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GOLDMAN: Healing divisions created by flawed process goal of stadium referendums

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

RICHMOND, Va. – The overriding goal of the referendums I wrote for the citizens group now working to get them on the November ballot [hopefully you will sign] is basic yet powerful. It aims to heal the growing damage being inflicted on our city due to the way the Shockoe Stadium proposal is being handled.

This is why the City Charter, knowing our politicians occasionally “jump the shark” as the saying goes, gave concerned citizens the referendum path. It requires a record effort in terms of signatures. But given what is at stake for Richmond, I believe it is worth the effort.

As City Council President Charles Samuels and Councilman Jon Baliles will tell you, I told them last year a referendum would be the only fair way out of the mess the Council and the Mayor were creating.


City Council now says it can’t truly understand the Mayor’s Shockoe Proposal without spending big bucks on a new “independent’ consultant to analyze and explain it.

So I ask you, if Jones’own supporters on Council now admit they can’t understand his proposal without getting more facts, then on what basis did Mayor Jones and the Jones/Marsh machine label as racist those Richmonders “who don’t look like us” for being unable to support their Shockoe proposal?

With all due respect, the Mayor, as I pointed out at the time, was merely playing racial hard ball politics. Why?

Because his proposal is rooted in $700 million in No-bid contracts, with upwards of $300 million guaranteed to those subcontractors with political connections to City Hall and City Council.

I am literally begging everyone to please let’s get past this failed racial politics once and for all, or at least on this issue.

Bottom line

The allure of so much money, so easily made by so few politically connected people has overcome common sense and reason.

In 2005, I saw the same thing as regards the first Shockoe Stadium Plan. Mayor Wilder asked me to review it, he said it “didn’t smell right.” And after reviewing it, I told him, “You are right, it doesn’t pass any test.”

He killed it quickly.

Therefore, my goal in writing the referendums remains the very type of honest approach Wilder and Warner asked me to provide, that legendary anti-segregationist Henry Howell asked me to provide, that Tim Kaine and others asked me to provide on financial and other issues.

They didn’t expect me to get it right all the time. But Wilder took my idea of a “Rainy Day” fund and used it to establish Virginia as the best managed fiscal state.

Warner asked me to write the fiscal plank to his campaign platform and then edit the whole thing to make sure the whole basis for his Administration would be fiscally sound.

Howell used my fiscal plank to become the first Democrat nominated for Governor due to support from African-Americans and white working class Virginians.

And when Kaine wanted to figure out how to get an Elected Mayor here in Richmond, he backed my referendum approach because all the others had failed.

They expect me to help Richmond make the right decision.


It isn’t against anyone or any group. It is a positive, uplifting approach to making sure we do the right thing by our solemn obligation to those forgotten by history, and to future generations.

Mayor Jones actually agreed with my approach BEFORE becoming Mayor!

That’s right, it is all in the public record, just look it up.

The referendums provide a fair and open process to make sure we do the right thing the right way, just read Proposition A and Proposition B, the legal names of both referendums.

The referendums are based on making sure the history, the finances, the rights of the people are fully protected in a fair and honest process.

They can heal the damage done to date, and make no mistake, there is damage, a lot of it, and we need to heal it.

A referendum, giving the people their right to vote as envisioned by the City Charter on such huge controversial matters, is the last, best hope to heal the divisions.

I hope the people take it.

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.


  • Glen Allen

    There is absolutely no argument for NOT having a referendum. Those that do not wish to exercise their right to vote, do not have to cast a vote.

    • athynz

      Agreed! I’m no proponent of this ballpark for several reasons – some of them having to do with the crooked politics involved – but if the majority of the citizens vote it in then it’s all good. All I want is for that vote to happen, for the citizens to be involved in this rather than it being shoved down our throats by a bunch of greedy businessmen and corrupt politicians.

  • me

    Can’t, won’t, don’t see how equal access to government with equal representation should, could, would be seen as a threat to Richmond in any way.

  • Bert Berlin

    Mr. Goldman’s city charter doesn’t allow for referenda whenever he doesn’t like the way decisions are made. One of his propositions–concerning a study commission–is without any basis in the Charter. The other is a danger because it allows a minority of the council to delay projects. Besides, even if the referendum gets on the ballot and passes, it would still have to be passed by the General Assembly.

  • manalishi

    “Healing divisions”???? Theres no healing. theres no forgiveness. It’s long overdue to treat democrats like the trash their mama’s refuse to raise. From persecution to prosecutions,,, It;s time.

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