With so much happening in recent weeks, Council was mum on many issues.
The last two weeks were packed with City Council and local government news. Strangely, Council remained silent on most of these items. Tonight’s story will be divided into two parts, the stuff City Council didn’t talk about and the stuff they did.
These are the ones that came across my desk. Oddly, none of these came up for discussion:
The great West Broad parking fiasco
A citizen complained about the lack of enforcement of a late night no-parking ban on West Broad Street. Cops issued warnings for a week and then started writing tickets. To protect his customers from ticketing, Camel owner Rand Burgess alerted his patrons and was ultimately arrested. This quickly became a campaign issue between 2nd District Councilman Charles Samuels and his opponent, Charlie Diradour, with Samuels promising a resolution and Diradour promising action while blaming “our current councilman” for his lack thereof.
The Richmond Public Schools budget fracas
The School Board followed through with job cuts and ignored the City’s recommendations for budget reforms. This resulted in a backlash from City Council members, the Mayor, and his budget task force.
Mayor Jones long-promised redevelopment of Dove Court
This public housing project took a major step forward, as groundbreaking will likely begin this month on a new mixed-income community. Next on the chopping block are Creighton and Whitcomb Courts.
The Redskins are coming, the Redskins are coming!
Mayor Jones is doing a touchdown dance and Marty Jewell is putting on his best “I told you so” look–the Mayor for landing the Redskins’ training camp and Marty Jewell to celebrate a proposed sports complex at City Stadium. Last year he stonewalled a retail/residential development for just such a project.
The ballot for Mayor
Mayor Jones is a 100%, stone cold lock for re-election. After announcing his candidacy last week, one of his two opponents, local activist Rick Tatnall, dropped out of the race. The only remaining candidate is former City Councilwoman L. Shirley Harvey.
The Council ballot
The list of City Council candidates will finalize when the deadline to submit qualifying signatures passes at 7:00 PM Tuesday. Each candidate must submit 150 petition signatures from the district in which they are running. Barring any last second entries, this is how it will look:
- 1st District: Bruce Tyler vs. Jon Baliles. Long time blogger, a member of both Doug Wilder’s and Dwight Jones’s administration, and son of former governor Gerald Baliles. I had figured Bruce Tyler running for Mayor, but he is a solid favorite for re-election to City Council.
- 2nd District: Charles Samuels vs. Charlie Diradour. All I can say about this one is they are two very different personalities and may provide more than a few entertaining moments.
- 3rd District: Chris Hilbert vs. Erin Delp. A self described Libertarian. That’s as much as I know about her. I give this one to Hilbert.
- 4th District: Kathy Graziano is running unopposed. I give her the edge.
- 5th District: Marty Jewell vs. Lee Shewmake. A long time civic activist and educator. This race just got more interesting when developer David Gammino suspended his campaign. Jewell is a divisive character and a three way race worked to his advantage. Whether Shewmake can build a broad coalition against him remains to be seen.
- 6th District: Vice President Ellen Robertson is running unopposed.
- 7th District: Cynthia Newbille is also unopposed.
- 8th District: Reva Trammel vs. Dawn Page. Reva Trammell has perfected the art of constituent service. She and the Southside are a match made in heaven. She’ll win this in a cakewalk.
- 9th District: Doug Conner is unopposed. You’d think someone who actually lives in the City would run against him.
So you can see there is a distinct lack of competition in many of these races. The entire cast of characters stands a good chance at getting re-elected in the fall. Oh joy!
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Now on to the Regular Session and what they did discuss. I should be able to wrap this up in a few paragraphs because nothing of anything significance happened tonight. Well, almost nothing.
Council started on by honoring John Bryan, director of CultureWorks, who just received the Selina Roberts Ottum Award from Americans for the Arts. He is the first Virginian to do so. In accepting the honor, he spoke of doors being opened and donors with deep pockets. He is excited about the future of the arts in Richmond and downtown in particular.
Council quickly continued seven ordinances leaving 11 consent agenda items. The consent agenda consisted mostly of a number of small budget items, money for basketball equipment for the champion Binford Middle School basketball team, a set of soccer goals for Mary Munford Elementary, funds for Council newsletters, money for camp Diva, and some cash for Alicia Raisin and her Citizens Against Crime group. The biggest budget item, $165,000 of state money to the Belvidere gateway project, received no discussion at all. After some brief chit chat, the consent agenda passed.
With no regular business, the meeting skipped to the Citizen Comment portion of the program. First up, Donald Hatcher.
A city resident for 72 years, Hatcher is still mad about dogs (namely pit bulls), drugs, and a lack of police protection. American Legion Director Dennis Hubbes requested and received three police escorts for this Saturday’s Ride for Wounded Warriors. Others spoke of the need for housing assistance for the homeless and helpless, and Shirley Harvey made an attempt at a campaign speech.
It’s 7:30 PM and Council is making a quick run through their announcements. Before I go I would like to thank Reva Trammel for my Mountain Dew and free smoke alarm.