RICHMOND, Va. – I speak today as admittedly a lonely voice, trying to prevent a huge indelible stain from tarnishing Richmond’s image.
Evidently the Mayor, the City Council majority and their backers feel HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN NO BID CONTRACTS given to their friends and political allies is a fair price to pay for Richmond’s reputation. So they have massaged and manipulated state and local law to use the Economic Development Authority to achieve this financial end.
This is wrong for Richmond.
It will hold up our City to state and national ridicule, especially given that the money is going to pave over Bottom’s vital history, something the Mayor himself said was wrong back in 1994.
But as the saying goes, money Talks, and HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS talks big time.
A competitive bid process would mess all that up.
If I am the only voice writing a column or doing commentary on TV willing to tell the truth, then so be it. YOU, the people of Richmond, deserve better.
Dr. King said truth crushed to earth will rise. Lincoln said give the people the facts and all will work out. Abigail Adams and Maggie Walker said not to be afraid to tell the truth. So here goes.
They call it “honest graft” in the textbooks, political corruption in common parlance, but technically legal.
The documents released last night by City Hall, along with the resolution passed by City Council months ago, make it clear the Mayor and City Council are “all in” on using the EDA for what could go down as the most corrupt public financing scheme in Virginia local government history.
Or in the immortal words of legendary Tammany Hall fixer George Washington Plunkitt, “I seen my opportunities and took’em.”
The way the Mayor and City Council are willing to use the Economic Development Authority to build a baseball stadium or other projects, whether at the Bottom or at the Boulevard, violates the very principles of the City Charter, the city code, and the very state law creating the EDA.
Those of us who have tried to reform state and city politics have been waiting for the EDA to be used in this way. We warned about it.
I thought the Council would stand-up to the Mayor, but they have joined him instead.
By endorsing the use of the Economic Development Authority without the necessary protective language, the Mayor and City Council allow the EDA to give out HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS IN CONTRACTS AND OTHER BUSINESS WITHOUT ANY COMPETITIVE BID PROCESS!
The Mayor therefore has used their concurrence to negotiate in secret sweetheart contracts which include subcontracting goodies for others. He said he wanted until March 27. That seemed a good way to use his own process against him. But the Council then shocked me by refusing to hold him to his own deadlines.
That’s when I knew. The Council had decided to endorse using the EDA end-run around the law and the spirit of the law.
When the Rebkee deal got announced, I knew why. Many had used the same secretive type process to try to get their deal to the front of the line! Why is the Mayor and City Council, along with their backers afraid to use an honest, open, competitive bid process? I thought they believed in capitalism and free markets. An open competition to see who submits the best proposal can only HELP RICHMOND!
What the Council and Mayor have endorsed CAN ONLY HURT IN THE LONG RUN!!
I have read the “documents” dumped on the City Council last night. To paraphrase the title to the legendary 1960’S painting of Beijing Harbor: “Same Junk, A Year Later.” [“Junk” is the name for a Chinese boat found in the harbor.]
These documents are the same magic fairy dust used for months to hide the only consistent truth in the Mayor’s proposal: rewarding friends and allies with no-bid contracts. It is the very “culture of corruption” my Elected Mayor Law stops provided you have someone in the office putting THE PEOPLE’S INTEREST FIRST. For HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN SWEETHEART CONTRACTS, some are willing to take the money and run, leaving Richmond’s reputation in shambles.
I will not cut and run on Richmond. And if that makes me a lonely voice, then so be it.
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.