Part 1/7 - Prayer, Pledge, Appointments - Jan. 9, 2012 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.
The first Formal meeting of the new year was very unique for a number of reasons. First, it was my first meeting back, after taking the year 2011 off from attending Council meetings. Though last year I probably attended at least 6 Council meetings.
Another unique quality was that most of Council's "unusual regulars" were there, including myself, Luis Pantophlet, Donald Hatcher, Melvin Jones, Tony Benony Amekudzi, Ruby Turner, Teddy Parham, Chris Dorsey, and Ms. Jones. The only folks missing were Irene Jennings and Charles Hughes, Sr.
It was also Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter Will Jones last time attending Richmond City Council as a reporter. He got a new job in Henrico County's Public Relations and Media Services Department. You can watch the Council send off in Part 5 below at 8:44.
As is customary, the meeting opened with a prayer spoken by Jason Helmlinger from The Richmond Outreach Center [ROC], followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, and Chamber Evacuation instructions.
APPOINTMENTS [First time Appointees are required to appear in person before the Council]
Res. 2011-R173: Appointed Samuel S. Young, Jr. [pictured above] as Commissioner on the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority [RRHA].
Five papers were continued because the individuals called out were not present.
Res. 2011-R170: Reappointed Susan Nolan to Sister Cities Commission.
Res. 2011-R178: Reappointed Joseph P. McMenamin to Richmond Ambulance Authority.
Part 2/7 - Awards, Amending Agenda - Jan. 9, 2012 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.
Thomas Haynesworth [pictured above] was given an award by the Council because he had recently been released from prison after serving 27 years in prison for crimes he did not commit. DNA evidence was used to prove his innocence.
"For 25 years, Thomas Haynesworth of Richmond, VA said he was not the man who raped a church day-care worker at knifepoint. "Nobody ever listened to me," he complained. They're listening now. Thanks to the late Mary Jane Burton, a crime lab worker who kept small samples of DNA evidence in the files she worked on, Thomas has been excluded as the assailant, and the real rapist has been identified.
The foregoing news account was published on March 19, 2009. As of February 2, 2011, Thomas Haynesworth was still in prison. DNA proved him innocent of most of the rapes he was convicted of committing, and even one of which he was acquitted. But there were two rapes with no physical evidence, nothing to test. Finally, freedom is in sight.
UPDATE: March 18, 2011 - The Parole Board has voted to release Thomas Haynesworth on parole. His actual innocence petition is still pending before the Virginia Court of Appeals."
Ken Cuccinelli, General Attorney or the Commonwealth of Virginia was present and also received an award. Cuccinelli was instrumental in helping get Thomas Haynesworth out of prison.
The third award was presented to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Richmond & Tri-Cities.
Part 3/7 - Regular Agenda - Jan. 9, 2012 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.
There was only one paper on the Regular Agenda and it was amended and continued.
Ord. 2011-211 [Patron: Mayor Jones, By Request] - To authorize the special use of *** 535½, 537 and 541 North 2nd Street for the purpose of waiving parking, building height, maximum residential floor area and setback requirements for the construction of a mixed-use building with up to 31 dwelling units and uses permitted in the underlying zoning district.
There was an unusual procedural incident that occurred during the discussion of the amendment. At the Informal Session earlier in the day, the original amendment had been discussed. I assume it had been crafted by the City's Planning Department to address issues that the Planning Commission had with the project proposed for the Eggleston Hotel site by developer Kelvin Hansen.
Council discussed the item for 25 minutes, then killed the proposed amendments from the Planning Commission, and supported their own amendments which Council had only created a few hours before the meeting. In all of their discussion they never opened the debate to the public even though they were VOTING. I felt that it was very wrong for the Council to assert their preference on the issue, essentially ham-stringing the public's ability to support the amendments proposed by the Planning Commission by only offering the Council's preferred amendment in the upcoming Land Use Committee meeting.
Ellen Robertson [pictured above] spoke in support of the project [14:46] for nearly six minutes and never once mentioned she had received a $1000 cash campaign contribution from the developer, Kelvin Hanson in 2004. I think she should recuse herself from the final vote and discussion. This is an example of how even relatively small amounts of money have a questionable effect on our government.
Here's the differences between the amendments proposed by the Planning Commission and the Council.
Planning Commission's Amendments, which were killed by a vote of the Council with no opportunity of Citizen Comment.
• Waives parking requirements for permitted commercial uses. It was stated that there might be a restaurant "hopefully Croaker Spot" that could accomodate 100 people.
• Require 1 parking space for each unit, for a total of 31 for a projected 37 bedrooms.
• Allow for 23 of the spaces to be located within 1000 feet of the property. Within 300 feet is the normal requirement.
• Require use of Brick Veneer where currently the plan calls for Fiber Cement Panels.
Part 4/7 - Citizen Comment Period - Jan. 9, 2012 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.
Speakers for Citizen Comment Period included:
Melvin Jones [pictured above], President of Maggie Walker Statue Foundation, spoke on setting aside money to support the Walker Statue. 1:14
Deborah Driver, Block Leader in East View Community, the neighborhood located on the hill overlooking the City Jail wants crime addressed in her neighborhood. Vandals have been breaking neighbors' car windows and throwing bricks and bottles through windows of people's homes, and gunfire can be heard every night. 7:37
Robert Humphrey from Hilltop Promises/Frogs Place had signed up to speak but cancelled.
Vivek Jain had signed up to speak about Free Speech and Poverty but yielded his time.
Ben Loomis, Board member of the Assembly of God, complained about drainage problems near his church. It is contributing to problems with flooding, snakes, mosquitos, and rodents. 15:34
Teddy Parham told Council local companies were ripping people off. Companies she cited included Capitol Oil, Elderhomes, and the Salvation Army. She described a program operated by the Salvation Army where they collect trees that fall on city property and distribute wood to help people heat for the winter. 22:33
Chris Dorsey said the government at every level is not serving people. He said government is serving the interests of the Federal Reserve, the Bank for International Settlements, and Dominion Power. Other topics included Pollution from Dominion, threat posed by damaged nuclear reactor located on a fault line, the illegitimacy of government, 9-11, illegal wars, Governor McDonnell, Israel, and criminality. 29:47
Willie Earl Bradley, Owner, Bradley Development had signed up to speak on "Neighborhood Stabilization" but was not present.
Bonus Footage - Mr. Tyler on Capping Expenditures on Public Art - Jan. 9, 2012 - Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger.
Bruce Tyler [1st District] spoke to anchor/reporter Kerri O'Brien from WRIC 8News about an ordinance patroned by himself and President Graziano to cap the expenditure on public art for any project at $250,000 instead of "1% for Art" program established by Ord. 97-3-41 adopted on Jan. 27, 1997. At the end of the interview O'Brien asked about a similar paper introduced by Graziano that proposed the cap at $100,000.
Richmond City Council, Where Are You? Richmond, Virginia 2012 from Silver Persinger.
I made a short 19 second advertisement to encourage people to attend Richmond City Council meetings.