GOLDMAN: RTD top columnist breaks ranks, backs citizen referendum

Posted at 9:42 AM, May 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-16 11:41:10-04

RICHMOND, Va. – Finally! In an historic first for an historic referendum push, the Richmond Times Dispatch top columnist for Richmond governing issues strongly endorsed today the citizen referendum on Shockoe Bottom.

Michael Williams wrote:

“We need to start building upon our knowledge instead of building atop our history. ‘In an unenlightened age 100 years ago, we built a train station on top of this (slave trading) history,’ Rawls said Tuesday. ‘And then, 50 years later, still in an unenlightened age, we built an interstate highway on top of this. And now we’re talking about, in an enlightened age, new large public works right on top of this.’

Williams continued:

“We must continue the archaeological and historical research needed to piece together this story. Given the vast number of folks whose families passed unhappily through the Bottom, getting this story right can’t get lost in the rush to develop.”

Perfectly sensible.

This is why the one Referendum sets up the Historic East End Shockoe Bottom Commission to make sure we do precisely what Williams said is needed to be done while also looking at the Mayor’s economic claims.

BUT PAUL YOU SAY: “While everything Mr. Williams writes has already been anticipated by the citizen referendum, he never mentioned it in the article.”

MY RESPONSE: You are right. I think I know why. Everyone wants to pound their chest and say how righteous they are, yada, yada yada. But actually, do the hard work? Is Mr. Williams out there getting petitions signed? That’s hard work, pounding the pavement, gathering signatures one at a time.

Earth to Mr. Williams and others, Mayor Jones and City Council are laughing at you behind closed doors. They know talkers are a dime a dozen in Richmond. They fear only the doers willing to do the hard work, unglamorous grunt work.

As promised, I contributed $40,000 worth of free legal work, using hourly rate approved by a federal court for my skills on a comparable case last year. It took real work to get the two petitions approved for the ballot through the required court process.

As promised, I personally pledged to do the hard work needed to get 10 percent of all the signatures needed by August 1 to get the measure on the ballot.


As promised, I personally pledged to get another 10 percent by August 1, indeed provide the funds to pay for it if need be. If it doesn’t rain this week, I WILL HAVE KEPT THAT PROMISE BY MAY 19.

As promised, a few of us have further provided the several thousand dollars needed to pay other necessary expenses.


That’s 20 percent of all the signatures needed from just one person. If all the talkers would do their part, the referendum would easily be qualifying for the ballot way ahead of time.

Mayor Jones and the pro-stadium posse control enough of the politicians, the process and the power brokers to everything but one thing, stop the people from getting their right to vote this fall on the referendums provided folks are willing to do the hard work to get the measure on the ballot.

The Mayor knows I will do my part, he butted heads with me and lost on the 2003 Elected Mayor Referendum. But that required a Herculean effort on my part as people know. It was 11 years ago. I couldn’t physically do this time.

I WILL KEEP MY PROMISES IN 2014, that’s a guarantee. But one man cannot do in 2014 what he did in 2003. The Mayor and his allies are counting on that, betting on folks being “four flushers” as they say in poker.

Given the number of people who have reneged on giving $50 or getting one petition sheet signed, he may win that bet.

So I ask you to explain this to me, what is thrill, what is the rush, what is the sense of whatever in being all talk and no walk? I have never understood for all these years.

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.