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GOLDMAN: Citizen group asks lawyer to draft ballpark, bond referendum

RICHMOND, Va. – What started small soon grew 300 percent bigger than the group organizer expected.

They were concerned citizens, no fancy titles, no big jobs with big perks, they don’t get to meet the Mayor or City Council in private meetings to discuss quid-pro-quos.

They are basically like you, your neighbors and your friends around the city. None had worked together before. They came from around the city.

They had only one interest — what’s best for the City of Richmond.

They had only one goal — to make sure citizens get their rights as intended by the City Charter on issues of ballparks, spending over $100 million if not much, much more of public dollars without the proper checks and balances intended by federal, state and local law.

Since I am writing a book on presidential elections, they compare to the citizen groups from the “progressive era” in national politics out West in the 1890-1910 period.

Those citizens, lost to history for the most part, met in small groups determined to get African-Americans, women and other minorities the right to vote, to protect the public’s money from politicians and special interests.

These citizens, backed eventually by Teddy Roosevelt, Alice Paul, later Franklin D. Roosevelt, ultimately Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lit the political fire that changed the very concept of the “vote.”

Without them, Mayor Jones doesn’t have a job, the Richmond City Council as we know it doesn’t exist, the protections for the citizens built into the City Charter and state law aren’t there either.

These ordinary citizens – no special wealth, privilege or connections – thought all this to be wrong. They believed in the Declaration of Independence.

They viewed their efforts as a “we” thing, not a “me” thing.

They got direct election of Senators through the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

They next got all women the right to vote through the 19th Amendment.

Dr. King and his brave marchers suffered bull dogs, bullies and bombings to get the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, 1965 and Poll Tax outlawed. That’s the 24th Amendment.

SO THIS PAST SATURDAY, concerned citizens all, direct descendants from those in the South and elsewhere who likewise fought for these voting rights, met in the Richmond Public Library.

These citizens all wanted to know whether they had the right to put a referendum on the ballot this November. They were told, “yes you do.”

They wanted to know if there were special legalities as to ballot language. They were told, “yes there are.”

They wanted to know if there is a special process to get the referendum on the ballot. They were told, “yes there is.”

The biggest hurdle, to get a referendum on the ballot here in Richmond, it takes roughly 9,800 signatures from Richmonders only.

The Richmond Library group discussed for two hours all these ins and outs, they went around the room, everyone getting an equal say.

The bottom line issue was the people’s right to vote, not any particular position on any particular matter.

They were there for a positive reason, not a negative one. They were prepared to abide by the decision of the people on the stadium, on the $100 million in public money to be spent, on basic decisions greatly affecting the future of Richmond.

The people assembled around the table impressed me greatly for their knowledge, their concern and their basic civil mindedness.

They believe the people have earned their right to exercise their direct vote on these matters as intended by the City Charter.

At the next meeting, they will decide the language of the referendum for the ballot.

After that, they have to decide an even bigger question, do they try to get the huge number of signatures required to get that referendum language on the November ballot?

If you want to learn more, click here to email me.

Paul Goldman is in no way affiliated with WTVR. His comments are his own, and do not reflect the views of WTVR or any related entity. Neither WTVR nor any of its employees or agents participated in any way with the preparation of Mr. Goldman’s comments.

22 comments

  • Manalishi.

    Too broke to pay for it,,,,so just borrow the $ via bonds and have the taxpayers repay with interest. How about the The mayor jones purists? Should they have to pony up too. Clip their share form section 8 vouchers and the food stamp program. It’s fair isn’t it?

    • reeltime

      Now you know they can’t touch those programs. Sacred cash cows. I hope this gains momentum, supported by many.

      • Manalishi.

        So, Why don’t you and those that support it pay for it yourself without scalping all but the non productive? I’m not trying to be crass or asinine, but if ticket sales and private donations cannot make it a stand alone facility, its obviously a horrible investment. If the taxpayers are responsible for repaying these bonds, then its a municipal fraud with conspiracy to commit.

  • Glen Allen

    I think it is a shame that City Council is turning their back on the very people that put them in office. The people want to vote; the people are willing to support whichever way the MAJORITY of city resident voters decide (Not the majority of City Council members, but the majority of city resident voters – the people that will be paying for this). I think there are few, if any, city residents that are not aware of the issues pro, and con, there is only ONE reason that these citizens will not get to cast their individual vote on the Mayor’s Proposal – City Council will not step up to the plate and demand a referendum.

  • pcpuke

    The Rich, Corporate Donors, saddling the Middle with DEBT and more
    TAXES, while Jones’ people, that look like him, get off scott free?
    Perfect PC Set UP, as Transparently Published, in sponsoring
    Government/Media, Inc.
    The Rich, The Corporate, The Party Officials, Their Media in
    “Consortium”, Collusion, Extortion, Fraud, and Corruption.
    All hail DEMOCRATIC GIFT GATE, as “ethical” and Perfectly PC
    Democratic RULES when deliberately usurping the legislated
    Government/City Charter.

  • Glen Allen

    Greed has no particular affiliation, we have seen it clearly on both sides of the aisle with Governor/Mayor, and maybe even City Council (time will tell)

    • Manalishi.

      Glenn? Did you just try to compare giftgate (no state laws broken) with Jones and city council corruption? The common denominator here is all democrat affiliation.

  • pc

    Manalishi, The Democrats get to skirt, run, hide, escape, evade and
    refuse their Corruption under cover of their Party bought Media and
    set up Party Governance “Standards & Ethics Codes”.
    Assassinate others for what WE DO Transparently, and get away
    with Scott Free, as the Superior Sect of Injustices.

    • Manalishi.

      Agreed pc. That’s why I go after them from every angle without hesitation. Please note that will not/can not accuse us of being wrong. I will never tolerate anyone demanding me to accept their lack of personal standards or values. Feel free to take them to task anytime.

  • Kathryn Leighton

    I can’t wait to go with coworkers after work to a baseball game. Take clients from out of town. It would make for a great Friday night!!! Yay for Richmond!!!

    • pc

      Which Special Interest coalition, consortium, government office or
      lobbyist group or media do you represent? Can’t be so happy to
      be PC Tax screwed, without permission, for no reason.

  • Glen Allen

    Kathryn – You do not have to wait until 2016/17 to go to a game with coworkers, or to bring a client to a game, I have been doing it for years right on the Boulevard. After the game, there is a well light path all the way out to my car, just outside in the parking lot. Sometimes, if we want, we slip right on down to the Bottom, it is only 2-1/2 miles away. The Fan and Carytown are just as close. When we don’t feel like going out in the City, we are only a couple of hundred yards away from the interstate.

    • Kathryn Leighton

      I work downtown. We all would prefer to see it downtown, rather than going to an undesirable part of town for us. Like where the Diamond is now. It is much further away on the Boulevard. We already do happy hour in the Bottom. Every professional I know in the area hardly goes to the Diamond now (if ever). But really want to see it downtown. Make Richmond a City!! Get is off the Boulevard, move it to the Bottom!!!!

  • Karen

    I find it interesting that Kathryn is expressing her views and you all posting here are bashing her with sarcastic comments. Yet no one has called you to task for your opinions. Each of us has a right to our opinion – being rude is childish and uncalled for. “Great quash”? How about responding with respect and maybe an intelligent argument? What makes you think she’s involved with a special interest group? Maybe she just really wants a stadium in the Bottom!

    • Glen Allen

      “Each of us has a right to our opinion” – Exactly why a referendum is so important in this case. Even City Council admitted (Monday Night), that they needed help. Unfortunately City Council chose to hire a private consultant instead of asking the citizens, but none the less, they did admit they were unable, or unwilling, to make the decision on their own.

    • Kathryn Leighton

      Karen, I think most of them are just bored. You can find the same people on most of the local articles. Stirring up trouble and trying to make people who disagree with them look stupid. It is what it is.
      Most of my coworkers and I are proud to support a Diamond in the bottom. But you don’t see a lot of the supporters making a big deal out of it, mostly because they have better things to do it seems. The only problem that creates is that the opposition looks and feels like they make up the majority.

      Oh well, let them have their fun I guess.

  • Glen Allen

    Kathtyn – I work in the city and have plenty of friends in the city, and can honestly say I have not met anyone that supports building a stadium in the “Bottom”. If the supporters are convinced the majority of the city wants baseball in the “Bottom”, then they would be supporting the call for a referendum. The Mayor is doing everything in his power to avoid a referendum because he knows the overwhelming majority of city residents do not support building a stadium down in the “Bottom”. I suspect most residents would not support spending tax dollars at all on a new stadium when the one that is there can be renovated and expanded.

  • Kathryn Leighton

    Ah, they didn’t post my response. Oh well, this is a waste of time anyway. You kids have fun.

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