GOLDMAN: Agelasto, Baliles, Hilbert, Samuels, Trammell key Shockoe Stadium votes

Posted at 12:06 PM, Feb 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-06 12:44:02-05

RICHMOND, Va. – Mayor Jones’ controversial Shockoe Bottom $120 million stadium proposal rises or falls on City Council members Parker Agelasto, Jon Baliles, Chris Hilbert, Charles Samuels and Reva Trammell.

Right now, the Mayor refuses to tell us whether his proposal requires seven council votes, or only five, to pass.

The original proposal definitely required seven since it proposed to sell city land. The super-majority is required by the Virginia Constitution. But if he can do the deal with leased land only, the law seems to require only five votes.

This is the key question to me, but I can’t get the media to cover it.

The Mayor’s posse is certain they already have four council votes:

  1. Kathy Graziano
  2. Michelle Mosby
  3. Cynthia Newbille
  4. Ellen Robertson

These four deny being in the “Mayor’s pocket” on the Stadium deal. But pro-stadium forces insist.

Parker and Reva have been vocally against the Mayor’s original stadium proposal. They pride themselves on keeping their word.

Unless the Mayor materially alters the Shockoe proposal, they are expected to vote NO.

Assuming all this is true, then the tally is four in favor, two opposed right now. This leaves three undecided council members:

  1. Jon
  2. Chris
  3. Charlie

Seven votes seems a bridge too far.

Hilbert’s constituents are strongly opposed to the Mayor’s proposal. Chris is telling people City Hall hasn’t made the case to the people. Hilbert is considered a thoughtful, fair guy. He didn’t start on the anti-stadium side.

Baliles put the Mayor on the spot with tough questions in a good letter.

City Hall took weeks before responding.

Their response avoided several key items. Baliles demolished many financial claims made by the pro-stadium side.

His 1st district residents historically give the business community the benefit of any reasonable doubt. But they are legendary for being fiscally responsible. The Mayor has not made the financial case.

If it takes seven votes, the Mayor might convince one of them, but two? That’s doubtful.

However, if the Mayor’s proposal only takes five votes, then Charles Samuels may be the nut in the coconut.

Where does Charles stand on the stadium?

All we know is this, he believes no decision should be made until after the people have a chance to express their views in an advisory referendum. I believe this is a most responsible view. I applaud him for it.

But, he couldn’t get  City Council to agree on this course in 2013. We are now in 2014.

The referendum approach makes even more sense now given how the mayor poisoned everything with his thinly-veiled racial intimidation. If the Council now votes for the Shockoe proposal, many white citizens will believe the Council caved to racial intimidation. There is no way to disprove it.

On the other hand, if the Shockoe Stadium proposal is defeated, then many African-American citizens may believe white council members purposely rejected an African-American Mayor’s proposal purely on racial grounds.

What a mess.

Samuels therefore had the right idea. Some Stadium opponents say white citizens should have no say in what happens in Shockoe. That’s as bad as the Mayor.

We need get passed the old racial arguments for gosh sakes. This has to be a “we” thing, not a “me” thing.” Only a referendum assures this result.

Samuels is the key person here. Let’s hope he does the right thing.

Paul Goldman is in no way affiliated with WTVR. His comments are his own, and do not reflect the views of WTVR or any related entity. Neither WTVR nor any of its employees or agents participated in any way with the preparation of Mr. Goldman’s comments.