Charlottesville Breaking News
Since the revelation that a potentially hyperinflated appraisal could have defrauded Virginia taxpayers out of millions of dollars, former governor Tim Kaine has now made his first public statements on the state's controversial purchase of what will eventually become Biscuit Run State Park. And he's still enthusiastic.
"I thought it was a very good deal," Kaine says.
Appearing calm and well-briefed on the issue, the now U.S. Senate hopeful paused briefly with reporters after a fundraising lunch at a Charlottesville restaurant on Tuesday, June 7 to answer questions.
Kaine says that only the $9.8 million cash purchase price and not the millions in appraisal-dependent tax credits– which he says the sellers tried to amass after the transaction– were part of his gubernatorial calculus.
"We made no deal on the tax credits," says Kaine. "That is something the tax department does."
As the Hook has reported, a group of deep-pocketed speculators– including millionaire bank founder Hunter Craig and music mogul Coran Capshaw– unloaded the troubled property on the state in late 2009 after their plans for housing flopped.
According to leaked documents, the group tried to snag over $30 million in tax credits by claiming– just four and a half years and one popped bubble after buying it– that...
Last Week, the Hook's cover story [Extreme Makeover: rich edition] showed how wealthy property owners have taken advantage of the State's generous Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program, receiving hundreds of thousands in tax breaks for fixing up their old homes. Over on the east side of Jefferson Park Avenue, home to some of the City's most attractive residences (and where the parallel roads are now oddly traffic-free due to the bridge reconstruction), there stands what appears to be an ideal candidate for a rehabilitation program: a uninhabited circa 1912 Colonial Revival-style one and one-half story, 2,753 square-foot home purchased last September and in need of some TLC.
However, despite paying close to $400,000 for the property, its owner, local businessman J. Kermit Anderson, recently applied for a demolition permit. The Hook left messages with Anderson, curious about what he planned to build at what has been known as number 2424, and whether he had considered rehabilitating the place with the help of historic tax credits, but he has yet to respond.
However, according to City officials, Anderson has no interest in saving the old house.
"The property isn't protected. I spoke to Mr. Anderson to see if he would reconsider the demolition," says City Preservation Planner Mary Joy Scala, "but he says the building...
Carole Thorpe wants the Charlottesville community to know the difference between sustainability and Sustainability. The former, argues the Jefferson Area Tea Party chairwoman, is the common goal of achieving reasonable environmental standards, while the latter, she says, is the deceptive name for a radical agenda intending to strengthen the central government under “the guise of well-intentioned environmentalism.” At a June 2 press conference, Thorpe assured the audience that it was Sustainability, with the sly capital S, that the JATP hopes to eradicate from local policy.
Eleven people– interested civilians, members of the press, and one official from the Board of Supervisors— showed up at the Albemarle County Office Building to hear Thorpe and several other panelists speak against the county’s environmental agenda.
Thorpe denounced Albemarle’s sustainability measures, including its membership in the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, as well as its participation in a ”Cool Counties” initiative, and the federally-funded “Livable Communities." She argued that these policies wrongly justify federal and international encroachment in local matters.
“Our local problems and objectives should be identified, planned, and implemented by local elected officials and local personnel with the input of local citizens, and funded with local taxpayer money,�...
You can dance if you want to, but you might want to leave your friends behind– unless you plan on spending a night in jail.
That's what happened in 2008 when a group of D.C. natives staged a silent flash mob at the Jefferson Memorial to commemorate Thomas Jefferson's birthday. What resulted were arrests based on National Park Service regulations.
Last month, the dancing ban was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals in a decision that asserted that dancing can detract from the atmosphere of solemn commemoration that should be found at the monument.
The decision to uphold the ban prompted another group of activists to take to their feet, this time protesting what they saw as an infringement on their First Amendment rights. A YouTube video of the May 28th event shows police throwing one activist to the ground, images that raise questions of police discretion– if not outright brutality.
"Thomas Jefferson would be rolling over in his grave," says Charlottesville civil libertarian John Whitehead.
Whitehead, who heads the non-profit Rutherford Institute, worries about the precedent that the ruling sets, considering that it offers no specific guidelines for prospective merry-makers.
"The ruling gives too much leeway," says Wh...
A man living near the infamous February wildfire that scorched hundreds of acres in Western Albemarle testified that he saw a distinctive male figure on a John Deere tractor ignite a ruinous blaze on a day when burning was not just illegal, but– with abnormally high winds– practically insane.
"I saw a person at the brush pile leaning over it and then backing off," testified Ivy resident Mitchell Sams at the trial of developer Alexander Toomy. "When I first saw it, it was just one little puff, as if you had just lit a small piece of paper."
That was as close as the prosecution could get to putting Toomy– a Drew Carey lookalike– at the scene of the pile in the Ragged Mountain Farm subdivision. But with Sams about 1,500 feet away and his view admittedly skewed by branches, it wasn't close enough to convince the judge.
In the six-hour, May 31 trial in Albemarle General District Court, Toomy produced a diverse array of witnesses and telephone records backing his claim that he was juggling hay deals and sipping a beer inside a barn while watching a televised UVA basketball game. Judge William Barkley required little time to rule that there was insufficient evidence to convict Toomy on the pair of misdemeanor reckless burning charges.
"Why did they ever prosecute him?" asks Andy Hord, another neighbor who testified to...