Depressing Local Politics

After listening to a talk by local mass transit experts today, I am feeling pretty down. The universities and counties are still very noncommittal when it comes to financial support of the new BRT or expanded GRTC service. The universities would rather keep running their private shuttles and students are ok with that. I expect that means City residents will bear most if not all operating costs, as with so many other supposedly ‘regional’ projects. This is in turn is going to force many poor people out of the City, never mind any mobility advantages. Perhaps this was the hidden intention all along.

Also, along those lines… I did not attend the meeting of City Democrats last night (I am a Green, not a Democrat), but my understanding is that they rejected endorsing the federal Kaine/ Warner/Evans legislation to allow historic tax credits for school buildings. They also rejected endorsing the local Put Schools First referendum because it would require the Mayor to come up with a school modernization plan that does not rely on a big tax increase and the Democrats, including Mayor Stoney, want to put a big tax increase forward next year. That’s what I am hearing….

Oh, and despite public opposition, the City’s Urban Design Committee approved the latest Monroe Park Conservancy/VCU plan to to remove MORE trees from Monroe Park, AND (conversely) if you happen to be one of those Richmonders who think the Confederate statues on Monument Avenue should be removed, the state and City governments will not allow it.

Welcome to RVA, still very much like the old Richmond, which does not tolerate any uppity grassroots politics.

Schools Before Stadiums!

From the Times Dispatch article today:

A majority of Richmond voters say they’d support a tax increase to build and repair city schools but are opposed to any public money going to support the construction of a new coliseum, according to a poll conducted by Christopher Newport University on behalf of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“I am really surprised by the level of support to increase taxes to pay for schools,” said Quentin Kidd, who oversaw the poll and directs CNU’s Wason Center for Public Policy. “Especially in the context of how little support there is for the coliseum and baseball stadium. This is Richmonders basically saying, look, these are our priorities.”

Gee, Quentin, you are surprised? Perhaps you missed the previous instances where our school kids have marched on City Hall? Or as citizens have expressed their disappointment in watching the Center Stage and Redskins boondoggles? Perhaps you heard my own personal response to your telephone polling, where I stated that Dominion’s Tom Farrell and VCU Emperor Eugene Trani should profanity fully retire already. And since the Times Dispatch neglected to mention it in their article, I will- there’s a (revenue/tax-neutral) referendum on the ballot this November about this very topic.

Councilperson Agelasto’s Fifth District Meeting Thursday

Councilperson Agelasto is holding a Fifth District meeting this coming Thursday, August 24, from 6 pm to 8 pm at the Woodland Heights Baptist Church (611 W. 31st Street, Richmond, VA 23225)

From announcement:

Agenda Items

· Richmond Public Schools Update
The Honorable Patrick Sapini, Richmond Public Schools Board of Trustees, Richmond Central 5th Voter District

· Richmond City Property Assessment Update
Mr. Richie N. McKeithen, City Assessor, Richmond City Council Office of the City Assessor of Real Estate

· Richmond Master Plan Update: Richmond 300
Ms. Maritza Pechin, AECOM Consultant/Richmond Master Plan Project Manager, Richmond Department of Planning and Development Review

· Richmond Central 5th Voter District Updates

· Questions and Comments

Congratulations To Open High! Another Excellence Award

Open High School has been awarded a 2017 Board of Education Excellence Award.

This is the second tier in the Virginia Index Of Performance Awards. The VIP incentive program recognizes schools and divisions that exceed state and federal accountability standards and achieve excellence goals established by the governor and the board. This means Open High also met all state and federal accountability benchmarks and made significant progress toward goals for increased student achievement and expanded educational opportunities set by the board.

Oregon Hill is lucky to have such a great neighbor, which can trace its history (and protection) back to Grace Arents’ legacy.

Hopefully, this will add pressure to put ALL schools first. It would also be great to see Open High’s aging building get more fully renovated in a historically sensitive manner.

Water Matters II

Following up on water matters

Times Dispatch picks up on the PILOT issue with an editorial that concludes:

City Councilman Parker Agelasto has proposed phasing out the PILOT charge over 10 years. That should give City Hall more than enough time to find a way to make up the difference. Let’s hope the substitute is less regressive and more rational.

While Style has published a ‘back page’ by Laurel Street neighbor Charles Poole on the Larus Park issue (It also touches on the PILOT):

This project has been under wraps since 2012 when it was conceived during Mayor Dwight Jones’ administration. I can understand how Jones might want to shower his parishioners in Chesterfield with low water rates, but why would Mayor Levar Stoney be the patron of this flawed ordinance? Stoney has a fortuitous opportunity to make good on his pledge to work for the people of Richmond. We can only hope that he will honor that pledge.

Chesterfield County’s Water

Why is the Oregon Hill community news site posting about Chesterfield County’s water?

You probably still need to read this week’s Richmond Free Press. As with last week’s article on Monroe Park, reporter Jeremy Lazarus is supplying some valuable insight to how this area (dys)functions. For some mysterious reason, the following front-page article does not appear on the newspaper’s website, but here are photos of the printed version:

Please take the the time to read the second page, which includes hard-hitting quotes from former Sierra Club leader Dr. Charles Price on this attempted usurping of a public park as well as from Laurel Street neighbor Charles Pool on the City’s regressive water utility fees.

Although the Richmond Free Press article does not mention it, some neighbors are also speculating about how Chesterfield County might resell their ‘bargain’ on City water to Niagra Bottling LLC. Is City of Richmond not only forced to provide Chesterfield Co. water at a fifth the cost that Richmond customers must pay, but also subsidizing cheap water for the Niagara Bottling LLC? Are we really going to be damaging a Richmond city park to build a water facility so that Niagara Bottling Company can have cheap water?!

While Oregon Hill is not in Chesterfield County, our neighbors continue to keep an eye on local water issues and hope more media like the Richmond Free Press does the same.

Open High Is On The List- Press Release On Proposal for Tax Credits For Schools

Press release today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 17, 2017
CONTACT: Rachel Cohen (Warner), 202-228-6884; Sarah Peck (Kaine) 202-228-1174

KAINE & WARNER INTRODUCE BILL TO INVEST IN VIRGINIA’S AGING SCHOOLS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) and Budget Committees, and Mark R. Warner, a member of the Senate Budget and Finance Committees, will introduce the School Infrastructure Modernization Act to spur public and private investment in renovating active historic school buildings. This legislation amends the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit to apply to school buildings that continue to operate as schools. Under current law, the credit applies only for buildings renovated to serve a different function than before. This bill would waive this ‘prior use’ clause for school renovation projects, allowing school districts with aging infrastructure and tight budgets to partner with private entities to finance renovations that the districts otherwise would not be able to afford.

As Mayor of Richmond, Kaine led a coalition that found a novel way to apply the historic tax credit to finance the renovation of a closed public school and reopen it as the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies, today one of America’s highest-performing public high schools. Older schools can often be renovated for less money than the cost of new construction. Preservation of historic schools provides students safe and modern facilities in which to learn; supports construction jobs; and maintains the historic character of communities. Warner has previously introduced this legislation with former U.S. Senator Jim Webb along with a dozen bipartisan House sponsors.

“When I was Mayor of Richmond, we used the historic tax credit to help repair and reopen a historic high school, turning it into a jewel of the public school system,” said Kaine. “This bill would make it easier for other cities and towns across Virginia and the country to rehab their own historic schools. This is a commonsense way to give students safer, modern spaces in which to learn while supporting construction jobs.”

“If we want our students to succeed, we need to invest in their learning facilities. This bill is a commonsense solution that creates a pathway for schools with tight budgets to receive the resources they need to renovate and modernize,” said Warner. “Many of these schools qualify as historic buildings, and under this legislation, those schools would be empowered to form private-public partnerships to increase classroom capacity and offer jobs to the surrounding community.”

The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program has played a role in rehabilitating historic structures and revitalizing communities for more than 35 years. In the Commonwealth alone, the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit (HTC) has helped restore more than 1,200 structures since 1997. According to a 2013 analysis, approximately 40% of K-12 schools in Virginia – more than 800 schools – are at least 50 years old.

Examples of current and former Virginia schools that could be eligible for this tax credit are:

· Bland County – Rocky Gap High
· Bland County – Bland Elementary
· Bland County – Bland High
· Bland County – Rocky Gap Elementary
· Bristol City – Virginia Middle
· Bristol City – Stonewall Jackson Elementary
· Bristol City – Highland View Elementary
· Buchanan County – Grundy High
· Carroll County – Carroll County Education Center
· Grayson County – Grayson County High
· Grayson County – Fairview Elementary
· Grayson County – Bridle Creek Elementary
· Grayson County – Baywood Elementary
· Lee County – St. Charles Elementary
· Lee County – Flatwoods Elementary
· Lee County – Thomas Walker High
· Lee County – Jonesville Middle
· Pulaski County – Claremont Elementary
· Roanoke City – Addison Aerospace Magnet Middle
· Roanoke City – Woodrow Wilson Middle
· Roanoke City – Hurt Park Elementary
· Roanoke City – Breckinridge Middle
· Roanoke City – Stonewall Jackson Middle
· Roanoke City – Wasena Elementary
· Roanoke City – Morningside Elementary
· Roanoke City – Forest Park Academy
· Roanoke City – Forest Park Elementary
· Roanoke City – Noel C. Taylor Academy
· Roanoke City – Special Situation Schools
· Roanoke County – Clearbrook Elementary
· Roanoke County – Fort Lewis Elementary
· Roanoke County – Fort Lewis Elementary School
· Roanoke County – Back Creek Elementary
· Russell County – Lebanon Elementary
· Russell County – Castlewood Elementary
· Russell County – Castlewood High
· Russell County – Dante Elementary
· Russell County – Swords Creek Elementary
· Russell County – Cleveland Elementary
· Russell County – Belfast Elk Garden Elementary Annex
· Smyth County – Atkins Elementary
· Smyth County – Sugar Grove Combined
· Washington County – Washington Co. Technical
· Wise County – Union High
· Wise County – Central High
· Wythe County – Fort Chiswell High
· Wythe County – George Wythe High
· Wythe County – Rural Retreat Middle
· Wythe County – Sheffey Elementary
· Wythe County – Speedwell Elementary
· Clarke County – Boyce Elementary
· Clarke County – Berryville Primary
· Clarke County – D.G. Cooley Elementary
· Covington City – Covington High
· Rockingham County – John C. Myers Elementary
· Rockingham County – Linville-Edom Elementary
· Rockingham County – Dayton Learning Center
· Warren County – 15th Street School
· Warren County – A.S. Rhodes Elementary
· Winchester City – Garland R. Quarles Elementary
· Brunswick County – James S. Russell Middle
· Charlotte County – Early Learning Center
· Charlotte County – Bacon District Elementary
· Charlotte County – old Phenix Elementary
· Greensville County – Greensville County High
· Henry County – Sanville Elementary
· Henry County – Axton Elementary
· Henry County – John Redd Smith Elementary
· Lunenburg County – Kenbridge Elementary
· Lunenburg County – Victoria Elementary
· Martinsville City – Brown Street Gym
· Pittsylvania County – Southside Elementary
· Pittsylvania County – Stony Mill Elementary
· Pittsylvania County – Blairs Middle
· Pittsylvania County – John L. Hurt Elementary
· Pittsylvania County – Whitmell Elementary
· Alexandria City – Mount Vernon Elementary
· Alexandria City – T.C. Williams Minnie Howard Campus
· Arlington County – Hoffman-Boston Elementary
· Arlington County – Oakridge Elementary
· Arlington County – Tuckahoe Elementary
· Arlington County – McKinley Elementary
· Arlington County – Taylor Elementary
· Arlington County – Ashlawn Elementary
· Arlington County – Randolph Elementary
· Arlington County – Barcroft Elementary
· Arlington County – Abingdon Elementary
· Fairfax County – Fairview Elementary
· Fairfax County – Burke School
· Fairfax County – Mount Vernon High
· Fairfax County – Marshall Road Elementary
· Fairfax County – Flint Hill Elementary
· Fairfax County – Parklawn Elementary
· Fairfax County – Mantua Elementary
· Fairfax County – Poe Middle
· Fairfax County – Belvedere Elementary
· Fairfax County – Timber Lane Elementary
· Fairfax County – Quander Road School
· Fairfax County – Weyanoke Elementary
· Fairfax County – Bailey’s E.S.for the Arts and Sciences
· Fairfax County – Gunston Elementary
· Fairfax County – Glen Forest Elementary
· Fairfax County – Herndon Middle
· Fairfax County – Rose Hill Elementary
· Fairfax County – Irving Middle
· Fairfax County – Little Run Elementary
· Fairfax County – Cameron Elementary
· Fairfax County – Archer Elementary
· Fairfax County – Bucknell Elementary
· Fairfax County – Jackson Middle
· Fairfax County – Wakefield Forest Elementary
· Fairfax County – North Springfield Elementary
· Fairfax County – Waynewood Elementary
· Fairfax County – Keene Mill Elementary
· Fairfax County – Herndon Elementary
· Fairfax County – Mosby Woods Elementary
· Fairfax County – Ravensworth Elementary
· Fairfax County – Garfield Elementary
· Fairfax County – Haycock Elementary
· Fairfax County – Stratford Landing Elementary
· Fairfax County – Bren Mar Park Elementary
· Fairfax County – Washington Mill Elementary
· Fairfax County – Belle View Elementary
· Fairfax County – Twain Middle
· Fairfax County – Cooper Middle
· Fairfax County – Thoreau Middle
· Fairfax County – Woodlawn Elementary
· Fairfax County – Marshall High
· Fairfax County – Clifton Elementary
· Fairfax County – Braddock Elementary
· Fairfax County – Sandburg Middle
· Fauquier County – Warrenton Middle
· Fauquier County – W.C. Taylor Middle
· Loudoun County – Middleburg Elementary
· Loudoun County – Lincoln Elementary
· Loudoun County – Banneker Elementary
· Loudoun County – Douglass School
· Manassas City – Osbourn High
· Manassas City – Baldwin Elementary
· Chesapeake City – Truitt Intermediate
· Chesapeake City – Norfolk Highlands Primary
· Chesapeake City – Deep Creek Middle
· Chesapeake City – Hickory Elementary
· Chesapeake City – Southwestern Elementary
· Chesapeake City – B.M. Williams Primary
· Chesapeake City – G.A. Treakle Elementary
· Chesapeake City – Deep Creek Central Elementary
· Chesapeake City – Southeastern Elementary
· Chesapeake City – Edwin W. Chittum Elementary
· Chesapeake City – Great Bridge Primary
· Chesapeake City – George W. Carver Intermediate
· Chesapeake City – Crestwood Intermediate
· Chesapeake City – Crestwood Middle
· Hampton City – Benjamin Syms Middle
· Hampton City – Robert E. Lee Elementary
· Hampton City – Aberdeen Elementary
· Hampton City – Thomas Eaton Middle
· Hampton City – Mary Peake Center
· Hampton City – Moton Early Childhood Center
· Hampton City – Armstrong Elementary
· Newport News City – Hilton Elementary
· Newport News City – Huntington Middle
· Norfolk City – Granby High
· Norfolk City – Matthew Fontaine Maury High
· Norfolk City – Madison Alternative School Center
· Portsmouth City – Emily Spong Pre-School Center
· Portsmouth City – Cradock Middle
· Portsmouth City – William E. Waters Middle
· Portsmouth City – Old S. H. Clarke Voc. Ctr.
· Portsmouth City – Olive Branch Pre-School Center
· Portsmouth City – Mount Hermon Elementary
· Portsmouth City – Mount Hermon Pre-School Center
· Southampton County – Southampton Middle
· Suffolk City – Florence Bowser Elementary
· Suffolk City – Mount Zion Elementary
· Colonial Beach – Colonial Beach Elementary
· Lancaster County – Lancaster Primary
· Richmond County – Richmond County Intermediate
· Fredericksburg City – Original Walker-Grant Annex
· King George County – King George
· King George County – Potomac Elementary
· Spotsylvania County – Robert E. Lee Elementary
· Stafford County – Ferry Farm Elementary
· Stafford County – Gari Melchers Complex
· Albemarle County – Stone Robinson Elementary
· Albemarle County – Stony Point Elementary
· Albemarle County – Woodbrook Elementary
· Albemarle County – Broadus Wood Elementary
· Albemarle County – Benjamin F. Yancey Elementary
· Albemarle County – Virginia L. Murray Elementary
· Amherst County – Central Elementary
· Amherst County – Amherst Elementary
· Amherst County – Amherst Middle
· Amherst County – Amelon Elementary
· Amherst County – Amherst County High
· Bedford County – Boonsboro Elementary
· Bedford County – Stewartsville Elementary
· Bedford County – Science And Technology Center
· Bedford County – Huddleston Elementary
· Campbell County – William Campbell High
· Campbell County – Leesville Road Elementary
· Campbell County – Altavista High
· Campbell County – Rustburg Middle
· Charlottesville City – Venable Elementary
· Charlottesville City – Clark Elementary
· Chesterfield County – Beulah Elementary
· Chesterfield County – Chesterfield Community High
· Chesterfield County – Harrowgate Elementary
· Chesterfield County – Crestwood Elementary
· Chesterfield County – Enon Elementary
· Chesterfield County – Matoaca Middle East Campus
· Chesterfield County – Matoaca Elementary
· Dinwiddie County – Dinwiddie Elementary School
· Dinwiddie County – Midway Elementary School
· Dinwiddie County – Historic Southside High School Education Center
· Fluvanna County – Central Elementary
· Fluvanna County – Project Return/Fluvanna Co
· Fluvanna County – Palmyra Elementary
· Franklin County – Lee M. Waid Elementary
· Hanover County – John M. Gandy Elementary
· Hanover County – Henry Clay Elementary
· Hanover County – Battlefield Park Elementary
· Hanover County – Washington-Henry Elementary
· Hopewell City – Woodlawn Pre-School Learning Center
· King and Queen County – King & Queen Elementary
· King William County – Hamilton Holmes Middle
· Lynchburg City – Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle for Innovation
· Lynchburg City – William M. Bass Elementary
· Lynchburg City – Robert S. Payne Elementary
· Lynchburg City – Dearington Elementary/Innovation
· Lynchburg City – Perrymont Elementary
· Lynchburg City – T.C. Miller Elementary for Innovation
· Lynchburg City – Bedford Hills Elementary
· Lynchburg City – Paul Munro Elementary
· Lynchburg City – Amelia Pride Center
· New Kent County – 1930 High School
· Orange County – Lightfoot Elementary
· Orange County – Unionville Elementary
· Orange County – Redirection Alternative School Education
· Orange County – Special Situation Schools
· Orange County – Taylor Alternative School Education Complex Feeding Site
· Orange County – Vocational Agriculture Building
· Petersburg City – Peabody Middle
· Petersburg City – Westview Early Childhood Education Center
· Petersburg City – Blandford Academy
· Powhatan County – Pocahontas Middle
· Richmond City – Richmond Community High
· Richmond City – George W. Carver Elementary
· Richmond City – Swansboro Elementary
· Richmond City – Elkhardt Middle
· Richmond City – John B. Cary Elementary
· Richmond City – Summer Hill/Ruffin Road Elementary
· Richmond City – Woodville Elementary
· Richmond City – Elizabeth D. Redd Elementary
· Richmond City – Mary Scott Elementary
· Richmond City – Westover Hills Elementary
· Richmond City – Southampton Elementary
· Richmond City – George Wythe High
· Richmond City – A. V. Norrell Annex
· Richmond City – Huguenot High
· Richmond City – E.S.H. Greene Elementary
· Richmond City – G.H. Reid Elementary
· Richmond City – Armstrong High
· Richmond City – A. V. Norrell Elementary
· Richmond City – Fairfield Court Elementary
· Richmond City – Amelia Street Special Education School
· Richmond City – John Marshall High
· Richmond City – Maymont Pre-K Center
· Richmond City – Mary Munford Elementary
· Richmond City – Ginter Park Elementary
· Richmond City – Thomas Jefferson High
· Richmond City – Franklin Military Academy
· Richmond City – J.E.B. Stuart Elementary
· Richmond City – Patrick Henry Elementary
· Richmond City – Binford Middle
· Richmond City – Albert Hill Middle
· Richmond City – George Mason Elementary
· Richmond City – Bellevue Elementary
· Richmond City – Open High

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It should be noted that this has been proposed before. It also comes as the Richmond Crusade For Voters is planning its www.putschoolsfirst.org campaign.