Mayor Jones and RT-D Wallowing in Denial

Yesterday, in spite of all the missed deadlines and squirrelly moves, etc., in a STYLE Weekly interview Mayor Dwight Jones said he doesn’t believe his administration could have done a better job with handling the stadium matter.

Was that supposed to be a joke?

Today, while encouraging the mayor to go on wallowing in denial, this Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial suggests that the “calm reason” of City Hall was overwhelmed by the “passion” of an uninformed rabble — an angry mob with no alternative plans. Then the editorial magically turns a slavery museum project into a civil rights memorial. Then it says a civil rights memorial can’t go it alone — it needs a stadium.

Another joke?

In any event, it’s not been the job of the opponents of the mayor’s so-called “revitalization” plan to invent alternative proposals. The many opponents to the mayor’s scheme have had a list of reasons for being against baseball-in-the-Bottom. They don’t all agree on what should be on the list. The “opposition,” as the RT-D’s editorial board calls it, is made up of ordinary Richmonders who haven’t raised a bunch of money, hired consultants, bought politicians, etc.

All the mayor’s collective opposition, which mostly means unorganized residents in every neighborhood, has been able to articulate together is, “No.”

While a few individuals have begun to lay claim to having been the most significant one in killing Shockoe Stadium, this spring the chorus saying, “No” grew larger each week. That’s what made the sound increasingly louder. It was more due to the number of voices speaking than it was to their stridency. After the student “walkout” demonstration at City Hall, on Apr. 28, many more people chimed in.

Fortunately, Charles Samuels and Jon Baliles couldn’t ignore the sound any longer, so they wisely made a populist choice to help slay the dragon.

Passion?

No, it was mostly the dire needs of our public schools, together with Shockoe Bottom’s unique history, that finished off Shockoe Stadium … if it’s really dead.

Referendum, more than ever

Using a baseball metaphor, fellow Citizens Referendum Group members, we just scored and took the lead in the bottom of the 7th inning. There’s still more game to play. So, there’s no reason to let up on the petition drive.

Whether it’s initiated by five members of City Council, or a petition drive by citizens, a stadium referendum remains the only path to settling this longstanding debate in a satisfying way that will have staying power.

Given Tuesday’s twists in the Shockoe Stadium story, the referendum concept is more important than ever. Members of City Council now have to decide whether they want to support a referendum, of some sort, or get caught on the wrong side of history. They will not be able to dodge the question.

Agelasto, Baliles, Hilbert, Samuels and Trammell: Are you ready for a referendum?

This reaction to yesterday’s late-breaking news that Charles Samuels and Jon Baliles have jumped off the Shockoe Stadium bandwagon is posted at SLANTblog.

In the last month, Richmond’s longstanding debate over where to build a new baseball stadium took a turn that can’t have pleased Mayor Dwight Jones. Hunkered down around a war-room strategy table, he’s probably not having much fun this weekend. Jones needs a new plan on Tuesday morning…

…Perhaps members of City Council should now consider offering up their own referendum strategy. Wouldn’t an advisory referendum sponsored by members of City Council be a move worth considering?

Click here to read the entire post.

 

Samuels and Baliles Kick the Can Past Labor Day

What was another bad week for Mayor Dwight Jones ended on this particularly sour note.

This email came in this evening (6:37 p.m.) from Steven Skinner:

The Honorable Charles R. Samuels, Councilman, Richmond City Council, Richmond North Central 2nd Voter District, and The Honorable Jonathan T. Baliles, Councilman, Richmond City Council, Richmond West End 1st Voter District, today announce that that they will cast votes against the Mayor’s proposed Shockoe Bottom Baseball Ordinance when it comes to the Richmond City Council Formal Meeting for a vote on Tuesday, May 27, 2017.

The administration requested a public hearing date of May 27th when they introduced the latest version of the plan on May 12 and, to date, no one has asked for a continuance. The request for another briefing did not come until after 5:00 p.m. on a holiday weekend only three days before the scheduled vote.

“If the Administration wants to revisit this issue in the fall when they may have a complete plan, we would be happy to consider it along with other potential proposals,” says Samuels. “But at this time, there is a growing consensus that this slow drip approach of information is not helpful to the City of Richmond. Instead, it is increasingly interfering with more urgent matters that Richmond City Council needs to resolve.”

“This proposal is still, after seven months, fundamentally incomplete and continues to unravel with almost every presentation. We have kept open minds on this plan since before Thanksgiving, but the time has come for us to move on to more pressing matters,” says Baliles. “We can always revisit this or any other plan at a later date.”

For more information, please contact:

The Honorable Charles R. Samuels, Councilman, Richmond City Council North Central 2nd Voter District, at 804.646.6532 or by email, at charles.samuels@richmondgov.com

and/or

The Honorable Jonathan T. Baliles, Councilman, Richmond City Council, Richmond West End 1st Voter District, at 804.646.5349 (tel), or jonathan.baliles@richmondgov.com (email)

Looks to me like these wily politicians want to see how the referendum petition drive will go before they vote on the mayor’s plan. The deadline for gathering signatures to get the CRG’s two proposals on the November ballot July 31, 2014.

When Samuels and Baliles both say “revisit” that signals to me they’re kicking the can down the road, at least another three or four months. Which appears to mean City Council isn’t likely to be voting on the mayor’s so-called “revitalization” plan until after Labor Day.

The EDA Gimmick

Now comes yet another Richmonder who doesn’t like the way Mayor Dwight Jones’ plan to do business behind closed doors is playing out. Michael Martz writes about the latest twist in the stadium story.

Del. G. Manoli Loupassi, R-Richmond, asked House Appropriations Committee Chairman S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, on Tuesday to amend the pending state budget to enforce a state law requiring competitive procurement on local projects that receive state financial aid.

“The state’s law protects an important public policy, that is it ensures that public dollars cannot be spent with favored or chosen individuals,” said Loupassi, a former Richmond City Council president who opposes the mayor’s plan…

With good reason Loupassi seems concerned that the Richmond Economic Development Authority is being used gimmick-like to bypass the competitive bid process.

…Under the mayor’s plan, the EDA, a quasi-public body, would act as the city’s agent to oversee the land transactions necessary to construct the stadium, as well as private development proposed as part of the project.

Click here to read “Loupassi Pushing for Open Bids on Shockoe Project.” in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

 

 

The Reaching Out Strategy

cropped-1531546_10201894174570744_33439574_n.jpgThe referendum solution needs about 10,000 valid signatures to get on November’s ballot. Which, we’re told, means 14,000 to 15,000 signatures should be gathered. That’s because as many as a third of them might be disqualified by the registrar for various reasons. Therefore, some strategists think the petition drive calls for 10 dauntless volunteers to each gather 1,500 signatures. Those of us who have been working on the petition drive have some idea how much time that would take.

So, I see the task differently and the Citizens Referendum Group still has two-and-a-half months to get it done. My thinking is we need about 75 to 100 volunteers to gather some 150 to 200 signatures, each. So, we probably should have the CRG’s petitions on hand in at least a dozen retail locations around town. I’m talking about coffee houses, beauty salons, etc.

Given the widespread unpopularity of the mayor’s so-called “revitalization” plan, I’m sure those volunteers are out there, waiting to be recruited. We just have to reach out to them and ask. This thing is still doable. Tell your friends that bemoaning the mayor’s wrongheaded scheme isn‘t enough.

At this stage the CRG needs to do more to make itself known. If there’s something you can you do to facilitate that — go for it!

Skullduggery? Malfeasance? Who Knows?

Now comes this RT-D article, “Officials Mum on Newly Released Shockoe Documents,” written by Graham Moomaw about what’s going on in the dark, to do with Mayor Dwight Jones’ so-called “revitalization” plan.

Some details of the Shockoe Bottom stadium plan emerged this week after a long wait, but the officials who had a hand in crafting the documents are not rushing to explain them.

The documents were released to the Richmond City Council and reporters Monday night, well after an initial deadline of March 27. Neither the chairman of the Richmond Economic Development Authority board nor the administration of Mayor Dwight C. Jones answered follow-up questions Tuesday.

Click here to read the entire exasperating piece.

Then, since no one at City Hall is talking, ask yourself some questions: How can City officials believe this kind of secrecy will foster confidence in their proposals? How can our representatives on City Council go along with this kind of sketchy way of doing the people’s business? Where do baseball-in-the-Bottom boosters get the gall to criticize a competing stadium plan that recently emerged for lacking in details?