How Mayor Jones expects to win Shockoe Stadium vote

Posted at 11:48 AM, May 30, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-30 11:48:12-04

RICHMOND, Va. – What is Mayor Jones’ political strategy to win the fifth vote necessary to build his Shockoe Stadium, despite overwhelming public opposition? A unique literary technique developed by legendary Pulitzer-Prize winning New York Times columnist William Safire can help answer the question.

Safire once praised my OPED column for the New York Times, or so I was told, saying I had used a spin-off from his “reading the mind of” technique. Safire created this approach to let him present to readers a top office-holder’s possible reasoning on a hot issue. So here goes a try.


The scene: The Mayor is at a favorite restaurant, the meal finished, sitting back and enjoying the finest cigar, regularly flicking the ashes in an expensive ashtray.

“So David thinks I should toss in the towel on the Stadium, that I lost the political “spin” when the No-Bid sweetheart contract aspect gained traction. He’s got a point, my Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial page backers panicked once certain clauses were revealed. But like LBJ said about advisors who wanted to cut and run on the Vietnam War, they are just a bunch of “nervous nellies.”

Michelle Mosby went on radio the other night and said I could win a Stadium referendum if the Council put it on the ballot. She used to be a little shaky, like Ellen and Cynthia. But they are a solid threesome on Council now.

That’s been true since I played the race card against white council members claiming they were insensitive to the heritage and anti-poverty aspects of my Shockoe proposal.

Henry Marsh taught me how to play that game and keep folks in line.

Kathy Graziano tells me my Shockoe Stadium got overwhelming support at her 4th district meetings. She’s a staunch GOP conservative who is 100 percent sold on the financing. She and Ellen have been great in saying all that No-Bid, sweetheart deal criticism isn’t true, these are private contracts.

Of course, they are dead wrong here as Michael Martz’s and Graham Moomaw’s pieces in the RTD have made clear. That’s politics.

Truth is, the hard vote is 4-2 in my favor. My four ain’t budging, same for Reva and Parker in opposition.

The media and the public haven’t figured out the big secret here, if Baliles, Samuels and Hilbert had told the business community and me from jump street they couldn’t back a stadium in the Bottom, why would I risk my reputation, that of the business community, the RTD and my political allies on a hopeless deal?

Some of my people feel those three doubled crossed us. Anything is possible, but I don’t believe it.

Besides, it enabled me to use them to kill the referendum, the only thing I actually fear.

Baliles has raised some financial issues, Samuels some technical and informational ones and Hilbert has said he will not be the one to kill the heritage/anti-poverty piece.

Truth is, I dropped the ball and didn’t get them the answers they wanted.  That’s on me.

Kathy is my key here.  She’s been saying, Ellen too, that I got to repackage the Shockoe Stadium proposal, whether fair or not, in light of all the recent stuff on the Economic Development Authority, the lease requirements of Section 9 of the State Constitution, the No-Bid stuff, guaranteed secret pieces of deals, all that stuff.

They have a point. The Council liked what my new guy said on saving the Shockoe history last Tuesday.

So maybe they are right, maybe I need some new folks out front. Maybe I should pull back Byron and Berry and the others. Ellen and Kathy are well respected by Jon, Charles and Chris.

Get them more out front, the business folks too. They know it is a great deal for the city.

I need to surround myself with them. ”

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.