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GOLDMAN: Mayor Jones’ new Shockoe Stadium strategy revealed

Paul Goldman is a local lawyer who helped run Doug Wilder's historic campaign for governor of Virginia.

Paul Goldman is a local lawyer who helped run Doug Wilder's historic campaign for governor of Virginia.

RICHMOND, Va. – Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones made it official over the weekend. Jack Berry, Jim Ukrop, Ken Johnson, David White, Lou Salomonsky, Tammy Hawley and the rest of his pro-Shockoe Bottom stadium posse were still in the saddle.

The Mayor told WTVR’s Sandra Jones he is working on the new Shockoe Stadium proposal. If you see his interview with Sandra, the Mayor looks confident he is not going to fire blanks when he reveals his new Shockoe Stadium proposal.

Remember, Richmond City Councilwomen Graziano, Robertson, Newbille and Mosby are 100 percent behind the Shockoe Stadium proposal. Even a Tsunami of facts, figures and common sense can’t budge the “Jones 4.”

But he needs at least one more Council vote to turn the Bottom into a ballpark.

Today, we focus on what the Mayor is doing behind the scenes. He is developing not merely a new Shockoe Stadium plan, but a new Shockoe Stadium pitch. It is what we call the “spin,” usually as important as the actual substance.

My private sources tell me the “spin” is being developed by the Mayor’s Shockoe “spin doctor,” Mr. Ken Johnson.

Moreover, there seems to be public evidence to support their private understanding. Here is what the Mayor said in his recent newsletter in justifying his Shockoe Stadium proposal:

“The Shockoe [Stadium] development plan will …include at least a 40% minority business participation rate and at least a 20% minority ownership stake. Richmond has never seen community wealth-building commitments like these on a project this big.”

This is, as we say in politics, right in Ken Johnson’s “wheel-house.”

Mr. Johnson has been a leader in pushing for greater minority business participation in projects controlled and/or steered by city government through various methods. The late Ray Boone, editor of the Free Press, was likewise a major critic of what he saw as a failure of city government, state too, in making sure minority businesses received a bigger share of the contracts. Ray had some powerful statistics to back up his case.

I believe Mr. Johnson has convinced the Mayor to highlight this part of his Shockoe Stadium mantra far more than in the previous months. Clearly the old strategy didn’t work.

In politics, it is not unusual for the “new” strategy to be basically a refocusing of elements of the old strategy.

Could the “spin” work for Jones?

Councilman Baliles, Samuels and Hilbert are known to have higher political ambitions. At minimum it gives Jones – and his Stadium surrogates like Berry and Johnson and Ukrop – a leverage point, at least in theory.

Read carefully the way the Mayor is putting it. He and whomever is advising him are using the 40 percent and 20 percent figures the way they do for a particular reason.

Has Mr. Johnson given the Mayor a way to get his fifth vote? We shall see.

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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