GOLDMAN: Why are Shockoe Stadium land deal facts still secret?

Posted at 11:37 AM, Apr 23, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-23 11:37:52-04

RICHMOND, Va. – After months of stalling, Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones, Richmond City Council and their pro-stadium posse promised to reveal the details of land deals involved in the Mayor’s Shockoe Stadium boondoggle by March 27.

Today is April 23, nearly one month later.

Despite all the promises by the Mayor, the Council and the pro-stadium posse, the public has been given NOTHING, ZERO, NADA, ZILCH, DIDDLY-SQUAT, ZIP, ZIPPO.

You can’t build a baseball stadium on thin air, much less the hot air coming from City Hall and City Council. You need to build a stadium on land, preferably dry land I might add.

Accordingly, who owns the land upon which Mayor Jones wants to build his Shockoe Stadium? If the land was bought with city money or other public money from a private interest, what was the price?

Or is the land to be leased, and if so, what are the lease terms agreed to by the public entity?

Put another way, does the City and/or the EDA – assuming the EDA is doing the project as claimed by Mr. Marshall – own or otherwise control the land needed to do what the Mayor and Mr. Marshall and Mr. Hicks have spent millions of dollars in staff time claiming to be working on?

Bottom line

When it comes to the land needed for the Mayor’s boondoggle, what is its legal ownership status right now? What does the city own, what does any other public entity own, what remains in private hands RIGHT NOW?

Does the city only have contracts to buy, or hopes of buying, or not even that RIGHT NOW?

Does Council know, or even care? What do we have in Richmond now, a City Council composed of seven Sgt. Schultz’s from the TV show Hogan Heroes, famous for his line: “I know Nothing!”

Are we slipping, or have we indeed already returned, to the days of the “cesspool of corruption and inefficiency” existing in years past?

This is the term used by Richmonders to describe how City Hall and City Council operated before the Elected Mayor Law reforms. This culture of “corruption and inefficiency” led the public to back the Elected Mayor law reforms I wrote for the Wilder-Bliley Commission.

Even the best reform can be subverted if the politicians get together to do it, we know that from history. Even the best reform can’t protect us in that regard.

But you say, “Paul, it’s not fair to include the Council, since they too have been asking for the land deal details.”

The Council has been JONES’ ENABLER for months now, and this was shown when they didn’t even protest when Mr. Marshall failed to meet their deadline for providing these details.

Baliles, Samuels, Hilbert, Graziano, Robertson, Newbille and Mosby either believe that the public has the right to know or they don’t. There are various pieces of property that must be acquired and/or leased along with other property-related aspects to do what the Mayor and City Council have been working on in their way for months now.

The Council keeps enabling City Hall to take more time. So it is really a joint effort right now.

The Council promised two months ago that the people would have the land deal facts by now. This boondoggle of land deals, construction deals, sweetheart “consulting” and other contracts PAID FOR WITH PUBLIC MONEY has to be laid at the feet of the Council not just the Mayor.

If your children promised to turn in their homework, and still had not done it two months after promising, they would get an F. So should City Council and the Mayor.

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.