So, taking a look at what’s available on the Pilot buffet line, I see some tasty treats worth spending a few extra minutes to savor. Let’s nosh, shall we?
Not unexpectedly, as reported in this story, State Senator Kenny Alexander (below) has thrown his hat into the ring as a potential successor to retiring Norfolk mayor Paul Fraim. It’s still possible and even likely that a couple more people might join the fray, although probably from a less mainstream perspective than Alexander or the other two currently announced candidates.
I think it would be fair to say that all three of the current candidates are decent gentlemen, all with political experience and savvy, and any of them would at least have the potential of being a good mayor. This will likely lead to it being a fairly close race.
So how will we choose to differentiate between these three guys? My personal hope is that it will be based solely on issues and what’s best for the city. The dark forces that inhabit partisan politics tend to be less influential in municipal elections, but will still be happy to slime the process if they can. Don’t let them.
You should punish any candidate that sinks into negative campaigning by flat out telling them that if they go negative, whatever chance they had to gain your support will gone in a flash.
Anyway, I think the main focus in this mayoral race will be the degree to which each candidate supports the way things are or have been done in the past (the Fraim legacy), or the degree to which voters think the city’s approach to governing and public service need to evolve.
Right now, it’s a little hard to tell whether it’s Mr. Alexander or Andy Protogyrou (right) who most closely aligned with the status quo.
On the one hand, Alexander had said earlier that he wouldn’t run for mayor if Mr. Fraim chose to run for reelection. Conventional wisdom would indicate that this means he either a.) is a fan of Mr. Fraim’s policies, or b.) was unwilling to challenge those policies as long as Fraim was in power.
On the other hand, when Protogyrou announced his candidacy, he immediately gained the support of three current council members. Does this indicate that the current council supports him because they believe he won’t rock the boat? It’s a bit too early to tell.
And then there’s Bob… Norfolk Sheriff Robert McCabe (below) was the first person to announce his candidacy, and the only one who demonstrated that he was prepared to challenge the current power structure. His campaign’s tone so far has been decidedly populist.
All three of these gentlemen have spoken respectfully of each other, and this campaign has the potential to be clean, polite and issue-driven, and I’m really looking forward to seeing it continue to play out in that manner all the way through election day next May.
If you’ve been to Pilot Online anytime in the past day or so, you know that they’ve launched a completely overhauled website. It’s very clean and responsive – meaning it adjusts well to different screen sizes.
I’ve seen a couple of comments pointing out that it’s not very colorful, but in this case, I agree with this approach. A news site should be focused on the content, which the new design is. Sometimes minimalism works.
There are a few things I could nitpick about and I’ve encountered a few bugs, but as a web developer, I’ve never been able to launch a site that I didn’t need to further tweak based on feedback and the way it functions in a real world environment. I’m sure there are already internal discussions about pros and cons, and I’d bet dollars to donuts that there are improvements yet to be seen. In the world of web development, it’s only fair for us to give them a chance to squash the bugs themselves.
But you, their consumers, can also participate in this in a constructive way. The Pilot has set up an online blog for the rest of us to provide their digital folks with our impressions and ideas, and I’d strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunity.
In the meantime, I’d like to offer congratulations to Jeff and Jimmy and the rest of the folks on the Pilot Media digital team for their excellent work and a relatively smooth launch. Nicely done.
With Virginia Beach mayor Will Sessoms having been indicted on five charges related to the execution of his official duties, and the excellent reporting by the Pilot about how the bid process for gaining the ability to redevelop the Cavalier Hotel properties was apparently manipulated to favor the local establishment’s preferred uber-developer, Bruce Thompson, you can’t help but wonder just what has to happen before citizens decide enough is enough.
I won’t take up space here reiterating everything that’s been reported or opined on within the Pilot. I will, however, state unequivocally that you owe it to yourselves to take the time to read through the newspaper’s work and then put a lot of thought into whether you really think this kind of oligarchic behavior is just how our society operates now, and you don’t care.
Here’s a sampling:
Surprisingly, considering how often her opinions make me crazy, Kerry Dougherty gets a double shout-out from me this time around.
Besides the oped listed above regarding the cavalier deal, Ms. Dougherty wrote this piece, about how important it is to have effective investigative journalism being performed by newspapers such as the Pilot.
My affection for quality investigative journalism knows no bounds. Nor does my aggravation with those who are oblivious to the critical role it plays in maintaining freedom in a democratic society.
There’s certainly plenty of room to be critical of the industry. More often than not these days, the type and quality of work performed by far too many commercial news operations is negatively impacted by the insatiable greed of the shareholders who own the mega-corporations that control these outlets.
But there are still plenty of news operations – particularly those which would still be referred to colloquially as “print media” – that are doing excellent investigative work.
I have no problem with criticizing bad work. But the public really needs to stop demonizing the industry as a whole. Journalists are the only protection citizens have from abuse of power. If journalists weren’t digging for and exposing the kind of backroom shenanigans that have led to so many highly questionable deals and work involving many of our local government bodies, just who the hell do you think will?
Finally, I want to send a big raspberry to ODU over the manner in which they’ve responded to an increase in violence that’s been developing in proximity to their campus.
Their PR folks have been aggressively criticizing local media outlets for associating these incidents with the school. They say that these incidents aren’t close enough to their actual campus to be fairly tied to ODU.
What a load of manure. Almost every one of these incidents has involved their students in one way or another. Although they’ve happened a few streets away from the campus, they’ve taken place inside or outside places where their students reside. And although some of the victims haven’t been students, they were at parties involving or held by students – some of which have had hundreds of people present.
I’m utterly baffled by what ODU’s administration hopes to accomplish by this approach. It contradicts every reasonable practice one would expect a public relations professional to employ. The only thing they do by exercising this strategy is to demonstrate a callous disregard for the safety of their students and the neighborhood they live in.
Perhaps when parents start withdrawing their children because they feel the university doesn’t care about their safety, the school will take a more reasoned and, dare I say, empathetic approach to how they treat these incidents.
Fortunately, as reported in this story, there are some people trying to figure this out, with or without ODU’s cooperation or participation.
(Mike Rau offers a tip of the hat and a heartfelt thanks to all those who have served our country in the military. I’m eternally grateful for the safety and security you’ve always provided to our country.)