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Quick views on some of the week's news.
Saturday, May 4, 2013
Will chef dish on Cuccinelli?
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli scored a procedural victory Thursday when a Richmond judge agreed to recuse his office from prosecuting the embezzlement case against a former chef at the Virginia governor's mansion.
But if the case proceeds to trial this summer, it may continue to dog Cuccinelli and raise questions about his judgment as he runs for governor.
The attorney for fired chef Todd Schneider has argued that Cuccinelli's office did nothing when Schneider told investigators more than a year ago that Star Scientific chief executive Jonnie Williams picked up the $15,000 catering tab for the mansion wedding of Gov. Bob McDonnell's daughter. McDonnell did not report the gift because Virginia's loose disclosure laws don't require it. The governor and Cuccinelli have disclosed other gifts they received from Williams, though some belatedly, including the use of a vacation house at Smith Mountain Lake.
Cuccinelli's office asked to be released from the case because a potential witness has worked for a political fundraising firm doing business with Cuccinelli's gubernatorial campaign. In other words, Cuccinelli's professional obligations conflict with his political ambitions.
Since the case still could burn Cuccinelli politically, perhaps he's quietly hoping that the judge will grant Schneider's request to dismiss the charges before the case goes to trial and the chef dishes more juicy tidbits.
No crying in Bedford . . . or else
When a public official feels compelled to clarify what she meant when complaining about the "crap" (stuff or nonsense) she has taken from some school teachers, it's appropriate to include some acknowledgement that she failed to do her part to elevate the level of public discourse in her community.
Bedford County Supervisor Annie Pollard invited criticism last week when she described several teachers as "crybabies" because they had the temerity to attend a public hearing and speak in favor of a 3 percent raise for school employees. Her attempt at damage control via an emailed statement lacked any semblance of an apology for her name-calling, potty-mouthed outburst, and thus it had the opposite effect.
All cities and counties are struggling to fund their schools as federal stimulus dollars dry up and state aid shows little sign of returning to pre-recession levels. By taking her frustration out on teachers at a public hearing, rather than state legislators, Pollard made herself the villain.
Pollard wrapped up her missive by welcoming teachers and county residents to future public hearings.
"You certainly have the right to speak, and I'm committed to hearing you out and taking reasonable concerns under consideration," she said.
Those with unreasonable concerns should watch their step. Pollard's welcome mat may still be retractable.
Festivities on every corner
Much of Elmwood Park is under renovation as the spring festival season kicks off this weekend. Rather than view the shifting venues as an inconvenience, festival-goers should take the chance to circulate and explore other corners of Roanoke's downtown as well as other host sites around the region.
Those in search of strawberry shortcake won't have far to go. The Strawberry Festival will still be in a bulldozer-free corner of Elmwood, as will Local Colors later this month. For other events, just follow the nose-tickling smell of hot peppers to the Chili Cook-Off's regular spot at Railside Plaza, let the salsa music be your guide to the Wells Fargo Plaza for Cinco de Mayo and groove over to SunTrust Plaza for First Fridays.
A little exploration will remind visitors that there's actually lots of parking available in downtown Roanoke, much of it free. Better yet, you can ride your bike and check out the new bicycle corral next to the City Market Building.
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