RICHMOND, Va. – Given the latest Internet news out of China, what I will now call the “Alibaba and the 40 thieves plan” for the Shockoe Stadium boondoggle may cost Richmond big time.
A little known state law, first discussed on this blog months ago, may cause the City of Richmond to lose the African-American Heritage/Slave Trail money now in the state budget and used by the Mayor as a justification for his Shockoe proposal over any Boulevard proposal. [As for the Wilder Museum money, as one of his lawyers, I can’t comment on that area.]
The problem being created by Jones stems from the questionable, overly expensive and squirrely financing scheme he is expected to announce next week to finance the Shockoe Bottom boondoggle.
What do we know about the Mayor’s financing plan?
As predicted first here, the original Mayor Jones stadium financing plan has been dropped because it violated the State Constitution, or I suppose more precisely, what he wanted to do could not ever get enacted even by this City Council due to the constitutional voting requirements.
Instead, the newest version of the “Alibaba and the 40 Thieves Plan” is expected to use the questionable, overly expensive and squirrelly bond financing from the Economic Development Authority.
BUT THIS MAY CREATE A STATE LAW 2.2-4035 PROBLEM.
Jones is getting millions of dollars in state money because he told the Governor and lawmakers the African-American Heritage/Slave Trail is an integral, merged part of his Shockoe Stadium/development project. Indeed, the Mayor has been claiming for months the Boulevard land stuff is actually part of an “all or nothing plan” as Bryon Marshall has repeatedly said.
Meaning, in the the minds of state lawmakers and the Governor, the African-American Heritage/Slave Trail is a part of the same single project.
But that is not what the “Ali Baba and the 40 thieves” plan is now claiming in budget documents and in private. There the African-American Heritage/Slave Trail is said to be a SEPARATE LEGAL PROJECT, although connected integrally in policy and political terms.
This seemly merely rhetorical distinction is not yet appreciated by the media and aides paying attention for council members, legislators and McAuliffe Administration officials. But there is a very clever motivation behind this shift in rhetoric.
The purpose of this is to lay the ground work for getting around Section 2.2-4305 of the Code of Virginia pertaining to “Competitive procurement by localities on state-aid projects.”
When the General Assembly allowed Richmond and other localities to create an EDA, they didn’t intend for the EDA to be used to get around Section 2.2-4305, a fundamental bulwark in the state’s highly regarded competitive bid process on projects using state money.
The General Assembly recently confirmed my view in passing Chapter 382 of the Session Laws for the 2010 General Assembly. The intent of this state law is crystal clear, if more than “$50,000 in the aggregate” of state money by any means is used in a project, THEN ALL THE CONTRACTS ON ALL PHASES OF SAID PROJECT must be awarded by “competitive sealed bidding” or “ after competitive negotiation” as such is defined in Section 2.2-4303.
Now do you get my drift?
The guts of the “Alibaba and the 40 thieves plan” is to use the EDA to bypass the City of Richmond competitive bid law, and thus allow awarding of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts to friends and allies without such competitive bids.
Section 2.2-4305 would ruin this part of the “Alibaba and 40 Thieves Plan” by requiring such competitive bidding under state law!
Thus Mayor and his posse on one hand promote the African-American Heritage/Slave Trail as fundamental to their Shockoe Stadium/Development project for political purposes in clubbing the City Council WHILE at the same time trying to lay a paper trial to claim it to be a SEPARATE PROJECT for purposes of state money funding!
It is so far fooling everyone except… now… you and everyone who cares to know knows.
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.