Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Occupy Richmond First Organizational Meeting

Part 1/2 - First Organizational Meeting of Occupy Richmond - Oct. 6, 2011 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Occupy Richmond held its first organization meeting on Thursday, October 6 at 5:30 PM in Monroe Park in Richmond, Virginia. There were approximately 250 individuals there. -SP

Continue the discussion by leaving a comment.

You can get involved. facebook.com/​occupyrichmond

Below is the report from occupyrichmondva.org as it appeared on 10-08-2011 3:42 PM.
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General Assembly, 5:30–Sundown,
Monroe Park, VCU, 10/6
Posted on October 7, 2011

At 5:30 p.m. on 10/6/11, OccupyRichmond met up for its first General Assembly in Monroe Park. A couple hundred very passionate, very excited people gathered in the center of the park to discuss the movement and logistics of future activities. After a brief introduction to such GA communication tools as hand signals and the People’s Mic, the assembly broke into smaller groups to discuss the proposed dates and locations for the actual Occupation.

Not every moment went as smoothly as we hoped, but we got off to a good start. Breaking into smaller groups in order to come to a modified consensus proved very effective. These sub-groups allowed people to discuss the date of the future event, as well as some of the more personal reasons for why they showed up.

On a basis of modified consensus (90% in favor), OccupyRichmond settled on the date of October 15 to hold the first main event. One concern for this day was that there was already another protest (for womens’ health rights) scheduled at Monroe Park on this same day. OccupyRichmond decided to support this protest by convening in Monroe Park from 1-3. At 4:00, another General Assembly will be held to reach modified consensus of our occupation location and move toward that location.

By 6:45, it was getting dark, and we realized that we would need to wrap things up since technically, the park closes at sunset. It was announced that the group could move to the VCU compass (located between the Hibbs dining hall and Cabell Library) to continue further discourse. About 50+ people showed up to further the discussion. All in all, the entire evening’s events proved that Richmond is excited about this movement and willing to put their shoulders together for this brave new experiment in community solidarity.


Part 2/2 - First Organizational Meeting of Occupy Richmond - Oct. 6, 2011 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger on Vimeo.

After it got too dark for the meeting to continue in Monroe Park (the public park closes at sunset), about 80 people interested in continuing the discussion met at the VCU Compass located between Hibbs Hall and the VCU Library.
A wide range of topics was discussed.

Continue the discussion by leaving a comment.

You can get involved. facebook.com/​occupyrichmond

Below is the report from occupyrichmondva.org as it appeared on 10-07-2011 9:23 PM.

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General Assembly, 10/6
Posted on October 7, 2011

(EDIT (Friday, 7:00pm) 50+ people met at The Compass on VCU Campus shortly following the General Assembly meeting to continue community discourse regarding the Occupy Richmond movement. This gathering did not make any decisions on behalf of the community, but through modified consensus, proposes the following “agreements and tools” as a starting point to work from in future Assembly structure. Again, this is NOT an official stance of the Occupy Richmond movement but rather an offer of some starting points that must be ratified, in General Assembly, through modified consensus, before their official adoption by The Movement. Please make revisions and suggestions, post them here in the comments (we will have a forum operational in the next few days… contact us at “occupyrichmond@gmail.com” if you can help with this!), discuss amongst other organizers, and perhaps evolve it into a format to propose at the General Assembly on October 15th in Monroe Park. This a collective movement, and the only way to reflect the opinions of all is for all to voice their opinions/concerns/ideas. -Josh)


After dark, on 10/6/2011, the Occupy Richmond community continued conversation at the VCU compass directly after the 5:30 meeting at Monroe Park. Out of this discussion, the community arrived at consensus on the following, very general points of identity and in regards to tools we find effective for the facilitation of respectful and effective communication and decision making in a large group.

We offer up these agreements and tools to future, hopefully larger gatherings of the General Assembly for continued discussion, knowing that as the Assembly and community grows, these Agreements and Tools may change and be added to.

Identity Agreements

1) We stand in solidarity with the occupy movement, on Wall Street, around the country and around the world.

2) We are together.

3) We are nonviolent, in action, word and in our relationships.

4) We are the 99%.

Tools We Use

1) We gather in General Assembly to make decisions.

2) We make decisions by modified consensus (90%).

3) We utilize a “stack” to queue speakers. We respect the speaker and the stack.

4) When in General Assembly, we find it productive for the group to sit while the speaker stands.

5) We use the people’s mic and hand gestures to communicate effectively, without amplification, in groups.


General Assembly | The Occupy Richmond Community, gathered for the purpose of group discussion, collective decision making, and solidarity.

Stack | the queue of people who would like to speak to the group, either on a new subject, or in response to a previous point. The stack on the evening of 10/6 formed as a standing line of people

People’s Mic | A tool used to spread a speaker’s words across a crowd without artificial amplification. The speaker yells “mic check” at which point the Assembly responds “mic check!” The speaker then begins to speak in units of about 4-8 words, then pauses briefly, at which point the Assembly repeats together what the speaker said. This ensures everyone in the Assembly both hears (audibly) and listens (processes) the speaker’s words and ideas.

Hand Gestures | The Assembly uses a number of hand gestures to signal agreement, disagreement, the desire to respond directly, etc. Hopefully, clear demonstrations of these hand gestures will be posted soon.

Friday, October 7, 2011

VCU Solidarity Rally with 700 Arrested on Brooklyn Bridge

Part 1/5 - VCU Occupy Wall Street Solidarity Rally - Oct. 7, 2011 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Video starts off a little rough, as I was getting settled. It is interesting to note from these videos how the "media", the television crews were just there at the very beginning. They did not stay for all the speakers.

Free speech comments from VCU students and community members in support of the Brooklyn Bridge 700.

Help make this video description better by summarizing speakers' comments and leaving a comment on this video. Thanks!

Facebook event description:

"Bringing Occupy Wall Street to VCU - Rally in Support of the 700 Arrestees

Time: Friday, October 7 · 12:00pm - 4:00pm
Location: Park Plaza at VCU (in between the Hibbs Building and the Singleton Center aka the theater building) Richmond, VA
Created By: Julia Arnone, Josh Kadrich, Joe Woods, Trina Christina Tyler

THIS EVENT IS FOR VCU AND SURROUNDING RESIDENTS. You don't have to be a VCU student to attend. For a map of where the plaza is, click here: maps.vcu.edu/​pdfs/​mp_map.pdf The space is between buildings #92 and #49 off Park Ave.

Please note: this is not the forum for hate speech. Nobody cares about how you don't want to participate or what you think of the protesters. Such posts will be removed.

It's time for VCU to start rallying to support those who are occupying Wall Street. 700+ people were arrested and detained throughout New York City on Saturday October 1st, 2011 following a march on the Brooklyn Bridge. This is the first time in decades that a movement is spreading so rapidly and intensely across the nation.

Let's show VCU, Richmond, and Virginia that we stand in solidarity with protesters in New York, and that we will fight for workers' rights.

It's important we get as many people as possible to show up, local media will be alerted of the rally. Invite as many people as you know, and let's tell New York that VCU and Richmond are behind them 100%!

I'll be bringing already-made posters, as well as blank ones (as many as I can afford) and markers so people can create their own messages. I'll be passing around multiple pads of paper to collect email addresses and get a handle on who's willing to do what.

See you all there, and remember - Peace, Love, and Revolution."

Part 2/5 - VCU Occupy Wall Street Solidarity Rally - Oct. 7, 2011 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Part 3/5 - VCU Occupy Wall Street Solidarity Rally - Oct. 7, 2011 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Part 4/5 - VCU Occupy Wall Street Solidarity Rally - Oct. 7, 2011 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Part 5/5 - VCU Occupy Wall Street Solidarity Rally - Oct. 7, 2011 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

RePHRAME holds Housing Forum at Richmond Convention Center

The forum "Is PETRA good for Richmond?" was held in room B-10 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center in Richmond, Virginia on Saturday, June 25, 2011 from 10:30 AM - 12:20 PM

The event was organized by RePHRAME, its partners NAACP and Virginia Organizing Project, and co-sponsored by RRHA.

Part 1/8 - RePHRAME Forum: Is PETRA good for Richmond? - June 25, 2011 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Part one includes Opening Comments from Antoinette Baylor [RePHRAME Member], Opening Prayer by Rev. Sylvester T. Smith [Pastor at Good Shepherd Baptist Church], Welcome by Andrew Schoeneman [Doctoral Student, VCU School of Social Work], Introductions of the panel by Cathy Woodson [Virginia Organizing Project, RePHRAME Partner] and Drusilla Bridgeforth [NAACP, RePHRAME Partner], and Cora Hayes [Co-Founder, RePHRAME] answers the question, "What is P.E.T.R.A.?" [The Preservation, Enhancement & Transformation of Rental Assistance Act]

Part 2/8 - RePHRAME Forum: Congressman Bobby Scott - June 25, 2011 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

U.S. Representative Bobby Scott spoke to the assembled crowd on items related to housing policy.

Part 3/ - RePHRAME Forum: Diane Yentel from HUD - June 25, 2011 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Diane Yentel, Director of the Public Housing Management and Occupancy Division in HUD in Washington, D.C., spoke first.

Part 4/ - RePHRAME Forum: Linda Couch - June 25, 2011 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

The next speaker was Linda Couch, Senior Vice President of Policy for the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Part 5/8 - RePHRAME Forum: Cora Hayes - June 25, 2011 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Cora Hayes, Co-Founder of RePHRAME/Resident Engagement Group, enumerated demands including the right of tenants to organize and tenants' rights.

Part 6/8 - RePHRAME Forum: Cora Hayes - June 25, 2011 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Marilyn Olds, RRHA Tenant Commissioner and President of the Richmond Tenant Organization asked questions about perceived waste.

Part 7/8 - RePHRAME Forum: Question & Answer Period - June 25, 2011 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Panelists took written questions from the audience.

Part 8/8 - RePHRAME Forum: Comments from Newbille & Hilbert - June 25, 2011 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.

Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille and Councilman Chris Hilbert made a few brief comments at the end of the meeting followed by a few more comments from Cora Hayes and Andrew Schoeneman. The meeting was closed with a prayer made by Marion Jones.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mayor Jones announces RMA repayment of $60.3 Million

From the Mayor's Office:

News Release

For Immediate Release Contact: Tammy Hawley
Tuesday, June 21, 2011 (804) 646-3110

Mayor Successfully Negotiates $60.3 Million Repayment to City
~RMA could return funds to the city before year end~

Richmond, VA – Mayor Dwight C. Jones today announced the impending repayment of monies to the city in the amount of $60.3 million from the Richmond Metropolitan Authority (RMA). The RMA is an independent authority and political subdivision that was created in 1966. It was formed originally to build and maintain a toll expressway system to serve the Richmond metropolitan area. Its members include Richmond as well as Chesterfield and Henrico counties. In its formative years, the city of Richmond was the only member of the partnership to contribute land and provide financial support to RMA.

“There are many things this administration has been working to set right for the city of Richmond. Where our financial picture is concerned, the city’s financial operation has been structurally unbalanced in many ways and we've been working to correct things like moving to twice a year tax collections and eliminating the need for revenue anticipation notes for example. Another matter that has been unattended to for some time pertains to millions of dollars that was lent to the RMA by the city of Richmond,” explained Mayor Jones. “I asked my team to explore how and when this money could be returned to the city and the RMA Board has chosen to act on our request.”

The RMA voted unanimously today for the return of monies owed to the city of Richmond in the amount of $60.3 million. It is anticipated that the funds would become available in November of this year once the RMA issues the bonds necessary to pay off the subordinated debt owed to the city.

“We’ve been working with the RMA for more than a year on a way to eliminate this outstanding debt owed the city,” said CAO Byron Marshall. “This plan won’t hurt the credit standing of the RMA, won’t increase tolls, and will return to the city some badly needed funds that can be directed toward some of Richmond's immediate and future needs."

This one-time money will go to the city’s General Fund. Citing the tremendous social and economic costs associated with the history of how these funds came to be owed the city, particularly as it relates to how the expressway affected the neighborhoods it bisects, Mayor Jones said he wanted the city to use this opportunity wisely and prudently. “As we consider the use of these funds, there are some guidelines I feel we should be governed by. These funds can help to repair some of the issues caused by displacement of families and businesses, and can also help to move us closer to a AAA bond rating. We have the opportunity to invest wisely by doing things like getting our undesignated fund balance to 10% and paying off some of our own outstanding debt."

Initially, Richmond was the only jurisdiction to provide financial assistance or subsidies to the expressway system. Moving forward, Mayor Jones said, "We will begin working with RMA and other jurisdictions to look at a more regional approach to transportation and public transportation. As we work regionally, we must also put Richmond first and make investments that will put the city on par with our neighbors who already enjoy a AAA bond rating. Further, paying down debt will free up debt capacity for future catalytic projects and allow us to save on interest payments while we plan for those projects."

It is anticipated that the Mayor would like to focus on future projects like riverfront public space, the baseball diamond, and development that will generate a return on investment in the areas of job creation, workforce development and an enhancing the tax base.

Aside from strengthening the city’s financial picture, the Mayor also indicated an obligation to focus on social needs. “We must also consider the tremendous social cost that is connected to the history of this money, said Mayor Jones. “New roadway systems that were designed to relieve traffic congestion and increase the ease of commuters flowing in and out of the city came with a price tag of displaced residents and businesses. Massive relocations were undertaken, eminent domain laws were used to seize property and communities were torn apart. The communities impacted the most were the lower income areas and the poor.”

The Mayor indicated that he would like to see a plan developed that will make a noticeable dent in poverty in the city and focus on some longstanding concerns. “Such a plan could deal with outstanding issues like the fact that the Blackwell Hope VI development has remained unfinished since 1997, or longstanding needs of our infrastructure like the repaving of Jefferson Davis Highway which has been in disrepair for years, for example. Perhaps there are some things we can do with Creighton Court; things that can help us reduce concentrated poverty are what I’d like to see and what the City Council has asked us to focus on."

The unfinished Blackwell area has impeded the City’s ability to be successful with other projects like Choice Neighborhoods funding applications and Hope VI. Problem public housing areas like Creighton Court are a byproduct of the massive relocations that resulted from the expressway systems.

The Jones Administration will be working to prepare a detailed proposal for the use of funds that will require City Council approval. “I commend the RMA Board for doing the right thing and acting to return these monies to the city of Richmond," continued Mayor Jones. “It is now incumbent upon us to do the right thing with the planned use of these funds and I will be encouraging everyone to make the best use of this unique opportunity.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mayor's Task Force on Redistricting

Mayor Jones' Task Force for Redistricting met on Tuesday. The meeting had initially been slated to be their last but after some discussion they decided they would meet again the following week. The task of the group is to prepare recommendations for the Council to consider before they conclude their own efforts at redistricting. The group discussed a wide range of topics: including the percentage of Asians living in Richmond in a chart of the racial make up of Richmond, salaries of Council members being a "living wage" and comparable to surrounding localities, dividing the districts in such a way that all members have a share in representing poor constituents and addressing poverty, and the possibility of partisan elections.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Two Cents - Armories, Council Process, and Public Information @ LAND USE

I spoke during the Citizen Comment Period to request that the City "do something" about the City-owned armories at Sixth Street and Leigh Street which continue to be neglected by the City.

I spoke again later in the meeting in reference to Resolution 2011-R19 sponsored by Bruce Tyler [1st District] which request CAO Byron Marshall "to study whether the City's zoning ordinance should be amended to change the existing zoning classifications of the properties bounded by Monument Avenue to the north, Kent Road to the east, Patterson Avenue to the south, and Malvern Avenue to the west."

I commended Mr. Tyler for following the process and objected to Mr. Conner's statement that "these things become far too formal" and that Council could simply request the Planning Dept. to meet with the Civic Association. I said that a resolution was an appropriate way for the Council to request such information. Unrelated to the paper specifically, I also objected that the FULL LANGUAGE of the resolutions and ordinances under consideration was not available for Public Review. This was only my second committee meeting after taking nearly 4 months off from attending Richmond City Council meetings. In the past, the Clerk's Office normally prepares a packet that includes the full language of the ordinances and resolutions and attachments associated with each paper which is labeled "Public Copy."

You're welcome.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Public Invited to Design Redistricting Maps

From a press release dated April 6, 2011:

Richmond City Council invites residents to submit proposed Richmond Voter District maps to assist the 2011 Richmond Decennial Voter District Redistricting process

Proposals to be submitted by 5:00 p.m. April 15, 2011; New Redistricting Plan to be adopted by December 31, 2011

(Richmond, Virginia U.S.A) – Richmond City Council invites Richmond residents to submit proposed Richmond Voter District maps for consideration by 5:00 p.m. on April 15, 2011. Proposed maps will assist Council in determining Richmond Voter District boundaries as part of the 2011 Richmond Decennial Voter District Redistricting process. This is part of the ongoing open public process in which Richmond City Council is working to adopt a new 2011 Richmond Decennial Voter District Redistricting plan, which will be used as new Richmond Voter District boundaries for the next 10 years, by December 31, 2011.

Proposals are to be based on the 2010 Census population figures for the City of Richmond (available from the U.S. Census website, at www.census.gov). Proposed boundaries should be clearly identifiable and include a listing of census blocks that are assigned to each District. Each district must be as close as possible to the ideal population of 204,214, ideally with a zero percent overall population variance, but preferably no more than 10 percent.

Additionally, proposals are to meet the following criteria (the first five of which are mandatory):

1. Equal population (Making voter districts, as near equal population as possible.)
2. Compactness (Making voter district shapes as closely packed as possible.)
3. Contiguity (Making voter district physically encompassed/connected, which may include spanning water.)
4. Avoidance of split U.S. Census Blocks (Not dividing the smallest geographic unit of census data when forming precincts/districts.)
5. Compliance with the Voting Rights Act (Redistricting Plan must comply with the U.S. Voting Rights Act and be approved by the U. S. Department of Justice
6. The 2011 redistricting plan should, if possible, avoid splits of voting precincts between the Council, School Board, state legislative and congressional election districts.
7. The 2011 redistricting plan should maximize voter convenience and the effective administration of elections.
8. The 2011 redistricting plan should preserve communities of interest.
9. The 2011 redistricting plan should, if possible, consolidate smaller voting precincts so that the number of registered voters in each precinct is at least the statewide average of 2,013.

Proposed Richmond Voter District maps may be submitted the following ways:

1. Sending to: Richmond City Council
2011 Richmond Decennial Voter District Redistricting
Richmond City Hall; 900 E. Broad St., Suite 305
Richmond, Virginia 23219
2. Faxing to 804.646.5468
3. Emailing to steven.skinner@richmondgov.com

Monday, February 28, 2011

Council Approves Use of Inmate Labor on City-Owned Property

My 2¢: Richmond City Council Approves Use of Inmate Labor on City-Owned Property from Silver Persinger on Vimeo.

At Richmond City Council's Formal meeting of February 28, 2011, I spoke in opposition to Ordinance 2011-21 which authorizes the use of inmate labor on City-owned property such as rights of way along highways, streets, alleyways, parks, City owned cemeteries and vacant lots. Such work on public property SHOULD be done by City employees paid a LIVING WAGE which is $10.19 an hour adopted by Council in 2008.

In 2006, Richmond City Council approved the use of City Jail inmate labor to clean up neglected PRIVATE property.

The Council approved the ordinance unanimously. Council members Marty Jewell [5th District], Reva Trammel [8th District], and Cynthia Newbille [7th District] offered comments in response to my comments.