Monday, September 27, 2010

Council Approves Mayor's Budget Amendments/ Richmond Transit Riders Union Urge Implementing Previous GRTC Study Recommendations

Above, is a new feature I call "My 2¢." I will now present my comments to Richmond City Council in digest form, hoping to highlight what I consider to be the most important issues covered at each meeting. This is a first effort. My goal is to eventually figure out a way to edit the videos into encapsulated summaries of the meeting.

I spoke to Richmond, Virginia City Council in support of Ordinance 2010-179 and Ord. 2010-180 which effectively abolished the Broad Street Community Development Authority [CDA] and authorizes the Directors of Finance to sell bonds to repay the initially bond investors.

In 2003 the CDA sold bonds valued at $66.7 million in order to finance tearing down the 6th Street Marketplace, demolishing the parking deck at 6th and Grace and a block of old buildings on Broad Street between 4th and 5th Streets which were replaced by surface parking lots and a restoring the street where the Marketplace once stood between Marshall and Grace Streets.

The ordinances authorized the Director of Finance to make a new issue of bonds for $67.1 million in order to pay off the bond original bondholders. This is $400,000 more than the initial bond issuance in 2003.

Optimistic projections and outright incorrect information were used to support the financing of these projects

Part 1

Part 1/2 - City Council Formal Meeting - Sept. 27, 2010 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Part 2

Part 2/2 - City Council Formal Meeting - Sept. 27, 2010 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Informal Session

Informal Session - Sept. 27, 2010 - Richmond City Council - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Marijuana Forum at VCU

VCU Students for Sensible Drug Policy in co-operation with Virginia NORML held a forum to advocate decriminalizing marijuana at Virginia Commonwealth University's Student Commons on Saturday, September 25, 2010 in Richmond, Virginia.

Part 1/3 - Cannabis in the Commonwealth - Sept. 25, 2010 - Duffy, Stroup, Sterling, Gettman - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Dee Duffy, Executive Director of Virginia NORML, opened the meeting.

Keith Stroup, founder of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, spoke about his 40 years of experience in the marijuana movement. It is interesting to note, that in places where marijuana is already legal, NORML is fighting to establish that individuals have a right to raise at least 5 plants for personal use and they are working to oppose to "unconscionable profiteering." Kudos Mr. Stroup and NORML!

Eric Sterling, President of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, discussed excessive government power, some history of alcohol prohibition, and government's immoral persecution of marijuana users, growers, and distributors.

Jon Gettman [Cannabis policy expert, The Coalition for the Rescheduling of Cannabis] had technical difficulties for the first half of this talk, the projector started working where his comments leave off here in Part 2. Mr. Gettman discussed statistics showing that African Americans are disproportionally arrested for marijuana compared to whites.

Part 2/3 - Cannabis in the Commonwealth - Sept. 25, 2010 - Gettman, Leibig, Werth, Sharpe - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Part 2 contains the conclusion of Jon Gettman's PowerPoint presentation on the racial disparity of marijuana arrests.

Criminal defense attorney, Virginia NORML Board of Directors, and NORML Legal Committee Member Christopher Leibig advocates preserving the police's right to illegal searches based on probable cause triggered by the aroma of marijuana as a way to appease law enforcement's opposition to decriminalization.

Lennice Werth from Virginians Against Drug Violence recounted some history of the Marijuana Movement in Virginia and urged the audience to contact their members in the Virginia House of Delegates to tell them to support House Bills 1134 and 1136, introduced by Harvey Morgan (a Republican pharmacist) in Virginia's General Assembly last year.

Robert Sharpe [Media Awareness Project] discussed the history of marijuana law, dispels some popular myths about marijuana use, and makes an economic argument for decriminalization.

Part 3/3 - Cannabis in the Commonwealth - Sept. 25, 2010 - Questions & Comments - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

In this portion of the forum panelists solicited questions from the audience. This clip includes helpful legal advice including be polite to police and only tell them your name, but don't answer any questions, you don't have to tell the police where you are coming from or where you are going. Ask, "Am I free to leave? Am I being detained?" They recommended watching the video, "Busted: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters."

Watch it here,​videoplay?docid=3435730304776119545#

Monday, September 20, 2010

City Council Security Review and Proposed Upgrades @ Public Safety

Council Security Discussed @ Public Safety - Sept. 20, 2010 - Richmond, Virginia City Council from Silver Persinger.

Bobby Stith [Security Supervisor, Dept. of Public Works] discussed Council's current security procedures and recommended security enhancements for Council's work areas including installing more cameras at City Hall.

At minute 35:00, the committee discussed Delegate Loupassi's bill which proposes to seize an individual's car immediately after running from the police. I spoke in opposition to the bill, House Bill 1403, at the beginning of the meeting. Committee discussion devolved to nonsensical comments about County police not being trained to drive in Richmond's urban environment, rather than directly commenting on the proposed law.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

RePHRAME's 3rd Annual Community Forum at Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church

RePHRAME's 3rd Annual Community Forum - Sept. 16, 2010 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Various residents of Richmond's public housing and members of RePHRAME spoke to fellow residents and supporters at Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church on Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 6 PM. Anthony Scott, CEO of Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority [RRHA] spoke to the group around minute 30:00.

The chief demands of the group were for RRHA to institute a local payment system and to increase the tenant representation on the RRHA Board. Currently residents have to mail their rent payments to Baltimore, Maryland and out of 7 commissioners on the RRHA Board, only one is a public housing resident.

A spaghetti dinner prepared by Richmond Food Not Bombs followed the meeting.

Finance Committee Review Mayor's Budget Amendments

Finance - Sept. 16, 2010 from Silver Persinger.

I was unable to stay for the entire meeting because I had to attend RePHRAME's 3rd Annual Community Forum. This clip includes discussion of several papers and Committee discussion of Mayor Dwight Jones' proposed budget amendments for spending recently announced surplus funds.

Bond re-financing and dissolving the Broad Street CDA discussed from minutes 10:40 - 30:30.

The fund balance and Mayor Jones' recommended budget amendments discussion begins at minute 33:00 until the end of the video.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Richmond City Council Meeting for September 13, 2010

Entire Formal Meeting - Sept. 13, 2010 - Richmond City Council - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Informal Session - City Registrar Showalter Discusses Redistricting Plan

Informal Session- Full Meeting - Sept. 13, 2010 - Richmond City Council - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Complete video of the September 13, 2010 Informal Session of Richmond City Council. City Registrar Kirk Showalter discussed redistricting that will occur as a result of the 2010 Census [1:00 - 31:50], Docket Review of the evening's papers for the next half hour [32:00 - 1:03], the last 10 minutes of the meeting were spent deciding what time and date would work out for everyone for their Fall Retreat, they finally settled on October 12, 2010, 9:30 AM - 1 PM. Location to be announced.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New City Jail Discussed at Ellen Robertson's Town Hall Meeting

The topic of Ellen Robertson's monthly townhall meeting for Saturday, September 11, 2010 was the proposed New City Jail. Four developers were present at this event. This is one of the first meetings to publicly discuss the new jail project in greater detail.

The clip above includes the opening of the meeting. Vice President Ellen Robertson recognized a number of members from the audience including Council President Kathy Graziano [4th District], Councilman Bruce Tyler [1st District], Sheriff C.T. Woody, Chandra Smith [School Board, 6th District], and former-Councilman Bill Pantele, and Byron Marshall [Chief Administrative Officer].

A prayer was said by Reverand Alonzo Pruitt who works at the Richmond City Jail.

Part 2 - Presentation from Sheriff's Office on New Richmond City Jail - Sept. 11, 2010 from Silver Persinger.

Part 2 is a presentation from the Sheriff's Office. They recount a little of the history of the City Jail, describe its inmates (which they prefer to call 'residents'), discuss the need for a new facility and the desired design, which isolates the individual prisoner and relies heavily on video camera surveillance. This was promoted as more secure and reducing the staff needed to operate the jail.

Part 3 - Administration, Consultant, & Reverend on New Richmond City Jail - Sept. 11, 2010 from Silver Persinger.

In Part 3, top administrators weigh in. Byron Marshall [Chief Admistrative Office] and Chris Beschler [Deputy Chief Administrative Office, Operations/Director, Public Utilities], Walter Ridley, a city hired consultant from Fort Washington, Maryland [his website describes him as President/CEO of the RIDLEY GROUP and ASSOCIATES LLC, "A Criminal Justice and Faith-Based Consulting Firm."], and Reverend Alonzo Pruitt who works at the Richmond City Jail.

In this clip, Councilwoman Ellen Robertson discusses the historic significance of Eastview, the first African American Single Family Home development in Richmond, Virginia which was soon surrounded by public housing and a jail at the bottom of the hill. At the end of the clip, she urges folks to support the decision by Mayor Jones to keep the jail at its current location.

Part 5 - Comments from Eastview Residents - Ellen Robertson's Town Hall - Sept. 11, 2010 from Silver Persinger.

Comments from 50-year residents of Eastview, history of the neighborhood and of land. Interesting history here. 14 acres.

Part 6,
Closing comments coming soon.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Latest Boondoggle - The Richmond Coliseum Study Group

Interim Status Update from Coliseum Study Group - Sept. 9, 2010 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Today at 12 noon at the Performing Arts Center, a presentation was given to Richmond news media outlets by consultant Dan Barrett of Barrett Sports Group, LLC to discuss the preliminary results of their unscientific survey among Coliseum users which was used to illustrate support from the "General Public."

A statement from the report that jumped out to me was, "Approximately 99% of Respondents would potentially attend an event at a renovated Coliseum or New Arena Development."

Read the Interim Status Report for yourself and Mayor Dwight Jones' Press Release that was handed out after the presentation.

Here is an informative article about the formation of the Coliseum Study Group that costs $150,000 and was paid for by four area corporations, Genworth Financial, Dominion Resources Inc., Altria, and MeadWestvaco.

Mayor Jones was not present at the Press Conference, neither was any member of the Council present, nor any representative from Council's Chief of Staff. However, many of Mayor Jones' top administrators were there including Byron Marshall [Chief Administrative Officer], Peter Chapman [Deputy CAO, Dept. of Economic and Community Development], Suzette Denslow [Mayor's Chief of Staff], and four members of the Mayor's public relations office: Tammy Hawley [Press Secretary], Michael Wallace [Public Information Officer], Shelby Crouch [videographer and one of the only carry-overs from Mayor Wilder's administration], and a photographer, Jemila Woodson.

The assembled press were permitted to ask questions after the presentation.

KUDOS to the Office of the Press Secretary to the Mayor for both emailing PDFs of the documents above and for having paper copies at the Presentation for members of the media.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

City Council Back from August Recess

Organizational Development - Richmond City Council - Sept. 7, 2010 from Silver Persinger.

The Organizational Development Standing Committee met at 4:11 PM. All members of Council were present. The Council received reports from Anthony Scott [CEO, RRHA] and Council's Chief of Staff, Daisy Weaver.

Mr. Scott discussed RRHA's updated 5 year strategic plan.

After the OrgDev meeting, the Council briefly convened a Special Meeting to approve a Resolution to change the name of the old U of R stadium from "Richmond Stadium" to "City Stadium."

Then the Council went into Executive Session [closed to the public] to discuss the Port of Richmond with members of the Port of Richmond Commission.