Monday, April 26, 2010

Jones, Richardson and Hardy

This should be interesting.

The article in today's Daily Mail expands on a brief mention in the weekend paper that Mayor Jones has publicly endorsed Andy Richardson for County Commissioner. This might seem surprising to some, since Dave Hardy is such a well respected and popular commissioner. Why would Mayor Jones take a chance on aligning himself with a losing candidate? Especially one from another party?

The following facts make it not terribly surprising:

First, and most importantly, Jones and Hardy had an open feud not too long ago. Anyone who knows the mayor knows that if you openly disagree with him that he will vehemently strike back. Ask any of the current or former City Council members who have ever stood in opposition to anything Danny wanted. Jones' vehemence can be heard in his statement to the Daily Mail:
"I don't think it's even close." Jones said, comparing Richardson to Hardy; "He's a seasoned person who has actually done something." The implication, of course, is that Hardy has done nothing.

Secondly, don't discount that Andy Richardson was part of the Underwood family (formerly married to Cecil's daughter) and even though he was a member of the Caperton cabinet, he is still a beneficiary of at least some of the Republican political machinery that remains. Since Jones is arguably the leading Republican in the state he might be somewhat obliged to support Richardson.

That said, Andy Richardson is certainly not unqualified for the position. He worked in the public sector for many years and served on South Charleston's City Council. While Dave Hardy has made the upper Kanawha Valley his focus, Richardson is a lower KV guy with his roots in Charleston and South Charleston. Both are seemingly well respected in the lawyer community and should have the ability to raise some major bucks.

I don't care who wins, I just hope the race is close so we can see more of Danny's meddling on display.

Giving the Devil his Due

In my last post I speculated that Mayor Jones would torpedo the resurrection of the Quarrier Diner because it will interfere with the library plans. A couple of days after I wrote that, the mayor said that he would prefer spending money on a new civic center instead of a new library. So either he made the statement before he checked with his old money friends who are heavily into the library fundraising mode or he earnestly is opposed to it. If it is the former, expect to see him crawfishing soon; if it's the latter, kudos are in order.

I love books, and I love the library, but Charleston does not need to spend $30 million on a new library. Period.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Positive News for Downtown - but wait...

Although it was by sheer accident, real downtown revitalization took a major step forward yesterday.

CURA, who has a history of creating "economic development" opportunities by creating vacant lots, paved the way for the re-opening of the former Quarrier diner by agreeing to sell a 12' strip of land to the new owners of the Quarrier Diner building. I say it was an accident, because it was only because the FBI decided against the next door site for their new office building than enabled CURA to make the transfer.

The Quarrier Diner is a beautiful Art Deco building that deserves preservation and the downtown is in desperate need of after hours dining options, so this is a win-win for downtown.

But hold on: Mayor Danny Jones is concerned -according to the article in today's Gazette - about parking for the restaurant. Come on, Mayor; most people who will eat there for lunch are already parked downtown, and the dinner crowd will have no competition for parking any night of the week. There are dozens of on-street spaces and there is a parking garage on the next block. Please, Mayor Jones, do not start your anti-business bellyaching and run these investors off before they even get started!

One might suspect that the library fundraising people will not be happy that the Quarrier Diner will remain to mess up their $30 million facade. The names on the library supporters list are also major supporters and allies of the Mayor. Could it be that his parking objections are the first indication that the administration will do whatever they can to torpedo the Quarrier Diner project?

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Lethargic Tendencies of New East End Food Establishments

It's peculiar to watch how slow new business openings take place on the East End. When Blue Grass Kitchen opened several years ago, about nine or ten months lapsed between the advance newspaper publicity and the actual opening. Then, Tricky Fish took almost two years to open. Now, the Steele's are working on their third eatery, called "Fruitcake," which will be in the former location of "Delish Express". This place was already restaurant ready, but in the two months or so since the new place has been under construction it looks like it has taken a step backward in readiness.

But lest you think it is just the Steele's that are so deliberate in opening, I submit you "Moxxee Coffee." This tiny stand alone building on the corner of Morris and Lee Streets has been under construction for well over a year. They have a Facebook page and a twitter account where they give updates on their ever more distant opening date: Last May they predicted September; Then in September they said "first of the year"; In November, they said "hopefully March". It's now mid-April and the facebook and twitter pages have been silent since February and no visible changes have been made to the building since November. Since I live about a block away I was pretty excited for a while to have a coffee shop nearby, but not so much anymore.
Besides, their logo looks strangely like a biohazard symbol to me.