Posts Tagged ‘Local Politics’
I believe it is time to settle this question in Norfolk. And the only way to do so is to put it on the ballot and let the voters decide. I’m willing to abide by the will of the people. Are you? Vivian Paige, writing in the Virginian Pilot
Whether or not our school boards are elected or appointed is a question that only we as residents of Norfolk can-and should answer. It’s our duty as responsible citizens in this great city. Me, writing in the New Journal and Guide
It’s often said that local issues aren’t necessarily partisan ones. Here’s proof of that statement.
The issue of whether or not Norfolk’s school boards should be elected or appointed is a question that only those who live here-and that means all of us, not just those who represent (in theory) us on City Council-can definitively answer. In order to do that, the question has to go before the electorate on the ballot.
I haven’t made up my mind either way, yet. I’ve seen what an appointed school board can do here, and “I’m not impressed” is probably too generous of a statement. The flipside to that is, having seen and experienced the ugliness of the campaign process, I know I don’t want to see that begin to adversely affect my kids or any other’s quality of education.
As we both say, though…at present, that’s not the issue. The only question that needs an immediate answer is “do you think the people of Norfolk have the right to choose for themselves how their school boards should be selected?”
I say yes…and I believe Vivian would agree.
So should you.
The ongoing redistricting discussion continues in Norfolk, with City Council voting on one of two different plans tonight. Here’s my comments to Council on the matter:
In a perfect world, representatives of the city of Norfolk would be chosen not based on race, but on their ability alone. Of course, we know that we don’t live in that perfect world. Because of the activism of generations before my birth, as well as the sins of others in that generation, a candidate or nominee’s race is often considered when election, appointment, or redistricting time comes around.
Tonight’s discussion of the “compromise plan” is only possible because an ill-informed public, often too caught up in the goings-on of Washington and Richmond, has enabled some on this Council to believe that their will and their preservation of power is all that matters. That’s our failure as citizens to hold up our end of the unwritten contract between the governors and the governed. It’s what allowed certain members of this council-who’ve gotten away with it for years-to print notices about redistricting on days when papers are barely read, and schedule hearings for it at times when many people are still stuck in traffic.
Yet out of the single public hearing on redistricting came a glimpse of a plan that goes far beyond the mere preservation of power.
The Jordan alternative seeks to develop a ward system that is more reflective of the city’s racial makeup. Under his plan, the city’s council would move from a 4-3 racial split, or 5-3 when the mayor is included, to the possibility of an equal 4-4 split. The Jordan alternative could also move us closer to the day when the segregation of racial voting power is irrelevant, as this plan shows to the Justice Department that our city has moved further away from the dark days of racial discrimination.
Yet this council is unwilling to consider it…and has given every reason possible not to, and has used every possible scheme to keep citizens in the dark about the Jordan plan. First, we geard that one of the wards in the plan was .1% short of a requirement from the Justice Department; that percentage amounts to about 200-300 people. Then, at the last Council meeting, no comments from the public were heard on redistricting at all. And finally tonight, the “discussion” of the Jordan plan will take place after the vote on this compromise…which means if the compromise is approved, the Jordan alternative won’t get a discussion at all.
Members of Council, it’s your responsibility to consider the Jordan alternative, beyond holding a single hearing on its merits and then burying it under tonight’s agenda. You’ve been given a plan that not only reflects the makeup of our city, but presents an opportunity to say-and show-to the nation that we are truly better than our past. You have a duty, far beyond working toward your reelection, to consider the Jordan alternative.
I am a black man by birth. I am a Republican by choice. I’ve been called an “Uncle Tom,” “sellout,” and a couple other things that I won’t mention since I came to Norfolk for good in early 2009. I’m tired of it, and I want my status-black Republican in a fairly Democratic city-to be protected.
You say “no.” I say “why?” You say “because you made the choice to a) be a Republican, and b) live in Norfolk.”
Clearly, the above is hypothetical, and a lot far-fetched. And my intention isn’t to parallel my experiences with those of the gay community. That said, I have a philosophical problem with this:
Unsuccessful in attempts to add new discrimination protections into state law, a gay-rights group continues to push for similar policies on the local level.
Of the roughly two dozen Virginia localities with policies in place to protect gay and lesbian government workers, South Hampton Roads is home to two – Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.
Norfolk may soon join them.
Recently, two restaurants in Ocean View-Mojo Bones on First View Ave. and Mona Lisa’s Pizza near East Beach (which I’m a fan of)-applied for exceptions to a law prohibiting sales of alcohol in the area after midnight. The law dates back almost two decades, and does not apply to restaurants that opened prior to 1992.
The owners of these restaurants had support from Ocean View’s civic leagues in their applications:
“The city should be giving everyone a fair shake,” said Aaron Ellis, vice president of the Bayview Civic League which supports Mojo Bones’ request.
“It’s a matter of simple fairness,” Ocean View Civic League president Al Saunders said. “I’m a painter, and it would not be fair for the city to say that I can paint houses on one side of the road and my competitors could not.”
You would think that, with the support of the civic leagues, support for this would be an easy affair.
I’ve been following the story of an(other) inept civic organization in Norfolk-the city’s Community Service Board (CSB)-and their mishandling of an employee who got 12 years of salary without showing up for work once. Nice work, if you can get it.
The former director, three former managers and the “no-show worker” who was paid during a still-unexplained 12-year suspension were sued by their former employer, the Community Services Board.
The lawsuit asks the defendants for a total of $319,784, the amount estimated to have been paid to Jill McGlone from the time she was suspended in 1998 until the current CSB director, Maureen Womack, learned of it last year and reported it.
Besides McGlone, the others named in the suit are former CSB Director George Pratt, former Director of Administration Brenda Wise, former Clinical Services Director Anthony Crisp and former Human Resources Officer Linda Berardi.
Great idea, at least in theory.
Except for one thing: I don’t think the CSB should get a dime of this money if it’s awarded. And since the city has repeatedly tried to wash its hands of the whole mess-City Council has no oversight of the CSB-they shouldn’t get it back either.
It should, in some way, go back to the taxpayers directly. We are, in fact, the ones who were defrauded.
I’m not saying cut checks; that would probably cost more than the recouped amount. But maybe a personal property tax credit, for people who are up to date on their tax payments? Kill off downtown’s parking meters for a period of time?
No organization that’s dysfunctional enough to let this happen deserves to be “rewarded” with $300,000-plus to do with as they please. And no city that’s dysfunctional enough to watch it happen deserves it, either.
NORFOLK –The City of Norfolk administration received information this morning that the STOP Organization has reversed its decision to be a tenant in the Midtown Office Tower. The City’s participation was contingent upon Tivest Holdings, LLC being able to confirm that the STOP Organization was committed to the project. Given this new development, the administration has advised City Council that the City can not move forward with this project.
I gotta wonder, was STOP’s involvement ever confirmed?
Good on the City Council for pulling out. And good on Republicans, Democrats, and the Hampton Roads Tea Party on finding a common cause.
Let’s hope that this is the move towards a more involved citizenry.
My thoughts on the proposal for Norfolk’s taxpayers to subsidize a new office building. Here’s the backstory…and yes, the Hampton Roads Tea Party did get involved.
That a majority of City Council has spoken in support of this project, in a time where our schools continue to fall apart and there is not enough funding for police officers or other elements of public safety, is surprising. But let’s look at the real number behind this project: $7,250. That is the amount of campaign contributions from Tivest Development to three members of Council supporting this project: Mayor Fraim, Councilman Burfoot, and Councilman Winn, with Mr. Burfoot receiving the majority of these contributions at $3,750.
Today, we learned that Tivest decided that, between Friday and Monday, it was a good idea to catch up on $32,675 on delinquent real estate taxes. And now, they’re expecting their “friends” on this body to take responsibility for up to two-thirds of this proposed building’s space-and rent. Or, put differently, their “friends” are expecting them to pass this responsibility on to us, the taxpayers.
By any measure, this is unacceptable. The fact that Tivest says this guarantee is necessary to secure financing for the project shows that even its potential investors think it’s a horrible idea. A reasonable person would ask why, then, would our elected officials want to put the citizens of this city on the hook for a project that appears fiscally dubious to investors. But, to Fraim, Burfoot, and Winn, apparently $7,250 in contributions speaks louder than the many Norfolk residents who have called, written, and spoken against this project.
Members of council, this is your time to choose. Will you stand with your constituents, who not only disapprove of this proposal but who have basic needs that you have failed to address? Or will you continue to support your campaign backers and their schemes to make money of the taxpayers’ backs? If you are true representatives of the people, we demand that you vote against this proposal. And if you choose your “friends” over your constituents, we will remember your choice when we make ours in the voting booth.