RICHMOND, Va. – Once again, you are reading it here first, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and his aides have told Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones they are willing to have the so-called “come to Jesus” meeting with Richmond City Councilmen Chris Hilbert, Charles Samuels and John Baliles.
My bet, given my sources, is that Hilbert is the one they are targeting now. Why?
First, let me point out the following, I wrote the first column calling out the Mayor for race-baiting on his Shockoe Stadium proposal, claiming only a bigoted white person could be against it.
The Richmond Times Dispatch hesitated with an editorial backing me up, due to their being big Shockoe Stadium cheerleaders. But they eventually used the term “racist” to describe the Mayor’s hateful comments.
Second, I wrote the first column predicting the Mayor had already secretly decided to alter the plan given the public in order to bypass any public direct input, ramming it through on five votes not the seven wrongly believed by those who want baseball-on-the-boulevard.
Yes, his original plan took seven votes, but not his newly revised plan. Admittedly the Mayor cagily refuses to reveal his true intent here. But the city attorney privately now agrees Mayor Jones can ram it through on five votes no matter what in terms of Council. Do you need to know more?
Thirdly, I wrote the only column explaining how all the construction contracts, the “consultant” gigs hired to lobby and otherwise get these contracts, and the other government connected “goodies” involved in these backroom – handed out by government officials without public bidding – deals will be worth $200 million to friends of city hall at least counting Shockoe and Boulevard stuff. Not a bad haul.
TODAY, WE GIVE YOU #4:
The Governor and his aides are, despite disclaimers, willing to twist some arms to help get the Shockoe Stadium passed.
The Mayor intends to spend well over $100 million and counting of public dollars on the Shockoe Stadium alone, counting financing costs, fees for lawyers, bankers, etc. and of course the 40 percet “vig” for his allies as they say in the loan shark business. I am not suggesting anything illegal here, or incompetence: just the “vig” facts.
And you know what happens if you don’t pay a loan shark right?
As to Hilbert, Samuels and Baliles, here is the latest “skinny” on why the Governor can be the deal maker here.
First, Mayor Jones has told everyone he has Councilwoman Robertson, Newbille and Mosby in his hip pocket. The race-card play is the reason.
It takes six votes to get a special use zoning permit. Councilwoman Graziano is the Mayor’s fourth sure vote.
So, he needs five votes to get what George Washington Plunkitt called “honest graft” approved by the Council. The term “honest graft” is from public administration. I will explain it in the coming weeks assuming this is necessary.
It takes six votes though to get the whole mess a special zoning permit.
Councilman Baliles is the only one who seems to care about the money and a fair process. So the Governor and the Mayor figure the son of former Governor Baliles is a tough sell.
That means they need Charles Samuels and Chris Hilbert one way or another.
Chris works for the state and has higher political ambitions. Judge Samuels has a nice ring to it, according to the City Council President’s friends.
Supposedly he has agreed to his “day of judgment.” But to be fair, this is just grapevine talk from people I suspect are against the stadium deal. Samuels has denied it. So he is entitled to the benefit of the doubt until more facts emerge.
However, if he votes for the Shockoe Stadium, it is hard to see how he figures it helps him politically to go against the overwhelming opinion in his district.
The Shockoe Stadium is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to cut your own deal and make the Council’s job pay.
In the coming weeks, I will give you some information on the interconnections between friends, wives, business partners and significant others of those in government conveniently intertwined in the public/private backroom dealing on the Shockoe Stadium deal.
“Follow the money,” it never fails.
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.