David McNair

Author Archive

Talk of DTM decline and demise a familiar story

In History on January 18, 2018 at 12:14 am

Christmas concert on the DTM — 1993. Photo by Steve Ashby.

Once again, there’s been talk about The DTM’s decline and possible demise…about how economic circumstances, recent events, development, and alleged city planning bungling is hurting the downtown mall area. After writing about The DTM for a number of years, one thing I’ve noticed is that it’s decline and demise as been predicted pretty much since it was built, and has continued to be predicted over the decades since then, and yet….and yet…as businesses come and go, and as complaints come and go, the DTM keeps going on, evolving, thriving, defying the perceptions of the day. See timeline below: Read the rest of this entry »


Blackbird singing in Charlottesville

In Opinion on January 16, 2018 at 2:54 pm

Following comments that our new Mayor Nikuyah Walker made on The View recently, there’s been a lot of pushback on the idea that Charlottesville has a race problem, and that our community was “ripe” for what happened on August 12, as Walker said. Some local observers have criticized Walker, have pointed out that most of the white supremacists who came to the rally were from out-of-town, and suggested hers was an unfair characterization of Charlottesville.

But I think we have to remind ourselves that it took 92 years before Charlottesville ever seriously considered removing the Confederate statues from our public parks, the issue that triggered the turmoil we’ve experienced. Remember the Occupy movement in 2011, when people camped out in the park as a protest against economic and social injustice? The Lee statue played no part in the chosen location, and I don’t recall anyone raising any issues about the statue at the time. Why might that have been? Why were we unwilling then to see the Lee statue as a symbol of social injustice? I don’t think you have to think too hard to figure out why that was, given what we know now and have experienced. The hard part is accepting our complacency, or rather our lack of awareness and/or unwillingness to confront a painful issue, and the fact that it took an African-American Charlottesville High School ninth-grader and city councilor seriously advocating for the removal of the statues in 2016 before our community seriously considered the idea of removing them. That’s what Walker is talking about. Unmasking the illusion. Yes, Charlottesville is a great town in so many ways, and August 12 was an assault on our community that we need to defend ourselves against, but it’s time to realize that we are part of the problem as well.

And there’s no shame in it. Since I was a teenager I thought the song “Blackbird” by the Beatles was just a beautiful song, and only recently found out that it was inspired by the sympathy Paul McCartney felt for black women struggling during the Civil Rights Movement. All those years. Oblivious. But a single moment of inquiry and recognition changes the meaning of the song forever.

Park & Hide: Downtown parking meter program halted, but downtown parking problem remains

In Government, Infrastructure, Shopping, Traffic on January 3, 2018 at 4:03 pm

While many people and businesses are happy that the parking meter program downtown has been suspended, everyone seems to have forgotten why it was implemented in the first place: to reduce congestion downtown and make it easier to find a place to park.

As a 2008 downtown parking study determined, parking availability wasn’t necessarily the problem (there were 6000 recorded parking spaces in Downtown Charlottesville, of which about 5,000 (84%) were off-street and about 1,000 (16%) were on-street, and 1,200 were private )— the free two-hour on-street parking spaces were. Read the rest of this entry »

State Investigation of August 12 in Charlottesville cites miscommunication

In Activism, Crime, Events, Government, People, Politics on November 17, 2017 at 1:48 pm

From the State investigation into the events of August 12:
“…James W. Baker, a consultant with the International Association of Chiefs of Police who led the review, said state police and local police each had their own response plans, which should have been unified before the event. Baker said that despite collaboration and meetings in advance, “we were left with the impression not everyone was clear what their roles were.”

He said that in some instances, rank-and-file police on the ground were confused about where commands were coming from and, in others, commanders were not always clear where units were positioned. Baker also recommended a “more robust permitting process” going forward, which he said would have gone far to head off violence. Read the rest of this entry »

Unmasking the Illusion: is Charlottesville finally “woke” when it comes to discussing race and history?

In Opinion on November 9, 2017 at 1:54 pm

monument.jpegNewly elected Charlottesville City Councilor Nikuyah Walker’s campaign slogan “Unmasking the Illusion,” no matter what you think of it, was a brilliant one, an antidote to “Make America Great Again” if ever there was one. When it has come to discussing race and history in Charlottesville, the tendency has always been to intellectualize it, to try to reason with it. Take, for example, this perfectly reasonable C-Ville Weekly story on our Confederate statues, “Monumental questions: Local statues are a lesson in history and a source of controversy,” published in June 2015. At the time, as the story points out, Charlottesville City Councilor Kristin Szakos’ now very well-known suggestion, during a 2012 Virginia Book Festival luncheon speech by Civil War historian Edward Ayers, that perhaps our Confederate statues should be removed or put in better historical context, was well-known back then. Read the rest of this entry »

On day of “crying nazi” hearing, knitted “kudzu” shroud covers Court Square statue

In Arts, Politics on November 9, 2017 at 9:31 am

Before sunrise this morning what looked to be a shroud of kudzu covered the Confederate Statue Memorial in front of the Albemarle County Courthouse, the result of a “guerrilla knitting” effort to send a message about Confederate statues on the day “crying nazi” Christopher Cantwell is scheduled to have his first preliminary hearing. The “guerrilla knitting installation,” designed to look like kudzu, was created by a group of knitters from around the country. The knitters made simulations of leaves and vines to form a large natural-looking shroud to cover the statue with, and had hoped to put it up secretly under the cover of darkness. However, almost as soon as it went up it was spotted by an angry citizen who took it down, called police, and threw in a nearby trash bin. But the “Guerrilla Knitters” recovered the leafy shroud and vow to continue their efforts. Read the rest of this entry »

Independent candidate Nikuyah Walker wins seat on Charlottesville City Council

In Politics on November 8, 2017 at 10:09 am

For the first time since 1948, an independent candidate, Nikuyah Walker, won a spot on Charlottesville’s City Council last night. More importantly, perhaps, an independent candidate who happens to be an African-American woman won a spot on Charlottesville’s City Council for the first time since Charlottesville became a town. Read the rest of this entry »

DTM Beer Garden: event could set a welcome precedent

In Events on November 6, 2017 at 4:33 pm

Here’s some pretty cool things about the upcoming Heal C-Ville Beer Garden event on November 18, on a few fronts. One, as unique event, bringing DTM restaurants and retailers together, along with a bunch of great breweries represented, to open up an actual section of the DTM into an event space for a cause. Two, as a precedent-setting step. Will this set the stage for other DTM street fair events?

As it stands now, ABC regulations prohibit restaurant patrons from walking the ten or fifteen feet between a restaurant door and an outdoor eating space with a drink in hand, but the Beer Garden event organizers, restaurateurs Hunter Smith and Will Rickey, came up with a way to circumvent that for this special event.

“We had a unique opportunity through Brasserie Saison to pull a manufacturer’s multi-day event license from the Virginia ABC, which is a privilege extended to breweries in Virginia,” says Smith. “With support and input of the DBAC, ABC, and Virginia Tourism Corp.”

Basically, that means you’ll be able to walk around and drink beer between the corner of First Street, where Old Metropolitan Hall is, and the the west edge of the Paramount Theater. According to Smith, it will be very clear to people on the DTM that the area is not being blocked off for the event, but rather opened up for everyone to enjoy, or not.

Now imagine regular “street” fairs like this, where food and drink is available all around you as you stroll, and shops are pouring onto the street with their wares, and no one has to be corralled into cafe spaces, or herded into an event space at the Pavilion. Indeed, Smith says he hopes to organize more events like this in the future.

Heal C-Ville Beer Garden, November 18, 2pm to 6pm. All proceeds will benefit Unity C’ville [https://www.unitycville.com], a local non-profit committed to racial and economic justice that was started by Smith and John Kluge, with input from many other community stakeholders.

beer garden 2

Opinion/Commentary: The Brazile Effect In Virginia

In Opinion on November 6, 2017 at 8:55 am

There is a dirty smear campaign of a popular Independent candidate going on in Charlottesville’s City Council Election that smacks of the allegations made by Donna Brazile in her recently published book about the Democratic Party and the Sanders campaign. You would think that Charlottesville had undergone enough ugliness in the White Supremacist attacks of August 12 but it seems like the racism extends to a local election in which an a popular progressive African-American independent candidate is under attack by the white establishment for merely demanding accountability.

On November 3rd the Democratic Candidates for Charlottesville City Council held a press conference with many of the local Democratic Party elite in attendance.


At that press Conference Democratic City Council candidate Laufer stated:

“I think the most important thing that heather and I are expressing today is our willingness to collaborate with city council, with city staff, and with this community. And address issues and create solutions,” said Amy Laufer, (D) candidate for Charlottesville City Council.”

On November 4th The Daily Progress published an article titled “Walker’s style of communication unabashedly aggressive” which stated:

“A source in City Hall, who wished to remain anonymous, called attention to her emails, voicing concerns about her ability to work collaboratively with city officials.”


The language and message is too close to be coincidence. I would ask you which sitting City Councilors have supported the Laufer and Hill Democratic candidacy? How might the City manager be connected to the Democratic Party? Could “a source in City Hall” include the mayor, sitting city councilors, Senior City Staff who would be privy to Ms. Walker’s emails?

It is no secret that Walker has been highly critical of City Democratic Mayor Mike Signer and City Manager Maurice Jones about issues surrounding the City’s failure during the August 12 white supremacists attacks on Charlottesville. The State of Virginia has released a preliminary report on the civil unrest in Charlottesville that indicates culpability of City officials.


So this is a two for one deal. A smear attack on Walker supports the democratic candidates for City Council and it protects City officials from the accountability she would bring if elected. Walker’s campaign is unprecedented in the level of support an independent has received in recent Charlottesville history. A prominent local Democrat made a significantly large donation to the Walker campaign indicating that even some local Democrats are tired of the status quo democratic politics of Charlottesville which independent candidate Paul long has recently called “Republican lite.” So it is clear they are threatened.

This is nothing but dirty politics not unlike recent admissions by Democratic Party operative Donna Brazile about how the Democratic Party undermined Sanders campaign. In the 2016 Democratic Primary in Charlottesville almost all of the precincts went for Sanders even though most local Democratic Party elites were supporting Clinton. This indicates that the local Democratic Party cannot brook any challenge by progressives in or out of their party. Here they can be seen acting just like their conservative opponents.

Not only is this just unethical and dirty, it may well cost the Democrats in State-wide elections. The upshot is that the anonymous source in the Daily Progress article smearing Walker’s communication style may be responsible for Democrats in State races to lose when voters witness the level of dirty politics being played out in Charlottesville, basically a reprise of the Sanders attacks.

If I were state and local Democratic party officials I would immediately and publicly denounce this kind of smear tactic and the anonymous source in the Daily Progress article by Monday or they may see a negative impact on voters in the Northam, Herring, Fairfax election results. They should state that the story was politically motivated and inaccurate. If they lose they part of the blame will be attributed to the “anonymous source in City Hall” and their unwillingness to correct the situation.

In addition, The Daily Progress owes the voters an apology for supporting Comey-like bombshells prior to an election and thus influencing an election. The Daily progress has come out in support of the two local Charlottesville Democratic Candidates who stand to gain by the smear article it ran on Saturday. Thus the Progress has engaged in Yellow Journalism. The Progress almost never allows the use of anonymous sources. Why now? Shame on them for violating ethical principles in journalism and for tainting the democratic process.

This attempted smear of Independent Candidate Nikuyah Walker is nothing but the corruption of the big parties manifesting itself in local elections. If the Democrats lose other state-wide elections on Tuesday, they have dirty politics in Charlottesville to blame. I won’t vote for a Democrat until I see this corrected publicly.

Walt Heinecke
Charlottesville, VA

Disclaimer: the views expressed here are not necessarily those of The DTM.

Become a DTM Patron!

In Information, Uncategorized on October 31, 2017 at 3:28 pm

Since 2012, The DTM has been a local, completely independent effort to bring you news, information, perspective, and observations on all things downtown Charlottesville, and more. From the beginning it’s been a labor of love, with some much need support from readers along the way. Now I’d like to ask that you support the DTM so that I can continue to expand coverage, serve as a megaphone for your voices, and offer special services to the public and downtown businesses and organizations. Basically, it’s pretty simple…just become a DTM Patron through Patreon [a premiere online platform for supporting creators of all types] for as little as $1 a month [more is encouraged, of course] and you can rest easy knowing there’s a news source in town obliged to no one’s bottom line or special interests.


David McNair


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