Pipeline Protest Tomorrow

And, by the way, the RVA Environmental Film Festival (FREE ADMISSION) will be cranking this weekend. The Virginia film contest winner is Trouble Water: Voices From Bath, will be screened Sunday afternoon. It’s about Virginians facing Dominion Energy’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

It’s important to remember that Dominion officials themselves say they could make money from renewables like solar and wind. Why don’t they? Because they insist on using their regulated monopoly to make just a bit more profit from dirty fossil fuel. They don’t care about the risks to our water and our planet.

Support IRV Voting Reform

Republican member of the House of Delegates, Nick Freitas, is introducing a bill which would give Instant Runoff Voting for statewide Virginia elections. It would provide for instant runoff voting in elections for statewide offices, the United States Senate, the United States House of Representatives, and the General Assembly.

https://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2017/hb2315/

The initial language is from the Piedmont, Virginia Green Party group.

Please contact the privileges and election committee members of the House of Delegates here to urge them to pass HB2315! You can get there contact information through this link:
http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/house/members/members.php?committee=H18

Also see previous post here:
http://www.oregonhill.net/2016/11/15/some-election-thoughtstime-for-rcvirv/

Support The Recounts – for Monroe Park and National Election

The Sierra Club Falls of the James has joined some Oregon Hill and Fan neighbors in calling for a community review and ‘recount’ of the trees that have been removed recently from Monroe Park.

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As one neighbor, Turk Sties, put it,
The conservancy should be following the approved master plan. The master plan was clear on what trees would not be removed. I don't know if the removed trees were to stay per the master plan. But the plan should be followed.

Funding was obtained to effect the master plan. How can it be spent for anything else, especially for removing trees the master plan deemed integral to the rejuvenated park?

The tree work should be investigated by the city auditor to determine whether or not the conservancy has removed any trees that were to remain. If the conservancy has caused the removal of "spared" trees, the conservancy board members should be removed for cause and replaced with other people who can follow instructions. If that is not possible, it is time to require the addition of three "at-large" board members who can represent the citizens' interest.

On the national front, the courageous Jill Stein continues to push forward for recounts of Presidential ballots in key swing states, despite setbacks. Using fundraised money, the state recount efforts have not found evidence of foreign actors, but have found many systematic problems. Perhaps the most troubling of these is a preponderance of undercounting in predominantly black Michigan districts.

At the same time, Clinton emerged to condemn ‘fake news sites’, while some established newspapers have published unverified, anonymous CIA leaks that claim Russian intervention in the election. Regardless of veracity, foreign agents installing a right-wing leader? You can almost hear other countries such as Argentina, Chile, and Iran singing in their best Bob Dylan (and for the record, I am not a big fan) voice, “How does it feeeeeel?” As Glenn Greenwald of the Intercept put it, it’s also “a good indication of how confused and lost U.S. political culture has become in the wake of Trump’s victory.

How will this all be sorted out going forward? Not sure, but in my book, trees and votes do matter and deserve more attention.

Recount

The Times Dispatch is reporting that

Richmond School Board member Mamie Taylor has filed a petition in Circuit Court requesting a recount in the campaign she lost Nov. 8 to a local doctor.

Taylor is asking that the city pick up the tab for the recount “because the difference in votes cast for myself, School Board Trustee Taylor and Patrick Sapini is less than one-half of 1 percent.”
A hearing on the petition is scheduled for noon Wednesday in Richmond.

The article also questions Taylor’s math in her filing for the recount.

At the same time, turning to the Presidential election, Style magazine says that Oregon Hill may once again be the most-Green voting neighborhood in the whole state.

Which is pretty interesting given that Green Party candidate Stein is now getting more media attention for calling for some state recounts than she did for her entire campaign.

While is unlikely that Stein will call for a recount in Virginia, I would not totally rule out the possibility either. As she explains, it’s up to everyone to stand up for election integrity. Don’t believe all the misinformation going around, Stein is not doing this for Clinton or Trump, and the Green Party has a history for defending voters’ rights to be counted properly.

Btw, see earlier post on the election results by clicking here.

‘Neighborhood Batteries’

New technology is coming. How soon can Oregon Hill take advantage of it?

From article:

Solar City shareholders meet today in the Bay Area to vote on a proposed merger with Elon Musk’s Tesla. The merger will likely supercharge a growing trend of big battery facilities that can store enough electricity to power a neighborhood, small town, university or even an island like Kauai.

Grid storage is making people’s lives easier (and cheaper) by allowing communities to unhook themselves from the utility power grid. In some cases, it’s also providing an incentive for switching to renewable energy sources, which tend to dry up either at night (solar) or during the day (wind).

Some Election Thoughts/Time for RCV/IRV

It’s been a week since Election Day and we have seen a lot happen. Many students and City residents erupted in protest that Trump won the Presidency. Some people asked what their demand was (my personal favorite suggestion: a civil action by Bernie Sanders to exact monumental damages from the crooked-at-the-core DNC dealings exposed by WikiLeaks), but truthfully, Trump’s rise to power has installed fear in many different minority groups (including political dissidents) and the marches reflect that.

While the Presidential election was close and had low turnout, one thing is clear- third party voters’ hands are clean, especially here in Virginia where Clinton did win. Although some Democrats are sore losers and still want to scapegoat third party voters, they cannot. Don’t believe me? The Washington Post lays it out: “You can blame the electoral college for Trump winning. But don’t blame Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.”

clean-hands

Locally, the Mayoral election was close. The local media does not want to talk about that too much though. For one thing, the City Board of Elections was pretty strained, and it was not totally clear if someone had won the election for a good day or so. And hey, have they finally come around to announcing an official winner in the 5th District school board race? Last I heard from media outlets, it is likely Dr. Sapini.

For another thing, much of the media prognostication about the Mayor’s race was wrong- many were suggesting that it had come down to a two candidate race between Joe Morrissey and their favorite, Jack Berry, when in fact many residents had already determined the need for and existence of a third.

Perhaps more importantly, notice how the local media is not talking very much about how their candidate (endorsed by both the Times Dispatch and Richmond Free Press) was knocked out. They don’t want to admit that they picked badly and more importantly, that the voters ignored their input. ‘RVA’ rejected their fear mongering against Morrissey, and the corporate pressure for Berry, and went for someone else altogether.

So, a few more thoughts and questions-

Levar Stoney won the 5th District and others to win the election. Jack Berry stumbled here. My personal opinion: He should never have disrespected Oregon Hill. He was too arrogant to even try to make amends and figured his fancy commercials and billboards would make the difference. Thanks to work by Jon Baliles and Stoney’s hard-working campaigners, residents saw and took the alternative. Will Berry try to return to his job at Venture Richmond? Hope not. What can Stoney do for Oregon Hill and other neighborhoods? Well, that is not clear, but I hope to try to make it clearer in the next week or two, when I revisit and renew the Top Ten Issues For The Neighborhood post. Please feel free to submit your own.

On the national level, there are other Election Day outcomes to consider- more marijuana ballot initiatives passed in other states, and significantly, ranked choice voting passed in the state of Maine. Many countries and cities already give their voters more voice and more choice with RCV/IRV. Jill Stein’s campaign is already taking the ‘spoiler’ issue head-on with its enthusiastic support for RCV/IRV.

Locally, consider how close the Richmond Mayoral race came to going to an expensive run-off. Given this, will the local media even mention IRV/RCV? While I give Paul Goldman a lot of credit for almost single-handily obtaining the 10,000 signatures needed to make the City charter change for voting Mayor at large in the first place, it’s time for more electoral reform. We know we need to update and strengthen the City’s Board of Elections anyway, so we might as well join other cities around the world in enacting RCV/IRV.

I know I don’t want to have the same old debates in 2020.

Lastly, regardless of how you feel about the effectiveness of the anti-Trump protests, now’s not the time to stop protesting- reminder: today was a national day of action in support of Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Local water protectors were in force today at the Chesterfield office of the Army Corp of Engineers.

15032231_1511560975527488_4771775265799503420_n (photo courtesy of David Martin)

steinnodapl

#NeverJoe and #NeverJack

With only days left in the election and very little time left for candidates to make an impact with voters, here’s an editorial I did not want to write:

I am still undecided on who I want to vote FOR Mayor.

I already know who I do NOT want to vote for- the two frontrunners, Joe Morrissey and Jack Berry. While I do admire Morrissey’s willingness to speak truth to power (and wish other candidates would learn from him), I can’t get past his tawdry personal history. Yes, I know the media is laying it down thick, but that does not mean I can excuse it either, regardless of whether or not the latest professional allegations prove true or not.

I hope everyone recognizes what Jack Berry represents- corporate hegemony with disregard for citizen concerns. The fact is that Berry, head of Venture Richmond (and previously Richmond Renaissance) has long been behind persistent efforts to put corporate welfare projects ahead of the needs of Richmond schools and neighborhoods, from 6th Street Marketplace to the Redskins to the Shockoe stadium scheme. The local corporate media, as far as I can tell, is sold out and dares not say anything too negative about Berry, lest they incur the wrath of Venture Richmond’s powerful board. The Times Dispatch and other outlets shamefully support Berry without any disclosure of the partnerships with Venture Richmond.

THIS historic neighborhood has particular reasons to distrust and fear Berry as Mayor. He still has not made any amends for breaking promises to community and government. In my humble opinion, Berry represents a bigger threat to THIS neighborhood than Morrissey, and anyone who cares about it will know to vote AGAINST Berry, who long ago labeled Oregon Hill ‘an edge zone’ to downtown, along with other less wealthy areas of the City.

As I have said elsewhere, if we do go to a runoff election where Morrissey and Berry are the only choices, I will vote Morrissey without hesitation. Blame the ‘business community’ that backs Berry if that happens. I find the frontrunners in both the Mayoral and Presidential elections to be extremely unpalatable, and it has not been unexpected in that regard. I can’t help but wonder how different these elections would be with reforms like ranked choice/instant runoff voting.

Let me add right here the old disclaimer that I do NOT necessarily represent the opinions of all my neighbors. A few landlords have been putting a lot of Berry signs up. But people should remember that for a small neighborhood, Oregon Hill residents do vote. And because we are visible in the 5th District, the Central District, our opinions do matter and should be listened to, as we will have a lot to do with who is elected Mayor.

In the past week we have seen a lot of door-to-door canvassing for candidates Stoney and Baliles. Pine Street neighbor Stephenie Harrington wanted me to remind you all that there is still time to RSVP and attend her event for Baliles this Friday, which is now also open to City voters outside of the neighborhood.

Most if not all of the candidates say they want to work for all the neighborhoods. While I may ask candidates about everything from the water to the sun, ultimately my questions zero in on what they can and will do for THIS neighborhood. It’s important to exact promises now, especially given the existing threats and still-existing threats. Hopefully Stoney and Baliles can help me make up my mind between them.

I think everyone can agree that this election year has been especially difficult, and I am sorry to say, things are likely to get darker before there’s a turn for the better. I am thankful to our City Council candidates for serving as a better example. (Where are the 5th District Richmond School Board candidates?) Chins up and keep the brave faces.

How Many Candidates Have Signed The Declaration of Solar Rights?

So the local Chamber of Commerce (ChamberRVA) is holding a Mayoral candidate forum tonight at the nearby Altria Theater.

It is free and open to the public (get there before 6:30 pm), and will be broadcasted live on NBC12 television at 7 pm.

By the way, you may notice that ChamberRVA has moved on from promoting the Shockoe stadium scheme to pushing for doing something with the Richmond Coliseum. Anyway, I suspect that the Coliseum will come up in the questions, but there is one question I doubt will come up, though it should:

As someone running for Mayor, have you signed the Virginia Declaration of Solar Rights?

Solar energy empowers Virginians to harness clean local energy, creates jobs, and enhances our energy security. Sadly, Virginia’s current laws violate our right to invest in and benefit from solar energy by limiting consumer choice. This fall, the General Assembly will hold a special session to review solar policies that will help all Virginians fairly access solar energy. This is a great opportunity for Richmond leaders and citizens to let our state senators and delegates know there is broad, bi-partisan support for legislation that will enable all Virginians to go solar.

There is more detail here:
http://www.vasun.org/declaration-of-solar-rights/

Announcing The First Annual Oregon Hill Jack O’Lantern Contest

I have been wanting to do this for a while, and I think this is the year… I am hereby announcing the first annual Oregon Hill Jack ‘O Lantern Contest. First prize so far is a measly $20 from yours truly, however I am also announcing that I am looking for a local business to co-sponsor and help to significantly increase the prize money. (In other words, this could quickly become the ________/Oregon Hill Annual Jack O’Lantern Contest with the right advertising contract).

Creative Commons image- A Jack o' Lantern made for the Holywell Manor Halloween celebrations in 2003. Photograph by Toby Ord on 31 Oct 2003.

Creative Commons image- A Jack o’ Lantern made for the Holywell Manor Halloween celebrations in 2003. Photograph by Toby Ord on 31 Oct 2003.

So…rules…let’s see…

Submission Info

OregonHill.net invites submissions for its first annual Oregon Hill Jack O’ Lantern Contest. Entrants should read the following rules, terms, and conditions before submitting any photos or documentation.

Eligibility

Entrants must be 18 years of age or older. All entrants younger than 18 years of age must submit a note of parental consent with their entry. All entrants must be a resident of the Oregon Hill neighborhood to be considered. Contest is void where prohibited by law.
Contest judges (which is so far just me) and their immediate families are not eligible to enter.

Entries

Entries will start being accepted from October 15, 2016 at noon through October 27, 2016 at 11:59 pm. A winner and runners-up will be announced and presented on OregonHill.net on Friday, October 29, 2016 at noon. Please submit entries by emailing a photo jpeg file, size between 200 kb and 1.5 mg, of the entry to info@oregonhill.net, including a (real) name and a (real) address. Submitted photo should be of a carved or altered pumpkin in front of address. All entries must be original, newly-produced works, created after October 1, 2016. Entries must be original creations, with photo by the creator, and not infringe on the copyrights of any other parties. Any entires suspected, in the discretion of OregonHill.net, to be in violation will be rejected immediately from the competition.
OregonHill.net does not grant entrants the right or access to photograph private property or use of its name to secure access. Entries may have multiple co-producers, but one should be listed as the primary contact upon entry. The fair dissemination of any prize winnings will be the responsibility of the primary contact. Participants may submit multiple entries, however 1 photo entry per email. All forms of photos that are not produced by the entrant must be credited to the original photographer. Entries containing immoral, defamatory, obscene or scandalous content, or any other content which, at the sole discretion of OregonHill.net, is not in the keeping with OregonHill.net, will be deemed ineligible. By submitting a photo entry, each participant represents that the photo submitted is an original work that does not infringe on the copyright or intellectual property right of another party, and each participant agrees to indemnify OregonHill.net, and its contest judges from all liability arising from any alleged infringement in this regard. Photographer retains ownership rights to the submitted photo. However, the winning entrants grant to OreognHill.net the non-exclusive, non-transferable right and license to use the photos and the winners’ names in perpetuity without compensation, notification, or other limitation or condition, both in conjunction with the competition and promotion of the competition and promotion of OregonHill.net generally.
OregonHill.net is not responsible for entries that are not received or not received properly, or for any technical problems with corrupt digital files, internet outages, computer failures, and the like. OregonHill.net is not responsible for lost, late, or misdirected entries. OregonHill.net is not obligated to acknowledge receipt of entries.

Judging

Entries will be judged by a panel made up of OregonHill.net editors and Halloween experts invited by OregonHill.net. Judges’s decisions will be final and binding.

To select the winner, entries will be by judged by awarding of points based on the following criteria: (1) originality (40%), (2) composition and coherence (20%), (3) quality of photo (20%), and (4) consuming/recycling/composting of materials (20%) (this can be signified by a statement of intent included with entry). In the event of a tie score, the tie will be broken by awarding the prize to the entrant with the highest score in the first of the above-listed criteria (in order of appearance) as to which there is no tie.

Prize

Prize consists of $20 in U.S. currency, prominent featuring on OregonHill.net, and bragging rights. Runners-up will receive prominent featuring on OregonHill.net, and bragging rights. Applicable federal, state, and local taxes on prize are the sole responsibility of the winner.

Lastly, OregonHill.net reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to modify, suspend, or cancel the contest for any reason.

I think that covers it.

In addition to possibly having a co-sponsor, there is the possibility that the contest judging will change to online public voting on OregonHill.net to determine winner, but that possibility may or may not happen for this year’s contest.