when the British-born Coase was living in Charlottesville and teaching economics at what UVA then called its Thomas Jefferson Center for Studies in Political Economy.

"He introduced this whole notion," says Cohen, "that people through private negotiation can reach an efficient solution."

What Coase and his colleagues were challenging, Cohen says, was the widespread belief that the only way to protect scarce resources— such as air, water, or habitat— was via taxation. Unfortunately, as Coase and Center co-founder James M. Buchanan would learn, using markets to achi...

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Thank heaven: No injuries after SUV plows into 7-Eleven

An early morning stop to buy a sweet treat for her three-year-old turned into a terrifying experience for county resident Ande Schneider, who was standing by the Slurpee machine at the 7-Eleven on U.S. 29 North near Proffit Road when an SUV plowed into the store just after 9am on Tuesday, September 3.

"I thought it was an explosion," says Schneider. "He knocked over three or four aisles, demolished them. There were two-liter sodas flying everywhere."

According to Albemarle County Police spokesperson Carter Johnson, the driver, 63-year-old Kerry Nixon, has been charged with reckless driving following the incident, which is still under investigation. No one was injured.

The 7-Eleven is closed, says Johnson, and a man answering the phone at the store hung up on a reporter.

Interviewed an hour after the incident, Schneider says she is still shaking, especially when she recalls she'd given her son a choice of sweet treats: Slurpee or candy.

"If we had been in the candy aisle, Soren would have been dead," she says. "Thank God we didn't go down that aisle."

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Missing teen's phone found

Authorities have confirmed that a phone belonging to missing Nelson County teen Alexis Murphy has been recovered during the investigation. FBI spokesperson Dee Rybiski says in a release that the investigation into Murphy's disappearance has brought in hundreds of tips from in- and out-of-state since the August 11 arrest of Lovingston resident Randy Allen Taylor, who is charged with abduction.

While law enforcement previously confirmed that several cell phones had been recovered, the location and condition of the phone has not been revealed.


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SWAT overkill: Our military weaponry is now aimed at us

We Americans are a fearful lot. Whenever a politician wants our vote, all he has to do is scare us. The candidate who creates the most fearsome boogeyman and proposes harsh measures to fight this enemy wins the election. Then, off he (or she) goes to the seat of power, and spends our money on fighting enemies, both real and imagined.

For decades, a very effective boogeyman has been illegal drugs. Our taxes have been poured into a war on our own citizens: people using marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or some other substance in order to get high. We are very afraid of this, apparently.

Additionally, we are fearful – and not without reason – of terrorist attacks. Naturally, we want to be protected from this danger. The Department of Homeland Security, which was created in response to the events of September 11, 2001, supplies astonishingly generous grants to localities, both urban and rural, so that these cities and towns may acquire military equipment— presumably to thwart our enemies, and to prevail in any hostage situations that may arise.

Great idea, right? What could go wrong?

According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, since the Department of Homeland Security was created it has handed out over $34 billion in grants to localities to purchase such items as military-grade armored vehicles (some with nifty rotating turrets), grenade-launchers, and helicopters. By 2014, the Homeland Security grant bonanza is expected to reach $19 billio...

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