Walkout? Bravo!

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The students who staged the Walkout on Monday were asking for Richmond’s adults, especially its elected representatives, to honestly commit to doing better with public education. Honestly. No tricks.

Recent revelations about deplorable conditions in some of Richmond’s public school buildings have been attention-getting. Which certainly made the grievances of the students who participated in the demonstration challenging City Hall’s skewed spending priorities seem all the more legitimate and timely.

One of the most obvious things these students could do to further their cause would be to put Mayor Jones’ political feet to the fire, to give up on his scheme to steal from addressing Richmond’s most pressing needs in order to dump nine figures into building a new baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom. So the anti-baseball-in-the-Bottom folks in Richmond appear to have just picked up a new ally — one with stamina.

So now I’m very much looking forward to what this now-emboldened new force in local politics comes up with next. In the meantime, on behalf of the Citizens Referendum Group, I want to say one word to those students — “Bravo!”

— Photo of students at the City Council meeting from WRIC.com

Referendum Party at Lovebomb – Come and Sign!

You've got to party for your right to fight. Come to Lovebomb on May 3 and sign the petition!

You’ve got to party for your right to fight. Come to Lovebomb on May 3 and sign the petition!

Hear ye, hear ye…

It’s the Referendum For the People Party.

And it’s FREE. At Lovebomb, 6 W. 21st Street in Manchester, on May 3rd.

We’re on a petition drive to get signatures from Richmond voters in order to force a vote on the Shockoe Bottom baseball stadium plan. That’s all we want — and what the people deserve — an up or down vote on the proposal. And that’s why we need for you to attend and join in the party.

You ask: “What do I get for being such a conscientious citizen.”

You’ll get to hear the Mag Bats, the new band with Wes Freed, for FREE. You’ll coo to the sounds of opening act, Lonesome Liz, for FREE. You’ll swivel and sway to patriotic and funky sounds curated by an all-star team of tonally responsible and locally-concerned disc jockey personages. For FREE.

And you can also check our Richmond’s newest and funkiest art and music space, Lovebomb, for FREE.

BUT, most importantly, if you are a Richmond voter, you can sign the Referendum petitions that will enable Richmond voters to have a say on the Shockoe Bottom Ballpark proposal and the future preservation of the area’s history.

Even if you can’t stay for the music, COME early and sign the referendum petitions.

Even if you’ve already signed the referendum petitions, BRING eligible Richmond city voters who haven’t!

Did we mention that this event is FREE?

See you at Lovebomb. The address is 6 W. 21st Street in Manchester. The day is Saturday, May 3rd. The hour is 6:30 PM. The time for action is now.

Student Walkout

walkout1 Students at Open High School organized and staged a walkout this morning. They were protesting the dreadful conditions in some Richmond Public Schools and the skewed spending priorities coming out of City Hall. So they’ve taken their grievances directly to City Hall. Students from Community High, as well as other schools, joined them. Many of the kids were carrying signs. Among them were signs protesting the building of a stadium in Shockoe Bottom.

Reports vary but apparently there were between 150 and 200 students involved in the demonstration. Mayor Dwight Jones spoke briefly to some of the protestors, but it seems his words were not all that well received by the kids. No doubt, the last thing Jones wants to see is a second march, next week, with 10 times as many public school students. Then a third march…

walkout2First photo by Charles Williams. Second photo by Kirsten Gray.

Update: Here’s more coverage of the demonstration and the City Council meeting that a few of the students attended:

WRIC.com: Some student organizers like Isabella Arias was happy to get audience, but wasn’t crazy about the mayor’s answers. She felt the mayor was just putting the blame on the school board. “Something has to change,” she says. “This is ridiculous. We are the future of America. Our city will be built upon the backs of our students.”

And, this followup WRIC.com report.

Where to sign referendum petitions this weekend

This weekend the weather is supposed to be nice and Citizens Referendum Group members with petition forms to sign plan to be at outdoor events open to the public:

Don Harrison will be at RVA Earth Day in Manchester on Saturday.

Paul Goldman will be at the Earth Day event in Shockoe Bottom on Saturday.

Susan Martin will be at Forest Hill Park for an event on Sunday afternoon.

Easter Parade on Monument

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There will be thousands of potential petition-signers on Monument Ave. between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Sunday. The weather forecast for the Easter Parade is good. I’ll be there to see the sights and collect some signatures. Hope there will be other petition workers from the CRG there, as well.

Unmuzzling the Voters Is a Worthy Cause

Why bother? Why walk around town asking people I don’t know to sign a petition? Why is it important to protect Shockoe Bottom from an outrageously inappropriate development scheme? How will democracy become the solution to a longstanding problem?

To answer those questions and some others, I’ve written a piece I hope you’ll take the time read. And, I hope some of my fellow members of the CRG will write down their reasons for joining the group and post them on this website. In the weeks to come, I think our job will become easier as Richmonders understand our motivations.

So now I’ve become a member of an ad hoc group which advocates letting the voters weigh in. Although the Citizens Referendum Group has to collect a whopping 9,800 signatures on its referendum petitions, advocates for building Shockoe Stadium who stand opposed to our petition drive have a tough job on their hands, too. They have to convince voters that too much democracy can be a bad thing. My personal reason for having taken up this cause stems, in part, from being asked to write a story about a benefit show in December for STYLE Weekly.

Click here to read “Unmuzzling the Voters Is a Worthy Cause.”