Used Car Salesmen.. unite!

Let's talk for a moment about the lesser understood man - the Used Car Salesman. You think the Big 3 (Ford/Chrysler/GM) are going through some rough times, wait till you see this.

So GM and Chrylser are dumping dealerships left and right. These dealerships (Like Dominion Dodge) have already purchased the very cars you see on their lot. (You thought the Dealer Discount was just a marketing ploy?) Now they are stuck with them, and will have to sell them for whatever they can get basically. Profit or Loss - they need to get rid of those cars.

In the case of GM vehicles, apparently- the Fed is going to back the warranties (no word on recalls or that sort of thing). So what's the risk in buying one? You can get it cheaper than cheap, and you know it will be serviced. Let's look at the dealership across the street. They are not losing their contract - so they are still selling new cars. The same cars that are nearly half price across the street. So now Dealer B (the one no losing it's contract) has to cut it's prices, and compete against a dealership that just wants to get rid of the cars. This is an ugly situation. But it gets worse.

Down the street is a Used Car Dealer. Been there for years, since the time of the Hupmobile. Actually so has the Used Car Salesman. He has always prided himself on selling exactly the car the person needs. And at a great price. Sure, they are not new - but they are good affordable cars. And he is more than happy to send you to his favorite service center who might give you a discount. It's not quite a warranty, but it's close.

Dealership A (loss of contract) has cut it's prices so they are showing a $10 profit on every car on the lot. Some of the cars they are more than willing to take a loss on. They are using every last drop of advertising budget to get the word out - so they can clean up and get out quickly.

Dealership B (with contract) has cut their prices too, but they are still showing a profit - maybe $100 per vehicle. It's going to make things tight, but they can make it back with service plans and optional add-ons that Dealership A can't offer. And it says so right in their ad. They are even offering toasters and gas cards with the purchase of a new vehicle.

Used Car Dealership is sitting there - no one looking at it's cars. Most of the lot averages 5-15 years old, and anywhere between 40-120K miles. It has been days now since anyone has even stopped - except to get directions to A & B. They have nothing more to offer, other than quality used cars. No warranties, no gas cards, no toasters. They don't even have true "vinatage" cars - just some real good lookers.

For each customer they would normally see - 20 rush by to Dealerships A & B. Sure - there's no credit available at A, and B is restricted in it's lending - but at the prices they can afford to charge, what does it matter?

Used Car Dealership closes, and it's cars go to auction, where they bring a pittance.

Extrapolate that. GM is dumping 2,000 dealerships (roughly), and so is Chrysler. 4,000 dealerships + with unsold inventory, and even if each of them only has 50 cars on the lot - thats 200,000 cars (+) that need to go, immediately. That means 200,000 used cars (+) that will not be sold.

God only knows how many used car dealers will go out of business because of this.

This is not going to help the recovery, and what happens to the physical buildings these dalerships occupy? Sell to a competitor who did not lose the contract? Creating more Berglunds - only on a nationwide scale? And what about communities who rely upon car registration taxes for funding?

Nope - this is not a good situation, not at all.


If not now, when?

Some of you might have noticed we had 2 water-main breaks this week in the same day, following the terrible trembler 'NokeQuake 09. One, in the area of 2nd and Franklin - was right down from an area where a good deal of utility work has been ongoing in the past few months. So there's a good chance the pipe has been shaken around prior. The other pipe, well - that's a whole 'nother story.

Remember our old friend - the unspoken blockade to downtown development - the Patrick Henry Hotel?

Well, yes - the pipe bust there. As it was reported, some water did penetrate the PH. Know what that means? More damage to the old lady.

I could post link after link after link to the court documents on this property, it's amazingly un-jailed owners, and how many pension plans were ripped off - intimidated - and outright lied to in regards to this building. It would mean nothing. However, there is hope...

Affirmative Management (aka. Affirmative Equities Company, Patrick Henry Hotel Associates, LP - oh here, read the details in this .pdf) has not paid, well... anything in a few years. Which means, and it has been mentioned in the past - the Patrick Henry Hotel is in arrears when it comes to property taxes. At last check, back in Dec. 2008 - the PH owed the city over 80,000 dollars in past due taxes at the time it's parent company filed for Chapter 11. Well, it's nearing the halfway mark of 2009, and so far - no word has leaked about the City's plans for the building.

Why? Andrew Jubelt has no real intent to develop the property, it's just a pawn for him to use against some pension funds he has tied up in it (see .pdf above). It is crumbling, as has been evidenced in photos taken from the inside recently (roanoke times 10/2/08), and sadly - it's nearing the point of condemnation.

The recent water main bust has surely left some damage, and will only aid in her demise.

How long before the city moves to take the Patrick Henry, and sell it to someone who can make it viable (or at worst case scenario, demolish it carefully - saving what can be saved), and a worthy match for the new Social Security building across the street.

Revitalize Jefferson? Perk up downtown's economy? Rid yourself of a nasty white elephant? Or maybe just extract the name of Roanoke from the business properties of a very dubious charicter.

Will we be lamenting the collapse of the PH in ten years? Or celebrating the smartest decision the city leaders have ever made?


How long?

How long can I keep you waiting? I have not had much of a chance to post lately, and although I still have the same rambling posts in my head - I rarely have time to put them online. Long posts anyway - thats why I tried Twitter, but that became too easy for a one-off complaint. 140 charicters does not leave much for substance.

So you folks tell me, do I keep going - posting infrequently, but with some substance? Do I Twit, and try to be snarky and direct? Or is it time to give up, and leave this Roanoke Blogging stuff to the professionals that are now making up most people's daily reading lists?

I still get dirt from City Hall from time to time, and as you know - I have no problem posting rumors - but with the addition of certain bloggers now in Roanoke - some of my sources are more than worried about saying anything. Especially with the Roanokers article on Queen Darlene. It was a softball article, bringing up some good questions - but not nearly all the questions.

How many city vehicles has she wrecked during her time here? How much did she cost the city in Towing? And what happens to any other city employee who puts a dent in a city vehicle? And of course, there's a ton more they could have printed - but chose not to. They posted a bunch of facts and figures. What I just posted are facts in the form of questions.

They did say one thing in the article however that speaks directly to the problem of the City Council.

Not a single one of them has ever run a business of this magnitude, and most of them have never run a business. So, our City Council - which gets paid 12-15k a year for being on the Council, have no idea why they are being paid for being on the Council. That stipend is supposed to offset costs related to doing the business of the council; missed days of work, travel expenses - basically to replace income lost due to being a member of the council. I wonder if any of them actually NEED that money - or if they are the kind who make money weather at work or not?

2 options surface here: Either an all volunteer Council, no stipend - limited reimbursements OR a fully paid council, this way they would not be beholden to a dayjob - but rather to the dayjob that is the city.

The Govt. of Roanoke needs an overhaul, and I have been saying it for years.

But I haven't been saying much lately. So what say you - keep going? Or let it be.

Let me hear from you....


And so it begins....

A tentative report on the progress of the 09-10 budget has reached the Roanoke Times. I would assume the Times will have more tomorrow, but I am not looking forward to it.

I have a feeling that while no taxes are raised - we might be thinking that's a mistake by the time this is done.

I have been waiting for the final version to come out before launching into a tirade, or not, as it needs be.

See you as details emerge.


St. Pats is not a day for drinking...

No, it's a day of rememberance.

Remember, and then drink.



Just so you are all aware - over on the right there is a new box featuring my fresh Twitter updates. Yes, I twit. Sometimes numerous times a day.

And I can go mobile and twit - which is dangerous.


Career Criminals

Highly educated. Knowledgeable. Sought after for opinion. Experts.

Or as I call them, Career Criminals. Folks for whom reality stopped a long time ago, when they started to believe they were as good as people told them they were. Some of them have rightly come by the accolades, but a good number believe their own hype.

Time will tell if our new president is one of those. But I'm looking more locally - specifically Rupert Cutler.

I had just moved here when he finished out his term on the City Council. I heard little about the man, other than his long resume... repeated endlessly.

From all outward appearances, it did not seem like his credentials benefitted the city much. During his term (2000 - 2006), the greenways got under way - we landed a few more businesses, but no great projects came out of it. And I know, that's as much the fault of the entire Council (and that erected - not elected monument known as Darlene) but beyond the cop-out of "one councilman cannot change anything on his own" a loud councilman certainly can. But we have another Council member who has not run a business, owned a business, or got down with the people in the streets.

Another Career (expert) Criminal, who will do nothing but keep the city in stasis for a while. Appearing to go everywhere, but standing still the whole time. 

The other wannabe Career Criminal is Gwen Mason. Gwen, who adopted Nelson Harris' "Clean and Green" campaign as her own when it was apparent that Emperor Harris was not going to win re-election, has yet to shine as a councilwoman. A grantwriter and worker at the Dept. of the Interior, who focused her entire college years on being in the Government, she seems to be a natural for the post. But wait, what's her experience again? What has she done for the City? 

Maybe I am asking too much from our Council members - maybe they are supposed to be a passive body rather than a proactive one.

Frankly, I think we have had enough of the whole elected officials who have worked towards becoming elected officials. They go from being people who want to be part of the dynamic system that is American Government, people with ideals, to people who take those same ideals for granted - and become so steeped in policy and procedure they lose focus of why they are doing it in the first place. They studied each inch of it, worked in the menial details of it - and now have become assimilated to it. 

And to what end? Even the Roanoke Times admits Fralin was not like the rest. He worked for his constituents, his people - not just his party. He worked in his community to get things done. Anyone seen Mason out there cleaning up Bullit and Jamison when the Neighborhood Group that adopted the corridor is cleaning (and possibly greening) the area? 

Has Cutler been down walking around downtown, talking to people and brainstorming ways to make the city better?

Career Criminals, stealing time from a city that needs progress.


Wait.. it gets better.


So it seems that at the next Council meeting, when Nash tenders his resignation (effective Feb. 28th), the wisdom of the council will be honoring Nash for his service to the city.

Ok - to be honest - the actual phrase used is "paying tribute to"...

I understand it's customary and all that - but really now. Aren't we jumping the gun a bit? The guy has barely been on the council, not really done much, and might very well be embroiled (with butter and garlic) in a major war with the city over services rendered.

Like I said, I'm just a bit confused.


"I should have never left..."

And with those words, Alvin Nash has submitted his resignation to the Roanoke City Council - effective at the close of February. 

Nash (seen at left) has decided that his heart never really left Blue Ridge Housing, and he might have left his wallet there as well. Anyone remember the controversy on this guy back when he first was vetted? 

There were questions even then, and now - with a legal see-saw over who owes who what, and a possible HUD investigation.. well, I wonder what he thinks he can accomplish (other than finding those damn recipts). 

A good chunk of the money battle has to do with work rendered for the "Southeast By Design" project, which - as a resident of Southeast, I would say they defaulted. Actually, considering the City's remarkably invisible results - I would say the SEBD program was a wash. 

But Nash's resignation reminds me of a certain felo... former councilman. Mr. Dowe - who was run off similarly. Now the question is, how long before Bowers is shuffled back to Buffalo? Of all the big-mouthed, over-billing, and least-effective members of council who have come and gone - we are graced with a stretch of 3 now, going back to May of last year. 

I demand a do-over!

(Bowers, Dowe, and Nash are seen recently during a black tie event at the Hotel Roanoke - they were there to fix the plumbing.)


The problem with Roanoke

More specifically, the problem with Blogging in Roanoke.

How many times can you bitch and moan, complain and point out, show proof of and categorically deny the same things over and over.

I could come on here every day and sing to the high heavens about the Roanoke Times and it's impending downfall, I could point out that the use of the internet at the Times for dissemination of news is lacking, but where would it get us?

Truth is, a good chunk of households here in Roanoke do not bother keeping up with the news. They are more than happy to get by on rumor, and the Sunday paper (it being the one with the coupons). There are also many households that do not have internet access. It's a double edged sword.

The Times could boost up it's internet presence, allow reporters to file via mobile methods, take and prominently display user-submitted news items, and possibly still see no gain from it.

And as for the Roanoke Prozac Sentinel, the "feel good" paper of the valley - well, it's an alternative - but still a weekly. That is it's biggest drawback.

I could come on here and lambast the City Council for multiple violations of civic good, failure to market Roanoke City appropriately, and keeping the harpie Darlene (who did not look so hot when last spotted in public - maybe the transfusions and elixers are wearing off). But honestly - the City itself (citizens) bear more responsability in this situation than the Council does. 

When the electorate cannot be bothered to get the facts straight about a situation like Ivy Market (I have overheard many people stating they will not shop at Ukrop's because the City gave them money to open. wrong.) how can we expect them to reasonably understand rising taxes?

It's hard knowing I have something to say, but dropping it so as not to repeat myself. Other than the strange weather, what is there really new to gripe about? I have spoken with many new residents of Roanoke, of varying ages. They tell me about the problems they have, the concepts they cannot fathom, the ass-backwards way of doing business - all I can do is nod my head in agreement. 

But the citizens have let it get this way. We have a wonderful FREE trolley system, that runs one route, linking downtown with the secondary downtown (well come on, that's how SoRo thinks of themselves) yet there still have been no moves by the city (publicly, and I think everyone would like to know frankly) to take control of the Patrick Henry Hotel. If you'll recall - the hotel was deep in debt to the City for past taxes and such - and the City was able to take the building as of last month. You want to aid the recovery of the Jefferson Corridor? Get the PHH back up and running, give people a place to stay downtown other than the old, leaky Hotel Roanoke. 

You want to talk about a struggling economy, commercial building being down and whatnot as reasons these large projects are not complete - well what about the old Woolworths on Campbell? Thats been boarded up for well over a year now, there's nothing the city can do about that? Seems to me like if you slap a "stop work" order on a building, there should be some fine associated with it. Not to mention constant checks to see if the building is being worked on, and if not - inspections to check the safety of the building. For one that sits mid-block downtown, I would hate to see a fire start in it - we could lose a good chunk of Campbell that way.

But we seem to focus only on the dreams of tomorrow - the Art Museum (a solidly meh enterprise, all the way around, at least to anyone who has been to a major gallery), plans for the Market Building, rooftop patio and dining at Center in the Square... All nice things, once we fix the real problems. 

You know, the real problems - parking downtown, the failed Vision 2010 plan, revitalization of key industrial areas in Roanoke (incubator out on 460 is nice, but why not more centrally located?), abundant dead space at key entry points into the city, a bus service that is still inconveinient for most commuters, not to mention the host of other social problems that people expect a city to solve for them. 

Laugh at Alfred Dowe - 11 counts of being a dope. Chuckle at Cruella De Mason, the "Clean Green Queen", or Bowers with the whole market debacle - this is all the new material I have. Nothing of substance.

I plan on laying out some primary concerns soon, with possible solutions - but honestly, does anyone care anymore? Or would you rather hear me gossip and make fun of the council? 

I can do both, but only one will have any impact on the city. 


Lifting the veil, 5 years on.

This is for those of you who are avid readers, and those who are finding this for the first time.

You can call me K. I am a married, 34 year old resident of Southeast Roanoke who has one child (a boy,1), a wife (30), 3 dogs (5,5, & 3), and several fish (age unknown). 

I plan on starting a serious business within the confines of Roanoke, and with any luck - Southeast Roanoke, in the next year or so. When I say serious, I mean something that does not involve house-flipping or lawn care. Not to say the lawn care is not serious - but I have enough troubles with my own to worry about others. 

My business will be retail, in it's purest form. I will be interacting with, hopefully, hundreds if not thousands of customers a week - most of them residents of the city as well. I will be fulfilling needs, meeting expectations, and (hopefully) creating a climate conducive to expansion of other related businesses in my direct area.

Sounds kinda like the way the City should run, no? 

When I first moved here, I was taken by the city - it's history that lay just beneath the surface. Hence the start of Forgotten-Roanoke.com (a project I have put on the backburner while I move towards Day 1 as a business owner). I have found out, and charted more history of this city than most of it's native residents remember. In some cases, this is a good thing. 

I have lived, previously, within the confines of New York City - one of the 5 Boros. Prior to that, a smaller village just on the border, more like New York City than it should have been. Most of my family is involved in civil service of some kind, although I have had some in politics and administration. 

I have a keener understanding of how a government serves it's people - having lived through some of the best, and worst, times imagineable in New York. I also know that in the 21st Century - there are many ways a government can better serve it's people.

I know, deep down, that Roanoke is a powerhouse city. Despite all that is said to the contrary - there is a way to make it show. To fire the engines of commerce, and provide a city that is, once again - the shining star on the hill, just as it was many years ago. 

Currently, I am working at a higher-end retail location which shall remain anonymous - mainly because it's barely a higher-end retail location. If you only knew. I have previously been a Chef here in town, and I still do some catering on the side. 

In previous incarnations I have been involved in media, radio, and communications in general - I have nurtured and taken part in a developing art scene, and laid down some funky bass lines in a band or two.

I use this medium, this endless blog (now entering it's 5th year), to move us forward. Sometimes I get a little frustrated, and unhinged with certain peoples actions. It will show. I leave it to you, the reader, to decide if my opinions are well thought out and valid, or mere cotton-candy fluff from a transplant who knows nothing of the way things are.

I don't accept the way things are. No system, no process, no government, and no people are infalliable and never subject to change. That is flawed thinking. 

With so much going for it, Roanoke is upon the knife's edge. A step in the right direction can lead to a fruitful century, or one of decline and diminishment. 

Youngstown, Ohio. Detroit, Michigan. Buffalo, New York. In countless cities, and countless states the struggle is on for survival into the 21st Century. Former staid and true businesses are folding like a house of cards, along with a severely crippled housing market, and an aging population - times are demanding that things be done differently.

And that's what I intend to do. Do things differently. 

From time to time you might see a post slamming the City Council, the City Harpie or her cronies  - there is justification for this. It will be evident. I am not one for baseless attacks, nor have I ever been one for "shining the apple." If the apple is dirty on one side, I am not going to show you the pretty side only. Informed decisions - that's what I am after.

From time to time I might wax nostalgic, like Tom Angleberger - talking about things past, and where they are now.

And occasionally, I might let slip a bit of information - things that everyone should know - but aren't being told by the common sources.

I welcome all comments, criticisms, and questions. So long as you don't ask me to "meet you in an alley in Old Southwest" as a certain federally-charged Neo-FakeNazi one asked me.

At times my posts might seem infrequent, and sometimes there will be multiple per day - one of the pitfalls of not having a laptop or fancy phone but having a family life. I hope to get back to doing podcasts one day, but without the phone-casts that blogger used to have back when (if you can find the posts relating to the Lonesome Doves demolition, good example there) - it's not easy.

Anyway - the little one has awaken, therefore I must go.