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Kaine: I Don't Want To Be Lieutenant Governor 

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Kaine: I Don't Want To Be Lieutenant Governor
Holocaust Move Depends on Budget Passage
Strawberry Hill Races Jump to Colonial Downs
Marry Me, (Insert Name Here)?
City to Wine and Dine Legislators This Month
Superior Warehouse Fate Stirs Debate
Kaine: I Don't Want To Be Lieutenant Governor

Maybe it was just the sight of Mayor Tim Kaine at the head table — the head table — with presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mark Warner — and the seated-far-apart Republican rivals Lt. Gov. John Hager and Attorney General Mark Earley — and just about every other significant figure in state politics in the last 20 years. But at the Siegel Center dinner Jan. 20 honoring Doug Wilder and featuring kind words from the current governor on the 10th anniversary of his inauguration, more than a fair share of attention was paid to the Richmond mayor.

Kaine and others say he was simply filling in for father-in-law Linwood Holton because the former governor had an unbreakable prior engagement. But other eyes saw a possible candidate for lieutenant governor — a running mate for Warner.

"It's something that I have thought a lot about," Kaine says. But around Christmas he decided "there's still an awful lot more that I can do and want to do" for Richmond by remaining on City Council.

Still: "I really like Mark and I'll be working hard for him" in any bid for governor, Kaine says. "I think he is the heir-apparent but not taking it for granted."

Warner himself tactfully agrees. The Northern Virginia venture capitalist has been touring the state in recent months to test support and says he'll announce his own intentions "in the coming weeks."

"Tim is a good friend of mine. I've spent a lot of time recently talking to him and I've also spent a lot of time talking to [Del. Donald McEachin] and [Sen. Emily Couric]," the Democrats' conventional-wisdom candidates for attorney general and lieutenant governor, respectively.

"There is a new crop of young, bright, energetic people" in the party, Warner says before launching into another elegy on the "new economy" and the need for a nonpartisan, technocrat approach to government. But some 20th-century realities remain, he cedes: "After you've been to Grundy three times, let's talk," he tells prospective running mates in a reference to the need for old-fashioned statewide stumping.

Others agree that while Warner remains unchallenged for the Democratic top nod, there's still time for others to seek the lesser spots: "It's still open enough, still early enough for other people to come in," says U.Va. Center for Governmental Studies Director and state political confidante Larry Sabato, who with his VCU counterpart, Robert Holsworth, emceed the Wilder event.

Rob Morano

Holocaust Move Depends on Budget Passage

Recently a handful of St. Christopher's students paid a visit to the Capitol to remind Virginia's General Assembly of one the gravest evils of the last century — the Holocaust.

Today, its unspeakable horror is an inescapable reality — a reality that educators agree is an essential part of any classroom curriculum.

And if the Virginia Holocaust Museum has its way, state legislators will get the message — especially when they vote this session on Gov. Jim Gilmore's proposed state budget.

On Jan. 24, seven high-school members of the Political Awareness Club at St. Christopher's School presented Del. Panny Rhodes (R-Richmond) and General Assembly members with a teacher's manual prepared by the Virginia Holocaust Museum. This manual includes SOL requirements for teaching about the Holocaust.

The student lobbying comes at a crucial time for the 3-year-old museum, which has outgrown its space at Temple Beth-El on Grove Avenue and Roseneath Road in the Fan. By supporting the museum, the students hope to persuade legislators to pass the governor's proposed budget that would allow the Virginia Holocaust Museum — under House Bill 30, item 76, section F — to move into an old abandoned tobacco warehouse at 2000 E. Cary St. in Shockoe Bottom.

For months, the Virginia Holocaust Museum has scouted sites that might provide more room for expanding exhibits and educational programs. Last year more than 1,000 visitors from 30 states and 28 countries passed through the tiny museum housing donated pictures, letters, documents and items that survived the Holocaust.

According to Jay Ipson of the Virginia Holocaust Museum, the new block-long, three-story building is not only ideal, it's nearly 10 times larger than the present quarters. And that means plenty of room to grow. The warehouse's location across from the old Libby Prison and adjacent to railroad tracks, Ipson says, brings to mind the millions of imprisoned Jews who were forced into trains and sent to their deaths. "When a couple of us looked and heard the trains," confesses Ipson, "it sent chills." And, remarkably, says Ipson, even children who don't share his family's past are inspired to respond. "Some have written music and painted pictures after having gone through on how the museum moved them," explains Ipson. "Now we could have the place to display it."

-Brandon Walters

Strawberry Hill Races Jump to Colonial Downs

This year it's likely people might actually see the horses.

It's a safer bet than putting money on the weather.

This spring, the 68th running of the Strawberry Hill Races moves from its home at the State Fairgrounds to Colonial Downs.

Last summer, Atlantic Rural Exposition, the private, nonprofit organization that presents the annual steeplechase races, sold the Strawberry Hill property to Richmond International Raceway. This year, Colonial Downs plays interim host to the April 15 event that could swell the largest crowd ever at the modern but woefully underused facility. Race promoters plan to move the event to the new permanent location at State Fair Park in 2001 or 2002.

But this year, SUV rovers can take comfort in ample room for the traditional tailgate competitions — competitions likely to be heated given this year's theme: "Changes in Latitudes — Cruisin' in the Caribbean." Apart from a new temporary site, there will be at least one difference: University Row is slated to become University Square — critical information for those who need time to adjust to the change.

Everywhere, the sound of Jimmy Buffet will roam the fields like Parrotheads searching for a salty margarita. Event coordinators say this year's see-and-be-seen outdoor party will stick to the traditions of previous year's races as much as possible. Tickets are $16 through April 11 and $25 thereafter. Be sure to wear a hat — preferably of foam — and grill up some spring paradise. And maybe a cheeseburger or two.

Brandon Walters

Marry Me, (Insert Name Here)?

With bridal magazines bulging newsstand shelves and the specter of another romance-free Valentine's Day approaching, just how desperate are some people to get married?

So desperate, says Carrie Daichman, they're willing to take a mate sight-unseen.

Daichman, owner of It Takes Two, a West End dating service, has teamed up with B103.7 and Mulligan's Sports Grille to give 25 unlucky-in-love men and 25 still-unwed women a chance to find, if not the perfect mate, then at least one whose faults and freaky peccadilloes still remain a mystery.

Come Feb. 14 — V-day — those 50 free spirits will assemble at Mulligan's, hoping they will be either the husband or the wife chosen. That's right: In a drawing, one of the men and one of the women will be matched — and married — on the spot.

Perhaps even more frightening than the prospect of a randomly selected partner: the fact that B103.7 on-air personality "Bender" will do the match-making. Daichman says he'll be screening those who call the station begging to be among those with a chance of ending up in nuptial nirvana with Mr. or Mrs. Right Now.

Bender, apparently absorbed by the gravity of his Cupidean task, did not return calls for comment.

Mayor Tim Kaine initially was tapped to do the honors of wedding the to-be-determined darlings, but cited the City Council meeting scheduled for Feb. 14 in bowing out. "I'm not sure I would have [anyway]. I take marriage pretty seriously," Kaine says, citing his 15-and-a-half year lovefest with wife Anne Holton.

Another cause for pause: "I don't even know whether I can marry people or not." (Kaine's matrimonial authority remained a mystery at press time.)

Rob Morano

UPDATE: B103's legal department backs out of making wedding legal

City to Wine and Dine Legislators This Month

Some of the state's most influential lobbyists this month won't be wearing pinstripes and wingtips, but chef's whites and soft shoes.

Cooks from 18 city restaurants will help Mayor Tim Kaine promote Richmond's legislative agenda in a reception for General Assembly representatives Feb. 16 at the 17th Street Farmers' Market.

Kaine says the event, called "A Taste of Richmond," will help the city secure the funds it wants for transportation, education and other projects. Topping the list: renovating and re-opening nearby Main Street Station, a project Gov. Jim Gilmore has included in his budget: "We just need to make sure it stays in there," Kaine says.

The buffet-style reception will be held in large, heated tents at the Farmers' Market to accommodate the expected scores of representatives and 200 other officials and local luminaries invited. (Not on the guest list? Sorry, this mostly restaurant-donated, non-taxpayer-supported soiree is strictly invitation-only.)

"I want to make it an annual [event]," Kaine says. He's concerned about "some anti-Richmond attitudes in the General Assembly," such as carping by legislators from other parts of the commonwealth about the amount the city gets from the state budget, and "I just want to keep upgrading the image." That includes getting legislators to think of Richmond as their "home away from home" through good food and good times.

And while legislators are wined and dined from the moment they arrive each winter, this reception may be hard to top: The Dining Room at the Berkeley Hotel, the Frog and the Redneck and other premier restaurants will be represented at the event. It's more than a step or two up from traditional, gift-basket-style shmoozing.

"This year we said, 'Hey, we're really going to do this thing,'" says Gail Bingham, director of human relations in the mayor's office. The site selected was no accident, either: with the expected re-opening of Main Street Station, the Farmers' Market area again will be "a frontier for the city," she adds.

Rob Morano

Superior Warehouse Fate Stirs Debate

Church Hill residents are accustomed to leaving their historic neighborhood to do their serious grocery shopping, relying on corner markets for supplemental Moon Pies and beer between suburban shopping excursions.

So it would appear Church Hill is ripe for supermarket success. So much so, that Bethesda, Md., developer Forest City Residential Group plans to beat competitors to the punch and open a grocery at 24th and E. Franklin streets.

The problem is, the parcel of land already is occupied. What's more, some say it's stood its ground for nearly 150 years.

Now that developers have eyed the Superior Warehouse Building with the intent of tearing it down, the Historic Richmond Foundation is trying its best to stop the wrecking ball.

"We do oppose demolition," says Chandler Battle of the foundation, which advocates saving historical buildings by bringing them back into use. "It's a great example of 19th century industrial architecture."

Still, Forest City is forging ahead with plans to raze the structure, claiming the building is in such a deteriorated state that any re-use is pointless. The group has requested a permit for demolition from the Architectural Review Commission, which reviews changes proposed for buildings in historic districts. Rarely does the commission agree to allow structures like the Superior Building to be torn down.

Once postponed because of snow, the ARC is scheduled to consider Forest City's request Feb. 22 in the 7th floor conference room of City Hall. "The developers are seriously looking at what they can do to make everyone happy," says Saul Gleiser with Richmond's Office of Historic Preservation.

Forest City has until early this week to make any changes to its application. So far, says Gleiser, no changes have been made.

Battle suggests the six-story warehouse be transformed into a grocery with a cafe, dry cleaner and maybe even a beauty shop. "We feel like a suburban grocery store is not in keeping with the neighborhood and it should respect the architectural history of that area," explains Battle. "If people thought they were getting a suburban grocery store like Piggly Wiggly, they'd go 'Ugh!'"

Brandon Walters
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