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Richmond Wallets Opening for 2000 Presidential Race

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Richmond Wallets Opening for 2000 Presidential RaceNASCAR Loud? Say What?Ukrop's Forces Out Darth MaulReady for Right-Wing Radio?PTF Puts a New Spin on the Fan House TourCar Salesman Camps Out to Fight CancerRichmond Wallets Opening for 2000 Presidential Race

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With the Triple Crown over, attention turns to another big race: next year's presidential election. Here's where the early money from Richmond is going, according to campaign donations reported to the Federal Election Commission.

From January through March, presidential candidates received 69 individual donations totaling about $58,000 from the Richmond area. Democratic Vice President Al Gore and Republican Gov. George W. Bush of Texas are running neck and neck here.

"Dubya" has raked in 19 local contributions for $15,250; the Veep has pocketed 18 donations for $14,951.

Bush got $1,000 contributions from Richard Cullen, Virginia's former attorney general; Wallace Stettinius, former chairman of Cadmus Communications Corp.; homebuilder Thomas R. Towers Jr.; and attorney Mark C. Christie, former Gov. George Allen's chief counsel.

"I like what he's done in raising educational standards," said Christie, a member of the Virginia Board of Education. "He strikes me as a good leader and a nice guy."

Gore has received much of his money from Richmond's legal community, with $1,000 donations from attorneys Slayton Dabney Jr. and Rosewell Page III.

The law firm of McGuire, Woods, Battle and Boothe was particularly generous to Gore: John W. Bates III, Deborah M. Russell, Michael J. Schewel, R. Gordon Smith, William J. Strickland and Warren E. Zirkle each gave $1,000, and James H. Price donated $500.

"Gore has really got a solid background on national and international issues," said another $1,000 donor, Joanne B. Ciulla, a professor of leadership studies at the University of Richmond.

Some of the lesser-known candidates have raised decent sums in Richmond.

Republican John McCain has picked up $1,000 donations from Robert L. Burrus Jr., chairman of McGuire, Woods; Bruce C. Gottwald, chairman of Ethyl Corp.; and John W. Snow, chairman of CSX Corp.

Democrat Bill Bradley, a former U.S. senator from New Jersey, has received $1,000 from Marshall Wishnack, retiring chairman of Wheat First Union, and Carole Weinstein of Weinstein Management Co., a property management and real estate development firm.

During the first quarter of the year, Republican Elizabeth Dole received only one donation from Richmond - $500 from Reed I. West.

Republicans Lamar Alexander, Pat Buchanan, Steve Forbes and Dan Quayle didn't get any contributions from Richmond during the three-month period.

Some Richmonders are hedging their bets. Supermarket chain owner and banker James E. Ukrop gave $1,000 to McCain and $1,000 to Bush. And Ruble A. Hord III, who lost Tuesday's Republican primary for a seat in the House of Delegates, doesn't want to be on the losing side again: He gave $1,000 to McCain and $2,000 to Bush.

— Jeff South

NASCAR Loud? Say What?

NASCAR is loud. That's a fact of life. You want to talk during a race, go to Colonial Downs.

But how about if you want to talk at a normal level in your yard, or just get to sleep a little early? Folks in North Side, Mechanicsville and even the Fan can sometimes hear the thunderous whoosh of the high-speed combat at Richmond International Raceway.

Yet, strangely, no one in Henrico County government seems as concerned about NASCAR noise as they were about concerts at the neighboring Classic Amphitheatre at Strawberry Hill. Back in 1993, the Henrico County Board of Supervisors went after the amphitheatre with talk of banning concerts on consecutive days before striking a deal for time limits on shows.

Yet, nothing similar has happened with NASCAR. Why?

"We haven't really heard any [complaints] from anybody," says Supervisor James B. Donati Jr. of Varina. Besides, he says, "I don't know if you can really do anything. You can put mufflers on the race cars but that would take away the excitement."

Board Vice Chairman Frank Thornton, whose district houses the raceway, says he does get some complaints, though, and has been looking into it. "I live in the vicinity of it, too, and you hear the noise. The noise is very loud," Thornton says. "Residents are obviously impacted by that ... I get calls from time to time."

However, Supervisor David Kaechele says he believes "there is some acceptance [from residents] that they're there and they're going to make this noise on a few occasions a year." Besides, with the Fairgrounds planning to move, that will reduce many noise and congestion complaints neighbors would have over the year, he adds.

As for RIR, spokesman Kenneth Campbell says most of the time, races are over by 11 p.m., and the grandstands absorb much noise except when climactic conditions are right for carrying noise.

— R.F.

Ukrop's Forces Out Darth Maul

He wasn't loud. In fact, he was as silent as you can get, but Ukrop's still banned him from its stores for being too disruptive to shoppers.

Maybe it was his outfit: Dressed in black from head to toe, with a red-and-black striped face capped off with devil's horns and yellow fangs, Darth Maul is an attention-getter.

Following a series of customer complaints from across the area, Ukrop's has pulled life-size cardboard standups of the fiendish villain from "Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace" from all its stores.

Believe it or not, it wasn't necessarily his Satanic looks that customers complained about, but the violent imagery of the lightsaber-wielding character on the cardboard posters, which were a promotional item distributed by Pepsi.

"Those stand-ups came out right about the same time of the Columbine shootings and we did have a number of complaints from customers who felt that the stand-ups were offensive, that they were too violent, and so we did decide to pull those from the stores," says Ukrop's spokeswoman Heather Smith.

Maul is the only character from the new "Star Wars" movie who was removed from the stores, Smith says. She likens the decision to removing an offensive magazine cover from newsstands in their stores.

Maybe now we know the real reason why Darth Vader wore the mask in the older movies: It made him more marketing friendly.

— Richard Foster

Ready for Right-Wing Radio?

What's so right-wing it makes Rush Limbaugh look like Ted Kennedy's drinking buddy?

Meet the ultraconservative American Family Radio (AFR) network, soon to hit Richmond airwaves on 89.7 FM WAUQ.

The fastest growing radio network in the United States, AFR has spawned more than 175 stations in 31 states since 1991. It's an offshoot of the Mississippi-based American Family Association (AFA), a Christian action group best known for its adamant anti-homosexual preaching and its boycotts against the Walt Disney Co. over gay issues.

Broadcasting on a low-power frequency from about 30 miles south of Richmond, the new station will cover much of Richmond, except, ironically, perhaps the most conservative area in Richmond, the far West End. The nonprofit, listener-supported station will be on the air within the next two months, according to AFR's director of network development, Marsha Shrader, and it will be the network's third radio station in Virginia.

AFR features a mix of about 70 percent light contemporary music and 30 percent talk radio, with a mix of original and syndicated programming with shows such as "Focus on the Family," "The Christian Working Woman," and "Home School Heartbeat."

It will also provide local programming and its own news service, which it bills as an alternative to "the usual liberal news sources."

— R.F.

PTF Puts a New Spin on the Fan House Tour

The Fan District Association's annual house tour may have a little competition from a rival group.

To show its opposition to the proposed architectural designation district in the Fan, the group Preserve the Fan has organized its own house tour — one that visits houses that feature exterior modifications that would be subject to review and possible denial under the Fan District Association's proposed guidelines.

More than 50 houses are on the tour. Some have removed porches, added fences and changed windows.

Preserve the Fan spokesman Bruce MacAlister says the tour shows "what folks did [to their homes that] wouldn't be permitted under the new guidelines."

FDA's Hugh C. Miller says he doesn't know too much about the PTF tour but says, "That's an imaginative way to talk about their concerns."

The guideline vote is coming to a head. On June 1, the FDA sent postcards to every Fan property owner asking for an opinion on the district designation. The city's Commission of Architectural Review will use the cards as a referendum to gauge neighborhood feeling on the subject. The CAR meets June 22 to decide the issue.

"I think a lot of people were very eager to get where we are today, which is to get some sort of poll on where the residents stand," says David Sacks, a principal planner for the city. Sacks says his office has already received more than 500 of the 2,200 postcards sent out, which he says is a high percentage response.

"It'll be nice to have it resolved," Sacks says.

MacAlister agrees. The FDA and PTF met with a mediator earlier this year and reached no agreement. "We really wanted negotiations to work," MacAlister says. "With a vote, you have winners and losers. When you've got a neighborhood where everyone is living together, that's kind of tough."

Anyone who wants to take the tour, which is conducted by PTF volunteers, may make an appointment by calling 353-7535.

— Mark Stroh

Car Salesman Camps Out to Fight Cancer

Al Williams could not sit and watch while his wife underwent chemotherapy for breast cancer.

Williams, a car salesman at Brown's Buick and Volkswagen in Midlothian, decided to act. On June 9, he began camping out in the parking lot of the dealership until he sells 30 cars, and plans to donate a portion of what he makes to the American Cancer Society for breast cancer research.

Williams has set up a pledge drive in which he will donate $25 from each car he sells. In addition, Brown's plans to match that money, and Williams is soliciting the support of numerous other companies and the public.

"I have been in this business 13 years," he says. "If I called every tire company, all the vendors, I think I can raise about $25,000. At least that is what I am hoping."

Williams says his wife, Janet, 48, who was diagnosed last November, was lucky: She has a 95 percent chance for full recovery.

"I watched my wife's personality change three times because of her pain," he says. "I felt helpless, I wanted to do something and help shed light on cancer for other families that have to deal with this."

He says the only time he leaves the dealership building is to go on a test drive with customers. He sleeps in a VW van, showers in the service department and his wife and 5-year-old daughter Meredith bring him food.

The local chapter of the American Cancer Society has set up a table at Brown's and is offering materials on cancer prevention and awareness. "It's not so much about the money as it is about awareness," Williams says. "We need to beat this thing."

— Colleen Long

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