GOLDMAN: The growing political bankruptcy of Richmond’s Democratic leaders

Posted at 9:28 AM, Mar 31, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-31 09:28:19-04

RICHMOND, Va. – Like Buzz in the most famous drag racing scene in movie history, Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones and State Senator Henry Marsh are driving Richmond Democrats toward a political cliff.

Will they follow Buzz over the cliff?

It is time for what Republicans call a “come to Jesus” meeting.

Not surprisingly, I have a slightly different take on it although no disrespect intended since Jesus and I had the same basic gut instinct, don’t trust the money changers running the Temple.

Given my record of running winning campaigns for the state’s top political rebels, it seems clear I would have been one of Jesus’ guys had I lived back then. So whatever Richmond Democrats want to call it – how about a “come to your freakin’ senses” meeting –  they need one.

Having been campaign manager to the two leading voting rights advocates in statewide campaign history – legendary anti-segregation champion Lt. Governor Henry Howell and LG/Governor Doug Wilder – I have always felt a certain obligation to protect their legacies in his area.

All voting rights are important. Black, brown, white, whatever. When it comes to protecting voting rights, to paraphrase Tina Turner:

“What’s color got to do with it?”

Voting Rights are sacred. Neither they nor I ever flinched in defending them.

I even filed a seminal legal action forcing the Department of Justice to protect the voting rights of African-American city residents and white rural citizens.

This is the same spirit which drove me to write the Elected Mayor law giving black and white Richmonders their right to elect their Mayor.

Last year,  Governor McAuliffe, Attorney General Herring and the Virginia Democratic Party accused Republicans of using all kinds of maneuvers to take away the rights of African-Americans to vote. But an honest column isn’t afraid to call it like it is.

This time, it is Mayor Jones and his Democratic allies denying VOTING RIGHTS to these very same WHITE residents and RACIAL MINORITIES in Richmond.

The Richmond City Charter – supposedly guaranteed by Section 7B.05  – intends to give Richmonders an absolute Voting Ability to tell the Mayor and City Council “NO WAY ARE YOU GOING TO WASTE HUNDREDS OF MILLION OF PUBLIC DOLLARS on a Shockoe Stadium” when we need this money for more pressing needs.

The first part of Section 3.06.1 is intended to give citizens another Voting Rights option in such matters, but Richmond Democrats on City Council are ALSO DENYING THIS RIGHT TO THE PEOPLE OF RICHMOND.

I ask, what the heck has become of Democratic elected officials in this town?

Indeed, the VERY PURPOSE Mayor Jones changes his original proposal to the latest one is TO DENY THE RIGHT TO VOTE! Instead of using city money directly by issuing city bonds – his original proposal – his new proposal cooks up a fiscal scheme to use bonds from the Economic Development Authority backed by city funds!


Because doing it this way ELIMINATES THE PUBLIC’S RIGHT TO VOTE DOWN WASTEFUL STADIUM BONDS,  since the right to vote doesn’t apply to EDA bonds since it is not covered by the Richmond City Charter!

This is true even though the Mayor’s new proposal has city funds backstopping the EDA bonds!

Would Democrats in Richmond ever allow a Republican Mayor to do such a thing?

Heck no.  Fairness and Voting Rights have no color.

Fortunately, the referendums I drafted for the citizen referendum group uses yet another although rarely used City Charter provision to get people the right to vote if we can get the signatures in time. But it is far more complicated, expensive and politically challenging relative to the those previously mentioned City Charter provisions.

Instead of protecting the right to vote, the Richmond Democratic leaders are actively working to deny the people’s right to vote. What a role reversal!

Why do Richmond’s Democratic elected officials, from the Mayor on down, believe they can so disrespect the people this way? It is baffling.

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.