Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Follow-up on recycling

I know everyone has been waiting with bated (is that even a word) breath on what happened with our recycling pick-up.  Well, it turns out that the third call is the charm (or fourth depending on how you count them). 

When last we left, it was Thursday and recycling still had not been picked up so I blogged about it.  I had already called twice.  So Friday morning I called public works again.  Once again the woman was very pleasant and took my address but this time I asked if there was anyone else I could call.  She gave me the number to waste management and told me to ask for a supervisor.  Which I did.  The lady who answered the phone said she would transfer me to a Reynold(?) Riddick but I got his voicemail.  Argh!  So I left a very detailed message and mentally prepared myself for the recycling to be full when I got home.  Well, my work phone rang an hour later with Mr. Riddick assuring me that it would be picked up and guess what?  It was.  And later that evening he called the house to make sure it had been picked up.

So I guess that is a happy ending.  But here is the odd part, Andrea had sent an email to HRSD asking for our account to be credited since we did not get a pick up.  A woman called us back and left us a voicemail saying that we don't get charged for recycling and subsequently we could not get a credit. 

WHAT?  No one (including the government) does anything for free.  That means someone or some entity out there is making money on recycling.  Does anyone know how this works in Hampton Roads?  Because to me this doesn't smell right and it is starting to sound like some sort of racket. 

CSB is wasting money.....again

So once again everyone's favorite quasi-city/state/federal governmental agency is back in the news.  It appears that by April the Norfolk Community Services Board will have wasted about $93K in taxpayer money on rent for a building that they aren't even occupying.  While that is a small amount compared to the $300K+ that they previously wasted paying an employee for 12 years for not coming in, it is still a significant chunk of change.  I am upset at the complete disregard that the CSB has for the taxpayer's money.  In addition, my lovely wife pointed out, that money for a year could have supported at least one full time employee or three part time counselors or paid for the outpatient treatment for at least eight people. 

This has gone past the point of lunacy.  Norfolk management will continue to wash their hands of this by claiming they don't control it since it is not a city agency.  And since we have already talked about how making it a city department is beyond stupid.  There really is only one solution.  SHUT IT DOWN.  Or at a minimum stop funding it.

I am not saying that the work they don't do is important.  What I am saying is that at this point in time, any other method used to provide mental health and drug abuse services to the poor has to be better than this.  Contract it out.  Ask Va Beach/Portsmouth/Chesapeake, how they do it.  Pick up the phone book and randomly call someone for advice.  I guarantee you that as of February 28, 2012 anything is better than the absolute fiasco that the current operations of the Norfolk CSB.     

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why government should not provide services

With very few exceptions, government should not be responsible for providing services to people.  Capitalism is the worst system....except for all others. 

Here is my real life example.  It is small but very telling.  In Norfolk, recycling is only collected every other week.  Last Thursday was our collection day so I put the trash and the recycling out.  The trash was collected but for some odd reason the recycling for every house on my side of the block was not picked up. I left the can on the street and called HRSD at 3pm on Friday to tell them that recycling had not picked up.  The woman told me that was a city responsibility and gave me Norfolk's number.  I called Norfolk and the woman was very pleasant, asked for my address and said they would get it that day.  No one showed up. 

Thus began a three day weekend in which I knew no recycling would be picked up.  So I held onto my full recycling can and put it out again today for pick-up.  At 1pm I called home and asked if it had been collected.  My wife said no so I called Norfolk waste management again.  Like Friday, the woman was very pleasant and assured me that it would be collected.  As of this blog post, the recycling can still sits full and uncollected. 

Now here is the dilemma.  No one cares.  It is a government agency.  They will get paid regardless of how well or how poorly they perform.  They have a monopoly on trash collection.  What am I to do?  I will call again and complain but if they get to it so be it.  But if they don't life will go on.

If this was a commercial trash collection agency, I can say with 94% certainty the first time I complained they would be out here.  I can say with a 100% certainty that the second time I complained it would definitely be collected because if it wasn't I would FIRE THEM and move onto another company.  I don't have that option with a government monopoly. 

Given their performance record, I guess I shouldn't be surprised when I am hauling the recycling out in my truck this weekend.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Virginia politics

Ok. Let's step away from this alleged war on women by those evil, dastardly Republicans and tackle a political topic that we should all agree on. Specifically HB 947 which can be read here.   The Reader's Digest version is that it allows homeschooled children to participate in public school sports.  This is referred to as the Tebow bill after the football player Tim Tebow who was homeschooled but played football for his local high school and became one of the greatest college quarterbacks in recent history at Florida. 

Anyhow, this is real simple.  I pay taxes.  My taxes support the school system. My children should be able to participate in interscholastic programs that I help pay for.  Any questions?

The bill has passed the House and it on its way to the Senate.  In anticipation of that I sent the following email to my state Senator Ralph Northam

Senator Northam,

I trust that you will support and vote in favor of Delegate Bell’s House Bill 947 with regards to nonpublic school students being permitted to participate inn interscholastic programs when it comes to the Senate floor for passage. 

As a taxpayer and father of four homeschooled children, I certainly feel that my children should have fair and equal access to programs that my tax dollars are funding.


Adam Kinnear

Norfolk, VA


I will let you know what his response is.
I would encourage other people that care to email and call their state Senators.  You can look up your Senator here

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Norfolk Naval Base Traffic

Remember the opening traffic scene in Office Space?  Where Peter is sitting in traffic and the man in the walker is making better time than he is in the car?  That was me this morning.  A woman was walking (not jogging) up the Lafayette River Bridge at the same time as I was driving.  She not only finished the bridge when I was only at the top going down the other side but she got such a big lead that I never caught up with her.  

The traffic situation going into Norfolk Naval Base has gone past ridiculous.  Ridiculous is too weak of a word to describe the situation.  It has now shifted to ludicrous and is beginning to approach out-fricking-rageous.

It should not take me an hour to travel less than four miles. 

Here's a couple of ideas that could be implemented almost immediately:

  1. All Gate 2 traffic could be inbound in the morning.  Outbound traffic is already closed.  Man the outbound gates and have traffic come in those gates.  There is plenty of room to merge.
  2. Double the guards on Gate 5.  The traffic can not move through quickly enough and backs up on Hampton Blvd which then backs up for miles.
  3. Turn off the lights on Taussig Blvd.  Don't allow people to cut through the NEX parking lot and keep the traffic following straight off 564 directly into gates 1 and 2.
This isn't a particularly complex situation.  We aren't launching the shuttle here.  The variables are relatively constant.  A couple of minor adjustments and people (like me) won't spend unnecessary time in the car wondering if the people running the show aren't in fact related to these guys:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

How good will the Avengers movie be?

OK.  Some of you may or may not know that I like comics and movies which do not involve death races.  So movies about comics should be a favorite of mine.  I thought both Iron Man and Captain America were really well done.  Robert Downey Jr did a great job of playing the character of Tony Stark.  I have four kids so going to the movies is at best a quarterly occurrence for me.  The Avengers movie is premiering this spring.  Here is the trailer if you haven't seen it yet:

Couple of questions:

  1. Should I plan on seeing this in the theater or wait until it comes out on DVD?
  2. Is the Captain America vs Iron Man ego going to be a big part of the plot?  Personally, I am not interested in that.  I would rather see some more fighting.
  3. Can we all agree that Hawkeye is the LAMEST superhero ever?  The best archer in the world?  Seriously?  Why don't we have the best fencer in the world join him?  We could call him the Dueler. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Is Norfolk's Commonwealth Attorney lazy or incompetent? I can't tell.

For everyone too lazy to read the article, here’s is the Reader’s Digest version: 
  •  Woman for quasi-city agency that Norfolk supports financially but really isn’t in charge of gets paid for twelve years without actually working.
  •  Norfolk Commonwealth Attorney investigates, concludes no crime has been committed and tells everyone to “Move along. There is nothing to see here.”
  •  Now a Norfolk judge has empowered a special Grand Jury to investigate and see if an actual crime did occur.

I am not a lawyer.  I have not been to law school.  I have no real legal expertise.  However, I have watched Matlock and stayed in a Holiday Inn Express and I can say with pretty much 94% certainty that a crime did indeed occur.

Here is some free advice for the Norfolk city Attorney’s office.  At a MINIMUM, the person/persons who signed the time sheets and/or performance appraisal for the woman that never showed up probably committed some sort of financial fraud.  Again, I am not a lawyer so I don’t know the technical term is for the type of stealing but I would call it…..um….stealing.

It will be interesting to see what the Grand Jury says.   Assuming the members have some common sense, I suspect they will come back and say that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark Norfolk.”

Friday, February 10, 2012

Why my friend is wrong

I have a friend.  This fact alone may surprise you but I do.  For the purposes of this post let's call my friend "John."  Now John also went to that small college on the Severn and he is probably more passionate about Navy football than I am.

He keeps forwarding me articles that are positive about Navy's move to the Big East.  The last article he sent was from The Bird Dog who is a self proclaimed expert on Navy sports.   In fact the Bird Dog uses a phrase that I would like to borrow: "the Vanderbilt of the Big East."  He doesn't know if that will be Navy's fate.  I, however, am confident it will be.  We will be the perpetual 3-9 team that everyone looks forward playing on their schedule for the guaranteed W.

"John" keeps sending me texts and e-mails to the point that I think he is trying to convince himself this is a good move.  It's almost like a child who asks for a Transformer for Christmas but wakes up on the 25th and finds under the tree that Santa has brought him a Go-Bot.   The child keeps telling himself that the Go-Bot is just as good as a Transformer and it will be a great toy.  But secretly the child knows that Fitor Jet is not nearly as good as Starscream.

I think "John" and the Bird Dog are trying to swallow a bitter pill and convince themselves that it really doesn't taste that bad.  They would like to accept the reality of Navy in the Big East as a positive move.  I, however, am not a glass is half full kind of guy and I think it will be DISASTROUS.  Navy is not a BCS team.  We are a mid-level division one team that contends used to contend for mid-level bowls. And now thanks to the Navy AD Chet Gladchuk, we are about to become the "Vanderbilt of the Big East."

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Movie question

To change things up, I will not be talking about football or local politics.  Instead, I will ask a simple question.  Should I watch the movie Death Race?  If you don't remember this gem from 2008, here is the full length trailer:

The reason I ask this question is that my sister-in-law has remarked in the past that this is a great action movie. This past week when I was on travel I happened to be flipping through channels and caught about twenty minutes of the cinematic masterpiece that is Death Race.  From what I saw, it looked like a pretty bad movie.  And by bad, I don't mean bad as in good.  I mean bad as in terrible.

However, recently my sister-in-law, whose reviews of movies I respect and are generally very accurate, told me that Death Race is quite possibly in her top ten movies of all time.   

This has gotten me to think that I should reevaluate my stance and consider watching Death Race.  The downside is that I would have to invest 111 minutes into a bad movie.  The upside is that I may finally see and learn to appreciate the acting skills of Jason Statham.

What say you loyal blog readers?  What should I do?  Everyone but my sister-in-law gets a vote.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Let's talk about Eli

Before the play-offs started and we were talking about QBs, I asked who are the top five in the league.  We agree that Rodgers, Brees and Brady were clearly on the list.  Then the conversation drifted and the argument was made that a healthy Petyon Manning was in the list.  So as we were trying to come up with number five I said Eli Manning but I have a co-worker (who is a Chargers fan) that insisted it should be Philip Rivers. 

Now that the Super Bowl is over, there is no doubt that Eli is most definitely a top 5 QB.  His play-off record at away/neutral sites is 7-1.  His 4th quarter QB rating for the season is 110.  He is a cold-blooded killer when it comes to finishing games. 

Assuming he is healthy, Peyton is going to be playing catch-up and trying to match his little brother's second Super Bowl Ring.     It would be awesome if he could do it for team in the NFC East that is only a QB away from the competing.  If only there was a team with an owner that didn't mind spending money on veteran free agents. *cough* Washington Redskins *cough*

Two Manning bowls twice a year?  That is something everyone would like to see. 

Another well written response

I was expecting a response from Sharon McDonald and I was not disappointed.

Mr. Kinnear---you raise an interesting point.  But if you don't expect a business to be shut down for non payment of the BL, then what's to keep them from operating without a BL and not paying the BL tax PLUS the other delinquent taxes?  The point is that the City Treasurer has the responsibility to collect the delinquent taxes and has, for some time now, allowed these taxes, along with many others, to remain uncollected.  It is only this year, upon my recommendation to our new City Manager last February, that the CT initiated a new ordinance requiring that my office help him collect these taxes by not renewing BLs until all delinquencies are paid. 

I can't argue with her logic.  
So I sent her the following reply:

Ms. McDonald,
 I had not thought about the situation in those terms.  You are right.  Someone who is delinquent in their taxes probably is not too concerned about their business license.  So what is the enforcement mechanism for the city to stop a business for operating without a business license?  Is that the role of the city treasurer?

I will let you know what she says.  
The ten million dollar question is has Councilman Riddick paid his delinquent taxes and been issued a business license for 2012?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Peyton needs to tell Irsay good-bye

"There is growing speculation Irsay won't exercise the option bonus and many are thinking the relationship is heading to a divorce."

Growing speculation?  Um, no.  Irsay has fired the front office to include the GM and the head coach and has he is ready to do what is best for the Horseshoe.  Seriously?  The horseshoe?  Does anyone outside of Indy refer to the organization as the horseshoe?

When your boss tweets that you aren't medically qualified to play after other doctors say you are clear, it's a pretty clear sign that you aren't going to get paid $28M for next season. 

Irsay could not be more clearer if he rented a plane to fly over Lucas Oil Stadium towing a banner saying "I am drafting Luck and releasing Peyton for the good of the horseshoe."

Hopefully, Peyton tells Irsay to stick it when they meet next week and then stand by for possibly the biggest free agency signing ever.

Another response

You can say what you want about the commissioner of revenue of Norfolk, Sharon McDonald, but one thing is for sure.  Unlike the Mayor and City Manager she promptly answers her email and then follows-up!

I got this unsolicited email from her today:

Mr. Kinnear---just checking to be sure that you received a reply on this inquiry?  

I replied with the following:
Ms. McDonald,
 Thank you for following up.  To answer your question, the answer is no.  I have not gotten a response from Mr. Moss.
 I guess my issue is if I was delinquent $10K in 2009 and I applied to renew my business license for 2010, are you telling me that it would been renewed?  That seems pretty outrageous.  I don't expect your office to shut down a business but I would expect a person to not get issued a license if they were not current on their taxes.

Adam Kinnear

I will let you know what she says when I get her reply because I know for a fact that I am going to get one. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Biggest Free Agent Ever

If Peyton Manning is released on March 8, he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Up to this point in his ownership of the Washington Redskins, Dan Snyder has not a stellar record in his free agent signings. At best they can be be classified as okay (Bruce Smith) and at worst they have been complete busts (Haynesworth).

None of them have been real game changers.  Peyton Manning is the exception.

With the following caveat, if Peyton is healthy, Dan Snyder should break out the checkbook and write whatever amount it takes to get Manning in DC.   With a stout defense, a good offensive line and a sixth round pick to get a weapon, the Redskins are a QB away from being a truly competitive force in the NFC.

While I doubt Peyton would come to DC and deal with the Shanahans, it would be epic.  And like every Redskins fan I will continue to dream that one year the team will escape the doldrums of losing.