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April, 2013

  1. Several teens armed at Norfolk shooting site

    April 10, 2013 by Christy

    Police released more details Monday about the shootings outside a downtown teen concert on Friday. In addition to gunfire that injured two teens, six boys are being charged after police found them with guns.

    The arrests were not connected to the gunshots that injured a male and a female teen, who were walking on Monticello Avenue near East Freemason Street about 10 p.m. when the incident occurred. Both have

    venue. Police Chief said officers working in the area on Friday responded quickly.

    Councilman Andy Protogyrou said he wished city officials held a news conference Monday to explain what happened.

    The criminal defense attorney doesn’t fault The NorVa and said more police might not have stopped the gunfire.

    “I can’t tell you that having an officer standing next to the person would have stopped this,” he said.

    Other council members could not be reached.

    Read the full article here.


  2. REMARKS REGARDING NORFOLK CONFERENCE CENTER

    by Christy

    The following speech was given by Councilman Andrew A. Protogyrou on April 9, 2013.

    As a public official entrusted with your trust and our fiduciary responsibilities, I believe in my requirement to examine each vote, its benefits and liabilities, and support each vote with knowing and intelligent research. Each of us must conduct our own due diligence and examine all angles of this project from points that the citizens in whole, or in part, may not know, consider or be familiar with.

    I appreciate a town hall on such a topic and in no way discount same, nor the opinions for delay. However, weighing same, I find no reason to delay this vote.

    I frankly would never expect a town hall where citizens would show up and proclaim their want for a conference center or any other fiscal project that may not be seen as directly affecting them. I would, however, expect contrarian opinions to express themselves for various other pots and sources of funding more closer to home. I understand, have no problem, and agree with same.

    I do not take this vote or my position on same personally. I will try to objectively examine how I have arrived to same and expect my arrival upon my opinion to business proposal to council for the city to expand their ballroom in lieu of a new conference center. Does the present ownership of this property have room to approach the city and render an opinion in this deal? Their opinion now lacks total credibility and only shows the ownership’s self-serving correspondence for what it was. The Sheraton’s ballroom is almost 50% the size of a new conference center and is a property, over the years, that benefited from city funds and the original Waterside and promenade.

    Lastly, each in this hotel correspondence mentions the effects of sequestration on their properties. I believe near term the economy and sequestration has and will effect their properties.

    However, neither, in their correspondence truly and completely address the long term economy. At this time, construction costs are low as is the price of money. The economic growth, 5, 10, and 20 years into the future is our duty to examine as economic diversification and added jobs to our own municipal economy.

    Fiduciary responsibility is a significant factor in our decision. As I vote today, I have voted against many projects I thought were unfair or could have been supported by the developer’s own funds. (21st St., Chick- Fil- A, YMCA) to name a few. However, the examination of the funds and their sources are different in this project. This is not a new deal. This is a deal a decade old.

    The parking garage, though if I had my druthers would not be in this deal, is an industry requirement. It’s funding as part of the city’s parking bond package does not effect our city’s debt structure, by statute, and becomes a city asset on our balance sheets. The business model has it paid by parking fees. These are not general funds allocated to core municipal functions such as schools, transportation, and public safety.

    In 2003, the city council established the public amenities fund. A decade old revenue source that has raised 56.2 million dollars in 10 years. This fund was specifically earmarked from meals and lodging taxes to promote cultural and entertainment activity and to prepare for new downtown civic facilities. In the bank, right now, is 19.7 million to pay for the 42.5 million dollar conference center. (19.7 million cash for the investment). Keep in mind, however, 5 million is generated annually and with renewed pedestrian traffic at a new conference center, this 5 million annually, would be even more through job creation (250 in the new property), payroll, economic activity, retail sales, and hotel stays. The investment into an asset lasting three (3) or four (4) decades or more similar to any real estate purchase of sorts for any business or personal investment pays itself off.

    Do I have a problem with the city’s “enticement” portion to the developer? Yes. Is this amount a deal breaker? No. Why?

    The 7.5 million dollar grant is money that has been set aside since 2007 by a then council for this purpose. It is not new money and not funds allocated at that time to schools, transportation, and public safety.

    The $750,000 restaurant incentive is to be paid back over 10 years and only if performance is met. If the restaurant generates more faster, it is paid faster and we all benefit faster.

    None of these funds from a decade ago or half a decade ago, before I made it to council were ever earmarked by previous council for schools, public safety, or transportation.

    Can and should we do better? I believe this counsel will. Jobs generated between the conference center and Waterside could range from 750 to 1500 people.

    Lastly, relationships matter. Mr. Thompson and Gold Key are the gold standard in the resort industry. Gold Key is ranked as one of the top 25 vacation ownership companies in the world. Gold Key’s reputation in reservations, hotel and time share ownership only leads to great things for a downtown business, culturally centered property with Gold Key’s reservation system. A property Gold Key currently lacks and wants to be successful.

    I believe I have done my due diligence, considered the foregoing facts, seriously examined this issue from many angles, some known and some unknown to the citizens, and confidently can make my vote in favor of this project.


  3. Statues crumbling at Norfolk Botanical Garden

    April 2, 2013 by Christy

    Phidias has seen better days. Phidias is one of 11 statues at the Norfolk Botanical Garden that have deteriorated over time. The pieces, at the garden since the early 1970s, were created after the Civil War to pay homage to some of history”s greatest artists. They have suffered from prolonged exposure to the region”s humid weather and nearby Norfolk International Airport”s toxic fumes.

    The intricate 7-foot-tall, 1,500-pound

    sculptures are in varying stages And now, almost 18 years to the libra weekly horoscope that he defeated Cochran for Leader, he is appearing ads trying to save Cochran from defeat in next week’s Mississippi primary run-off. of disintegration.

    Rembrandt has been in storage ever since a hurricane knocked out his pedestal years ago. Raphael is missing part of his palette and nose. Italian sculptor Antonio Canova also is missing part of his nose and several fingers. Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Crawford have suffered similar injuries.

    Local advocates hope to raise about $1.5 million to restore the pieces.

    Patricia Rawls, who serves on the restoration committee, said they”re still trying to figure out how to accomplish this. The money would cover both the repair of the originals and the creation of reproductions to take their places outside.

    She said they hope to have a company selected by next month. Ideally, laser scanning, which would aid in the restoration and serve as an archival record, could be done on site so visitors would be able to watch the conservator, she said.

    That could mean moving the statues indoors from the garden”s popular Statuary Vista and replacing them with reproductions.

    The project has a passionate and powerful ally: The Virginia Military Institute family.

    The statues” creator, Moses Ezekiel, was a prominent VMI alumnus. Ezekiel, a Richmond native, was the first Jewish cadet at VMI and a Confederate soldier who fought in the Battle of New Market.

    His classmates who died in that battle are buried beside a poignant statue he created on the VMI campus titled “Virginia Mourning Her Dead.” A ceremony is held by the statue every year to mark the battle”s anniversary.

    To this day, the piece has the power to stir the emotions of City Councilman Andy Protogyrou, who graduated from VMI in 1984. Protogyrou said the city should play a role in restoring the statues, but he hopes the money will be raised privately.

    The councilman first became aware of the statues as a college student, when he served as an escort in the Azalea Festival, then held at the garden. The festival is now known as the Norfolk NATO Festival, and this year”s parade is being organized – coincidentally – by Ezekiel”s great-great-great-nephew, Alex Pincus.

    Read the full article here.