GOLDMAN: Del. Loupassi’s gutsy fight to save Richmond’s reputation

Posted at 10:01 AM, May 21, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-21 10:01:38-04

RICHMOND, Va. – I understand Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones and Mr. Salomonsky felt my last article about the 20 percent “VIG” on the Shockoe Project – as Wikipedia calls it – was unfair. I never used the term “vig” in my article. But I will discuss all this shortly.

First, I want to praise Delegate Manoli Loupassi (R – RICHMOND) for standing up for the people with a gutsy letter featured in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

It is written to the Chairman of the House of Delegates Appropriation Committee.

It is featured in the excellent story by ace RTD reporter Michael Martz under the headline “Loupassi pushing for open bids on Shockoe project.”

With the entire Richmond political establishment lined up behind Mayor Jones’ No-Bid secretive scheme to give potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in sweetheart deals to their friends, a cynic may ask “what chance does the city’s lone Republican office-holder have in stopping the Mayor from paving over one of the most historic African-American areas in the country?”

It’s a fair question.

The public policy of Virginia, as Mr. Loupassi points out, is “that public dollars cannot be spent with favored or chosen individuals.”

Delegate Loupassi makes a seemingly fundamental point of honest government: “I cannot support state money being associated with the no-bid secretive negotiation process being used by the city.”

And that goes double for Richmond money, and Richmond public assets and Richmond public power.

Is Delegate Manoli Loupassi the new Hans Christian Anderson? But since he is a Republican, perhaps the right analogy is Mark Twain. The writer’s short story The Stolen White Elephant is generally considered to be the American inspiration for the term “The Elephant in the Room” used to describe the political problem everyone knows is there but pretends not to notice.

Earth to Richmond’s leaders — what do you think is going to happen to our city’s reputation when the state and national media start to focus on the fact the Mayor and City Council used a No-Bid rigged secretive deal making scheme to spread contracts worth potentially hundreds of millions of dollars to their political friends in order to pave over one of the most historic African-American areas in a scheme to avoid federal historic review, not to mention anti-corruption laws?

Plus the No-Bid scheme involves developers giving secret 20 percent ownership deals to unnamed firms who get a special certification only given out by, you guessed it, the Jones Administration!

Now, as indicated at the beginning, the Mayor and Mr. Salomonsky feel it is unfair for me to have pointed this out. Lou is a friend of mine, as people know I have said that and even in his darkest times, I never denied that.

But I write an honest column on political commentary, both for and for the Washington Post. I call it like I see it.

Moreover, I am not picking on Lou. The Mayor’s office, by its control over the actions of the Economic Development Authority, is the one dictating the 20 percent terms based on their representations to City Council.

Finally, in financing deals, the “vig is sometimes used to describe profits from advisory and other activities,” according to Wikipedia. Does the 20 percent qualify as “vig?” It depends on precisely what the deal for the 20 percent entails.

But City Hall, through the EDA, said the public doesn’t have a right to know even though Lou is getting the contract from a public agency.

I didn’t use the term “VIG” in my article. But as long as they have chosen to keep the details secret, then how can they complain if others use it? The No-Bid deals involve 20 percent here, 40 percent there and this is only what has been revealed so far, remember the EDA said it can keep any such deal secret if it wants.

Mr. Jefferson claimed some things are self-evident. Indeed.

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.