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.

Radio Show Open Source RVA Shares Call For Monroe Park

From WRIR radio show Open Source RVA:

Open Source RVA has been following the progress of the Monroe Park renovation for more than three years, and our next episode will explore breaking news on the controversial dealings of the private Monroe Park Conservancy, which has been given control of the park. Here is former Monroe Park Advisory Council member, and Sierra Club Green Giant award-winner, Todd Woodson on a hastily-scheduled meeting that is happening next week that would apparently (no pun intended) cover up the destruction of healthy trees in the park. He also has a call-to-action:

“As you’ve probably noticed, the historic tree canopy in Monroe Park has recently been decimated by the removal of mature healthy trees. Last December, 14 beautiful trees were destroyed illegally- 7 without the requisite variances and 7 after being declared dead, although photographic evidence refutes that claim.
Now, in typical Richmond form, there is an application before the Richmond Urban Design Committee (UDC) this Thursday, February 9, 2017 seeking approval of a component in the updated Monroe Park Plan called “Tree Removal Plan” – this “plan” seeks to legitimize this tragic removal of tree canopy, even though the trees were destroyed over a month ago without public notice. We’ve seen the tree damage Richmond is capable of – the Redskins Training Park as well as Kanawha Plaza and the Maggie Walker Memorial live oak.

I urge you to read the following paragraph and if you agree, please sign and forward to the UDC at Kathleen.Onufer@Richmondgov.com

‘Dear members of the Urban Design Committee
I am opposed to the component in the updated Monroe Park Plan seeking approval this Thursday, February 9, 2017 entitled “Tree Removal Plan”. Mature healthy trees were removed in December 2016 with no public notice or requisite variance. I support a full investigation into this loss which is not only aesthetic and ecological, but constitutes a financial loss to the taxpayers of Richmond as well. I also support holding those accountable for the replacement of these trees. Thank you,'”

Part Of Oregon Hill Votes Tomorrow In Special Election

There is a special election for the 71st District Virginia House of Delegates tomorrow, February 7.

It looks like Oregon Hill voters who reside north of the Expressway are part of the 71st District and can vote in the election tomorrow. This boundary is confusing and aggravating.

There are three candidates running to replace Jennifer McClellan (recently elected to VA Senate):

John Barclay – Libertarian candidate, public school teacher at Franklin Military.

Jeff Bourne – Democrat, 3rd District School Board Representative, Deputy Attorney General at Virginia Office of the Attorney General.

Regie Ford – Independent, Air Force veteran, past President of the Richmond Crusade for Voters.

‘Critical Mass’ Bicycle Ride On Friday

From the FaceBook event page:

Meet at 6, ride at 6:30.

Rain, fascism, or shine.

Our usual meeting spot in Monroe Park has been fenced off for renovations for the next year or more… For now we will meet at the same intersection, just across the street on the sidewalk in front of Altria Theater, to avoid too much confusion. A different meeting place may be chosen in future months, so keep an eye on the location!

What is this event?!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_Mass_%28cycling%29

Last Friday evening of every month! Come out on your bikes and ride en masse through the city, for any number of reasons: just for fun, to celebrate bicycles as an alternative to cars, to spread awareness that bicycles share the road, or as a form of political protest. Wear costumes, bring music, noisemakers, flags, ribbons, etc. Ride a skateboard, roller blades, unicycle or some other human-powered bike alternative. Make it a parade!

Many interesting routes (and stops) are planned in advance, but some are unplanned and can simply be determined spontaneously by whoever is riding in the front. Ride SLOWLY so we can all stay together, enjoy the ride, talk along the way, and encourage people to join us.

This Saturday- Shiver In The River and Richmond Democrats’ Fifth District Meeting

This Saturday is Shiver In The River, a benefit riverfront event for the Keep Virginia Beautiful organization. There is a clean up, a 5K, and yes, a ‘polar bear plunge’ in the James River.

Click here for more details.

Also, the Richmond Democrats are holding a strategy meeting to discuss how they will organize neighborhoods for the upcoming 2017 elections. They are asking everyone to invite neighbors.
Saturday at 10 AM – 11:30 AM at Tower of Deliverance Church (118 Cowardin Ave, Richmond, Virginia 23224)

(Editor’s note: I am happy to post meeting notices from other political groups as well)

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/

Councilperson Agelasto Releases Statement As New Council Is Sworn In

The Times Dispatch had an article this morning on the Council meeting last night, where new members were sworn in and 3rd District Councilperson Chris Hilbert was elected President of City Council.
The article reported that 5th District Councilperson Parker Agelasto (Oregon Hill’s representative) had a pointed statement released after the meeting:

However, in a departure from what is typically a unanimous, nine-member vote for council president, Agelasto opted to abstain.
After the meeting, Agelasto distributed a statement saying he didn’t vote for Hilbert because he was disappointed Hilbert didn’t appoint him to any leadership positions on the council’s committees and, instead, stripped him of the position he had held as vice chair of the council’s finance committee.
“During my first four years on City Council, I attempted to bring greater transparency to council operations and greater accountability over how taxpayer monies are spent,” he said. “I realize this new way of doing things was not greeted with open arms by some on council, who were wedded to past council actions that too often led to spending abuses and fixations on shiny projects at the expense of funding for schools, public safety and basic city services.”

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.

img_7934

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.

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)

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