Katzen Ad Attacks Kaine for Defending Murderer; Area Gains Greens and a Golf Museum; Private Club Publishes Members-Only History; Mrs. Earley Makes a Donation; As Many Give to NYC, Fan Clinic Seeks Funds 

Street Talk

Katzen Ad Attacks Kaine for Defending Murderer

The ghosts of the Mecklenburg Six will be haunting Democratic lieutenant-governor candidate Tim Kaine's campaign this week if opponent Jay Katzen has his way.

In the ad, Rep. Virgil Goode attacks Kaine for his legal work on behalf of Lem Tuggle, a member of the infamous Mecklenburg Six, a group of death row inmates who escaped and later were captured.

In the radio ad, which begins airing this week in Goode's 5th congressional district, Goode says: "If Jay's opponent had his way the Mecklenburg Six would still be in prison, probably plotting another escape."

Kaine is an opponent of the death penalty.

Lisa McMurray, Kaine's campaign manager, describes the ad as "gutter politics," and points to Kaine's role in cutting the Richmond homicide rate as proof that he is not soft on crime.

"This ad returns the Katzen campaign to the same low road which it has traveled for the better part of this past fall and summer," she says.

Katzen's manager, Robin Dejarnette, says the ad is necessary to let the voters know about Kaine's record. "This is a very serious issue and Mr. Kaine took the most extreme position," Dejarnette says. "He defended the most heinous criminals."

The so-called Mecklenburg Six were six men — including the murderous Briley brothers — convicted of murders in the 1980s. They escaped from the Mecklenburg State Prison in June 1984. Within weeks they were arrested by authorities. The Mecklenburg Six have often been invoked by advocates of tougher penalties for violent criminals.

Kaine's client, Tuggle, had served time for two murders, including the rape and murder of a 17-year-old woman. Kaine represented Tuggle in court but was unable to save him from the death penalty.

Following Tuggle's execution on July 7, 1987 at the old Richmond prison on Spring Street, Kaine compared the results of the justice system to a "gulag," a Soviet prison for political dissenters. He said at the time, "Murder is wrong whether it is at a gulag, Fairfax County or Spring Street." — John Toivonen

Area Gains Greens and a Golf Museum

A new local public golf course will be more than a place for duffers wielding clubs. It may help Midlothian become the a state's little golf capital.

The fairway officially opens this week at Independence Golf Club on Winterfield Road in Midlothian. What's more, come spring, it will be the site of Virginia's very own golf museum, to be housed in a clubhouse that looks like a scaled-down Monticello.

At the museum, golf gawkers can expect to see an array of memorabilia from famous Virginia golfers like Curtis Strange, Lanny Wadkins, Sam Snead, Vinny Giles and Harry Easterly. And, naturally, learn about Virginia's golf history. Karen Bednarski, who previously set up the World Golf Museum in Orlando, Fla., is museum director.

The Virginia State Golf Association and its foundation have worked on the projects for 15 years. The 250-acre site, located southwest of Richmond, was a gift to the foundation. Its value: $1.25 million. The association and its foundation own the club, which is open to the public.

The site includes an 18-hole championship golf course and a nine-hole "kids course," both designed by course architect Tom Fazio. (Kids play for $1.) The club also includes a driving range, a practice facility, a teaching center, and a clubhouse that will house golf operations, an education center and the Museum of Virginia Golf History.

Programs will be offered on turf-grass research. And overnighters can cozy up in two golf cottages to house golf camps and guests.

"No one has attempted to do all the things we're doing," says Troy Peery, president of the Virginia State Golf Association Foundation. A nonprofit organization founded in 1904, the VSGA has grown from six clubs to more than 280. Its membership has grown to 85,000 individual members.

Peery says that number has climbed sharply in the last decade, especially among kids. He credits the growth to Tiger Woods' popularity and advances in the technology of clubs. "It's easier to start out now than it was in the past," says Peery. Still, he says, everyone needs coaching. "The whole purpose is to make golf accessible in a world-class facility for all Virginians," he says, "especially kids." — Brandon Walters

Private Club Publishes Members-Only History

The Commonwealth Club a progressive organization?

That's what Langhorne Gibson says. The historian and club member recently completed a 200-page history of the exclusive society on Franklin Street.

"The story of the Commonwealth Club is really a story of perseverance," he says. Few would question that. In the club's 111 years, most other old fraternal organizations in Richmond have faded into oblivion. "The reason they did is they didn't conform, didn't adapt to the changing times," Gibson says.

In the Commonwealth Club, Gibson sees not "a bunch of old guys smoking cigars" who didn't care if their refuge was musty, but an organization that has always been willing to look ahead. Instead, "It's been a very open club," Gibson says — well, as open as an exclusive, men's-only society can be.

For example, it brought women into its fold early-on, Gibson says, by constructing a women's lounge and dining room in 1892. And the club's predominantly Republican members were even gracious enough to listen to Lyndon Johnson speak while he was campaigning. Hardly anyone showed up at first, Gibson says, until a member with a Democratic wife pleaded, "Guys, please help me out."

"They all took off their Republican buttons and boutonnieres," Gibson says, "and went."

The book itself is "just for the members," says Club President Herbert Fitzgerald, who declined to elaborate.

In the hours spent burrowing into the archives of the Virginia Historical Society, Library of Virginia and other organizations, Gibson says, he unearthed all kinds of anecdotes about Commonwealth Club members' history.

There was the time Marshal Ferdinand Foch, the commander of all Allied troops in France in the First World War, saluted the club during a victory parade down Franklin Street. Dr. Charles Bryan, a member of the club, had done Foch a service during the war by removing a shard of glass from his eye.

James Bryan, one of the club's founders, is credited with putting an end to the practice of dueling in Virginia by refusing to accept a challenge: "He thought it was just a ghastly, inhuman rite," Gibson says.

And there was Major James Dooley, the original resident of Maymont, whose fortune saved the club from demise in the Depression.

The wealth of historical detail might have overwhelmed some would-be authors, but not Gibson. "I like stuff like that," he says.

He admits, however, that after 18 months "I got awfully tired of Mr. Bryan and Mr. Dooley." — Melissa Scott Sinclair

As Many Give to NYC, Fan Clinic Seeks Funds

Jim Beckner, executive director of Fan Free Clinic, says that unless his nonprofit clinic gets some extra help he's worried it may not have the funds to provide services to people in need.

"Just because September 11 happened doesn't mean any of the local social-service providers can afford to stop," he says. "In fact, the need for them may increase." Beckner cites an increase in local mental health needs as a ripple effect of the attacks.

The Fan Free Clinic, at 100 N. Thompson St., provides free medical exams and lab testing, HIV counseling and support, and prevention, education and outreach to low-income people in the Richmond area.

It's why Dr. Stuart Martin, chairman of the Central Virginia Business and Professional Guild, says his group plans to hold a fund-raiser for the Fan Free Clinic on Oct. 27. The annual Halloween event is a costume party that takes place from 8 p.m. to midnight at the Renaissance on Broad and Adams streets.

Martin says this is the second year the guild, a gay and lesbian networking organization, has donated proceeds to the Fan Free Clinic. 320 attended last year's event, which raised $10,000. The guild expects this year's attendance to be close to 400. Tickets are $25 per person, or $500 per table. Individual tickets are available at Mongrel, Cheers, Babe's, the Fan Free Clinic and Video Fan. Tickets the day of the event will be available at Godfrey's.

Beckner says the money raised will go toward "trying to anticipate the increases in requests for the clinic's general health services." — B.W.

Mrs. Earley Makes a Donation

Two weeks ago Cynthia Earley did something entirely unexpected. She took a day off.

It's rare that Earley, the wife of gubernatorial candidate Mark Earley, can pause in the accelerating race to the Nov. 6 election, let alone spend the day in bed. But this was an exceptional case. Earley had been asked by the Red Cross to donate bone marrow and decided the campaigning could wait.

Few knew what Cynthia Earley was doing the day she veered off the campaign trail. She didn't think it was appropriate to issue a press release, she says.

Mrs. Earley had signed up to be a marrow donor four years ago, not long after her sister died of ovarian cancer. Although her sister wasn't a candidate for a transplant, she says, the tragedy made her think she ought to help. "A lot of people would be willing to do it, but there's no instance in their life that moves them to sign up," she points out.

After adding your name to the list of donors, Earley says, "you go home and you pretty much feel like they've forgotten about you."

But a few months ago, she received a letter in the mail stating that her blood sample was being reviewed for further testing. She thought little of it — until the Red Cross called and told her it was time to donate. A "young person with acute leukemia" was the only description she was given of the patient.

The recipient needs the marrow immediately, she was told. "My first reaction, of course, was, 'October is a very busy month for me,'" she says. It was a bit of an understatement. But Earley checked into Virginia Commonwealth University's Medical College of Virginia Hospitals.

"I got to take the day off," she says cheerfully. "Mark came with me." Surgeons placed her under general anesthesia and extracted marrow from her hip. "They actually take a lot," Earley says. "They take a liter of fluid."

But after the anesthetic wore off, she says, she felt fine. She later received word that her marrow reached the leukemia patient by midnight the same day.

Donating wasn't difficult, she says. Despite doctors' warnings that she might feel weak for a couple of weeks after the operation — "which was something I couldn't afford to do" — Earley says she was able to resume her campaigning by noon the next day.

She still stashes a pillow in the car to rest her aching hip, she says, and "I'm taking vitamins twice a day instead of once a day." — M.S.S.


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