Your weekend Wow

Last weekend it was the Friday Night Dance Party, this weekend - I give you what can only be described as the... well, I'm not even sure how to describe it.

In reference to the vote to extend drinking hours on city property for events and such - 3 council members voted for, 4 against. (Mind you, it would enable you to buy alcohol til' midnight at city events.. oooh.)

(from the article)The four members who formed the prevailing majority included the two ministers on the council, Mayor Nelson Harris and Sherman Lea, as well as Alfred Dowe, who talks about his religious convictions often, and Gwen Mason.

Alright, so we can all guess why Harris and Lea voted as they did. Fine, stick to your guns guys - that'll work. Alfred Dowe? Meh - does it really matter his reason? The Carlton Banks of the City Council attempts to stay relevant.

Kind of white.

But no, the real stunner in all this "mommy dearest" voting is Mommy herself: Gwen Mason.

I'm going to leave you with Mommy's quote on this whole matter. No comment from me.

Mason said she voted against the request because she believes 10 p.m. is late enough for drinks to be served at such events at city facilities.

"If you haven't finished drinking by 10 p.m., you don't need to do any more of it ... probably time to go home," she wrote this week. "From a public safety standpoint, it was the more prudent choice."

Enjoy the weekend.


Open Call

Attention citizens of Southeast Roanoke and Garden City - your neighbors need you!

We are looking for individuals who would like to contribute to a collective blog about Southeast Roanoke.

You can see the test base here: seroanoke.blogspot.com

We want news, information, reports, and all manners of stuff. We will be posting SE meeting information, minutes, and like subjects.

Contact us at forgotten.roanoke-AT-gmail.com if you are interested. Or leave a comment on the Southeast Rising blog.

Thank you for your attention.


Some interesting numbers

On the topic of the City Market area, and such - the idea of mobile vendors has been brought up a few times. Some numbers for New York City's vendor program, and what it brings in - plus the article that the numbers are derived from:

In City Parks

$5.1 million: Money raised for the city's general fund from food vending licenses in the parks.

$300,000: Cost of bid to operate a hot dog vending cart in Central Park near the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

$600: Minimum bid for a food cart in city parks.

$500: Minimum bid for a food cart 10 years ago.

$2: Parks Department-regulated cost of a hot dog.

$2: Parks Department-regulated cost of a pretzel.

$1.25: Parks Department-regulated cost of a 12-ounce soda.

50 cents: Regulated cost of a bag of potato chips.

Outside City Parks

3,000: Number of annual street vending permits for food issued by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

1,000: Number of summer permits available.

$200: Permit cost for processing food cart.

$74: Cost to license non-cooking food cart.

$50: Cost for food vending operator's license for two years

$1: Average cost of a hot dog outside city parks.

50 cents: Cost of hot dog plus bun and all the fixings to many vendors.

The article can be found here: Hot Dog Stands are Multimillion Dollar Business (via WCBSTV.com CBS2NY)

Stupid Question

If the city can plow the pathways and walkways of Elmwood Park without problem, and dig out the Railside Amphitheatre with ease, then why can't they at least get a sand truck to my street?

Or anyone else's street for that matter?

I guess we should be happy though - the main roads were clear (for the most part). But if the side roads were too - ahh, there I go dreaming again.

Oh, and it looks like next Monday and Tuesday we're in for more of the same... Me thinks the city better examine it's policy for dealing with such situations.



Something new, Finetune.com - you can see the player just to the right there - under the little used lingr.com link..

now you too can laugh at my musical tastes like so many have before. Yes, apparently all music made after 1998 sucks. Judging by my playlist, anyway.

myretailroanoke part 2

Well, if nothing else - it's a fun way to see where your tastes lie in comparison to those around you.

Currently there are 632 registered users, listing 265 retailers (some conceptual - like pharmacy downtown), and 3943 ballots cast.

I discovered at least 2 companies I forgot about, some I never wanted to see again, and changed one of my 10 votes already.

Does it matter in the long run? Who knows, but it's fun anyway.

- give it a shot.



Alright, I know I missed it big time last time.. but I've got a feelin'.. ooooh a feelin' so strong this time.

I'm going with 2.5 to 3.5 inches this time. Looking at the spread of this bad boy, it's going to be interesting none the less.

But hey, at least it warmed up a bit huh?

3:30PM - Just wanted to remind you all that if this starts with large flakes, it's going to last a while and deliver a decent snow. Small flakes indicate a more tumultuous storm, and a faster hit. The faster - the less likely to leave us with a good amount. Like a summer pop-up thunderstorm, it's all heat and thunder, but when it's over - we are just barely damp.

My Retail Roanoke launches

Persistence pays folks.. and here is some early word on MyRetailRoanoke.com

Site design is.. interesting. Looks nothing like any of the other city websites. A little confusing at first. Create an account, vote on retailers you would like to see come to Roanoke - you can add some if you don't see them listed.

Then you get to vote for ones that have been previously listed, and they go into the top ten. From there, well - I'm not too sure yet. But it appears like you can write testimonials about the businesses if you so choose.

Poke around it, give it a good nudge. I'll have a further review when I have had more time to play with it.

I don't even know where to begin...

So let's start with something pleasant, the impending snow. Not a lot of snow, just enough to close schools and make things look pretty.

Let's all think about that for a moment.. clean fresh snow..

Alright, got that?

Now onto other things...

Re: City Council V. Board of Education - this is what property taxes are for. Roads, schools, infrastructure. Schools. You know, those places where you pack your kids 1500 at a time and hope for the best? Need I mention that the city has LESS high schools than are acceptable to those from outside the area? Now I'm not suggesting the City take on a burden of immense proportions to build, but the addition of one more high school - in the southeastern section would alleviate much crowding, reduce the number of school buses, and relieve the burden on the physical structures and staff. But regardless, the issue is not building an entirely new school system - it's replacing an existing school.

This sets a bad precedence and example for the children of Roanoke, and those looking at Roanoke. It also shows how disastrous the inter-agency workings are here.

But again.. think of the clean, pure snow and breathe...

In other news, the city is set to launch a new website at 11am today. MyRetailRoanoke.com is slated for a press-conference announcement held at Valley View over by JC Penney's. From what my inside sources have told me, the website is going to be a new tool, or lure if you will, to attract retailers to Roanoke. Now, I am curious to see how a website called "MY retail Roanoke" will attract retailers from outside the Roanoke area. But I guess thats what the press conference is for. I will have a review later on, rest assured.

In other news, the group that I wrote about yesterday - Valley Forward does have a website, and I was remiss in finding it. ValleyForward.net looks and reads very "in the box" to me, but thats just me - decide for yourself.

I think thats probably one of my biggest problems with any "group" such as NewVaConnects, Valley Forward, the once-glorious Jaycees: They are using outmoded structures for the groups themselves. Mission Statements, Position Papers, Committees... outmoded models that are no longer relevant to the conversation. You want something different - then you have to be different.

For example - theres a group here that is just getting it's start, Chefapalooza.

What is it? Well, its a community of cooks and people who love to cook.. but more than that, what it will become is far more than that simple. It's crux is to become a fundraising event or events, far more than any festival or cook-off this town has seen yet. How do I know? I'm a member.. Will we have committees? On paper, but as defined groups assigned one task - most likely not. Leaving it flexible creates a greater gene pool for ideas. And like anything else - apply some heat and pressure, the petri dish starts a bubblin'.

The #1 killer of motivation is stagnation, and the breeding ground for stagnation (as we saw with the Victory S****** debacle) is whats been done before. Spend time debating the way things were done, realize all your doing is continuing the problem. Acknowledge that things were done wrong in the past, regroup and move forward.. thats progress.

And one final question for you all out there.

I am a cook, certified chef if you will. This is my career, my profession. I am 31. Does this make me a young professional? Or is my white collar too dingy? I read all the information for the young professional groups, and they seem like they are targeting the 9-5 office crowds. So what is the definition of young professional?

Snow.. so clean.. ahhhh.. more later



Anyone else feeling a chill? Or is it just me?

Valley Forward?

Once I saw this article yesterday, I knew I would have to post something about it.

It seems a group of young professionals has banded together to do something about the "cool quotient" of Roanoke. Apparently it ranks pretty low on the Richter scale.

While I can appreciate the views and motives of the group - I do have to question them. First off, the youngest member is 29, the oldest 42. The chairman of the group is 36, and a successful business owner. The youngest member is a financial adviser. 2 members are women, 1 is black, and most live in South Roanoke.

Under-representation appears to be the norm in Roanoke these days. The groups make-up mirrors Roanoke's own City Council - individuals that are, in some respects, disconnected from the majority of Roanoke.

When you surround yourself with folks who see certain things on a daily basis - your going to reflect that. Like being a cop. Most cops are decent, good people - but realize that a majority of their time is being spent dealing with the low-life criminals, and then ask why they are so jaded and burn out before retirement. While you might not become a reflection of what you surround yourself with, it does have an influence on you.

Valley Forward's emphasis on the "rebirth of cool" in Roanoke is commendable, however some of the focus is not. The claim of "You're not even relevant if you don't have greenways and am amphitheater" made by Mr. Lugar is overstated to say the least.

Most of the most important cities in the country do not have greenways, and some do not even have amphitheaters within spitting distance. Take good ol' Manhattan for example.

What Manhattan has: Madison Square Garden, New York Coliseum, Battery Park, and Central Park (along with many other much smaller neighborhood parks). That's pretty much it. Everything else is off Manhattan island. The Yankees and the Mets - Giants and Jets - all are off-island.

What makes the difference there? Private developers, a city willing to do the legwork to attract the "cool", and a community effort to "be cool."

It took 27 years for Manhattan to reclaim unused elevated railroad tracks and turn them into a greenway. It will be the first new park-space publicly funded on Manhattan Island in quite some years. Private developers have been adding miniature greenways to riverfront developments for roughly 20 years now.

Major difference - Manhattan has no more room to grow, whereas Roanoke does. Manhattan also has a motivated and community-minded population (across all spectrums of society) who want what they want, and far too many of them remember what parts of the island looked like circa late-1970's.

I give Valley Forward time to grow, and develop themselves. However, I do so with this warning. You are off to an auspicious start, and by allowing your focus to be portrayed as "greenways and an amphitheater" - you limit the impact you will have with the population at large.

I have the same problem with NewVaConnects, they - to all outward appearances- seem to be a group with limitations.

Perhaps we all need to take a step back and examine the situation again. The current need in Roanoke for change might just overpower all the smaller issues. Perhaps we just need some effective leadership, well spoken and knowledgeable about current issues. Not a group of middle-aged folk who are confused by the concept of MySpace.

One of the victims of the Roanoke City Council mindset, and perhaps someone they could all learn from, was former New York City Mayor John Lindsay (1966-1973). He inherited a city rife with problems, both budgetary and socio-economic ones. He was the first mayor to deal with public service unions. His first day in office was a 12-day disaster area as the Transit Workers went on strike, all due to his refusal to sit at the negotiating table.

He raised taxes, including the introduction of the commuter tax. And that same year - the sanitation workers went on a week long strike. This was followed by the unrest that came with the escalation of the Vietnam War, and its protesters. Crime soared, people left the city for the safer suburbs, the tax base was nearly wiped out. Lindsay bargained his way into decades and decades of debit for the city, in hopes of keeping the people quelled. Only years later did one of Lindsay's aides reveal the biggest flaw in the adminstration's policies: "We all failed to come to grips with what a neighborhood is. We never
realized that crime is something that happens to, and in, a community."
Assistant Nancy Seifer said "There was a whole world out there that
nobody in City Hall knew anything about... If you didn't live on
Central Park West you were some kind of lesser being."

To this day, New York City is still paying off the debit that Lindsay created. Both monetary and karmic. The Roanoke City Council is playing the same song on a different piano.

60-70-80 years ago the Roanoke City Council was responsive to the community, supported by, and worked with the Chamber of Commerce and other civic groups to effect a secure and smooth-running city. Most of the still-standing buildings downtown are from the days of an actual Mayor-driven City Council, back when the public and private sector worked hand-in-hand for the betterment of the citizens.

With the shallow pool of the current City Council, and the lack of strong leadership and decision-making - I suspect that 15-20 years down the road we will still be playing soccer on the land that used to be the Roanoke Fair Grounds (aka Victory Stadium), unless the public and private sector can start working together again. Valley Forward, NewVaConnects, and the City Council all need to realize that unless they can come together and work together - the celebration of the 125th anniversary is more of a New Orleans Funeral than a party for the re-birth of the phoenix.