City Council Recap - September 28, 2015

Monday night’s city council meeting followed after the nine-day UCI Road World Championships that took place in the city of Richmond. The council did not address any of the issues on the regular agenda, but instead discussed the results of the bike event and the implications of the event for the city’s future.

Highlights

Citizen Comments

The Police and the Community

The issue of police brutality in the African American community has been, and continues to be, a vexing issue throughout the nation. However, when one citizen approached the council to address the issue of police brutality here in the City of Richmond and in Henrico County, a strong, negative response was elicited. Councilwoman Trammel was particularly rattled by these comments, responding to the gentleman that she was “not sure what city he lived in,” and expressing her high regard for the Richmond Police Department. Councilwoman Trammel was then supported by another citizen, who approached the council to express his pride in the Richmond Police Department by stating that, “We got the best police department in Virginia.” The gentleman also commended the RPD for the results of the “Night Out,” in which police officers went around to different neighborhoods in the city and were able to talk and socialize with citizens without tension. “Unfortunately,” the gentleman added, “Someone did not get the message,” because two police officers had been shot during the “Night Out.” This gentleman’s words were confirmed by another citizen who approached the council and stated that, “We’ve got the best police department in the country.” Upon hearing this statement, Vice-President Hilbert commented that, “There are issues around the country relative to the police--- but I don’t think Richmond is one of those communities.”

“There’s Something Wrong in this City!”

A concerned citizen came forward at the city council meeting to, as he expressed, “raise the roof” about some issues of miscommunication between the city council and the people of the city of Richmond. He explained to the council members that he and many others are exasperated with the city’s leadership, pointing out that the city is short-handed in terms of staff, that the people are not hearing anything from the governing body and the council is not giving a voice to several important issues within the city, and that, “We don’t know how much money we got---or don’t got!” The gentleman was frustrated by the council’s lack of a contingent plan, and the mayor’s interest in what he referred to as “shiny things,” such as the UCI Bike Race and a baseball park. He declared that “There’s something wrong in this city!” and asked the council to take into consideration his many concerns about the city.

“Save Shockhoe Bottom!”

The excavation of the site of Lumpkin’s Jail in Shockhoe Bottom is a project that had been discussed in city council prior to Monday’s council meeting, but a group of concerned citizens came forward to express concerns about the project. While the people were not completely against the excavation of the site, the group conveyed that the way in which the city is conducting the project is what is causing the discontent. The spokesperson for the group stated that, “If properly memorialized, the site will provide an educational experience.” However, the spokesperson then explained that “The site alone is inadequate for showing African American history with such a small amount of space.” The goal of this “Save Shockhoe Bottom” group was essentially to suggest that the project ought to be either modified or discontinued.

Consent Agenda

The consent agenda passed unanimously, with the addition of Res. 2015-R058, which was forwarded and adopted. Res. 2015-R058 was presented as a request to approve the performance contract of the Department of Justice in the city of Richmond. Councilwoman Newbille expressed the importance of the “quality of the service” provided by Richmond’s justice department.

Regular Agenda

The city council did not address the regular agenda on Monday night. The council instead discussed the success of the UCI Road World Championships that took place here in Richmond from September 19, 2015 to September 27, 2015. Each council member gave his or her feedback on the results of the race and the prestige that the city acquired as a result. Councilwoman Graziano commented that the bike race “gave Richmond a special feeling.” Councilman Samuels added that UCI was great, followed by Councilman Agelasto, who expressed that the race was “pretty awesome” and “went of flawlessly for an event of such magnitude.” Councilwoman Trammel was also pleased with the race, but noted that next time, the restaurant and storeowners need to be included in the planning, as many businesses saw a decrease in customers due to roads being closed and people being unable to access stores and restaurants. Councilwoman Trammel also commended the police department for handling the event beautifully. Councilwoman Newbille also gave her sincere thanks and appreciation to all of those who helped to make the bike race an “extraordinary” event. She also stated that, “The whole world came to Richmond.” Vice-President Hilbert described the event as “really, really exciting,” and expressed that even on television, UCI was a great event to watch. President Mosby closed the discussion by saying that, “UCI was a wonderful event and a magnificent opportunity for Richmond.” She expressed that “UCI was not a regional event, but an international event,” and that this city of history, diversity, food, art, and music can finally “step out from behind the curtain.”

President Mosby and Councilman Samuels then collaboratively expressed enthusiasm for citizens to come out to the Richmond Folk Festival on the upcoming weekend. The Folk Festival is a free event in which citizens can come out and enjoy great music, great food, and simply have a good time.

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