City Council Recap-March 26, 2018

Highlights

Mr. Dick Harman was honored by the City Council for his 30-year Anniversary as the Council’s host announcer. Mr. Harman has occupied this position since 1988, providing the community with pre-meeting and post-meeting summaries. In addition to his work for the City Council, Mr. Harman has work experience in the areas of advertising, marketing, and broadcasting.

The Council as a whole thanked Mr. Harman for being there throughout the years and for being such a valuable asset to the community. Council President Hilbert commended Mr. Harman for his three decades of hard work, stating that “no one has endeavored to inform the City with as much dedication as Mr. Harman.” Councilwoman Gray commented that she has always admired Mr. Harman for his ability to explain the meetings in terms that a citizen could understand. Council Vice-President Newbille praised Mr. Harman for his incredible dedication, commitment, and service, calling him a role model who has been invaluable to the citizenry and who is appreciated by the community. Councilwoman Trammell expressed that the she, and the Council as a whole, really love Mr. Harman for all that he has done during his time working for the City Council.

Mr. Harman quipped that when he started the position, initially it was only supposed to be a 30-day trial to see how having a broadcast announcer would go. “That thirty (30) days has turned into a thirty-year journey!” Mr. Harman described his time working in his capacity as being “a very interesting time,” as he has experienced 57 different Councils, 6 Council Presidents, and 7 Mayors of Richmond over his tenure. In the last century, he has missed only two meetings, and in the current century he has only missed two meetings. “I supposed my excuse notes are all used up!” he chuckled. He thanked the Council for the award, stating that his job has been an adventure and a fun time, and that he loves his job, which is simply to report what’s going on. He enjoys keeping the City informed about what’s happening in the community.

Citizen Comments

Short-Term Rentals

Joe Nelson came forward to discuss short-term rentals in the City. He described the process of obtaining a permit as being “daunting” and stated that the $1800 application fee is problematic. Mr. Nelson said that the process of obtaining what is effectively a special use permit (SUP) encourages people not to rent, because the process and structure are complicated. He also critiqued that AirBNB, a major industry operating in the City that provides rental spaces for about 30,000 people, operates without regulation or taxation. He suggested that the implementation of some form of taxation could provide a revenue source for the City.

Councilwoman Gray shared that there has been a push to have an ordinance passed regarding this matter and noted that the administration is moving towards creating guidelines and regulations for such properties.

Carytown Needs Care

Jeanie Rule shared with the City Council not only her enthusiasm about the French Film Festival and her newfound proficiency with the French language, but also to talk about the importance of the Carytown Business District. Ms. Rule has been a retail owner in Carytown for six (6) years and is a member of the Carytown Merchants Association. “Carytown is the place to be if you are a small entrepreneur,” she explained. “It is a vibrant and attractive area that is pedestrian friendly.” Her concerns, however, was that as attractive as Carytown is, there has of lately been quite a bit of trash overflowing and graffiti writing that has made the area begin to look “rough, dirty, unkempt, and uncared about.” As the Carytown Business District provides the City with millions of dollars annually, Ms. Rule requested the support of Council to help Carytown remain vibrant and beautiful. “We need your help,” she concluded.

Consent Agenda

Several members of the Richmond community came forward to speak favorably about RES: 2018-R022 (To name Trafford Road located between its intersection with Blanton Avenue and its intersection with Swan Lake Drive as “Police Memorial Way.”) and to thank the City Council and Mayor for making this honorable change.

Ken Burke, the grandson of a police officer who was killed in 1925, shared with the Council how the Richmond police always supported his family following the loss of his grandfather. In the mid-1980s, Mr. Burke’s father was involved in the erection of the police memorial statue in Richmond. He thanked the Council for getting the work done and getting the street name changed.

The Chief of Police was also present on Monday night, and reminded everyone to remember that policing is a tough job. “Richmond lost its first police officer in 1869, and forty (40) have been lost since then,” he shared. In May, the legacies of Richmond’s fallen police officers will be remembered and honored. He entreated the Council to pass the Resolution.

The third speaker was quite emotional in speaking on the Resolution. He conveyed his appreciation of the City Council, Chief Administrative Officer, and Mayor for what he called “an act of professional courtesy and respect.” He stated that the renaming of the street as “Police Memorial Way” marks a milestone of appreciation for law enforcement lawyers, and that he was glad that “a signature of honor and memory for the living and the deceased” who protect this great city would be given by this Resolution.

Expedited Agenda

There were two items on the Council’s Expedited Agenda. One (1st) was to allow for the printing Councilwoman Larson’s monthly newsletter to be paid for. The second (2nd) was to appoint Candice Reid, the former Deputy City Clerk and current Interim City Clerk, as the City Clerk.

Councilwoman Larson stated that Ms. Reid stood out during the interview process and that she has been a great deputy and interim clerk during her time with City Council. “I am glad to see her name move forward,” she said.

Councilwoman Trammell shared the sentiment, stating that at first, she and Ms. Reid were not on the same page and did not get along well, but now are like sisters who always have their doors open to one another. Councilwoman Gray commended Ms. Reid for her professional and hard work. Councilwoman Robertson said that Ms. Reid has provided excellent leadership in the Clerk’s Office and had been able to fill in the gaps that have occurred in the Clerks Office over time. “It is a pleasure to promote people within,” she said.

Vice-President Newbille thanked Ms. Reid as well for her outstanding work, describing Ms. Reid as a competent professional who is truly committed to the City.

During Public Hearing, RVAGOV gave Ms. Reid a spontaneous accolade for her work, enthusiastically affirming the Council’s decision to promote her to that position, as she has been invaluable to RVAGOV’s team through her work in providing information.

Both items were approved, and Ms. Reid was named the Clerk of the City of Richmond.

President Hilbert joked that Ms. Reid has the patience to put up with him.

Ms. Reid gave a very heartfelt thank you to the City Council for the appointment, stating that it has been “a long road not without missteps.” She said she believes that she here for a reason and that she has a purpose. Her family was present to share in this moment with her, and she thanked them as well, sharing with everyone that “family is everything.”

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