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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Live Blogging From The Times Dispatch Public Square

  • Dateline 6:45 PM at the RTD. What an odd twist of fate that brings me inside the RTD the day after I cleaned out my desk across the street. "Old" colleagues and coworkers do double takes and shake my hand. I am not here to see them. I just came back to retrieve my laptop, I'm starving and I happen to know they are serving cake, an irresistable combination. An unknown WiFi is up and running and I am connected and ready for some live blogging. Woo Hoo! This should make for some creative spelling.
  • 6:50 The room is filling up with an odd assortment of folks. One old guy with a few teeth is wandering around the room sharing his opinion on almost everything. Tom Sylvestri has just walked into the room. Ages range for 30 to 80? I feel a bit young.
  • 6:55 We have name tags, registration cards and a two minute time limit. I am mentally preparing my remarks.
  • 7:00 Cameras are rolling, mikes are on and stage fright is building. I really should stick with the written word.
  • 7:03 There are politicians present. This could get ugly.
  • 7:05 I think the subject matter is "Is Government Doing Too Much?" Such an open topic. The answer is obviously Yes And No. I think I am going to keep my mouth shut.
  • 7:07 Opening remarks by Tom Sylvestri. First timers are identified by a show of hands, about 80%.
  • 7:10 The shot clock is hooked to a stoplight and a tazer. 50,000 volts await microphone hogs. I'm hoping to see a politician hit the deck.
  • 7:13 This first off topic remark of the night. Something about Michael Vick.
  • 7:15 Taser remark was just a joke. The light turns red and beeps.
  • 7:18 2nd Remark - Yes the government is doing too much.
    3rd Remark - Yes, decentralize Federal Gov't.
    4th Remark - Yes, Federal deficit will rise to 200,000 per person by 2011.
    Things are warming up. Applause greets each comment.
  • 7:21 Grizzly Adams has stepped up to the mike holding a box which he is thinking outside of. Suggests to build a stadium out of recycled material. Somewhere Scott Burger is smiling.
  • 7:23 The first speaker against the proposition, a liberal snuck in. The room is suddenly quiet. I've decided to side with the "No's" since I am getting ready to collect unemployment.
  • 7:28 Highly prepared remarks are being read. I'm definitely not speaking.
  • 7:30 I wonder if Tom Sylvestri knows I don't work here anymore?
  • 7:32 Best speaker of the night. Conservative who is willing to raise taxes if they are spent locally. Gas taxes should be used to fund transportation.
  • 7:34 Bill Grogan takes both sides of the issue and is handing out candy. Somebody takes him out with a taser.
  • 7:37 Mother of three is worried about the debt. Someone takes her out with a taser.
  • 7:40 New best speaker of the night, speaks well and from the heart. She cares deeply about the future is worried about the size and growth of government.
  • 7:41 More of the same. Axes are being ground, history is being taught, the Constitution is being read.
  • 7:44 A big government fan is extolling FDR, providing some balance and tieing the past to the present.

Really some of the comments are well prepared and thoughtful, though they are covering the same ground. People are getting a chance to vent and air their concerns. These town squares are greeted with a lot of skepticism, but people are getting the opportunity to speak in front of their neighbors. There are no special interest groups packing the audience. These are everyday folks speaking their mind and that is not a bad thing. Everybody seems in a good mood and paying attention to the speakers. The stoplight is having its desired effect and people are limiting their remarks. This helps a lot. There are no five or ten minute tirades. All in all it is a good night, a good night plus cake. I'll update you on the cake and let these folks speak their mind without commentary. They seem like pretty nice people.

  • 7:55 Last bit of reporting. A prisoner from the Richmond City Jail (recently released after 16 months) thanked the RTD for its reporting on the city jail and also Sheriff Woody for his help. He pledges a new life and receives the greatest applause of the evening.

Final note: I didn't get any damn cake. Bill Grogran, whoever the hell he is, grabbed the microphone a second time and wouldn't shut up. I had to head for the exits.

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