RICHMOND, Va. – In 1994, Mayor Jones agreed with the citizen’s group now working hard to get a Shockoe Stadium referendum on the November ballot.
The late Senator Benjamin Lambert, recently lauded by Mr. Jones, likewise agreed with the need for Commission created by this referendum. So did Senator Henry Marsh, indeed roughly the entire Richmond legislative delegation!
The Referendum sets up an Historic East End Shockoe Bottom Commission to make sure the area’s uniquely significant historic events, crucial not only to local history but state and national as well, is fully and adequately and openly protected BEFORE ANY DECISION on such a massive bulldozer project is made.
Back in 1994, they all agreed such a Commission VITAL TO RICHMOND!
So why then has the Jones/Marsh political machine changed its mind?
If it was the right thing to do for Richmond from 1994-2013, what changed here in 2014? Presumably, today we find out.
Why? Last month, the Mayor promised to reveal to the City Council certain until-now secret details to his Shockoe Stadium proposal. Today, his top aides will present these details to Economic Development Authority board meeting at Main Street Station.
This is fitting as the Mayor will reveal today, the EDA is being used because it allows the Jones Administration to bypass certain city and state laws, including the City Charter which otherwise gives the public the right to demand their right to vote BEFORE between $100-200 MILLION in public funds is spent and BEFORE politicians and private developers can bulldoze anything in an area with this much historic significance.
I get it, the EDA is controlled by key political interests. The EDA isn’t subject to the public bid and other processes created by local and state law.
There are upwards of $700 million in contracts potentially at stake when all is considered, including roughly $300 million the Mayor’s plan wants to reserve for those with political connections to key city politicians.
I get all that, I wasn’t born yesterday.
The Jones Administration claims they are justified to do business this way.
Today, they get their chance to prove it.
I am a fair person. Let’s see what they have to say.
But my prediction remains, when all is said and done, it will be further self-evident why the Referendum process is the only fair, fiscally sound, and transparent process left to the City on this matter.
I say again, the Referendum process is the only way left to heal the divisions in our town created by the flawed process now being used.
The Shockoe Stadium referendum is balanced, sensible and is WHAT MAYOR JONES AND SENATOR MARSH AND THE RICHMOND DELEGATION CLAIMED WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO FOR YEARS.
The referendums are pro-vote, pro-people.
They don’t demonize, they don’t judge, rather they let the people express themselves, to be a direct part of the process. The Mayor, the City Council, the business community, the pro-stadium posse – they don’t lose any power.
Rather, the people get their rightful authority to express their rightful opinion.
What’s wrong with that?
The Mayor’s Administration will talk at 3 p.m. By 5 p.m., I predict the Mayor and his team will have become – inadvertently it is true – supporters of the Referendum.
Why? With all due respect, they will have underscored the very reasons the citizen’s group has decided to try and clear the greatest petitioning hurdle in state history [they have to get roughly 10,000 valid signatures in Richmond ONLY whereas it takes 5,000 collected statewide to get on the ballot for President!] in order to ensure that YOU, THE PEOPLE OF RICHMOND, get your right to vote.
An indirect endorsement? In politics, it is often better than a direct 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.