Southern Party Eyes Guv's SeatCon Man Back in Fan, ActionBush Leads Gore at 7-Elevens HereArtists' Census, Exhibit Need More ResponsesSouthern Party Eyes Guv's Seat
When newly elected Chairman of the National Southern Party Jerry Baxley called Bill and Hillary Clinton scalawags, he never thought he'd hear the end of it.
And so far, he hasn't.
The disparaging word not only appeared in the Washington Post, but also brought the fledgling party national exposure and with it a few more members.
Baxley, an auctioneer from Chesterfield County, serves as chairman for both the National Southern Party and Virginia's Southern Party.
Style Weekly reported the birth of Virginia's Southern Party, launched last year in response to what members say had become a state Republican Party soft on Southern values. Soon after, it gained national party status under the banner of the third national flag of the Confederacy. The party's mission, says Baxley, is nothing less than secession and to "give government control of the states back to the people and to put God back where God belongs."
The National Southern Party's muscle has grown from roughly 1,000 members to well over 3,000. This November, it will be featured in a PBS documentary on alternative political parties. Not bad, says Baxley, for a grassroots effort politicos and pundits dismissed as right-wing rhetoric.
And just last month, the NSP tasted its first victory when Wayne Willingham was elected mayor of West Point, Ala. and became the first official party candidate to be elected to political office.
Less surprising than the party's tripling growth is its headquarters in Chesterfield - at Baxley's home. And with more than 300 registered Southern Party voters, Virginia is the leader among the 19 states trumpeting its platform of religious freedom, the right to bear arms and state sovereignty.
Secession still is the party's ultimate goal, one Baxley asserts is legal and right and not uncommon. "It's reachable," says Baxley. "The Southern states have been under Martial Law for 130 years."
Virginia's Southern Party hopes to have a candidate run for a seat in the House of Representatives next year and another for a county supervisor's position in two. "We're looking at a couple spots in Richmond, maybe on City Council," he says. "Our ultimate goal is the Governor's Mansion."
It's a slim chance at best, says Ed Matricardi, executive director for the Republican Party of Virginia. With 4 million registered voters in the state, it's not likely the 300 Southern Party voters will have much effect on any upcoming elections, especially the senate race. Still, Matricardi would like to see George Allen get their vote. "The Republican Party has consistently stood up for limited and decentralized government," says Matricardi. "But not secession." Brandon Walters Janet Giampietro contributed to this story.Con Man Back in Fan, Action
Convicted con man Allen Hollins has resurfaced in the Fan after more than a year of apparent inactivity.
Business owners in the 1600 and 1700 blocks of West Main Street say Hollins returned last month and has been thumbing for rides, then giving elaborate sob stories to get money.
"He got 10 bucks from me," says Wellford Reed of Reed Advertising & Public Relations at 1703 W. Main St. "He's got longer hair now, and I didn't recognize him at first."
"Police are aware that he's back in town, and there is an ongoing investigation," says Richmond Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Reilly.
Reed says he's seen Hollins going in and out of an abandoned building next to his firm. Employees at the nearby Lighthouse Restaurant say they've also spotted Hollins loitering and hitchhiking in the area in the past month.
Hollins also has been known to frequent Carytown. He became known in the early '90s as the "panhandler extraordinaire" for his clean-cut appearance, his polite, earnest demeanor and his elaborate stories.
While Hollins did not respond to recent attempts to contact him, he talked to Style last year about the drug addiction that has led him to pose as everything from a seminary student to an art professor in order to get small amounts of money from sympathetic strangers.
Hollins spent much of the '90s in and out of jail on drug and fraud charges. He most recently was wanted in Henrico County for allegedly swindling churches. Rob MoranoBush Leads Gore at 7-Elevens Here
Al Gore may be pouring it on in the traditional polls, but George W. Bush is heating things up among convenience-store coffee drinkers - especially those in Richmond.
A 7-Eleven promotion that gives customers the choice of Bush, Gore or "no opinion" coffee cups shows the Texas governor a few gulps ahead.
The admittedly silly and unscientific poll that began Sept. 1 gives Bush 18 percent of 7-Eleven's 20 oz. coffee customers nationally, to Gore's 17 percent; 18 percent to Gore's 16 percent in Virginia; and 22 percent to Gore's 19 percent in Richmond.
Both candidates are getting creamed by "no opinion," which Friday held 65 percent of the votes nationally, 66 percent in Virginia and 59 percent in Richmond.
"No opinion" was indeed the opinion of some VCU students at the West Main Street 7-Eleven last week. "They're both like bad sequels to bad movies," says senior Jesse Wiley of Bush and Gore. "I don't want to see those movies again."
Bob Holsworth, director of the VCU Center for Public Policy, says he's not surprised by the poll results: "The 7-Eleven constituency doesn't feel itself to be especially well-represented by either of the major-party candidates." He calls the majority's "no opinion" preference indicative of "the withdrawal from the political arena of a sizable portion of the electorate."
"Of course, you can't look at this as any kind of poll," he says with a laugh. "It is what it is."
Dana Manley, spokeswoman for Dallas-based 7-Eleven, says the promotion is designed to increase voter awareness and will run through September.
That final date is not too soon for 7-Eleven Sales Associate Tamara Fegans. The West Main Street store employee says she's tired of answering questions about the candidate cups and watching people dump coffee from one into another when they change their minds. R.M. Artists' Census, Exhibit Need More Responses
Virginia's visual artists aren't taking advantage of an opportunity to have their voices heard and work displayed, sources say.
A census and exhibit seeking participation from the state's approximately 20,000 professional and semiprofessional artists has received less than 5 percent response, says Richmond artist Amie Oliver, who is coordinating the Art Count 2000 project with local art gallery 1708. "It's been like herding cats, as someone has said."
Oliver and others involved in Art Count 2000 say artists may be mistaking the project for an artwork contest or an exhibit of other artists' work.
About 600 artists have returned Art Count 2000 reply cards. Oliver says she's hoping to have at least 1,000 cards by October.
Artists are asked to attach images of their work to the backs of the large postcards. 1708 will exhibit the cards - hanging them from the ceiling - Oct. 6 to 28, says gallery coordinator Ann Pollock.
The census and exhibit aim "to note the diversity of artists in the state and allow them to be counted," Pollock says. That could lead to increased political clout, she and Oliver say. The census also seeks demographic and financial information, so that artists' diversity and economic impact can be touted.
Eileen Mott, coordinator of state exhibitions for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, says the exhibit could travel to other galleries throughout the state. "It's both enlarging the audience for many artists whose work by default remains on a regional basis [and] giving professional curators the chance to see the work."
An online gallery is planned for people interested in seeing and buying the art. The project is funded by the Virginia Association of Museums, the state tourism office and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
"Artists pay taxes and artists vote," Oliver says. "We need to be counted." R.M.