Last Week in Review
*RVAGOV would like to apologize for the lack of coverage last week. Our editorial staff was on break due to a few family issues. Here is the coverage missed from last week*
City Council Recap - April 11, 2016
To state that Monday night’s city council meeting was crowded would be an understatement: there were so many Richmond citizens in attendance that the overflow extended to the fifth and ninth floors of the City Council Meeting. The reason behind this overflow? The mayor’s budget papers.
Awards and Presentations
Sexual Assault Awareness Month
President Mosby took a few minutes to thank the YWCA for their hard work in providing free and confidential services for sexual assault victims here in the City of Richmond. April is officially Sexual Assault Awareness Month and sexual assault is a subject that President Mosby is very serious about. Sexual assault is a big problem in the Richmond community and President Mosby hopes to increase public awareness of the issue and encourages the community to make an effort to prevent sexual assault.
“I take this very seriously and so should you…because prevention is possible,” President Mosby said. “If you see something, say something. If you hear something, say something. If you think something, say something.”
Richmond Public Safety Emergency 911 Telecommunications Week
President Mosby, on behalf of the City Council and Mayor Jones, declared the second week of April “Richmond Public Safety Emergency 911 Telecommunications Week.” Emergency response personnel and 911 operators were thanked and honored for their work in keeping the Richmond community safe.
“We are thankful that you decide to answer,” President Mosby stated. “Some people call and don’t get answered…because of what you do, many citizens get to live another day.”
Mr. Samuels and Mr. Agelasto took a moment to recognize the Maymont Foundation for their dedication to preserving and caring for the historic Maymont Park and Museum that is a popular tourist site here in Richmond. Both Mr. Samuels and Mr. Agelasto have served on the Maymont Foundation Board in the past. This year, Maymont is celebrating its 90th Anniversary, and will be celebrating it this upcoming Sunday with carriage rides, a carriage parade, a fashion show, a 90s jazz band, and more. A spokesman from the foundation stated that the goal is “to preserve the past and embrace the future, and give back to the City of Richmond.”
Mr. Dick Harmond
The City Council members all gave Mr. Dick Harmond a heartfelt “Thank You” for his 28 years as the man behind the City Council broadcasts. He had attended and broadcasted over 700 hundred meeting over the years and has only been absent for two of them. He was commended for always smiling, for a job well done, and for his dedication and commitment to his work.
“Thank you so much for bringing enjoyment to all that goes on in this City Hall,” President Mosby said. “I feel very honored…and very old!” Mr. Harmond replied jokingly.
Mr. Charles Willis was lost in the overflow when his name was called for the citizen’s comments, but when he did make it to the podium, he spoke with a purpose. Speaking as a representative for United Communities against Crime, he first thanked the City Council for all of their support before debriefing the Council about the success of the first citywide violence prevention workshop. The workshop was described as a great success where over 200 residents, leaders, and families came out to teach young folks and residents how to resolve conflicts without violence.
Mr. Willis said, “It takes a whole village to raise a child. It is important for us all to come together, to bring a positive change to the community, and to keep in mind to support Richmond Public Schools.”
Review of Amendments
Agenda amendments were moved to the April 25th City Council Meeting. The motion to accept was made by Councilman Samuels and seconded by Councilwoman Trammel.
Garrett Prior approached the Council in order to support ORD: 2016-092 on the agenda. ORD: 2016-092 is an ordinance that will provide much needed funding to Richmond Public Schools.
“It will give us the accountability of holding the School Board accountable!” Mr. Garrett explained.
Councilman Agelasto agreed with Mr. Prior on this item, stating, “It [2016-092] is a very important step.”
Deputy Director Denise Laws from the CAO addressed the Council about ORD: 2016-115 and ORD: 2016-116. Both ordinances would reallocate and appropriate funds for projects being taken on by the CAO. A public hearing on the issue took place following the Director’s announcement.
A representative from the housing authority expressed that he supports the use of the funds, but is concerned that the money is not going where it supposed to go. “I support the paper,” he said, “but I need the City Council to use their authority, to follow the law, use their oversight, their veto power, and do what is needed for the people. Stand and makes sure that oversight and enforcement are present!”
Ed Solaris from the Rebuilding Together Board of Directors asked the Council for their support in funding the organization. The organization currently has 1000 volunteers and 40 homes serving 6th and 8th district residents.
Alexandra James from Trinity Family Life Center also asked the Council to continue supporting the organizations initiative to serve the residents of Richmond’s foster care system.
The Council postponed addressing ORD: 2016-115 and ORD: 2016-116 until the April 25th City Council Meeting.
The Mayor’s budget papers was the major highlight of the night as students, teachers, administrators, parents, and citizens approached the Council to address what the Mayor should do with his budget. City Hall was overflowing with people wanting to address Mayor Jones’s new budget. Students Denise Waters, Anisha Johnson, Drianna Spencer, Heaven Reid, and Elijah Gunter, all of whom were fifth graders from Fairfield Court Elementary, all begged the City Council to ask Mayor Dwight C. Jones for books and supplies, new computers, and up to date technology. The kids expressed how unhappy they were with their experiences in school, such as having teachers leaving, no custodians to keep the schools clean, having no field trips due to a lack of bus drivers, having to share broken computers, and having no resources.
Kimberly Bailey and Sara Ford, among many others, spoke to the City Council about the Mayor’s budget.
“Invest in us,” Mrs. Bailey said. “I do not teach in vain. Help us to nurture and provide the city with the best citizens. We wake up and teach the future doctors, lawyers, and future city council members!”
“We need to see the bigger picture,” Mrs. Ford explained. “The working conditions are poor and the teachers need a raise, so therefore you all need to amend the Mayor’s budget!”
The main idea of all of the arguments was that education should be the top priority. Children are the future and education is everyone’s problem. Schools impact every aspect of our lives: poverty reduction, public safety, economic development, crime, and more. Education is not a luxury item, it is a civil right that is crucial to the community. Schools currently do not have the resources and facilities needed, the physical conditions of the schools create environments destructive to student learning. Students can’t concentrate in the extreme heat and unbearable cold, nor can they be healthy if they are in schools where there is mold and cockroaches and a broken ventilation system. Teachers are struggling and students are dropping out. Teachers have no incentive to stay with RPS and the fact that the Mayor’s budget does not include a pay raise for teachers makes the incentive even lower. Teacher turnover destabilizes learning, only making the situation even worse.
The conflict and friction persisting between the City Council and the School Board is also a big part of why the problem is not being resolved. At this point, instead of producing productive, well-educated students, RPS is creating the next generation of criminals, pernicious underclass individuals, and disenfranchised citizens, all of which are negative outcomes for the community.
All everyone asks for is for the Mayor to put some money into the schools. Read more here