GOLDMAN: Does Richmond need a City Council?

Posted at 9:36 AM, Feb 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-24 11:00:31-05

RICHMOND, Va. – Should Baliles, Samuels, Hilbert, Graziano, Agelasto, Robertson, Newbille, Trammell, and Mosby be told their services are no longer needed?

It is a fair question.

Mr. Baliles himself said he thought City Council didn’t need to meet two times a month. Once a month would do.

So yesterday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch took the logical next step.

The Times-Dispatch editorial posse joined Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones, Shockoe Stadium developers, the business community and others with political connections at City Hall in saying, why do we really need a city council at all? Just let the Mayor run the city.

I speak to their editorial saying the City Council should simply just approve the Mayor’s Shockoe Stadium proposal, the RTD had grown tired of the debate.

“Be gone I say,” is what King Henry VIII said to his Privy Council when they opposed his proposal to build a new jousting stadium on the south lawn of the Castle.

The H Man wasn’t a guy to cross. Remember, he started his own church and told the Pope to kiss his grits in order to marry the first Anne.

Ms. Boleyn lost her head after being accused of getting pregnant by her brother. It turned out be all a lie, but of course the King knew that.

So did the Council. But like I say, the H Man wasn’t a guy you dared cross. He could put you to the rack. So they backed the marriage.

Saint Thomas More did not. The King tolerated the boy for a while until More’s questions, all good ones, became irritating because the King didn’t have a believable answer.

Finally Henry cut off More’s head. No more pesky questions. The Council got the message. They found the King another wife. Numbers five through eight came along soon enough.

Yesterday, perhaps fearing for their collective heads, the RTD editorial board told City Council to stop talking and simply support the Mayor’s Shockoe Stadium proposal. 

“Today we endorse the proposal for a stadium in the Bottom,” the RTD announced.

To which I say, holding my head: Excuse me, but what proposal is that exactly?

FACT: The Mayor’s proposal is so lacking in necessary details neither he, the most expensive city hall staff in state history, Shockoe Stadium developers, the business community NOR THE RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH can tell the people precisely how many City Council votes it will legally take to pass it.

It might take seven, it might take six or it might even take five depending ON THE DETAILS YET TO BE REVEALED.

So what exactly does the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial board want City Council to approve?

The Mayor doesn’t even know his own proposals final key details.

What has happened to journalism in this town?

The Mayor can’t tell you the most basic details because he is trying to figure out how to get a proposal that bypasses legal and other protections built into the City Charter and the State Constitution preventing politicians from raiding the city treasury for over $100 million without giving the public a direct chance to stop it.

Which gets us to this question, what has happened to the City Council? They are supposed to protect the people’s rights.

Tonight, the City Council will prove whether Richmond needs a City Council.

The Mayor deserves to be given all the time he says he needs to actually get all the details worked out for his proposal. The Council should give it to him.

But in giving the Mayor all that time, the Council should indicate they are duty bound not to approve any Stadium proposal that tries to do indirectly what the City Charter prohibits the Mayor and Council from doing directly.

City Council knows precisely what the Mayor is trying to do financially with his proposal because it won’t fly without financial sleight of hand.

The Council should make it clear that once the Mayor actually gives them his final proposal, details and all, there will be sufficient time for the people to get these details and comment before their representatives act.

If this is too much for the Council, then why have one?

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.