EDITORIAL: Drop the Speed Limit to 45

A CAPE CHARLES WAVE EDITORIAL

July 21, 2014

How many more people have to die, how many more vehicles must be destroyed, how many more close calls must there be before VDOT awakes to the deadly danger of Route 13 north and south of the Cape Charles traffic light? If Route 13 is Virginia’s most dangerous highway, we will nominate the Cape Charles/Cheriton area as the most dangerous patch of it.

The traffic light itself is not the problem so much as the multiple turnoffs mostly south of the light. Two of our neighbors had their cars totaled in the past few years — one trying to cross the highway to get to the Corner Mart, the other a victim of someone pulling out from McDonald’s directly in front of her.

Last week we saw something new and scary: a full-size charter bus leaving McDonald’s was trying to turn left onto Route 13. Judging by the line of cars behind the bus, the driver had to wait a long time for a break in the traffic.

Why does the speed limit drop to 45 mph on the bypass around Exmore but not in the Cape Charles/Cheriton area? The danger here is arguably worse than in Exmore (which funds their entire Police budget from speeding tickets).

Our most recent heart-stopper (and the inspiration for this editorial) came from waiting in the left-hand lane on 13 to turn onto Stone Road. An 18-wheeler roared past at full speed only a few feet away, violently shaking our stopped van in the jet stream. We were literally “sitting ducks.” And as everyone knows, a 55 mph limit means it is your God-given right (and duty) to drive 60 — and this trucker was doing his duty.

At least we were encased in a two-ton van; pity the pedestrian who tries to navigate that death-trap. Earl Wayne Spady was hit by a truck last month while trying to cross Route 13 on foot at night. May he rest in peace. [Read more...]

2 Comments

EDITORIAL: Time for a New Team

A CAPE CHARLES WAVE EDITORIAL

May 5, 2014

Although the ballot for Tuesday’s municipal elections in Cape Charles contains eight names, deciding whom to vote for is not as complicated as it might appear. There are really only two teams – the old team and the new team. All a voter has to decide is whether to keep the old team or elect the new team.

True, of the eight candidates, only two of them are running for re-election: Town Council members Chris Bannon and Joan Natali. They form half of the old team. The other half is composed of George Proto for mayor and Charles “Sambo” Brown for Council. But the only reason those two are running is because the Sullivans, Dora and Mike, decided not to run.

While it can be argued that Mr. Proto and Mr. Brown have very different styles from Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan, it is a certainty that neither of them would have run against the Sullivans. They are, in fact, Mayor Sullivan’s hand-picked successors.

The new team is a very different story: each of the four candidates is running because they are alarmed by the direction the old team is taking the town. Understanding that in a democracy the only sure way to effect change is at the ballot box, they are opposing the incumbents and their designated successors.

The new team is Frank Wendell for mayor and Deborah Bender, David Gay, and Lynn Mitchell-Fields for Council. Each has his or her own ideas, but on the over-arching issues they agree: town spending is out of control, as are town utility bills. The town is borrowing like there is no tomorrow, and a number of full-time residents who work here for a living are moving out of town to avoid the extortive water bills and high taxes. [Read more...]

10 Comments

EDITORIAL: Frank Wendell for Mayor

A CAPE CHARLES WAVE EDITORIAL

May 4, 2014

Cape Charles residents owe a metaphorical vote of thanks to every candidate running for election on Tuesday, because in most of the rest of Northampton County — Cheriton, Eastville, Nassawadox, and Belle Haven — candidates for mayor are unopposed. Only in Cape Charles and Exmore do voters have a choice.

Dora Sullivan also ran unopposed eight years ago when she was first elected mayor. So we see the contrast of this year’s political contest as a healthy sign of democracy in action. We’re also encouraged by the fact that both mayoral candidates are fine exemplars of Cape Charles – both are upstanding citizens willing to expend a great deal of time and effort in the name of public service.

We believe that either candidate for mayor would serve to the best of his ability, and would uphold the principles of honesty and fairness. That said, we cannot vote for both of them; we must make a choice. And we believe there are overwhelming reasons to vote Frank Wendell for mayor of Cape Charles.

1. Frank Wendell has a long, outstanding record of public service to this, his hometown. As a young man he served on Town Council for 12 years before “retiring” to devote more time to his business and family. Then, two years ago, outraged by the secret plans to divest the town’s school and auditorium, basketball court, and parkland, he returned to public service, winning a seat on Town Council.

2. Mr. Wendell has never shrunk from fighting the good fight. Almost 20 years ago he led the opposition to County plans to permit a maximum-security federal prison to be built nearby. Dickie Foster subsequently stated that if the prison had been constructed, he never would have built Bay Creek.

3. As a current Town Council member, Mr. Wendell was the only one to recognize the foolhardiness of encouraging commercial development on Route 13 by extending a sewer pipe from the town’s wastewater plant. Other Council members have admitted that Rayfield’s Pharmacy could go out of business if the town facilitates competition on the highway, but they want to go ahead anyway. They seem not to understand that while the town has no legal control over what happens on the highway, it has the power of the pipe.

4. Likewise, Mr. Wendell is the only Council member who understands the importance of negotiating with developers to ensure the town’s best interests. When a developer requested exemption from timely payment of utility fees and other town code requirements, only Mr. Wendell urged a quid pro quo in the form of negotiating for adequate downtown parking. [Read more...]

1 Comment

EDITORIAL: Election Manipulation

 A CAPE CHARLES WAVE EDITORIAL

April 15, 2014

The photo at right of an anonymous poster outside the Post Office asks, “Will the Wave try to control the Town election?” But until now the Wave has been almost silent on the May 6 election for mayor and Town Council. When the eight candidates filed, we published an impartial story listing their names and brief bios. We intend to let the candidates tell their own stories, and invite them to write a few paragraphs on “Why I’m Running for Mayor” and “Why I’m Running for Town Council” to inform our several thousand readers.

But in this hotly contested election there are already signs (pun intended) of manipulation. And not for the first time – the November 2012 special election for a Town Council seat was shamelessly manipulated by the town power structure, taking advantage of the good name of Arts Enter as the “sponsor” of a candidates forum. In fact, assistant town manager Bob Panek masterminded that forum, and although his name did not even appear in the list of volunteers, like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain it was Panek who selected questions from the audience and decided to whom they would be asked. All the while, he displayed a sign in his yard for candidate Steve Bennett.

In this year’s election, Council incumbent Joan Natali was first off the line in blanketing the town with campaign signs, and no one complained. But later when opposition candidates David Gay, Deborah Bender, and Lynn Mitchell-Fields began matching the Natali signs with their own, the town took action, and most of the signs were confiscated by the Police Department under the excuse that they were not allowed in the right-of-way (even in front of private residences). Ironically, Natali was responsible for that town regulation, enacted in reaction to the “Community Center YES” signs of a previous battle.

Next comes the curious question of the “second” candidates forum sponsored by Cape Charles Rotary. Following the town staff’s manipulation of the previous forum mentioned above, the non-political Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore (CBES) agreed to host a forum for Cape Charles candidates. CBES has a long history of hosting candidate debates, and most recently held two forums for County Supervisors and School Board candidates in last November’s elections. At that time no one seemed concerned that a CBES forum might not be enough. [Read more...]

7 Comments

EDITORIAL: Blame the Wave

March 24, 2014

Going to the Post Office, it’s hard to miss the posters attacking the Wave, including accusations of “schemes to denigrate our town.” Another claim stapled to the telephone pole is that “the Wave has been screaming about wasteful spending and that we are going bankrupt.

The postings appeared on the telephone pole this past Friday, the morning after former town councilman Larry Veber addressed Town Council with a similar message. “Something that’s very concerning,” Veber related, “from what I hear from people who come into town. Two people recently that love Cape Charles and were so impressed with Cape Charles – they looked at everything, and said, ‘listen – we understand your town is going bankrupt!’ . . . ‘Everything we read about in the Wave – it’s bankrupt. You guys are going under! You are really in serious, serious trouble!’”

Veber continued, “We need to have somebody who’s going to give the information and not editorialize it.” . . . “There’s a group somewhere that keeps on talking, keeps on beating, and it’s hurting our town – in my opinion it’s having a tremendous negative effect on Cape Charles.”

Our response is that Mr. Veber’s accusations are utterly ridiculous and without foundation. What he doesn’t like is that the Wave actually reports the news – good and bad. The inner circles of any government never want bad news reported, and if possible they will print their own Pravda – or in the town’s case, the Gazette. [Read more...]

9 Comments

GUEST EDITORIAL: County Doing Poor Job on Zoning

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following editorial is reprinted by permission from the Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore newsletter, ShoreLine.

March 10, 2014

Those who read ShoreLine regularly know that we’ve taken a strong interest in Northampton County’s revision of its zoning ordinance. The editorial board is unanimously agreed that the ordinance needs revision — and we’re unanimously agreed that the County’s conduct of that revision has been so poor that it has raised the spectre of embarrassing legal action.

What’s been wrong with the process? First, the public has been effectively shut out. There has been no informed public involvement in developing the revision. The so-called public information meetings on the draft revision held in December were virtually meaningless because no presentations actually informed the public about the draft ordinance. Maps were displayed and staffers, available to answer the public’s questions, were more than willing to expound upon minor details. This process tended to obfuscate the real changes. In fact, without substantive information, it was hard to know what questions to ask. [Read more...]

1 Comment

EDITORIAL: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

A CAPE CHARLES WAVE EDITORIAL

January 16, 2014

At 5:15 p.m. today (Thursday), members of Cape Charles Town Council will go behind closed doors at Town Hall for an “executive session.” (The Wave has been criticized in the past for referring to such meetings as “secret.”)

Virginia state law requires almost every action, or even discussion, by publicly elected or appointed bodies to be open to the public, with records available. There are only a few exceptions — personnel matters being the most important. If Town Council wishes to interview candidates for, say, chief of police, the candidates understandably deserve privacy.

But today, Town Council is meeting to consider buying or selling property. That much we know, because state law requires the Town to state the reason for its “executive” session.

Here is the reason provided by the Town Clerk:

Discussion or consideration of the acquisition of real property for a public purpose, or of the disposition of publicly held real property, where discussion in an open meeting would adversely affect the bargaining position or negotiating strategy of the public body. Specifically: Discussion of property leased by the Town and Town-owned property.

So, we know that today Town Council will discuss property leased by the Town, with the idea of buying it, and property owned by the Town, with the idea of selling it. What we don’t know is — just what property?

The only allowance under state law to privately discuss the sale or purchase of property is if “discussion in an open meeting would adversely affect the bargaining position or negotiating strategy” of the Town. Note that any “adverse effect” must be on the Town – not the other party. [Read more...]

3 Comments

EDITORIAL: Voting Suggestions

A CAPE CHARLES WAVE EDITORIAL
November 4, 2013

Tuesday’s election is the most important in modern times for Northampton County. For the first time, voters have a chance to elect their School Board, which until now has been appointed.

Two of the Board’s seven seats are at-large, voted on throughout the County. For the four-year-term seat, Randall Parks is running against Delores Lindsay. Both candidates have decades of experience teaching in Northampton schools. Mr. Parks has the distinction of being the driving force behind the petition and referendum that resulted in an elected Board. His opponent, Ms. Lindsay, is currently an appointed School Board member. Voters happy with the current Board will want to retain Ms. Lindsay, while the rest have an opportunity to cast their ballots for Mr. Parks.

The other at-large seat is between Jo Ann Molera, who with her husband ran a Montesorri school in Nassawadox for many years, and Nykia Robinson, who graduated from Northampton High six years ago. We commend Ms. Robinson for her civic spirit, and also appreciate that a Board member not long removed from the student side of the classroom could contribute a unique perspective. That said, the current perilous state of County public schools cannot afford the luxury of on-the-job training, and thus we support Ms. Molera.

District 1, where Cape Charles residents vote, is contested by Shannon Dunham, an Eastville attorney and graduate of Northampton High, and Tamsey Ellis, a retired teacher with decades of local experience. The two candidates’ personal styles differ dramatically – the former feisty, the latter folksy – but we believe that either choice would make a good Board member.

The other District 1 race is for Board of Supervisors, where Granville Hogg is challenging incumbent chairman Willie Randall. We appreciate both candidates’ willingness to serve – especially since the incumbents in District 2 and District 3 are running unopposed.

In District 1, Mr. Randall is running on his record, while Mr. Hogg has raised serious issues with County policies. We note that Mr. Hogg served on the Public Service Authority until this year, but when he opposed the PSA proposal to nearly double property taxes for selected commercial properties to fund a sewer pipe, the Board of Supervisors replaced him.

District 1 voters (and only District 1 voters) have the opportunity tomorrow to send a message to the Board of Supervisors. If they agree with the direction the Board has taken over the past four years, they can vote for Mr. Randall. If they disagree, they can vote for Mr. Hogg.

Next Page »