GOLDMAN: Relationship to Boulevard Stadium bidder becomes new growing issue

Posted at 12:52 PM, May 05, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-05 12:52:20-04

RICHMOND, Va. – Right now, Richmond City Councilmen Baliles, Samuels and Hilbert are making or are in danger of making the same mistake Mayor Jones and his Shockoe Stadium posse made. This column has been pointing out to the Mayor and his aides their fundamental mistake for months.

Their problem is credibility.

The Mayor’s credibility with key middle class swing voters, indeed his Democratic base, is badly tarnished. There are many reasons, but in a phrase he has been way too secretive on key stuff when he needed to be transparent and straight with the people.

Despite months of headlines and millions of dollars in staff time, as of RIGHT NOW, the people have been provided no final specific details. It remains a strictly back-room deal hashed out without a transparent bid process.

Now comes the three amigos, Jon, Charles and Chris.

There are issues like the Baseball Stadium, which “jump the shark” and morph into a potentially career-defining image makers. They become the big leagues of politics.

Mayor Jones and his aides were not ready for the big leagues and it showed. They have squandered the Mayor’s credibility. For what?

Now come Baliles and Samuels and Hilbert.

So I advise them also, don’t make the same mistake.

Folks should come out with me some day and do some signature gathering on petitions among swing middle class voters who make the difference in elections and see what has happened to the Mayor’s political standing.

Talk to his most loyal Democratic base voters, and see what they are thinking also.

The Mayor has a huge credibility gap.

Are  Baliles, Samuels and Hilbert about to make the same mistake in terms of risking their credibility by operating in secret too long?

According to my sources – correct so far – all three amigos have known a lot more about the Rebkee maneuvering of the past many weeks – this is the Chesterfield developer who made the allegedly “surprise” proposal to build a stadium with “all private money” on the Boulevard – than they have told the public.

Rebkee has released no definitive details however. But it is clear the three amigos know more than they have told the public.

Like Jones, the three amigos have been giving a private special interest special access to public policy makers so they could pursue a lucrative deal that may or may not be in the city’s best interest.

What ever happened to the public bid process? Whatever happened to the way business is supposed to be done in a free market system? All comparable businesses have a transparent opportunity.

Baliles, Samuels and Hilbert should ASAP lay out their interconnections with Rebkee and/or those claiming to know something about their stadium proposal, laying stuff out as far back as possible.

Fair or not, the interconnections between Baliles and Samuels and Hilbert relative to what they knew, when they knew it and how they used it in terms of what they knew Rebkee might do is now crucial to analyzing their credibility.

Where their actions/comments relative to the Mayor’s Stadium stance purely in the public interest or was it impacted in any way by the Rebkee private interest?

My advice: More, rather than less, transparency will serve them well.

Many of their backers are promoting each for the next Mayor. As a writer, this makes it doubly important for me to assess the motivations for their actions on the Stadium issue.

By failing to be transparent, the Mayor and the pro-Shockoe posse have badly hurt their cause based on my conversations with the people.

Baliles, Samuels, and Hilbert will regret making the same self-inflicted political wound.

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.