This little trip to a chilly riverfront Norfolk is more about a festival than the wine for which it is named. More than two dozen Virginia wineries descended on Town Point Park to inject a little spring into an otherwise dreary impression of May. I tried to capture some of the humanity who is falling in love with Virginia’s fruit of the vine. The Commonwealth ranks 5th in US wine production, and much of it quite good! See my pictures here.
It was a moment that I know I’ll never forget!
I was at home in my apartment in Town Center, Virginia Beach. I was packing for Hurricane Irene when all a sudden I felt my apartment start shaking. The glasses on my night stand started clanking. I didn’t think anything of it until my roommate asked if I felt the earthquake.
“What earthquake,” I said?
“The shaking,” he yelled. “The earthquake!”
My phones then started blowing up. Everyone started texting, asking me if we just had an earthquake. I called the station and sure enough: We had an earthquake.
I grew up in Virginia Beach. WOW! That was a first. I have to admit, it was a little scary. I was so stunned. I did nothing you are supposed to do in an earthquake. The “getting in a door frame” idea went right out the window. Not something I practice every day I guess.
As I drove to the station it was sunny, blue skies. You’d think it was the prefect beach day and it probably still is.
Things are nuts at work. I like to call it controlled chaos! People are running around acting crazy, but it’s crazy with a purpose in mind.
We have reporters all over the area covering the event as best as possible. Sometimes that’s hard when we don’t have physical damage to show on television. In this case we will rely on stories from people.
Where were you when the shaking started? I’m sure it’s something you won’t forget either!
I had the privilege of speaking to preschoolers at Watkins Early Childhood Center in Newport News. One of the teachers, Jennifer Cooper, invited me to talk with the kids about different aspects of my job as a reporter/anchor here at WAVY-TV.
The kids were really excited to get involved in learning how to report in and anchor a newscast!
They learned that I’m great friends with everyone I work with, like WAVY morning show anchor, Kerri Furey! They loved to hear that you can have fun at work and “play” with your friends!
“Are you ready to be reporters?!” I asked the kids. “Let’s go!” I gave the kids the topic of our (pretend) story for the day:
A bear escaped from the zoo!
As a reporter, you have to ask questions and boy did the kids have some great questions! They asked:
What kind of bear is it?
How old is the bear?
What does it like to do?
What does it like to eat?
What is its name?
…and when all of those great questions were answered, we “helped” find Bamboo, the baby Panda, and return him to the zoo!
The kids learned how great it feels to be able to help people every day! It was a great school visit and we’re already planning another for next year!
POLLS: Republicans pulling ahead in Statewide races: The average of this week’s polls shows Bob McDonnell (R) with 58% and Creigh Deeds (D) with 38%. This wide margin trickles down to the other offices Bill Bolling (R) showing a strong 13% lead over Jody Wagner (D) whose husband sent an email to supporters. Please read excerpt below. The McDonnell lead is also bringing along the controversial Ken Cuccinelli (R) over Steve Shannon (D). Cuccinelli’s lead somewhere around 10 points.
A lot has been made about Cuccinelli’s comments to the Virginian Pilot about whether he will fight for laws that stop discrimination against gays. Cuccinelli said he would enforce “natural” laws, and homosexuality is unnatural. He refused to back down from the statements several times when given the opportunity leading this reporter to make this conclusion: CUCCINELLI IS DOING EXACTLY WHAT HIS POLITICAL BASE WANTS HIM TO DO. He’s not backing down because he knows this plays, and is part of a strategy. A republican source blew off a question about whether this perceived bigotry could back fire. “I’m not worried about that at all, and I don’t know why you all are worried about it either.” Conclusion: solidify the base to win an election. Ironically, the more democrats make a big deal about Cuccinelli the more the base galvanizes around Cuccinelli. What remains unknown is whether the comments turn off independent voters in Northern Virginia where both candidates come from.
WHAT THE POST WROTE ABOUT CUCCINELLI:
In its editorial this morning, the Post blasted what it called Cuccinelli’s “bigotry,” adding that , “If he is elected attorney general, Mr. Cuccinelli would drive away qualified lawyers from an office that functions as the state government’s law firm, and, given his bizarre ideas, he would very likely become an embarrassment for the commonwealth.”
JODY WAGNER’S HUSBAND SENDS THIS MESSAGE TO SUPPORTERS:
Most everyone knows the names Michael, A Rod, Kobe, Brett and how they’re “winners”. They’re winners because they play smarter and harder than anyone else using their amazing talents to lead their entire teams to victory.
None of them do it alone – it’s the rock solid reliability and indomitable courage of their teammates that makes them all champions. When the stars get boxed out, double-teamed, or walked, the rest of the team steps up a makes the most of the opportunity.
We’ve been there for Jody – thousands of donors, volunteers, and supporters. Now the race is in its final lap, our opponents are pouring national money into television buys to attack Jody, and it’s time for us to step up once more and carry Jody to victory.
You were there early because you believed, and have been incredibly generous in every way imaginable throughout this race.
Now it’s time for all of us to be champions – to fight our hearts out, finish strong, and WIN!
LET’S DO THIS!!!
Thank you so very much,
Alan L. Wagner, M.D., F.A.C.S
INTERESTING CONTRAST ON THE QUESTION, CAN YOU GIVE A GOOD REASON FOR VOTERS TO VOTE FOR YOUR OPPONENT?
DEEDS: You know, I can name you a thousand good reasons why they should vote for me. I’m the best-prepared person to be the next governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. … Bob is a guy that I’ve always gotten along with, but I get along with most people. I work hard to get along with people. I don’t agree with Bob on a great deal.
McDONNELL: He’s a good family man. He’s worked hard to represent his district well for 18 years. To me, he’s a good story of somebody living and accessing the American dream. You know, he tells the story about … first guy in his family to go to college with four $20 [bills] in his pocket and now he’s competing for the job held by Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. To me, that’s a great story. I think there’s a hundred reasons why I’d be a better governor than him, but for the way, and this is his own personal life story, the way he has told it – it obviously happened because of tremendous hard work, tremendous perseverance to be able to get to the level that he is at, and I think that’s very admirable.
DEEDS CAMPAIGN TO CONTINUE ‘ALL IN FOR VIRGINIA’ TOUR
~ Governor Kaine, U.S. Senators Warner and Webb to Get Out the Vote for the Democratic Ticket ~
ALEXANDRIA – The Deeds-Wagner-Shannon ticket will continue a 4-day, 20-stop “All in for Virginia” tour on Saturday in Christiansburg.
TRUTH TRACKER: NEW ROUND OF ADS IN THE 21ST DISTRICT
A war of heated words is dominating a House of Delegates race in Virginia Beach. Delegate Bobby Mathieson and Virginia Beach City Councilman Ron Villanueva have spent tens of thousands of dollars in last minute media buys before election day Tuesday.
“Ron is lying,” says Del. Bobby Mathieson. “Bobby is a liar and ineffective” says Challenger Ron Villanueva who is a Virginia Beach City Councilman.
WHAT DOES THE TRUTH TRACKER SAY ABOUT THE ADS? Villanueva’s ad says “Bobby Mathieson was the only Virginia Beach delegate to allow felons to work on school property. Putting our kids at risk. What could he be thinking?”
TRUTH TRACKER finds that is TRUE, “Delegate Mathieson, it is true you were the only one in the Virginia Beach Delegation to vote for HB 1481. ” Mathieson answered, “Look, what Ron is saying is an outrageous lie…he is trying to discredit my 27 year police career…protecting families.”
But the TRUTH TRACKER found Mathieson did vote for House Bill No. 1481 which allows some felon Contractors on School Property. The Bill reads, “Any contractor or his employee disqualified due to a felony conviction…may request from the local School Board a waiver.” Restrictions include the felony must be at least five-years old, and can not include sex offenses or crimes against persons. ”
Mathieson refused 18 times to tell WAVY.com why he voted for that Bill that ended up defeated anyway, “Delegate I’ve asked you five times to explain why you voted for this Bill. Why did you vote for this Bill? ” Mathieson responded, “I’m giving you the same answer.” But that answer did not include the reason he voted for the Bill that was defeated anyway.
Challenger Ron Villanueva said, “We as elected officials stand by our records. Bobby Mathieson cast a bad vote on that day.”
WAVY.com continued trying to get an answer from Mathieson, “I voted as the record shows.” WAVY.com, “Do you regret the vote?” Mathieson, “Yes, I regret the vote and I’m thankful the bill never passed.” No thanks to Mathieson says Villanueva, “He voted ‘yes.’ You need to understand what you’re voting for. What was Bobby thinking?…thankfully it was defeated.”
Again, Mathieson says Villanueva is trying to discredit his 27 year Police career, “He’s trying to make me look like I’m soft on crime, and it’s a bold lie.”
Villanueva’s commercial touts the Councilman as the jobs man, “Ron Villanueva’s hard work created 14,000 new jobs.”
TRUTH TRACKER FINDS THAT’S FALSE. Villanueva didn’t create 14,000 new jobs as a City Councilman since 2002.
WAVY.com: “Your TV ad, Ron, says you created 14,000 new jobs.”
Villanueva: “I helped create the jobs.”
WAVY: “No you said ‘created’, not helped create.”
VILLANUEVA: “Andy, our voters know what we are talking about.”
Mathieson responded to that, “How expedient. Ron is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. First, he created the jobs himself, then when pressed says he helped create the jobs. You just can’t trust Villanueva.”
It is true Virginia Beach has 14,247 new jobs created in Virginia Beach since Villanueva took office. However, it should also be noted the unemployment in Virginia Beach when Villanueva took office was 3.4% in September 2002 and it is now 5.7% according to the Virginia Employment Commission.
TRUTH TRACKER: STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL-ISSUE: DEL. PHIL HAMILTON
They are fighting to become Virginia’s top prosecutor, but the big issue in the State Attorney General’s race isn’t nuances of law, it’s Newport News Delegate Phil Hamilton. State Senator Ken Cuccinelli is the Republican, and Delegate Steve Shannon is the Democrat. Both of these guys are in the General Assembly, and they serve with Delegate Phil Hamilton. It’s a classic case of colleagues politically fighting against each other.
Shannon’s ad states, “This is Ken Cuccinelli. He’s running for Attorney General. This is his political ally Delegate Phil Hamilton. Hamilton was caught arranging a 40,000 a year personal contract using state money.” Even Hamilton has admitted to the truth of the facts of the case.
The ad continues, “Every statewide candidate called on Phil Hamilton to resign except Ken Cuccinelli.” THAT IS TRUE. So the truth tracker asked Cuccinelli why he did not call for resignation, “In Phil Hamilton’s situation his case goes through the ethics investigation, and then that case can come to the Attorney General. Not the Attorney General’s office, but the Attorney General,” Cuccinelli says. THAT IS TRUE:
ACCORDING TO STATE CODE: “if legislator knowingly violated any law…it shall refer the matter by a written report setting forth its findings and the reasons therefor to the Attorney General.”
Cuccinelli claims the Attorney General should remain neutral, “the Attorney General is the gate keeper in that case. If Steve Shannon wins this race he will have to recuse himself from that matter because he has already prejudged it, and I have not.”
WAVY.com asked Shannon about Cuccinelli’s comments, “He said it was irresponsible for you to speak about the Hamilton case because you have to possibly
judge this.” Shannon responded, “If the Attorney General thinks the violation has occurred he or she refers that case to a Commonwealth’s Attorney.” THAT IS FALSE:
ACCORDING TO STATE CODE: “if legislator knowingly violated any law…it shall refer the matter by a written report setting forth its findings and the reasons therefor to the Attorney General for such action he deems appropriate.” “HE” is left up to the State Attorney General and not necessarily a Commonwealth’s Attorney.
Shannon also notes Cuccinelli did call for Hamilton to be taken off the powerful Appropriations Committee where he is the second ranking member. Cuccinelli’s campaign re-defined the comment to “take him off the Committee until the matter is resolved, so there is no appearance of impropriety.”
Cuccinelli also claims there was a payoff. He says Shannon received contributions from Hamilton’s opponent after he called for Hamilton to resign, “Within days of my opponent calling for Phil’s resignation he got a $40,000 donation from the law firm his opponent works for.” THAT IS TRUE.
Robin Abbott’s law firm
Consumer Litigation Associates
contributed $40,000 to Shannon on August 31.
The law firm is Shannon’s fifth largest contributor to date.
We asked Shannon about that, “Cuccinelli says there’s a quid-pro-quo. You came out, supported Abbott, and then you got a $40,000 contribution from the firm she works for.” Shannon responded, “Ken is getting desperate right now. He is struggling with the fact Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling have rejected his position on this, and he’s trying to figure his way out of it.”
We also asked Robin Abbot about the contributions, “The commitment to Mr. Shannon’s campaign from my law firm was made long before the Phil Hamilton story came out.” THAT IS TRUE: Shannon got his first $10,000 from Abbott’s law firm in March before the Hamilton story broke.
THAT’S TODAY’S BLOG
THREE DAYS UNTIL ELECTION DAY:
I’M ANDY FOX WAVY.COM
Virginia Hurricane Preparedness Tax Free Week is next week: May 25-31, 2009.
Hurricane season officially begins on June 1st, so if you haven’t purchased your “hurricane ready” items yet, next week is the time to do it!
Tax free items include bottled water, flashlights, batteries, NOAA weather radios, first aid kits, etc.
For a complete list of eligible items, go to http://www.tax.virginia.gov/Documents/2009%20Hurricane%20Preparedness%20List%20of%20Exempt%20Items.pdf
Meteorologist Cheryl Nelson
24 hours ago, (February 19th) the Virginia House of Delegates passed a ‘Partial Smoking Ban’ for restaurants and bars. It should come as no surprise the decision comes along with major controversy.
Long story short, it will require any establishment wanting to allow smoking indoors to have a separate room, with a separate ventilation system for smokers. The passage of bill certainly was not quick, in fact, it has been thrown around by lawmakers for years, never making it very far. I spent a good portion of the day yesterday talking to business owners and restaurant owners in the downtown Norfolk area about how they felt. I found “a few” bars that claim they would be hit hard financially, but the overwhelming majority of business owners and patrons I talked with were elated by the idea.
Smokers told me it was an invasion of their freedom as an American, non-smokers feel like it’s an invasion of their freedom to have to breathe 2nd hand smoke. And then there is this: Virginia IS a tobacco state. For the last 400 years tobacco has been a cash crop and many feel the passage of this bill is ironic. This is what one non-smoker had to say:”I’m not a smoker, nor have I ever been, but I’m also against anti-smoking laws. I can see the government banning smoking in public buildings, but private owners should be able to set their own rules and employees and patrons can choose to spend their time elsewhere if the rules bother them.” And the debate will continue.
It reminds me of California’s “Helmet Law”, requiring motorcycle riders to wear a helmet when they ride or face still penalties. Critics argued it’s a personal choice and not something that should be forced on anyone and when you think about it, why shouldn’t we allow someone to risk their own life, if it’s not a risk to anyone else? Although a ‘partial smoking ban’ is very different in nature, each individual still has the option to NOT patronize an establishment that allows smoking. So, at what point do state lawmakers have too much pull? Here in the newsroom, it surprised us when we found out the bill passed for that very reason. I’m not a smoker and I’m glad to know I won’t be forced to breathe someone else smoke, but I can also understand the larger issue of personal freedoms.
Not long ago, the state of New York adopted a similar ‘partial smoking ban’ and the overwhelming majority of responses I found on the web were positive about the change. However, the following is a quote from a New York City “pro-smoking” website. Although it may seem a little far fetched, there is a point here. It began by saying the state of New York has added $1.25 to each pack of cigarettes and at years end, that tax will net the state more than a billion dollars. It reads …
“One billion dollars!!!!!
And people sue the tobacco companies?
Maybe they should sue the state. The state makes more money per pack than do the tobacco companies.
Cigarette taxes have nothing to do with health and everything to do with $$$$$$$$$$$$$$.”
Clearly the state of Virginia is very different and has a very different plan focus for the ‘partial smoking ban’ and cigarette tax, but the basic question of ‘government control’ still holds true. Let me know what you think.