Dueling Lawyers

On STYLE Weekly’s July 23 Back Page, attorney John Bates accuses.

On STYLE Weekly’s July 30 Back Page, attorney Paul Goldman answers.

Note: According to STYLE Weekly, Bates is “the general counsel for Venture Richmond, a key booster for the Shockoe Bottom plan.”

Note: As always, Goldman is Goldman and keeps his own counsel.


A Ring Around the Diamond


Opposed to Shockoe Stadium? Want to keep baseball on the Boulevard?

Let’s go to the Diamond on Sunday, July 27, at 2 p.m. and give folks in Richmond something new to talk about — the will of the people.

Update: The event has been rescheduled to Sunday, August 3, at 2 p.m.

Thinking about a stunt/demonstration to dramatize the opposition to building a Shockoe Bottom stadium a friend and I walked around the Diamond. Staying on public property, it took something a little less than 1,000 strides of about three feet each.

We guessed each step would represent one person. Thus, we determined it would take about 1,000 people to surround the Diamond, while standing/parading on public property. Voila! a ring around the Diamond.

If people just show up on Sunday afternoon — flash-mob-style — carrying signs, singing songs, chanting slogans, seeing old friends and meeting new ones, etc., I bet that lively scene will appeal to photographers, some of them with the working press. By the way, the Flying Squirrels will be playing out of town.

Once it gets underway, text messages and Facebook posts would be flying around town saying, “join us!” Let’s say the whole thing would take an hour, or so. Virtually no money would need be spent and hopefully no laws would be broken. If 2,000 people show up we could put two rings around the Diamond.

During 2014, in reacting to Mayor Dwight Jones’ so-called “revitalization” plan, some of Richmond’s most determined activists have been busy working against it. The baseball stadium aspect of the plan has drawn the most attention. Creative ways of expressing opposition and connecting with the like-minded have come from a number of citizens. They have included: Bridg Allen; Scott Burger; Ana Edwards; Lillie Estes; Farid Alan Schintzius; Spencer Turner; Phil Wilayto. They, and others, have used Facebook and other means of modern communication trying to galvanize the opposition, but there‘s been little cooperation.

So far, the prize-winner was a demonstration, on Apr. 28, by local high school students at City Hall. Naturally, when Mayor Jones met with the students he blew off their grievances about the city’s skewed spending priorities.

A month later a five-member-majority of City Council — Agelasto; Baliles; Hilbert; Samuels; Trammell — formed to oppose certain aspects of the mayor’s plan. Whether they will stay together remains to be seen.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have had a hand in starting an anti-Shockoe Stadium Facebook group: Referendum? Bring It On! And, I’ve participated as a member of the Citizens Referendum Group. One of the things that level of involvement has taught me is that if all of the opposition in Richmond had coalesced during the year, we would not still be talking about Shockoe Stadium.

That hasn’t happened because the opposition hasn’t been led by a well-funded, well-organized group. Nothing has happened that would allow/encourage all of those who oppose the Mayor Jones’ plans for the Boulevard and Shockoe Bottom to come together and demonstrate their solidarity.

On Sunday, July 27, at 2 p.m.

On Sunday, August 3, at 2 p.m. that could change. Help us put a ring around the Diamond and create a scene that we‘ll always remember with a smile.

To visit the Facebook event page for this happening click here.

Update (July 25): STYLE Weekly: “A Diamond Ring”

July 14th Fizzler At City Hall

Shockoe view from River

Bastille Day (July 14th) came and went without the significant the news emerging from the City Council meeting that some had anticipated. Reva Trammell‘s call for an advisory referendum didn’t happen. Instead, she asked for it to be “continued.” Now the next meeting of Council will be on Sept. 8, which would be the time for Trammell‘s referendum resolution to be dealt with by her colleagues … or not.

It appears Trammell met with opposition to the language of her resolution, or perhaps there just aren’t four other members who will support any advisory referendum, no matter how it’s worded. Opposing all referendums is a position some politicians view as a smart one, as they don’t like anything that could been seen as watering down their power.

Meanwhile, the objections to Mayor Dwight Jones’ so-called “revitalization” plan from preservationists continue to pile up. Jones, for his part, keeps on keeping on. And, the plans to keep baseball on the Boulevard, one way, or another, continue to emerge.

— Image from PreservationNation Blog

RT-D: EDA has ‘less accountability to the voters’

Sports like baseball, football, etc., all have tricky plays that use deceptive moves to gain an advantage. Now comes the Richmond Times-Dispatch to throw a penalty flag at one of Mayor Dwight Jones’ favorite tactics.

…the Richmond Economic Development Authority is struggling with debt. Part of the problem: The Redskins training facility, which is supposed to house more than the Redskins, has some vacancies.

Click here to read the editorial.

Jones’ desire to use the EDA concept to facilitate his so-called “revitalization” plan should make red flags pop up for Richmonders of every political stripe.

Yet, if you try to get someone who favors building a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom to defend using the EDA’s dimly lit path to finance it, what you’re likely to get from them is that it’s all too complicated for the voters/taxpayers to grasp. So you should just shut up and get on the bandwagon for Shockoe Stadium.

Well, rather than shut up, we Richmonders should tell our elected officials we don’t want the EDA gimmick to ever be used again to circumvent prudence and reason when making long-term financial plans and commitments. Today’s RT-D’s comment hit the nail on its head when it said the EDA has “less accountability to the voters.”

RT-D editorial stiff-arms National Trust

Photo from the National Trust for Historic Preservation by Ron Cogswell.

Today the Richmond Times-Dispatch published a rather strange opinion piece related to the significance of Shockoe Bottom’s slave market history and the bubbling controversy about building a baseball stadium in that neighborhood.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently listed Shockoe Bottom among the 11 most endangered historical sites in the U.S. Unfortunately, the designation does little besides add one more talking point about a subject that has been talked nearly to death. The National Trust’s assessment is brief and superficial.

Click here to read the entire piece.

So according to the RT-D if the National Trust for Historic Preservation can’t say “No,” in a new way — something that hasn’t seen said before — it should butt out of our local controversy. For some of us who remember Virginia’s history in the ’50s and ’60s, this attitude has a familiar ring to it.

Moreover, this editorial misses the point that Shockoe Bottom’s history matters to the nation; it isn’t just something for us in Richmond to settle without considering the larger picture. That’s exactly why the National Trust for Historic Preservation weighed in. It looked at a situation and felt a brighter spotlight needed to be pointed at it.

Doug ‘Squirrelly’ Wilder is having fun again


The wily veteran populist, Doug ‘Squirrelly’ Wilder, 83, is back in the game. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Wilder isn’t through with his effort to sabotage the beleaguered Mayor Dwight Jones’ rather unpopular proposal to build Shockoe Stadium.

Former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder has jumped back into the debate over the future of Shockoe Bottom by calling for the creation of a public advisory group on preserving the history of the city’s oldest neighborhood.

Apparently, no matter how many times former Virginia governor/Richmond mayor has changed his mind about the baseball stadium issue, or the establishing of a slavery museum — over the years — in 2014 Wilder stands firmly against whatever Jones wants to do on either matter.

To read the entire RT-D article, written by, Michael Martz, click here.

Yes, Wilder is having fun again … same as it ever was. The illustration above was done in 2008 to accompany a SLANTblog post of mine about Wilder’s shifting positions on the baseball stadium issue and his history of squirrelly moves, in general. For background, click here to read it.