Monday, November 30, 2009

Chapman on Economic Development & Community Development Department Reorganization

Opening of Governmental Operations - Nov. 30, 2009 - Citizen Comment & Supporting Vo-Tech from Silver Persinger.

Chapman Speaks Language of Efficient Bureaucrat - Nov. 3, 2009 from Silver Persinger.

On Monday, November 30, Peter Chapman, Deputy CAO for Economic and Community Development spoke to the Governmental Operations Committee about four ordinances related to the restructuring/combination of the Department of Community Development with the Department of Economic Development.

Jim Duval, City Debt Manager on Recovery Zone Bonds & the Rest of the Meeting - Nov. 30, 2009 from Silver Persinger.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Union Hill Historic District Approved / $600,000 for Stallings' Hippodrome delayed / Towing Fees paper continued

The meeting began at 6:13 PM. The meeting opened with a prayer by Pastor Dr. Randy Clipp of Monument Heights Baptist Church, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, Fire Evacuation Instructions, Acknowledging Visiting Students from St. Paul's College and their professor/Brunswick County Board of Supervisor, Marc Finney, "O' Virginia" sung by students of George Mason Elementary School [written by Pauron and Pauline Wheeler, also present], Awards and Presentations Period, Appointments and re-appointments to Boards and Commissions, Amendments to the Agenda.

Beginning of Nov. 23, 2009 Richmond, Virginia City Council Meeting from Silver Persinger.

The Awards Period recipients for Nov. 23, 2009 included:

Richard Minter, for his dedication to beautifying the Ginter Park Neighborhood. Presented by Councilman Chris Hilbert [3rd District].

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Lorae Ponder, Vice President, Programs and Operations, Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia;

Paula Sherman, Coordinator, Lending Protection, Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia;

Keith Combs, Area Director, ClearPoint;

Michele Watson
, Director of Home Ownership Programs, Virginia Housing Development Authority;

Kelly Gill-Gordon, Manager, Home ownership Virginia Housing Development Authority;

Dianna Herdon, Executive Director, Southside Community Development and Housing Corporation;

Tanya Davis, Housing Counselor, Southside Community Development and Housing Corporation.

These individuals were "officially recognized" for their assistance with the 2009 Richmond Homeowner Foreclosure Prevention Program held Saturday in October.

Union Hill Discussed and Approved by Richmond City Council - Nov. 23, 2009 from Silver Persinger.

Bonus Footage

Students from George Mason Elementary School sang "O' Virginia" just prior to the Council meeting starting at 6:13 PM. I think this was a better performance than the one that occurred during the meeting. It's also nice because the lights are on.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

$600,000 Grant to Ron Stallings?

At Thursday's Finance Committee meeting the committee discussed Ordinance 2008-217 which proposes a grant of $600,000 to help finance the redevelopment of the Hippodrome Theatre. This money would not be paid back to the City but it is expected the City would see a return on its investment through increased assessments, meals and admission taxes, and theoretically the theatre would act as a stimulus to other development on Second Street. The project is being headed by Ron Stallings and another developer Kelvin Hansen. Mr. Hansen owns the property next door, formerly the Elks' Lodge, at 526 N. 2nd Street. The total project is valued at $12.1 million. This discussion follows on the heels of Mayor Jones' announcement this week that the City is expecting to see a projected revenue shortfall of $10 million for FY 2010.

Watch the discussion.

$600,000 Grant for Ron Stallings? from Silver Persinger.

View the original ordinance from 2004 which was patroned by former City Manager Calvin Jamison and proposed to give $800,000 to the developers, Ordinance 2004-246-247.

Mr. Stallings has contributed money to the campaigns of City Council members Bill Pantele [former 2nd District], Chris Hilbert [3rd District], and Ellen Robertson [6th District]. More details here.

This is also interesting to consider: How did Mr. Stallings get The Hippodrome Theatre in 2006 for $0 when it is currently assessed at $520,000?

Also interesting to note, $600,000 is the same amount RRHA is projecting as a shortfall for their Housing Voucher Program. Wouldn't this money be better spent assisting low income folks with housing than helping a developer with his for profit development?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

School Construction Plan Being Rushed with Little Opportunity for Council Oversight

On Monday, Richmond City School Board approved a schedule of schools to be built. At City Council's Land Use, Housing & Transportation Committee Meeting on Tuesday, the committee receive a presentation from John Winter, the City's Special Capital Project Manager and Jim Damm, Public School's Interim Chief Operations Officer. Mr. Winter and Mr. Damm also appeared at Wednesday's Health, Human Services & Education Committee meeting and made another presentation. Wednesday's presentation is below.

Accelerating School Construction Plan - Nov. 18, 2009 @ Health, Human Services, & Education from Silver Persinger.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Public Safety Committee - Raising Towing Rates, Fire Dept. Overtime, & Tethering Ordinance

Towing Rates Debate Continues - Nov. 16, 2009 @ Public Safety from Silver Persinger.

Fire Dept. Overtime & Staffing - Nov. 16, 2009 @ Public Safety from Silver Persinger.

Enforcing the Tethering Ordinance - Nov. 16, 2009 @ Public Safety from Silver Persinger.

Mayor Jones Announces new Deputy CAO of Social Services and Two Directors

Mayor Dwight Jones' executive team is now complete with the appointment of Carolyn N. Graham, lately of Washington, DC, to the position of Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Human Services.

Mayor Jones also apointed Doris D. Moseley to the position of Director of Richmond City Department of Social Services, and Charles J. Kehoe, Superintendent of the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center, has been appointed Director of the Department of Justice Services, replacing Doris Moseley.

Learn more about the individuals by reading the Mayor's Press Release.

Read a corrective press release issued three days later which corrects misinformation in the initial press release about Ms. Graham's educational background.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Towing, Democracy & Citizenship

Richmond City Council - Nov. 9, 2009 from Silver Persinger.

Above, view the entire meeting.

* * * Hi-Lights * * *

The most important business of the evening was discussion of Ordinance 2009-186 to raise maximum allowable fees on towing and storage fees. From $65 to $125 for towing and from $20 to $35 per day to store your car after the first 24 hours.

Ord. 2009- 186 To Raise Towing & Storage Fees for Cars towed from Private Property from Silver Persinger.

Listen to the discussion. The paper was continued until the next meeting. Council persons did not object to the fees but said they wanted clarification on issues related to signage and penalties for towing companies that violate the law.

Citizen Comment Period

Citizen Comment Period - Nov. 9, 2009 - Football / Veterans / Citizenship / Roundabout from Silver Persinger.

Speakers included Bernice Travers and Darryl L. Badley, Jr. speaking about the upcoming Armstrong & Walker Classic Football Game to be held at Virginia Union on November 14. Cliff Troutman spoke on Wreaths Across America. Silver Persinger spoke against Council's recent decision to move the Citizen Comment Period later on the Agenda. Sue Barlett, owner of BEX Logistics, spoke in opposition to the proposed roundabout for Holly Springs Avenue and Maury Street.

Awards & Presentations

Awards & Presentation Period - Nov. 9, 2009 from Silver Persinger.

Groups receiving Community Serice Awards included HandsOn Greater Richmond, Friends of Chimborazo Playground, Radio One, and Virginia Voice. Valerie M. Salaam, a Council Policy Analysis who is leaving her position was also given a Public Service Award in private and did not receive the award publicly.

Informal Session - November 9, 2009 - Storm Water Fee / Weaver Report

Informal Session - Nov. 9, 2009 - Storm Water Fee / Boards & Commissions / Weaver Report from Silver Persinger.

Includes Deputy CAO of Operations Christopher Beschler discussing the storm water fee and how it is derived. Docket Review for the evening's meeting. Council discussion of Boards, Commissions and Authorities, which to abolish and how to manage. Chris Hilbert [3rd District] recommended that applicants be asked if they do business with the city; to avoid potential conflicts of interests and to promote transparency.

Discussion by City Clerk Lou B. Ali on developing orientation for new Board and Commission appointees and holding a recognition ceremony for volunteers in April 2010.

Council Chief of Staff Daisy Weaver gave a report. Discussed the CIP [Capital Improvement Program] Budget. Bruce Tyler [1st District] asked about the cost of the City Jail. Ms. Weaver reported the administration was late in delivering three reports to the Council. Reva Trammell [8th District] mentioned briefly a deal she was working on for the Model Tobacco building, possibly a bond financed through RRHA.

Ms. Weaver announced her desire to hire Ralph Harris, who currently serves as one of Council's Fiscal Analysts, as her Deputy Chief of Staff. Ms. Trammell offered some protest to the proposed "promotion."

There have been other recent changes to Council's staff recently. Felicia Craighead, until recently served as a Deputy City Clerk. Three employees under the supervision of Ms. Weaver have recently left their positions. Angela Montgomery, formerly a Policy Analyst left her position in August, and recently Valerie Salaam [Policy Analyst] and Anthony Dale [Budget Analyst] have left what had formerly been described as the "Department of Legislative Services." The handling of this department by Council's Chief of Staff Ms. Weaver, has been an object of constant criticism by this blogger.

The Department is supposed to have a Director and it did briefly in the person of Ellen Bowyer, the only individual fired by former Mayor Douglas Wilder and Acting CAO Harry Black for not re-applying for her job with the Council. Since that time, Ms. Weaver has assumed the duties of the Director and also continues in her role as Council's Chief of Staff.

In my opinion, Ms. Weaver is an ineffective manager who lacks leadership in her direction of legislative policy. She merely exhibits a semblance of formality and process. Ms. Weaver worked for twenty years in the City's Budget Office, but I don't think that is an adequate qualification for directing legislative policies.

I think the lack of an effective Director of Legislative Services is the greatest contributor to the lack of success and effectiveness of the Richmond City Council.