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GOLDMAN: Why did Council let Mayor Jones keep illegal stadium deal alive?

RICHMOND, Va. – Let me ask you, why does Mayor Jones apparently believe he can get either Baliles, Samuels, Hilbert, Agelasto or Trammell to switch their vote?

As I have been writing for months, the Mayor’s NO BID Shockoe Stadium deal has many illegal elements IF CITY COUNCIL WOULD INSIST on following what is expected by the City Charter, the City Code and state law on this self-described “all or nothing” development project.

But for some reason, they continue to refuse. Why?

Last night, they played enabler again, giving Mayor Jones more time to find one more vote to enact a plan with all these illegal elements HAD COUNCIL MERELY INSISTED ON FAIR PLAY.

Indeed, the City Council in effect endorsed the Mayor’s brazen claim on Monday that his NO BID CONTRACT SCHEME with potentially $HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS going in sweetheart deals to his political allies is nothing more than minority wealth building.

This is his precise statement on this matter:

The Shockoe development plan will benefit the community through an agreement to include at least a 40% minority business participation rate and at least a 20 percent minority ownership stake. Richmond has never seen community wealth-building commitments like these on a project this big. [Emphasis added]

The Mayor is right on one thing: “Richmond has never seen… commitments like these” before, and for good reason.

FACT: The “20 percent minority ownership” claim comes from a NO BID sweetheart deal clause I exposed last week!

Did the Council pay any attention? Do they agree with me or the Mayor on this? They left the door open for him last night!

A previous unknown clause #6 in the so-called “Stadium South Memorandum of Understanding” declares:

There will be a 40 percent MEB/ESB goal on construction of the entire Project. SWA Architects may be employed to provide A & E services. A 20 percent MBE/ESB goal will apply to all A & E services not self-performed by SWA. With respect to the apartment/residential component of the Project, there shall be a 20 percent MBE/ESB development and ownership of such component.” [Emphasis added]

Moreover, as I also pointed out, the Jones secretly negotiated NO BID scheme also has a previously unknown clause #10 keeping all this wealth building secret!

That’s right, no one would know who these folks were for at least three years, if not forever!

So let me ask you, just who do you think the secret 20 percent owners will be? Who do you think will get the 40 percent on this deal, and on others apparently?

Will it be a true competitive bid open to all, or pre-arranged as part of the price of getting the NO BID DEAL arranged in secret by the Mayor’s top political appointee?

The JONES DEAL IS ILLEGAL if he had to do it under the Richmond City Charter and the Richmond City Code as the people expect:

  1. Jones could not demand that a NO BID CONTRACT REQUIRE a 20 percent ownership stake to a secret firm, minority or otherwise.
  2. Jones could not demand that 40% of the work go to firms defined by sex, race, religion, ethnicity or any such criteria as determined by City Hall.
  3. Jones could not, as his plan currently contemplates, give city owned streets and related public land to the Economic Development Authority WITHOUT ANY COMPETITIVE BIDS.
  4. Jones could skirt the Section 106 historical review process in federal law if the City, as opposed to the EDA, were doing this project [actually, I doubt he can skirt the law anyway but rumor says the state has agreed to back him on this].
  5. JONES could not give Dave and Lou and Charles and Highwood NO BID DEALS, sweetheart or otherwise, period.
  6. Jones could not take state money for his “all or nothing” thing and bypass the state competitive bid law if this were considered a city development project.

SO I ASK IN THE NAME OF THE PEOPLE:

Why does Jones believe he can what amounts to an illegal deal if done the right way enacted by this City Council? Minority wealth building is good, but back room sweetheart deals for those with political connections is bad regardless of the race, religion, gender or ethnic status of whomever is getting such a secret deal.

He only needs one more vote. So who does he think might switch, and why?

That’s the question on my mind this morning.

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.

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