Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year from the Richmond Telegraph : An Editorial

This blog is one year old. Over the year I've posted 120 entries and entertained over 7400 visitors. Some of the posts were simply reprinting of Press Releases from Mayor Jones' office announcing some new appointee. Sometimes, the post included an article and many times the only item posted was a video of the meeting with no report. My preference is to have report accompany the video. It is important to have keywords -- names, projects, developers, etc. to make the video even more accessible to the people who are interested in watching the video and don't even know it.

If you ever see a video without an article, feel free to write one and submit it to me. I will post it and give you credit. Though I reserve the right to edit for accuracy and may add additional information. Any article is better than no article.

This year, in 2010, I am proposing to scale back my coverage of the City Council's committees. I will still record the twice-a-month, 2nd & 4th Monday meetings. I will still film committee meetings that begin after 5 PM. However, I will not attend many Council meetings that begin before 5 PM. On one hand this is a protest, for years I have requested that they hold their committee meetings at 6 PM to encourage the public to attend; rather than holding meetings at 3 and 4 PM, when many people are working. I don't want to lose any more wages due to attending Richmond City Council meetings. It produces a tangible and real economic hardship for me. Readers of this blog have not contributed one cent to subsidize my efforts. I lost wages and this blog consumed a considerable amount of my free time in my evenings over the past year.

I think it is worthwhile to video record the meetings. There is a lot that is discussed and a picture tells us a hidden story that is not immediately comprehended, yet recorded. Videos allow people to see how government is conducted and who believes what by what they say.

I have enjoyed documenting the Richmond City Council over the last year. I encourage citizens to attend all the Council's meetings. You can see a calendar listing of upcoming meetings here. One may initially think it would be boring, but you learn all kinds of things about what is going on in the city. Then there is the comedy of the Council members themselves. They love to speak much and say little. They are all interesting people and personalities. All likable on a one on one basis; yet each one has their own mind, beliefs, and motivations. At a certain level, the display is pure theatre, made more pathetically humorous by the lack of engagement by the citizenry of Richmond.

By being the most vocal critic and active citizen-observer of the Council, I am in a unique position to criticize the institution. I am sure there are many unsavory discussions that go on behind the scenes that even a regular attendee of meetings does have access to or knowledge of.

People who live here [in Richmond, as well the U.S.], don't take our democracy seriously.

What do you think will happen if every citizen sits back and doesn't hold our government or the corporate press accountable?

What happens, is what is happening now -- corporations, government, and career politicians have allowed our nation's economy to wither from a productive one based on industry and agriculture to one based on consumption and services. Military imperialism to defend US economic interests is the order of the day. Private property and accumulated capital are protected and legitimized at the expense of the public's well being. People are ignorant of the conditions and mechanisms of society.

The power of democracy is that one can speak for others. By using the power of free speech, an individual can appeal to another's reasoning or emotions. By discussion, dialogue, and argument a reasoned opinion can be achieved. Unfortunately, democracy also requires the Free Press. This is unfortunate because newspapers are private concerns and reflect the interests and political views of their publishers. Many times, the Richmond Times-Dispatch does not cover very important issues that are discussed at meetings. Since the public does not attend the meeting and they are unable to read an honest account of the meeting, the public largely remains in the dark. If I can see this occurring at the local level, you can be sure it is likely worse at the state and federal levels.

Please leave any feedback in the comments area. Suggestions or things you'd like to see me do. Thanks for reading and for your interest in Richmond, Virginia's government.


  1. You are doing what Maxwell, myself, and many others hoped WRIR could do. Media reform means more than playing old records on the radio (not that I don't appreciate old records too).

    Silver, you are have done wonders and you deserve credit for all the volunteer work you have spent on this.

    Many of us GenXer's are trying to juggle work. Where are all the retiree volunteers who are in a position to carry this work on? Where are all the college students who could make this a project?

  2. Silver, you deserve credit for sitting through the long hours of self aggrandizement from Council members. Awards while important don't require the long speeches that accompany them. They are usually more about the speaker than the recipient. Then there are the individual announcements from each council members. Some members are far worse than the others. These could be better handled by direct communication with constituents. Often it is an hour to an hour and a half before council business begins. Most people just don't have the time or endurance to put up with that.

    I admire your tenacity, if not your opinions, and appreciate this resource. You're one of a kind.