City Council Recap-February 26, 2018
Red Skins Initiative
The Council took some time to discuss the Red Skins Initiative, more specifically paying the debt for the Red Skins training facility. The city is responsible for $750,000 of Red Skins building debt, despite having no control over the building itself (the building is owned by the ECA). This debt must be refinanced by September, which is problematic. The City will need to find a way to handle the $8.5 million debt, or otherwise restructure the debt and negotiate an extension.
Katherine Benedict was appointed to the Richmond Slave Trail Commission.
Mayor's Poverty Report
Mayor Stoney delivered a report on the progress of his poverty reduction program and the work of the Office of Community Wealth Building. He is working collaboratively with RPS to improve education in the City and is also working to improve housing conditions in the City. Reggie Gordon, Director of the Office of Community Wealth Building, also gave some remarks.
John Richmond, a teacher and resident of Oregon Hill, made a request that the City Council provide more money for bicycle lanes. Mr. Richmond stated that two miles of bike lanes had been built last year, but no more had been added since. He finds this frustrating, as he has rode is his bike to work for fifteen (15) years, which saves him $1300 a year, allows him to get to work faster, and improves his overall health.
Wayne Dawson, a retired firefighter, wants to see a COLA (Cost-of-Living Adjustment) raise of 1% over the next ten (10) years.
A Divisive and Inequitable City
Anne Wortham came forward to express that Richmond’s students are the most important part of our City. Yet, the problem is that the City of Richmond is divisive and propagates inequity.
A local resident and mother named Sha’Randa Taylor came to the podium to raise awareness of the poor housing conditions in the City of Richmond, noting that both the City’s leaders and RRHA had been very negligent with regards to public housing. She emphasized the seriousness of the issue by bringing to the Council her miscarried fetus. Miss Taylor explained that she believes that the stress of living in a public housing unit infested with rats, roaches, and under other hazardous and unsanitary conditions, caused her to lose the child she was expecting. “I see people in the back holding their babies in their arms, while I can only hold mine in a cup,” she said tearfully. This citizen’s comment created an emotional response from both the Council and the audience present. It also prompted action on part of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA), who have since made efforts to provide better living arrangements for the young, distraught mother.