Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Circle to Be Planted Soon

In a meeting of locals (preceeded by an email announcing it to all on the HPLA mailing list) the trees and plants to go in the Marshall/Adams Traffic Circle has been decided. A nice combination of a few evergreens of varied height and color will anchor the center, surrounded by hardy knockout roses, a border of Liriope, and some blue accents from another plant source. Despite the stormy weather, the people attending contributed their ideas and dollars and we have come very close to the total needed to fill the circle. Still, anyone who did not attend who would like to contribute a few dollars, please drop or mail your donation to Jeff and Bev at 104 Marshall by Aug 30. Make checks out to Beverly Rivers, the trustworthy one. Any amount that exceeds what's needed for the plants, mulch, and a little decent top soil will be keep in a modest maintenance fund to keep the circle in top shape henceforward. While different traffic deterrents were discussed (things such as boulders, spikes, land mines and trap doors) we are hoping that the sturdy little trees (which must by edict be no taller than 3 feet) and the sheer beauty of the thing will deter evil doers from wreaking havoc. And, my new video surveillance system will be able to identify them if the worst should happen. The circle will be planted Labor Day Weekend— specific day and time to be announced.

Jeff A

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another Blow for the Big Pee

The daytime speed trap on Washington is apparently the city’s latest means to drive tourists, and business, away.

It seems now that all the drug houses on Tulip Alley are closed, the crack heads cleaned out of Halifax St., and the whores and pimps and assorted thieves and murderers are all behind bars, the police have plenty of time on their hands. So what better way to spend it than by harassing unwary tourists and visitors by nailing them the moment they are stupid enough to get off the freeway and venture into our glorious shopping and entertainment venue?

Petersburg does all it can to discourage new business—anyone who has started a business here quickly knows that. You jump through hoops, get a dozen or so signatures, have your signs approved and you might be ready to go. (In other, more enlightened places you send in a check and get a business license.) “Really?” some locals ask. Duh… yes, some towns actually ENCOURAGE business. “Hmmm, why on earth would anyone want to do that when you can get free money from the state for doing nothing?” Good question.

The new Washington Street Speed Trap puts that issue to rest, however. I lost one of my best customers today, allegedly because she was doing 35 mph in a 25 mph zone. Of course the obscenely slow speed limit is hard for anyone to obey, let alone see posted. Throughout the day, 18-wheelers, Ghetto blasters on wheels playing dated, offensive and misogynistic “music”, along with clowns in drug-financed Mercedes fly through at twice that speed, with immunity. So one could make a case that this lady was easy pickins’--- attractive, petite, and driving a new, but not very expensive compact. She looked out of her element. Perfect prey for a predator cop. When the officer saw that she was visiting from Newport Beach specifically to patronize Petersburg, (something she had only recently begun doing), he might have had the courtesy to let her off with a warning. But no, we are TOUGH on crime in the Big P, and we punish ALL transgressors. No biases here. Yeah, right. It’s a lot easier to fill a monthly quota with easy prey than actually bust a real criminal. Once again, the path of least resistance is the P burg way.

So, the lady in question next went downtown, not to eat and shop, as planned, but to pay her ticket at the courthouse. There, in the belly of the beast, the hot, depressing bureaucratic Temple of the People, she waited in line amidst the utility-cut-off and overdue-fine people to atone for her crime. (It seems that doing this is necessary to eliminate excessive additional charges incurred at a court date in the future.)

Needless to say, her day in Petersburg was not exactly material for the Petersburg Regional Tourism commercials.

I will pay this lady what she had to lay out for her ticket, and apologize for the cop laying in wait who either managed to, or was assigned to avoid the drug deals, domestic abuse, theft, larceny, and more relevant speeding (i.e. Marshall, Adams and Jefferson) all around him in order to nail this obvious middle class felon. Typically, I personally am staunchly pro police, and always support Petersburg’s force. I do not support speeding. But I believe in an empowered, forceful, even aggressive anti-crime and property-protection police force. Not this Barney Fife bullshit. Not this double standard that reinforces the worst of what we already suspect about small towns off the freeway.

Speeders, stop sign and light-jumpers all over town continue to be ignored. The new circle has been run over many times and you never, ever see a cop anywhere in the vicinity.

Having lived all over the country, and visited all over the world, I have never encountered a place with such an inherent and enigmatic compulsion to reward the wicked and discourage the good, to its own detriment.
“So get out!” one local once told me. If things continue as they are, most assuredly, I will. Until then, I will keep trying to change the chronically soiled diaper that the city seems to wear with inexplicable pride. If enough new people keep trying, maybe P-burg can be trained to stop peeing on the good people, and itself.

Thoroughly fed up

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Another stop on my Path to Despair

UPDATE: December 2007- Yep just another round of empty promises. So much for hope of actual change. The only change this time around was a new player in this saga in that the Commonwealth Attorney also made promises she never planned on doing anything about.

Post Original Title: The Email Heard Around the City

Apparently the email I sent out on Saturday has been causing quite a stir among the leadership in the city this week. In case you missed it here it is.

In light of the number of incidents this week around the neighborhood, please help me keep pressure on the city leadership so that we can move towards actual solutions and away from the past empty promises to discuss it next time. Keep your eyes open and a phone nearby! (For thoose who don't have it memorized Police Non-Emergency 732-4222 / Emergency is 911.)


"The time has come for us to stop turning a blind eye to the activities around Poplar Lawn Park.

This morning I discovered a shower cap full of tobacco on my front porch, evidence that a cigar was being filled with marijuana. It is evident that drug activity was taking place on my property, and there is the possibility that this activity was deliberately acted on my front porch by individuals who may be upset with my efforts to disrupt their "safe haven" in the park for such activities.

I called to have a report taken by the police and the officer left my property without documenting anything. No questions asked about possible suspects, no notes taken about background to this incident.

This is not the first time this week in which a harassing gesture has been directed at me because of my efforts to disrupt illegal activity in Poplar Lawn Park. Previous to last night, verbal threats have been made to me in the park, but last night's activity was a case of trespassing on private property and evidence of illegal drug use both of which should be documented for crime statistics.

As a graduate of Petersburg's Citizen Police Academy I have the utmost respect for the Police Department, but frankly the officer's lack of interest was rather disturbing. This just demonstrates the perception that the police force is over-extended and does not have the energy to deal with non-emergency issues.

Unfortunately, what may be perceived as a non-emergency issue today may escalate if left unchecked. I want it documented that this incident happened, and that possible suspects are notated in case of a future escalation.

Back in April, in a meeting with Councilman Moore, and City Attorney Dawson, I was told that Poplar Lawn Park couldn't be made a drug free zone because there were not enough calls for service to justify it. Recently, I saw a copy of the crime statistics, and I am sad to report that those numbers are for some reason grossly under-reported.

Perhaps it is to protect property values or maybe to protect the city's position on the national crime statistics list, but in walking the park on a regular basis one finds evidence of drug use:piles of tobacco removed from cigars, make shift crack stems, pieces of chore boys, and plastic bags so small it could have only included drugs.

With the incident this morning I ask once again that Poplar Lawn Park and the area around it be designated a drug free zone under Sec 74-462(a)(4). Since the statistics are flawed you must rely on the reliable information from the residents of the area that our health or safety is endangered by drugs and designate this area a drug free zone.

I by no means believe that the drug free zone is going to be the ultimate solution, however I do believe it being a step in responding to the larger crime problem. Solving that larger crime issue is going to take effort from many parties in the city.

First from the City Council/Manager/Attorney in writing new ordinances or increasing penalties to discourage illegal activities in and around public parks.

It is going to take the citizens to be aware of any current and new ordinances and follow them or call for service when there is a violation.

We need the effort from the police in responding to calls in a timely manner, and citing violations when they take place no matter how insignificant they may appear.

Finally, we need the support of the Commonwealth Attorney and the courts to prosecute violations that the police issue and identify maximum penalties for habitual offenders.

Albert Einstein was once quoted as saying "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it" This issue I raised is just the beginning of many that face us.

Crime is not just affecting one block or one neighborhood, drugs and other crime issues are affecting the city as a whole. The time has come for us to stand up and take a step towards solutions to these issues.

Everyday, I have the courage to make a phone call for service when illegal activities are taking place. Please have the courage to hear those calls and make a stand against these activities with me.

Phil Cheney
Historic Poplar Lawn Association"

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Time for Willie to Go Nite Nite

By now, most of you will have seen the panhandler who hangs out at Wythe and Adams—the bearded Willie Nelson wannabe who wears a hat and aggressively begs for money at every red light. Since the light there is unbearably long, he has plenty of time to harass residents and visitors alike. (Ironic that he is the first thing people encounter as they enter Poplar Lawn, instead of the yet-unplanted traffic circle.) This mamaluke is the kind of jerk that continues to give Petersburg a bad name. Until recently, Willie was extremely aggressive and often got into fights with motorists. Unlike Charlotte the Crack Whore who holds forth her hands in a pathetic gesture of need, Willie is egotistic, arrogant and nasty. A few weeks ago, after he provoked a few altercations with motorists, and after DOZENS of phone calls to the police he did a little time. But now he is back, with an illegible cardboard sign, and he seems to be a little less belligerent. But last night, with hundreds of people passing through for Friday for the Arts, he urinated behind a car waiting for the light. The police were called and never came. They were called again, and still never came. No doubt they were too busy guarding Alzeena's. Willie will now be a permanent fixture, it seems. But I will reason with him personally this week. He will understand, I am sure.