City Council Recap - November 12, 2019

The meeting began with an invocation offered by Minister Joy Franklin of Truth Ministries, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. The members for consideration of Appointments and Reappointments are approved.

Awards and Presentations

The meeting began by announcing that the Richmond City Council officially proclaims the week before Thanksgiving as Richmond Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week. The plight of hunger and homelessnes affects everyone, and Richmond luckily includes many dedicated non profits and individuals to provide services for those in need. One of the people being thanked wants to thank the network of providers working to reduce hunger and homelessness, and mentioned that there are 40 service providers at the Richmond Convention Center working to serve 505 people, which is why not many of them could be there today.

Next, Reva Trammel recognized Caroline N. Thomas for her many years of dedicated service on behalf of our community. She served from 1971 to 2015 as an election officer for voter precinct 812. Public service is some of the most important work a person can do, so the Richmond city council honors and celebrates Caroline for so many years of service, and thanks her for making our city an even better place. Joe Morris gave a speech to Ms. Thomas, as follows: “Dear Mrs. Thomas, it is with great pleasure I recognize you for over 50 years of service to both your community as well as the commonwealth of Virginia. Recognizing your achievements over the last 6+ decades would be a herculean task, so I will just hit the highlights. You devoted over half a century as an election officer in Richmond and Chesterfield County. You began your service as an election officer during the term of governor harrison up to the term of Governor Mccauliffe- 14 governors. Additionally in 1971 you and your husband George William Thomas demonstrated commitment to less fortunate by establishing a national program for dental care for the handicapped. You are the past president of young at heart at Belmont methodist church, and also support the legendary church food pantry. However, your most amazing accomplishment is that you managed to put up with my dear friend and your son Bill for the past 68 years. You are an inspiration to the young and young I heart, I literally speak for thousands of people when i say thank you for your selfless service for the commonwealth and the community. Please keep up the stellar work for several more decades. I am honored to call you my friend, Joe Morrisey.”

Next, Parker Agelasto recognized the Richmond Little League intermediate 50-70 all-star baseball team. Members are chosen by allstar coaches and Richmond Little League Board of Commissioners. In order to be chosen they must have played in 60% of their regular teams games and met all other requirements. They excelled in winning regional district and state series, and played in international regional series. Richmond council honors and celebrates this team and thanks all those instrumental in the teams success as they reached the highest level of competition.

Citizen Comments

Melvin Jones is concerned about getting another bus for the residents at Essex village. Some have to walk 10 blocks with a stroller and kids, meanwhile 3 buses run down North Avenue back to back. One can go to Washington park, it’s not necessary for all three to go down North Avenue. One person was hit on broad street, and there is a lot of speeding down north avenue. Although they set up radars, people are still driving up to 45 and 60 mph. They say we will put a speed trailer out, but it will not do anything. There is also a lot of drug activity on north avenue.

Mr. Bradley spoke next addressing nepotism and favoritism, and how it circumvents the law. He has been emailing texting and calling them for years related to section 3, and has offered his services and company to assist so we don’t have the same situation for the city jail. He thinks we need competitive bidding and transparency, and Bradley development is prepared to assist in oversight.

Emma Clark is speaking about concern regarding public private partnerships in the city. She is trying to protect money meant for kids from going into private pockets, and notes that we made a strange rule to ignore the motives of private corporations regardless of evidence to the contrary. When we choose to partner with corporations we have an obligation to consider their motives and values.

Mr. Chipman was speaking today with concern over recent evictions with RHA. People are being thrown out in court due to defect in case, and they failed to see if any of these were veterans.

This plan is used by housing authorities anticipating redevelopment, and it is a HUD violation of code 42. Catholic U law review talks about what occurs when defacto demolition is taking place, and RHA should have to explain themselves. It was done in anticipation of mixed use redevelopment process, and they need to make sure the letter of the law is being followed. Even senator Tim Cane is very concerned, and they need to hold RHA accountable.

Nicholas DaSilva spoke on public Housing, and said that residents of 5 district expressed that city housing has been neglected to the point it could be considered an act of violence. He is fighting to end illegal evictions, and mentioned that if this happened anywhere else it would be considered an embarrassment. We need to remind RHA that if they fail to serve the citizens and fulfill their duty they can be replaced. The colosseum project had 7 out 8 candidates express they do not wish to support this plan, and they collected 700+ surveys of which the consensus of 90% was that they did not support or want this project. We as a district do not want this. Take that into consideration.

Jasmine Leeward is a resident of 7th district. She did a lot of work in Norfolk, Virginia last year and she sees a very parallel situation with people being kicked out of their homes for a mixed use project. People should be able to stay in homes without being displaced.

Charles Taft Peters the Third delivered a statement from Democratic Socialists of America. His group is outraged, and says that housing is a human right. For decades our residents have not recieved the housing that is theirs by right, and since the release of the 2020 RHA plan its betrayal of residence has become public record. Multiple violations of federal housing laws have occurred, and the property class is devouring the commonwealth by public officials. These are white suprmecist violations, and it shows how ever cruel white wealth must be satisfied. This council doesn’t have to watch it happen. You have authority over RHA, nothing is stopping you from helping, and until then you are complicit. People will die if you don’t do your jobs. Help them.

Reggie Ford is representing the 8th district focus group. They discussed current and future closed, neglected, and abandoned schools.Oak grove has been closed and shuttered for years, and it has been costing the taxpayer yearly. This is negligent of taxpayer funds, and we would like an adaptive reuse plan. We should be investing in new structures and creating state of the art learning environments, not working on places that are not safe for renovation. The property is a health hazard for our children, and we need to transform this property for a more useful element for the community at large. We have heard community center, health center, or park, just as a few ideas.

Kristin Reed is very disappointed to see the abolition of the agenda on the ordinance meetings. The Public Safety Commission meeting had a city staff member waiting mayoral appointment so they could continue to meet, and thought that was why she didn’t hear about another meeting. That commission is set to be eliminated and is said to have “fulfilled its duty to council.” She disagrees, an d argues that there is no other committee for them to develop meaningful alternatives to mass incarceration. There is so much more work to be done, and Virginia leads nation in referrals to law enforcement in public schools.

Elizabeth Rourke says that since 2011 a lot of money has been invested to protect her 99 year old building. This is being endangered by ordinance 2019-270. Developments should be done in a collaborative manner, and in respect to older structures. She suggested that they rent parking in the area. Most surface lists have waiting lots, and places available monthly are still not guaranteed. This leads to limited options to buildings without their own parking, and parking is a growing issue in parking undergoing significant developments. The city already knows how to address these issues- resident parking districts modeled upon the existing structures in the fan and other areas.

Betty Fogelson is a resident with development going around near property. The historic structures on maine and west cary do not have parking options, and we need to have the availability of parking permits with historic properties because we have invested a lot of money in them. You shouldn’t discourage people from selling historic properties for development.

Kim Gray states that owners have been renting a spot from the property owners for parking because there is no where in the value to park which really impacts the value of their homes.

She also believes that alternatives to incarceration issue should be continued until they can get more information, and they should not abolish the committee without solid information that tells us what we should do as incarceration.

Reva M Trammel mentions that we need to look at all commissions not giving us reports of meetings, not just this one.

Ellen Robertson says they have been working for years now, but they couldn't get the appointments they need or meetings they need to have. She says the committee needs more staffing.

Kristin Larson doesn’t want to abolish the committee just to reinstate it again or make revisions, but if we can't then she’s okay with ending it and establishing it.

They decided to continue item 5 Ordinance 2019-263 to the January 13 council meeting.

Item 58 Ordinance 2019-289: To amend ch. 19, art. VII, div. 2 of the City Code by adding therein a new §19-334.2, concerning the reporting of lost or stolen firearms, for the purpose of imposing a requirement that lost or stolen firearms be reported to the Department of Police and prescribing a civil penalty for violations thereof.

William Smith, Chief of Police, spoke in agreement of this ordinance and stated that this paper requires anyone who loses a firearm must report it within 24 hours of such loss, and does not have an adverse impact on gun ownership other than requiring them to do some with a federal penalty. They are trying to reduce firearm being held illegally, and waiting to report makes job much more difficult.

Glenn Burly, a retired police officer, also supports this item and states that communication and awareness helps police officers and citizens.

Kristin Dumont also agreed and argued that gun thefts occur frequently, and the number is now 215. Reporting lost or stolen guns provides law enforcement with a useful protective tool.

Charles Wallace also supports Ordinance 58. He argues “Why not?” and states that this a time when people are abusing firearms.

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