Sunday, April 26, 2009

Are you looking for work in Richmond, Virginia? *

A couple of good friends are unemployed and looking for work; so whenever I come across a job listing website I'm sure to pass it on. I thought it would be helpful to a broader audience to list the resources I have found for job listings in Richmond, Virginia.

The Virginia Employment Commission
Capitol Region Workforce Center


Richmond Career Advancement
201 W Broad St
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 225-9017‎

* Or do you know of other resources that should be linked to here. Leave a comment.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fan and Museum District Associations Organize Info Session on Proposed Shockoe Center Ballpark

On April 22, 2009 Paul W. Kreckman from Highwoods Properties [the master developer of the proposed project] and Bryan T. Bostic [an investor with Richmond Baseball Club LLC] discussed the proposal to build a ballpark in Shockoe Bottom with interested citizens at Albert Hill Elementary School.

The meeting was organized by the Museum District Association and the Fan District Association and was attended by Council members Bruce Tyler [1st District], Charles Samuels [2nd District], and Marty Jewell [6th District].

The first video is the presentation given by developer Kreckman and investor Bostic. Mr. Bostic begins speaking at 32:00 minutes

The second video includes questions that were asked by assembled citizens in attendance.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

GRTC presentation on Transfer Center at Main Street Station

This meeting of Richmond City Council's Land Use, Housing and Transportation Committee occurred on Tuesday March 17, 2009. John M. Lewis, Jr., Chief Executive Officer of GRTC, spoke to members of Council present [Doug Conner (9th) and Ellen Robertson (6th)] about the proposed Bus Transfer Center at Main St. Station in Shockoe Bottom. This video, includes an interesting [and glitchy] computer animation of what GRTC is proposing for the Transfer Center, namely a couple of long ramps running along the shed located directly behind the train station. On April 16, The Times-Dispatch ran an article entitled "Bus transfer station in Shockoe Bottom opposed." The article reported that the Richmond Slave Trail Commission, the Shockoe Bottom Neighborhood Association, and Historic Shockoe Partnership oppose the project. Bruce Tyler, Councilman from the 1st District, has also been vocally opposed to the project as well.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Ellen Robertson's Hip Hop Community Meeting / Cannon Creek Greenway / Matthew Heights Replacement

Ellen Robertson held two community meetings in the 6th District on Saturday April 11, 2009. The first was held at the Bank of America building in Downtown Richmond from 10 to noon. The second meeting was held at Overby-Sheppard on the North Side.

Overby-Sheppard was still locked at 2 o'clock when the meeting was supposed to begin. We didn't get in for another 25 minutes. It was cold and windy too. Only about 20 people came out for the meeting. There were chairs for 200.

From Richmond City Council Reporter & Telegraph

Matthew Smith [aka "Fundamental"] opened up the meeting by performing a couple of songs. The video below, combines the a cappella versions of "Death of a MC" and "What if I was Obama?" from the beginning of the meeting and the song performed at the end of the meeting, "Maybe." For more information about Fundamental,

Charles Price talked to the assembled citizens about continuing momentum for the Cannon Creek Greenway. He suggested incorporating as a nonprofit to enable the organization to raise funds and support the Greenway. Charles' talk was a plea for community buy-in, participation, input, and support.

Smitty Smith from the Southside Community Development and Housing Corporation spoke to the group about the conceptual progress for the replacement development to replace Matthew Heights. Previously there had been talk of a highrise and row houses but Mr. Smith said residents at a previous meeting had expressed interest in seeing single family detached houses developed and that is what his organization is pursuing.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Review Blowout - Last Week

Get the City of Richmond Fiscal Year 2010 - 2011 Budget here.

Here are some assembled videos from Richmond City Council's Finance Committee review of Mayor Jones FY 2010- 2011 Budget that occurred this past week, April 7 - 9. I've broken them down by discussion topic. Hopefully that will make it easier to watch the specific items you are interested in.

Tuesday, April 7

I'll be updating these presentations as I am able to. It takes a lot of time uploading movies.

Wednesday, April 8

Community Development Block Grant [CDBG] Budget

View / Download Proposed CDBG 2010 Budget by Line Item

Thursday, April 9

Dept. of Economic Development

View / Download Dept. of Economic Development's Presentation

Friday, April 10, 2009

Two Interesting Stories from RTD in Last Two Days - 100th Anniversary

The Richmond Times Dispatch recently reported two stories that I found particularly interesting. In yesterday's newspaper, it was reported in an article entitled "Richmond looks to reassign workers to avoid layoffs" that Mayor Jones' budget proposed to eliminate 150 positions bringing the city's number of employees, "non-school, full-time-equivalent positions from 5,108.6 to 4,958.94."

This is interesting because the "total number of city employees" that has been thrown around at City Hall for the last few years has been 4000. Recently and notably by Dr. Tyrone Jackson, Richmond's Director of Human Resources. Listen here as Dr. Jackson references the city's "4000 plus" employees during his presentation to the Governmental Operations Committee on February 26, 2009.

However, the Times-Dispatch article took no exception to this discrepancy, even though it represents a difference of 20% over what had been the conventional wisdom on the employment number. The above example is the sort of thing that bloggers and watchdogs can be effective at exposing. And with the ease of digital recording, it makes it easier to hold people accountable and serves as an aid to remember what they said. It also highlights, the failure of our newspapers to be a valuable asset in assisting the public to make informed decisions about our government.

The second story I was interested to read in today's newspaper was entitled, "Richmond jail inmates to pay $1 a day." The article stated that it would generate $500,000 annually. The jail's current operating budget is $30 million. I think that is a crummy idea and is petty "feel good" act of meanness towards individuals whose lives are already being destroyed by their mere jail sentences. The best way to save money at the City Jail is to reduce the number of people in the jail. Deal with the mentally ill in an appropriate manner and don't jail non-violent and drug offenders and release individuals who can't pay their bonds when such bond is less than $500.

Today marks 100 days of blogging the Richmond City Council Reporter and Telegraph.

It has evolved in that short time. I have decided to focus more on the video format. After three years of making audio recordings at Council meetings, I recently bought a video camera and have been filming the Council meetings. The videos are so much more compelling to watch than the audio recordings were to listen to. There is so much going on in the videos and visual signs of the speakers show meaning that is not captured in an audio recording.

I'm still trying to figure out how I should be making videos. The long format, entire meeting is nice but I know people would be more inclined to watch a ten minute summary. I will experiment and try to come up with different ways to present information. And be sure to leave feedback when you think something is working or not working. And let me know what you want to see.

A couple of weeks ago I thought I was going to give up on this blog. I didn't and in the last couple of weeks, I have really put a lot of work into it. I hope I can keep it up. It is taking up a lot of time and space.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

New Mayor vs. Old Mayor

I am in a unique position to make some casual observations about differences I see in the administrations of former Mayor Douglas Wilder and our new Mayor Dwight C. Jones.

Granted these observations are being made only 100 days into the Jones Administration. To date, Mayor Jones' chief accomplishment is the creation of a two year budget [ get the 17 MB 400 page PDF ]. Proposed $629.6 million for the Fiscal Year 2010 beginning July 1, 2009; and $636.5 million the following year. The current fiscal year budget that was just formally adopted on March 23 is $655.3 million.

Mayor Wilder took a more assertive and confrontational tone with the Council. Gone are the days of long speeches delivered from the pulpit of Council Chambers' floor. I've got to admit it was entertaining, but it was also a waste of money, and no way to conduct a government.

A distinct policy change with the new Mayor is improved communication between department heads and the Council and more openness for directors to speak with reporters and citizens. Mayor Wilder had restricted Council's ability to speak directly with department heads and all questions were to be directed through Linwood Norman, Wilder's Press Secretary. It was a ridiculous policy but it was implemented. At the end of his term, sometimes members of the Administration were not even present at Council committee meetings to present legislation that was being sponsored by Mayor Wilder.

Another notable difference is that no top staffer such as Chris Beschler [Acting CAO], Michael Terry [Acting CFO], Suzette Denslow [Mayor Jones Chief of Staff], or David Hicks [Jones' Senior Policy Advisor] has yet emerged as a strong surrogate for Mayor Jones. In the Wilder Administration, Kim Neal [Wilder's Senior Policy Advisor] and Harry Black [Wilder's Chief Financial Officer and Acting Chief Adminstrative Officer] often presented reports to the City Council and advised the Council of the Wilder Administration's positions.

Mayor Jones is also doing a good job meeting with Council members' constituents at Town Hall meetings. I have seen him at a couple of neighborhood events. And he is always willing to take questions.

If you have some memories of the Wilder administration or impressions of the Jones' Administration, leave a comment.

Citizen Comment Against the Use of Inmate Labor in Richmond, Virginia

In a rare act of public inclusion at a budget work session at Wednesday's meeting, Vice President Ellen Robertson opened the floor for citizen comments and since I was the only "citizen" in the room, she made a direct appeal to me to see if I had anything I would like to add.

Earlier in the meeting, the Finance Committee [Councilpersons Robertson, Bruce Tyler, and Charles Samuels] along with President Kathy Graziano, Councilman Jewell, and Interim Member Betty Squire were given a presentation on the Community Development Block Grant (aka CDBG) budget. CDBG is grant money from the Federal Government to fund lots of worthwhile programs like Emergency Shelter Grants, Housing for Persons with AIDS [HOPWA], housing revitalization and code enforcement.

However, there is an obscure line item, entitled, "Environmental Code Enforcement." This program is operated by the Department of Community Development, the Sheriff's Office, and a private contractor. Inmates at the City Jail are paid $10 for 8 hours of labor to do things like cut grass, trees and remove brush. The program is proposed to be funded at $260,000, an increase of $5000 over last year and it would be the third year of the program's existence.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

News on New Richmond City Jail

Council Vice President Ellen Robertson (6th District) and Finance Committee co-members Bruce Tyler (1st District) and Charles Samuels (2nd District) as well as Council President Kathy Graziano, Doug Conner (9th District), and Interim Council Member Betty Squire (7th District) attended the meeting.

This clip from Tuesday's Budget Work Session is the most significant description of the new jail that has been given to the Council.

Philip "Tony" Jones, Operations Manager, Facilities for the City of Richmond opens video discussing the proposed $250,000 in this year's budget for "stabilization of the [jail] building until we can build a new jail."

John Winter, Special Capital Projects Manager for the City of Richmond, Virginia discussed some design concepts and policy decisions that were going into the designing of the proposed new Richmond City jail. Mr. Winter said the total project cost would be $137.6 million. The rated capacity at the current city jail is 882, the inmate population varies between 1200 - 1500, usually at the higher end. The new facility would be built by 2013 at the current location and most of the old jail would be torn down. The new jail is proposed to have a rated capacity of 1032 and a key component of the jail would be the development of alternative programs to keep less serious offenders out of jail. This is to be implemented over the next 2 - 3 years.

There were about 30 people in the audience, all city employees whom I recognized for the most part. There were no other private citizens nor news media present at the meeting. Watch the video, it's only 16 minutes long.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Meetings This Week

Monday, April 6th - Council President Kathy Graziano chairs the Organizational Development Standing Committee at 5 PM in the 2nd Floor Large Conference Room at City Hall, located at 9th & East Broad Streets. All members of Council try to attend this regular monthly meeting on the first Monday of each month. There is no opportunity for citizen comment during this meeting unlike every other standing committee of the Council. Open to the public and free.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, April 7 - 9. Council Vice President and Chair of the Finance Standing Committee Ellen Robertson will conduct the Finance Committee's peering (and boring) inquiry into the minutia of departmental operations and financial reporting. The meetings will be held each day at 2 PM in Council Chambers, 2nd Floor Richmond City Hall. If you are newly laid off why not attend? Open to the public and free.