Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mayor Jones Holds First Town Hall Meeting at Southside Plaza

Cheerleading for the city. Short on substance, high on cheers from the congregation, citizens concerns directed to Department Directors. I was really surprised to see that Police Chief Bryan Norwood is a dynamic and motivating speaker. Very different from the two most recent police chiefs that I am familiar with. It really was City Hall on the Southside. This meeting felt like a pep rally for the city. Never been to a meeting like this before.

Watch the entire meeting below. [ 90 minutes ]

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Richmond City Council - July 27, 2009 - Downtown Master Plan Amended / City Jail Funding Accelerated

"Important Moments at Tonight's Meeting"

Above, approving the purchase of the Lehigh Cement property for $2 million. Ordinance 2009-153 [15 minutes]

Amending the Downtown Master Plan

Above, relatively low key affair to adopt the proposed amendments to the Downtown Master Plan, Ordinance 2009-117. The real excitement for the Master Plan was the Public Hearing that occurred at the July 13 meeting.

Richmond City Jail Construction Funding Is Accellerated

Appointments [ 3 minutes ]

Above, Orlando C. Artze appointed as a commissioner of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority [RRHA], Jeanne Boisineau appointed as a member of the Clean City Commission, William M. Hutchins appointed as a member of the Urban Design Committee (Planning Commission Representative).

Awards Period [ 36 minutes ]

RRHA 2009 Scholarship Winners: Francyne Hamilton, Theron Haynesworth, Shyneka Jones, Victoria Jones, Jennifer Tillery [Robertson presenting]

2009 Bank of America Leadership Internship Winners: Kimara Davis and Michael Harrison [Squire presenting]

Jesse Reynolds Awards from Dept. of Park, Recreation & Community Facilities to Wyatt Kingston, Charles Price, and Carmax Foundation

• Community Service Award: WRIR 97.3 FM [Samuels presenting]

• Community Service Award: Village Bank [Hilbert presenting]

Citizen Comment Period [ 20 minutes ]

Paul Hammond on Public Safety Downtown.

Donald Hatcher on Racial Prejudice in the City.

Arthur Burton speaking in support of Fattah Muhammad.

Followed by comments by Council persons Reva Trammell [8th], Marty Jewell [5th], and Chris Hilbert [3rd].

Announcements/Reports from Council Members [ 30 minutes ]

Consent Agenda

Regular Agenda

Watch Complete Meeting Unedited

Part 1

Part 2

Friday, July 24, 2009

Governmental Operations Committee Meeting July 23, 2009 - Report from City Auditor / Presentation from Sister City Commission

Richmond City Council's Governmental Operations Committee met on Thursday July 23, 2009 in the Large Conference room on the 2nd Floor of Richmond City Hall.

Councilman Marty Jewell (5th District), the chair of the Committee was late and did not start the meeting until 4:13 PM. I heard the same joke twice before Mr. Jewell arrived, "Mr. Jewell called and said he'd be here in 5 minutes; 10 minutes ago."

Most City Council meetings start late and I've complained about it numerous times. I think it is unprofessional and disrespectful of City Employees and the Public in attendance.

City Auditor Umesh Dalal provided a report on the work of the City Auditor's Office. He discussed policy clarifications regarding the release of audit results and opportunities for "auditees" to respond. He reported Richmond Public Schools' savings based on recommendations made by the Auditor.

A presentation was given to the Committee by three members of the Sister City Commission. But most of the talking was done by Commission Chair, My Lan Tran. Ms. Tran also works for the city as Program Manager for the Office of Minority Business Development.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

An Interesting Discussion of Sexual Orientation - Homosexuals and Pedophiles

This is clip is from Richmond City Council's June 17, 2009 Health, Human Services, and Education Committee Meeting.

The paper under consideration was Resolution 2009-R73 , which expresses to the Virginia General Assembly Richmond City Council's support for adding language that references "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to Virginia's public employee anti-discrimination law.

Patrons Chris Hilbert and Reva Trammell; and during the meeting Councilmen Marty Jewell and Doug Conner asked to be added as co-patrons.

I briefly spoke in support of the paper. [4:50]

The thing that makes this clip notable are the bizarre comments by Dr. Donald Stern, Director of the Richmond Health District, a state agency that manages the City's Health Department. [5:20] Dr. Stern expressed his concern that the phrases "gender identity" and "sexual orientation" would protect pedophiles. I thought it was a strange comment for a health professional to make.

Finance Committe Meeting - July 22, 2009 - "Accelerating" City Jail Construction Budget

Above, discussion of Ordinance 2009-145 to accelerate funding for the new Richmond City Jail. John Winter, Manager of Special Capital Projects from the Department of Public Works explained the paper.

Mr. Winter said these funds would be for used for procure and initiate the design phase and construction is planned to start Late Summer 2010. Mr. Winter said that the current fiscal year's budget [2010] was adopted at $2 million but they want to increase it to $17.6 million. The new City Jail's total projected cost is $137.6 million [$137,600,000].

This how it breaks down for this year's proposed budget:

$5 million = Projected Design Cost
$2 million = Site related work
$10 million = Phase I Construction, Mid-rise tower, 572 beds

Citizen Comment

Above, I spoke briefly about how the Council and Public weren't receiving sufficient information about this important project. This is the 3rd major presentation given to Council in recent months and the media (ie. Times Dispatch, Voice, Free Press or Style Weekly) has never been present to report this information to the public. Yet here they are asking for a major increase in their budget, and this money will be borrowed against the "City of the Future" line of credit established by Mayor Wilder and Harry Black.

Check out the guy in the upper right hand corner, blah, blah, blahhing, shaking his head, rolling his eyes. I guess he doesn't like transparency in government. His name is William A. Pace and on January 26, 2009 Richmond City Council appointed him a member of the Advisory Board of Recreation and Parks for a term of three years.



Richmond Public Schools Fund Balance

State PILOT Assessments & Collections – Department of Finance

Papers for Consideration

1. Ordinance 2009-43 (Patrons: Vice-President Robertson, Mr. Tyler and Mr. Samuels) – To amend *** the Code *** for the purpose of providing partial tax exemption in redevelopment or conservation areas or rehabilitation districts.

2. Ordinance 2009-129 (Patron: Mayor Jones) – To authorize the Acting Chief Administrative Officer to accept $1,078,936 from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and to appropriate the increase to the Fiscal Year 2009-2010 Special Fund Budget by increasing estimated revenues and the amount appropriated to the Department of Social Services by $1,078,936 for the purpose of providing funding for the Richmond Shelter Plus Care, Housing First and A Place to Start homeless assistance programs.

3. Ordinance 2009-133 (Patron: Mayor Jones) – To authorize the Acting Chief Administrative Officer, for and on behalf of the City of Richmond, to enter into the Sixteenth Commercial Area Revitalization Effort Program Cooperation Agreement between the City of Richmond and the Economic Development Authority for the purpose of providing for the operation of the Commercial Area Revitalization Effort (“CARE”) Program.

4. Ordinance 2009-134 (Patron: Mayor Jones) – To authorize the Acting Chief Administrative Officer, for and on behalf of the City of Richmond, to enter into the Sixth Extra CARE Agreement between the City of Richmond and the Economic Development Authority for the purpose of continuing the operation of the Extra Commercial Area Revitalization Effort (“Extra CARE”) Program in the Belt Boulevard and the Upper Hull Street commercial corridor.

5. Ordinance 2009-145 (Patron: Mayor Jones) – To amend Ord. No. 2009-64-87, adopted May 26, 2009, which (i) accepted a program of proposed Capital Improvement Projects for Fiscal Year 2009-2010 and the four fiscal years thereafter, (ii) adopted a Capital Budget for Fiscal Year 2009-2010 and (iii) determined a method of financing the same, to amend the Fiscal Year 2009-2010 Capital Budget by increasing revenues from Commercial Paper Line of Credit borrowings and the amount appropriated to the City Jail Improvement Project by $15,000,000 and to amend the Capital Improvement Program for Fiscal Year 2009-2010 and the four fiscal years thereafter by (i) increasing planned Commercial Paper Line of Credit borrowings and the planned appropriation to the City Jail Improvement Project by $17,600,000 in Fiscal Year 2010-2011 and by $13,100,000 in Fiscal Year 2011-2012 and (ii) decreasing planned Commercial Paper Line of Credit borrowings and the planned appropriation to the City Jail Improvement Project by $22,400,000 in Fiscal Year 2012-2013 and by $23,300,000 in Fiscal Year 2013-2014, for the purpose of accelerating funding for required improvements to the City Jail.

6. Ordinance 2009-146 (Patron: Mayor Jones) – To transfer and appropriate *** $800,000 *** to the Landmark Theater Renovation project in the City Facility Construction and Maintenance category for the purpose of providing additional funding to the “Phase IIA Performance & Performer Infrastructure Project” within the Landmark Theater Renovation project.

7. Res. No. 2009-R93 (Patron: President Graziano) - To approve an expenditure in the amount of $2,034.71 from the Council Districts Funds for the Fourth District to pay Reliance Mailing and Marketing for the mailing of the Fourth District Newsletter for the month of August.

8. Res. No. 2009-R94 (Patron: Mr. Samuels) - To approve an expenditure in the amount of $1,600.00 from the Council Districts Funds for the Second District to pay Reliance Mailing Corporation for sorting, labeling and mailing the Second District Newsletter.

9. Res. No. 2009-R95 (Patron: Mr. Hilbert) - To approve an expenditure in the amount of $1,090 from the Council Districts Funds for the Third District to pay Magic Carpet Bus Tours for transportation to the Smithsonian Museum on July 23, 2009, for the summer camp program held at Battery Park.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Land Use, Housing Transportation Committee Meeting - July 21, 2009

Land Use, Housing Transportation Committee Meeting - July 21, 2009

Monroe Park Improvements Planned by Monroe Park Advisory Council – Presented by Turk Sties, member of the Advisory Council.

Central VA Waste Management Authority (CVWMA)
Presentation – Kim Hynes, Executive Director, CVWMA

Shockoe Bottom Medical Center Proposal
– Presentation from Paul Goldman

Anticipated Legislation - VDOT

Papers for Consideration

1. Ord. No. 2008-189 (Patron: Mr. Hilbert) - To prohibit the installation of a roundabout at the intersection of Hermitage Road and Laburnum Avenue. (Forward to Council with No Recommendation)

6. Res. No. 2009-R92 (Patron: Mayor Jones) – To *** execute and file an application to the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation for a grant of financial assistance to defray the costs born by the City for operating and security expenses at Main Street Station.

Real Estate

7. Ord. No. 2009-149 (Patron: Mayor Jones, By Request) - To *** execute the First Amendment to Real Estate Purchase and Sale and Option Agreement between the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Virginia Public Building Authority and the City of Richmond for the purpose of releasing and discharging the City from its obligation to lease 350 parking spaces at a parking deck located at the intersection of 14th Street and East Main Street.

8. Ord. No. 2009-150 (Patron: Mayor Jones) - To *** execute the Second Option to Renew and Amend Lease Agreement with American Tower, Inc. for the purpose of allowing American Tower, Inc. to continue to operate existing telecommunication equipment on Fire Station No. 25 at 8800 Huguenot Road.

9. Ord. No. 2009-151 (Patron: Mayor Jones) - To *** execute the First Option to Renew and Amend Sublicense Agreement with T-Mobile Northeast, LLC *** to continue to operate an existing telecommunication tower on Fire Station No. 25 at 8800 Huguenot Road.

10. Ord. No. 2009-152 (Patron: Mayor Jones) - To *** execute the Second Option to Renew and Amend Lease Agreement between New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC and the City of Richmond *** to continue operating existing telecommunication equipment on the City’s Forest Hill Water Tank at 7945 Forest Hill Avenue.

11. Ord. No. 2009-153 (Patron: Mayor Jones) - To authorize the acquisition of the real estate *** 3111 Water Street from Lehigh Cement Company LLC for the purchase price of $2,000,000 for the purpose of providing an open public space and a public park along the river to complement the Virginia Capital Trail.

Board Vacancies

Urban Design Committee – reappointment of Hampton Carver
Building Code Board of Appeals – reappointment of Thomas K.Davis, James Snowa, Robert L. Easter, C. Nelson Williams and William P. Lafoon

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Electric Guard Dog Fence Company Wants to Electrocute You - July 20, 2009

Richmond City Council's Public Safety Committee met on Monday July 20, 2009 at the Richmond Police Academy. The meeting began at 5:03 PM.

Above, the meeting opened with comments from five individuals. Normally there may be one or two, many times there are none. Jim Szilagyi, owner of Plaza Bowl [ one of the few remaining and original Duck Pin Bowling Alleys] spoke to the committee about recently being cited by CAPS for code violations and stated there was no clear path for his business to comply with or an established process to address issues and still stay in business. A man representing the bowlers at Plaza Bowl also spoke in support of the city working to assist Plaza Bowl.

[17:30] Council regular and concerned citizen, Linda Herman spoke on three items, 1) Tree Maintenance / Danger of falling tree limbs 2) Mopeds and Bicycles not following the Rules of the Road and 3) Cars blocking the intersection of Broad and Belvedere during morning and evening rush hour traffic.

[26:30] William Andrews, self described resident of the 8th District and Lieutenant for the Richmond Fire Department, presented a proposal to the Committee to require bicyclists to be licensed. He also complained about bicyclist not following the Rules of the Road.

[31:00] Then I spoke. I agreed with Ms. Herman's concern about the intersection of Belvedere and Broad and suggested they post "Don't Block the Box - $250 Fine" signs. I expressed my opposition to Mr. Andrews' suggestion that bicyclists should be licensed but I agreed that there ought to be more awareness raised regarding better bicycle behavior. The #1 complaint I hear is bicyclists riding the wrong way on a one way street.

I also presented a petition to the Committee which had been signed by 29 individuals requesting the Council to adopt an ordinance lowering the fine for not having lights on your bicycle from $100 to $15. I also read several comments from individuals who had signed the petition.

Above, Irvin Carter, Budget Manager at the Sheriff's Office discussed the program where inmates are charged a dollar a day. Mr. Carter reported it cost $47 a day to keep an inmate or as the Sheriff's office prefers to call them, "residents." [ See ] He also said between April 17 and

[16:30] Next, Chris Beschler, Deputy CAO of Operations gave a thorough report to the Committee describing the timeline and plan for construction of the new City Jail.

Above, it wasn't listed as a presentation to the Committee on the Agenda, but Cindy Vaughn from Electric Guard Dog Company [Columbia, South Carolina] made a presentation about her company's electric fence. The presentation was related to the committee's discussion and review of Ordinace 2009-143 , which would allow electric fences, currently all electric fences are prohibited within the City's limits.

A number of business men were there to speak in support of the electric fence.

Dick Menendez, Chief Operations Officer of Richmond Auto Auction. [1:17:30]

Bill Stratton of Stratton Metals on Brooke Road reported he had installed the fence in mid-2005. [1:25:40]

Kenneth Treat, Terminal Manager for Old Dominion Trucking. [1:29:40]

And an individual representing Wayne Bombard Trucking. [1:31:50]

I spoke in opposition to the ordinance. [1:32:45]

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sign a Petition to Reduce Fine for Riding a Bicycle without a Light in Richmond, Virginia

I created the petition below in response to hearing from a friend that she had received a ticket for riding her bicycle without lights over the weekend. A $100 fine is too much to bear. Sign the petition below to help reduce excessive penalties against bicycle riders.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

We, the undersigned, request that Richmond City Council reduce the fine for bicyclists who ride a bicycle at night without lights from $100 to $15.

Whereas, bicycle riding is a healthy form of transportation that is good for rider and the environment; the City Council should value and encourage the contribution that bicyclists make to reducing the impact of transportation to the city and the environment.

Whereas, bicycles are predominately ridden with young people, students, and the low income; a $100 fine presents a financial hardship for the majority of bicycle riders. On July 24, 2009 the Federal Minimum Wage was raised to $7.25. A $100 fine represents over 13.5 hours of labor at minimum wage, or over a third of an employee's weekly wages.

Whereas, most bicycles are equipped with reflectors, the bicycles are visible at night by reflecting the headlights of oncoming automobiles.

We object to the $100 fine and request the City Council to create an ordinance which would reduce the fine to $15.

Click here to sign the petition

Thursday, July 16, 2009

On Coordinating After-School Programs, Homelessness Prevention, and Councilman Jewell Rails Against Corporate Richmond and Homeward

Mr. Hilbert (3rd District), the Chair of Richmond City Council's Health, Human Services, and Education Committee is out of town. At Monday's Council Meeting, it was reported he is in Colorado. In his place, Councilman Marty Jewell (5th District) chaired the meeting. Councilman and Committee member Doug Conner (9th District) was present. Councilman Bruce Tyler (Committee Alternate, 1st District) reported he would be absent. Council President Kathy Grazinano (4th District) arrived at 5:19, stayed for about half an hour and participated in the discussion on coordinating after school programs for Richmond youths.

No other members of the press were in attendance. I was the only speaker during the Citizen Comment Period. I commented I would appreciate if the meetings started no later than 5 minutes after the hour. Today's meeting began ten minutes late. The last Council meeting did not start until 6:15 PM. I also objected to the minutes, because they were vague; the minutes reported "Joyce Davis, Policy Analyst, provided information to the Committee." I offered an amendment to the minutes which the Committee did not adopt requesting the minutes reference Ms. Davis's report was on transfat and discussed possible legislative action that the Council could take regarding the use of transfat oils by local restaurants.

Two major discussions occurred during this 2 hour long meeting. The first was a discussion of the coordination of after school programs between area non-profits, Richmond Public Schools, and the Department of Parks and Recreation [begins at minute 4:15 / concludes by 46:06 minutes ]. Sandra "Sandy" Booth, Manager of Community Initiatives: Children, Youth, & Families with United Way, gave a slide presentation to the Committee and described the work that her group is doing to improve access, quality, coordination, and policies for after school programs utilizing national best practices and exploring training opportunities. Program partners include Altria (Philip Morris), Art 180 , Boys and Girls Clubs , Team Up Richmond, and Feed More.

The second major topic of discussion was Ordinance 2009-144. The paper seeks to take advantage of $2 million+ in Stimulus Funds to prevent homelessness and to fund a "Rapid Rehousing Program."

This discussion begins at minute 46:00 and continues for about an hour. More details soon.

Marty Jewell's tirade against Corporate Richmond and it's child, Homeward can be heard at 1 hour, 36 minutes

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Amending the Downtown Master Plan - Villains and Heros

Above, footage from Monday night's Council meeting held on July 13, 2009 includes the complete discussion of the proposed amendments to Richmond's Downtown Master Plan. This is as exciting as it gets for a City Council meeting. Enjoy it.

The clip opens with Brooke Hardin from the Department of Community Development describing the proposed changes, followed by comments from the public. Council discussion began with Councilman Marty Jewell (5th District) immediately seconding the request made by the attorney for Echo Harbor to strike language they did not like. Mr. Jewell's reckless motion was seconded by the Reva Tramell (8th District) and supported by Bruce Tyler (1st District) and Doug Conner (9th District).

Charles Samuels (2nd District) was the hero of the evening -- delivery a worthy speech at a crucial moment. The final vote was 4 - 4. The motion failed, thankfully.

The final Public Hearing on the Amendments to the Downtown Master Plan will be held on Monday July 27, 2009.

The First Two Hours of this Almost Four and a Half Hour Meeting

This unedited portion of video includes the meeting prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, Roll Call, Amendments to the Agenda, the Awards Period [at 9:00, which is broken out and detailed below]. At 37:20, Council President Graziano introduced Peter H. Chapman, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer [CAO] for Economic and Community Development, he didn't say much.


Citizen Comment Period begins at 38:30
Approval of Minutes [56:30]
Standing Committee Reports and Announcement from Council Members [57:30]
Review of Items on Consent Agenda [1:16:30]
Citizen Comment on the Consent Agenda [1:21:30]

the Consent Agenda,

Marty Jewell's Comments

Above, Councilman Marty Jewell argued for striking the language from the Downtown Master Plan as requested by the attorney from Echo Harbor and offered a motion to that effect. Councilwoman Reva Trammell seconded the motion. Bruce Tyler and Doug Conner also voted to support the motion. However, the motion failed on a vote of 4 to 4.

What the Echo Harbor Attorney Said and What a Couple of People Said

Above, comments from USP Echo Harbor, LLC attorney Jim Theobald to Richmond City Council during the public hearing on proposed amendments to the Downtown Master Plan. His comments are followed by comments from Thad Williamson and Eugenia Anderson Ellis, both citizens of Richmond, Virginia.

Awards Period

Above, many awards on this night.

Council President Kathy Graziano (4th District) and new CAO Byron C. Marshall presented an Official Joint Proclamation, officially declaring July 2009 as Richmond Public Park, Recreation and Community Facilities Month. J. R. Pope, director of the Department, accepted the award on behalf of the employees of the department, many of whom were in the audience.

Councilwoman Ellen Robertson (6th District) presented an Official Welcome to the 2009 Richmond Microscopy & Microanalysis Conference that will be held at the Richmond Convention Center July 26 - 30, 2009. The welcome was received by Carolyn Marks and Edwina "Winnie" Westbrook [the wife of John Westbrook, Ellen Robertson's Legislative Assistant], two of the four organizers of the Conference. A free event, open to the public, will be held on June 29 at 8:30 AM entitled "Microscopy in the Classroom."

Councilwoman Reva Trammell presented a Community Service award to the Mr. Yong Hak Lee and Mrs. Keum Ho Lee, owners of the Satellite Restaurant and Lounge / Crab House for their willingness to host community meetings at their restaurant [such as the one last week organized by Councilwoman Trammell for business owners to discuss the recent robbery and shooting and other recent crime on the Southside].

Councilman Charles Samuels presented an Official Recognition to the Braille Circulation Library founded in 1925. The recognition was received by Rev. Brian J. Barton, Sr., Executive Director and Board Members, Melody Lindsey and Maurice Bray.

Councilman Samuels also presented an Official Recognition to WDYL (Y101) celebrating their 10th Anniversary and their service to the Richmond-Metro area.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

6th District Monthly Meeting: All about Richmond Public Schools

Noticeably absent from Saturday's meeting were Councilwoman Ellen Robertson and her Legislative Assistant John Westbrook. In their place, 6th District School Board member and Chair Chandra Smith opened the meeting.

Richmond Public Schools was the topic of the meeting. Items discussed included the "Choice" campaign to promote Richmond's public schools as an alternative to private school. Superintendant Dr. Yvonne Brandon did much of the talking. Other topics of discussion were the School Board's adopted budget [FY2010 plan totals $259.9 million, $9.7 million or 3.59% less than FY2009] and plans to expand Franklin Military to include 6th graders. SOAR program and much, much more.