City Council: your councilpeople in the news

Part of tonight’s City Council recap is what didn’t go into the last one. Really, there’s enough that happens between the sessions for a whole new story.

This is what I get for going home early. Once upon a time you could tell what was going on in City Council. There was an established order that was scrupulously followed. Through all the years I’ve watched these meetings they followed the same pattern. I knew when to stand up, when to sit down, when to pay attention and when to take a bathroom break; it’s kind of like Church–except for the bathroom break part. Sometime in the past year they started improvising. I’ve been doing this column for six months now, and I still haven’t got it straight.

Why the tirade? Well I’m sitting at home watching, guess what? Yes, of course, the final rerun of the last City Council session. And what do I see but Marty Jewell throwing a hissy fit and Kathy Graziano trying to shut him up. This is gold and all taking place way after hours. It’s not like I don’t have a life, but the only thing more boring than watching an entire Council session is watching it all over again on TV. I hate walking into a meeting unarmed, so part one of tonight’s story is what didn’t make it into the last one. Really, there’s enough that happens between the sessions for a whole new story.

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Mayor Jones uncharacteristically lashed out at Bruce Tyler for calling one of his aides a liar. Bruce Tyler responded by saying “too bad, so sad”, entirely within character. 

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While the Mayor has yet to announce his re-election plan, his first challenger, Church Hill resident and activist Rick Tatnall has stepped into the ring. Unless he gets a better offer, I expect Bruce Tyler to make it official in early spring, all of which should make the Mayor smile. The more opponents he has, the more likely he is to win. The math works out in his favor.

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Marty Jewell already has two announce opponents. This is the exactly formula that put both him and Dwight Jones in office four years ago. 

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Douglas G. Conner Jr. admits he hasn’t been spending enough time at home–in Richmond.
 Conner has been on the defensive this week after a report on WTVR showing him living exclusively at his longtime home in Chesterfield County instead of his official residence in Richmond’s 9th Council District. This has shades of Doug Wilder, who rented an apartment in Tobacco Row so he could run for Mayor some eight years ago while keeping his very nice home in Charles City. I’m not even sure he furnished the place.

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The normally mild mannered Charles Samuels staged a press event at the Juvenile Detention Center stating that the “Mayor has lost control of the city.” Even worse he accused the Mayor of not even reading his own press releases. This is understandable since nobody else does either. When asked if he was running for mayor, he replied, definitely not, despite the fact that the position pays substantially more than a councilman’s, requires a lot less work, and council meetings are optional. I think he should reconsider.

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Charles Diradour has decided to challenge Charles Samuels for his 2nd district seat. You can expect more of the same raucous humor you’ve come to expect from Mr. Samuels, the only difference being Mr. Diradour doesn’t know that he’s not funny. 

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The sexual harassment suit between Bruce Tyler’s assistant Jennifer Walle and Kathy Graziano’s David Hathcock refuses to die. Ms. Walle has filed a 5 million dollar lawsuit alleging that Ms. Graziano and a friend conspired to defame her. To put icing on that cake she is asking for $350,000 in punitive damages. Reva Trammel and Marty Jewell have been called as witnesses. Here’s what Mr. Jewell had to say on the subject:

“I can only confirm that I heard discussion of those very items and that it was some effort at dirtying up Jennifer to diminish her stature and to improve David and Graziano’s stature,” Jewell says. “It was Reva that told me most of it. I thought Reva said that it was — most of it — was told to her by Kathy.”

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Now for tonight’s business: there is none, well practically none. Of eight items on the agenda, four of them have been continued. With almost no debate all four are approved unanimously. Since none of you showed up, Libbie and Grove residents will be glad to know their master plan was approved.

To avoid surprises, this time I stayed gavel to gavel. There were none. This was not an edge of your seat kind of night. With the exception of the press box and a few stragglers, the chamber was already empty.

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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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