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Will The Real Republican Please Stand Up? 

Street Talk

Will The Real Republican Please Stand Up?
Give a Cheer for Rat-Free Richmond
Student's Loaded Gun Found in VCU Bathroom
Fan Sees Rash of Supercan Torching
Oregon Hill Groups Jittery About VCU Encroachment

Will The Real Republican Please Stand Up?

The Republican primary for the 68th District is heating up, and the question for Republicans seems to be, "Just who is the Republican in all of this?"

Incumbent Anne G. "Panny" Rhodes' campaign to maintain her seat in the House of Delegates gained some notoriety earlier in the month when Gov. Jim Gilmore made the unusual move of endorsing her opponent, Ruble Hord.

Attorney General Mark Earley and 7th District Congressman Thomas J. Bliley also endorsed Hord.

But does that support mean Rhodes is out of the Republican Party, as Gilmore has proclaimed? Several prominent Republicans would argue, "No."

U.S. Sen. John Warner, State Sen. John Watkins and City Councilman John Conrad endorse Rhodes, says Carrie Featherstone, Rhodes' campaign manager.

"I think I represent a very large part of the Republican Party," Rhodes says. "There's a very large moderate part of the Republican Party, and I think I'm one of those."

"I don't think she has become a Democrat," Sen. Watkins says. "I think she has represented her district well. She's done an excellent job. She doesn't always adhere to the exact wishes and desires of the [governor], but democracy is built on our ability as citizens to offer dissent, and to offer a difference of opinion."

Watkins sees some irony in Gilmore and others' dismissal of Rhodes. "I don't see how that trues up with our Republicans being extremely supportive of someone like Virgil Goode when he votes his conscience," Watkins says. "[We call that] courageous, but it's different when it happens within our own party."

Irony or not, Hord says that with the Republicans on the verge of controlling the General Assembly, it's important for the Republicans in the body to be "real Republicans who vote with their party and their governor on major policy initiatives."

"She's effectively voted herself out of the Republican Party," Hord says. He says that typically, a Republican in the Assembly votes with the party 80 to 90 percent of the time. But Rhodes contends that in the last couple of sessions, Rhodes has voted with the Democrats and against Gilmore's agenda 60 to 75 percent of the time.

Chris LaCivita, executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia, declined comment on the race because it is a primary.

"I consider myself very much a part of the Republican Party," Rhodes says. "But I base my decisions on conscience."

— Mark Stroh

Give a Cheer for Rat-Free Richmond

Richmonders, give yourselves a pat on the back. Finally, our fair Capital City has received an accolade worthy of its charm.

According to a survey commissioned by d-Con, a Wayne, N.J.-based rodenticide manufacturing company, Richmond/Norfolk ranks fifth on the list of "Top Ten Best Non-Mouse Cities."

The study tracks dollar sales of rodenticide products in grocery stores. "If people aren't buying as much [rodenticide], they must not have as much of a problem," explains Meredith Rich, who represents d-Con for G. S. Schwartz & Co. Inc., a New York-based public relations firm. "It's not scientific, but it's still accurate."

Rat-poor Richmond was edged out by three Florida cities, Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa; and Little Rock, Ark. Perhaps some would say that the Razorback State's rats have fled to Washington.

It should come as no surprise that New York and Los Angeles top the list of cities with the worst rodent infestation problem.

And the best part of the study is not that Richmond has so few rats. It's what city has more than we do: Charlotte, N.C. The city affectionately referred to as "Car Lot" placed sixth on the d-Con list, one behind Richmond.

Sure they've got all of our banks. But they got our mice and rats, too.

Coincidence? You be the judge.

— M.S.

Student's Loaded Gun Found in VCU Bathroom

A loaded 9mm Glock handgun probably was the last thing Bob Ellis expected to find in a VCU bathroom.

Ellis, an adjunct English professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, found the weapon April 26 on top of a toilet in a first floor bathroom at the university's Anderson House at 913 W. Franklin St., which houses mostly faculty offices and one classroom.

"I don't know one gun from the other," Ellis said, "and at first I thought it was a fake." Ellis immediately called VCU police. Responding officer Sgt. Ed Lundy Jr. confirmed the gun was real, and "opened it up and it had a full clip," Ellis says.

The handgun was traced to a VCU student, whose name was not released by VCU. The student has a license for the gun, and a permit to carry it. But according to Henry Rhone, vice provost for student affairs, VCU policy prohibits all weapons on campus except those carried by law enforcement officials.

VCU police retain jurisdiction on campus, and no criminal charges have been filed. "If the student broke a law, that would be up to the VCU police to determine," says Robert Clifton, dean of student affairs on the Medical College of Virginia campus. He is handling disciplinary actions for any VCU policy violations.

University officials have offered no explanation for the unlikely appearance of the gun in a VCU bathroom. Bill Duvall, VCU associate vice provost and dean of student affairs, says it is university policy not to "make any statements on pending disciplinary actions."

— Wayne Melton

Fan Sees Rash of Supercan Torching

Last week was not a good time to be a Supercan.

On May 10, City of Richmond Supercans were set on fire on the 1600 block of West Broad Street and the 3300 block of West Franklin Street.

On May 11, a can was torched on the 2200 block of Park Avenue. And on May 13, a Supercan on the 1600 block of Monument Avenue was put to the match.

The latest rash of arson makes 65 Supercan fires since Jan. 1, according to Captain Don Horton, public information officer for the Richmond Fire Department.

Horton says that there are no suspects in the arsons at this time, but that the Fire Department and the Police Department have doubled their efforts to find the arsonists.

"If we have to triple our efforts, we'll do all we can," Horton says.

Horton would not comment on how the fires were started, or if they were related. But he says that that community involvement is crucial in catching those responsible.

"We hope to do whatever it takes to bring [the fires] to a conclusion," Horton says. "We're confident we'll do that, with community help."

Anyone with information about the Fan Supercan arsons should call the city fire marshal at 780-6640.

—M.S.

Oregon Hill Groups Jittery About VCU Encroachment

The honeymoon is fast coming to an end in Virginia Commonwealth University's latest move into Oregon Hill.

On April 20, Style Weekly reported the possibility that VCU would acquire the Advance Electric building on the 600 block of West Cary Street, just across Cary Street from VCU's new Engineering School. At the time, VCU administrators had discussed renovating the property, which also includes the historic Charles Phillips House, for use as a student study facility or office or storage space. The maintenance of that historic structure sounded fine to Allen Townsend and Kelley Lane, executive directors of the Oregon Hill Home Improvement Council and Save Oregon Hill Organization, respectively.

But now they're not so sure.

What they are sure about is their opposition to knocking down the buildings on the lot in favor of a parking deck, which may be an option VCU is considering.

"The situation has changed so much we're going to have to go back to 'now we don't want you coming across Cary Street,'" Lane says.

"I guess VCU seems to be concerned about the cost in fixing up that building," says Townsend, who toured the space last week with VCU officials. "We're trying to save the building. They feel like it's going to be extremely expensive to rehabilitate."

"Our initial thought was that there would be some kind of building there, not just parking," Townsend says. "I think that's under consideration. They always need parking, so that's something they're considering."

Lane, who also has toured the space with VCU officials, who were unavailable for comment by press time, says that the building's fate is being discussed extensively, and no decision has been made yet. But Lane is steadfastly opposed to any move that would jeopardize the historic home. "Our concern is for the preservation of the Charles Phillips House, and a distribution of the land in a way that's compatible with the neighborhood."

— M.S.
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