City Council: Ban the Box

Awards and recognitions, “Ban the Box,” and parallel parking restrictions top the agenda at last night’s City Council meeting.

It’s a chilly, rainy night outside and nearly a full house inside. This could be partly explained by the 1” thick Awards and Presentations section, but something more seems to be afoot. It’s 6:02 PM, and President Samuels is eager to get underway. Opening ceremonies are quickly dispensed with, and the Council quickly approves a short list of committee appointments and sends them off the City Clerk’s office to be sworn in. Jean Capel, the new acting City Clerk, seems to be on her game, smoothly running through the agenda items and answering Council’s questions.

Awards and Presentations: Richmond Walking/Physical Activity Day and the Toastmasters International City Stars Club are recognized and awarded. Next up is our very own Dick Harmon, host of the live broadcast of City Council meetings, celebrating his 25th anniversary. He is perhaps the only man alive who has attended more Council meetings than Silver Persinger. Dick makes it look easy, but he reads each and every ordinance, attends both informal and formal sessions, and sometimes doubles as a chaplain to read the invocation. In his broadcaster’s voice, he thanked the Council for the award, counted off the numerous Mayors he’s seen come and go, and noted some of the late night budget sessions that used to run till 4:00 AM. He seems to like the somewhat more streamlined schedule Council has been sticking to of late.

The Richmond City Dance Theatre Program is here to be recognized for their recent success at the Dance America competition in Portsmouth, VA where out of the 12 dance pieces that they presented they won ten 1st place and two 2nd place trophies.

The John Marshall Varsity Basketball Team was also recognized for their successful season and for making the Virginia State Championship Finals.

Amended Agenda: As is customary, many items on the agenda will be amended, continued, or withdrawn. Among the items we won’t be discussing tonight, Parker Agelasto’s ongoing effort to require parallel parkers to be no further than 12” from the curb. This came up two meetings ago and got a lukewarm reaction. It’s slowly creeping towards a full vote and has been recommended for approval by Public Safety. It was continued to the next Council Meeting. Sounds like a revenue proposal to me.

Another of Mr. Agelasto’s ordinances will outlaw chaining mopeds, motorcycles, and bicycles to City-owned trees, signposts, and other City-owned property. According to the ordinance, said vehicles may be impounded after 72 hours–this ordinance was withdrawn. Also withdrawn was an Redskins-related ordinance allowing the proceeds from the sale or lease of school property to be used for general expenses instead of just capital improvement.

Regular Agenda: There were no items left on the Regular Agenda.

Consent Agenda: There are 16 items on the Consent Agenda. The big crowd has barely thinned and most of them are here to speak in favor of a proposal dubbed “Ban the Box,” a checkbox on most job applications asking whether you have ever been convicted of a felony. This ordinance is being shepherded by Michelle Mosby. Felons have long complained that their job applications are rejected out of hand making it impossible for them to find gainful employment. Speakers from a wide variety of background spoke in favor of the measure for nearly an hour. The ordinance applies only to City of Richmond job applications. Police, Fire, and other “sensitive” positions are excluded from the ordinance. In their closing remarks, other Councilmembers commended Ms. Mosby for her leadership on this issue. Not bad for a rookie.

Other items included:

Ord. No. 2013-37: “permitting certain breweries and distilleries” in the M1 Light Industrial districts which includes Manchester. There may be some more “brew pubs” in our future.

Res. No. 2013-R83: Authorizing refinancing of $80 million in public utility revenue bonds.

Ord. No. 2013-25: $54,638.00 for the purpose of operating the Cannon Creek Greenway Project.

And last and least:

Res. No. 2013-R81: $250.00 from the Council Districts Funds for the Sixth District to support tree well planting along Broad Street within the Arts and Cultural District

All remaining Consent Agenda items including the “Ban the Box” ordinance passed unanimously.

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Paul Hammond

Paul has been writing about life and politics in Richmond for 11 years. You can often find him walking his dog up and down Franklin Street and yes, he does bite, the dog that is.

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