VA’s Republican Governor has proposed a special sales tax on consumers who shop with coupons. “Because they pay less for their groceries,” he said, “they are not paying their fair share of sales tax, even though they take up as much room in the store.” Sound ridiculous? How is that any different than taxing hybrid cars for not using enough gasoline?
So there I was last Friday near the Freedom of Expression wall, gathering signatures for my City School Board run, when Henry Graff comes bounding up with a microphone and cameraman to ask my opinion about private boundaries on the east end of the mall.
Up until a few years ago, the performance space at the east end of the mall was publicly-owned and the city would use the stage for free public concerts. The venue was cooperatively run by a coalition of local merchants called the Charlottesville Downtown Federation and it successfully brought attention and traffic to that end of the mall. The original Fridays after 5 usually featured great local acts and helped to showcase the best of Charlottesville.
In 2003, apparently due to declining sponsorship, the CDF began bringing in larger “name” acts and charging an admission fee. Two years later, the Pavilion was sold to a private promoter and our mall became home to the world’s largest lobster trap.
On August 1, 1966, twenty-five year-old Charles Whitman ascended the UT clock tower with a personal arsenal and, shortly before noon, began shooting tourists and passersby. He killed 15 people that day, including his wife and mother that morning, and wounded 31 others. It was a horrible crime that shocked a nation. More than twenty years later, I visited Austin and they were still talking about it.
Two days ago, twenty-three year-old Seung-hui Cho walked through Norris Hall at VA Tech shooting students and faculty. He killed 32 people, including two early that morning in a student dorm. Once again, the nation is shocked, but we are no longer stunned. This spree shooting is simply the bloodiest and most recent in a line of memorable shootings.
The worst thing about living in a post-Columbine world is that Columbines are no longer inconceivable. What was once incomprehensible has become comprehensible. For some disturbed souls, such incidents become challenges to out-Columbine Columbine.
Yesterday, I received a call from Don Gibson, Director of Sales for nTelos. He had read my blog entry detailing my odd episode with an nTelos retail manager that ultimately drove me to the competition. I had a very pleasant and informative chat with Don and I think we both concluded with a better understanding of each other.
First, Don apologized on behalf of nTelos. Then he made it clear that he was calling just to discuss my experience, not to win me back as an nTelos customer. Then he apologized several more times, to the point where I found it a little awkward. For the record, the only reason I blogged about the incident in the first place was just to start a conversation about the implementation of senseless and annoying business policies, so receiving this call was quite a pleasant surprise.