Bollards

From email:

Dear Councilpersons Gray and Agelasto

A recent post from the Monroe Park Conservancy Instagram account shows what appears to be a large number of bollards manufactured by Robinson Iron (the same company that restored the fountain) awaiting installation in the park. While these are very beautiful cast iron bollards, they are very expensive and also very brittle due to the casting process. In about 2004, Monroe Park was having serious problems with cars entering through the corners and cutting through the park at rapid speeds. The Monroe Park Advisory Council tasked Larry Miller and myself to choose and install bollards at the park corners with city funds. We chose these beautiful bollards by Robinson Iron as we were working with them on refurbishing the fountain at the time. Of the 30 or so bollards that were purchased from Robinson, probably 90% failed and broke within 4 years
(see photos below). This presents a considerable future liability to the City should the City be responsible for replacing these bollards and I wanted to bring this to your attention. Welding up cast iron to repair them is tricky and very expensive and usually doesn’t last.

I’m sorry for not being able to include a link to the Monroe Park Conservancy Instagram account showing these bollards but as you may know, Ms. Massie has barred me from accessing the MPC Instagram account. You may also access the picture at the MPC website.

Sincerely,

Charles T. Woodson

A Reiteration Of Opposition To The Monroe Park Conservancy

From email:

Dear Councilperson Gray and other friends

Please find enclosed a petition of over 350 signatures of people opposed to the damage that has been done to the tree canopy of Monroe Park, Richmond’s oldest and most historic municipal park.
During the park’s period of historic significance, there were 362 trees of 26 varieties in the park. When the approved Monroe Park master plan was conceived, the park was down to 155 trees due to natural causes and lack of consistent maintenance and planting. Currently, there are less than a hundred trees in the park, many destroyed through actions violating established city policy. Even after trees that are planned to be planted are put in, there will be approximately one third as many trees as during the period of historic significance. This damage has been caused by a departure from the approved master plan and work documents through piecemeal alterations advocated in the last year by the City of Richmond on behalf of the Monroe Park Conservancy. The resulting damage cannot be corrected for at least a generation even if a comprehensive tree restoration plan were to be immediately enacted.
The approved Monroe Park master plan (2008) was celebrated for its community inclusivity and exhaustive research into the historic value of the park and was assembled by city council appointed community representatives with the assistance of the firm Rhodeside and Harwell at a cost of over 700,000 dollars to the taxpayers of the city of Richmond. It is tragic that it has been recently superseded by such a radical departure.
The approval of a 30 year lease to the the private Monroe Park Conservancy has turned out to be a tragic mistake and has served the city of Richmond poorly.
In closing, may I remind you all that the taxpayers of Richmond have invested well over 4.53 million dollars on this “renovation” and yet are denied legitimate representation on the MPC executive board, even though VCU has three seats and a seat was recently added for Dominion Energy. This lack of community representation violates the spirit of council approved resolution 2014-R64-64. It is notable, councilperson Gray, that both you and the Mayor’s chief of staff are sitting board members of the Monroe Park Conservancy.
It is in the best interest of the city of Richmond to consider dissolving the lease agreement and for city council to appoint a community based board to advise the city on Monroe Park matters.

Sincerely,

Charles Todd Woodson

(Editor’s note- The Sierra Club Falls of the James previously called for termination of the lease)

Eighty Five Percent

Voters in Richmond have approved a referendum that would change the city charter to require the Mayor to craft a plan to modernize Richmond Public Schools facilities without raising taxes (This does NOT preclude the Mayor or City Council from coming up with another school modernization plan that does raise taxes.)

Richmonders voted Tuesday on the 350-word referendum, which now must pass through the Virginia General Assembly. According to unofficial results, the referendum passed with 85 percent of the vote. Eighty five percent.

Now that the Put Schools First/Richmond School Modernization referendum has passed, will local environmental and faith-based groups join the Sierra Club Falls of the James in calling for energy conservation, green building, and solar roofs to be part of Richmond school modernization?

We know that Dominion and the Richmond Children’s Museum are partnering to put small, ‘experimental’ solar on a few school roofs, but citizens should be demanding that Richmond install large, ‘working’ solar arrays on public schools (and elsewhere). Other Virginia localities are in the process of doing so now, often at their students’ urging.

Reminder To Vote Tomorrow

This is yet another reminder for Oregon Hill residents to vote tomorrow.

Poll Location:

CLARK SPRINGS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
1101 DANCE STREET
RICHMOND, VA 23220-6112

(Ed. note: just a short walk to the other side of Hollywood Cemetery from Oregon Hill)

Polling Hours:
6:00 AM – 7:00 PM

The City of Richmond has new optical scan voting equipment. To use this equipment, you will vote on a paper ballot and insert the completed paper ballot in the scanning machine. (Note: Please be sure to flip over the page and vote on ‘Proposition A’ in addition to candidates).

For more information, contact the City of Richmond Registrar. The League of Women Voters also has a voter education site called Vote411.org

A Letter of Support For Magruder For Delegate

From email:

Dear voters,

Just under a week till Election Day! In this moment of historic crisis and unprecedented resistance, I urge you to join me in supporting a powerhouse candidate in Virginia: Montigue Magruder for Virginia House of Delegates. Montigue’s campaign can make a major breakthrough for revolutionary Green politics.

As U.S. empire teeters at the brink and the neoliberal order unravels, people are rising up to demand an America and a world that works for all of us – defying disaster capitalism in climate-change ravaged Puerto Rico and beyond, giving sanctuary to our undocumented neighbors, standing against police brutality and white supremacy, demanding a war-time mobilization for renewable energy and regenerative agriculture, calling for health care, education and jobs as human rights, opposing catastrophic wars from Yemen to Korea, and so much more.

As Republicans continue their unabashed assault, the Democratic establishment is fighting its own progressives as much as it’s fighting Trump – blocking single payer healthcare in California, supporting a Congressional military budget even larger than Trump’s, refusing to ban corporate money from the DNC and just last week purging Sanders supporters from party leadership.

A new poll shows a record 61% of Americans want a new major party to represent them. Inspirational Green candidates have stepped forward to meet the urgent need. Among them, Montigue Magruderis a strong contender for whom your support could make the critical difference.

Montigue Magruder is running for Virginia House of Delegates District 69. A working-class Virginia native who has lived in Richmond since he was 10, Montigue has experienced poverty, homelessness, incarceration, and domestic violence through his life. He was inspired to political activism in 2010 when he joined a movement opposing fare increases on Richmond’s public transit system. His struggles and his work with people-powered organizations cultivated his philosophy of providing everyone a life of dignity and love from birth until death.

In an area long dominated by the Democratic Party, Montigue is gaining ground with his commitment to clean-money grassroots politics and his bold progressive agenda including living wages, ending felon disenfranchisement, stopping pipeline construction, making Virginia a sanctuary state for immigrants and much more. He has ignited a broad coalition of progressives, earning endorsements from Clean Money Squad, Democratic Socialists of America Richmond, Virginia River Healers and Activate Virginia. He is exactly the kind of person we need in state government to stand up for radical progressive change whose time has come.

As the neoliberal establishment continues to serve the 1%, who keep getting richer while half of Americans struggle in or near poverty – it’s more critical than ever to help revolutionary Green candidates power up to victory.

Please join me in supporting Montigue Magruder’s extraordinary campaign as he fights for the greater good like our lives depend on it – because they do! Together, we can create an America and a world that works for all of us.

With your help, it’s in our hands!
Jill Stein

PS. To learn about other awesome people-powered candidates, take a look at Virginia’s 2017 Green campaigns and support a candidate near you!

Solar School Politics: Sturtevant, Carr, and Magruder

In case you did not know, Glen Sturtevant is Oregon Hill’s state senator for the General Assembly.

This morning, his name appeared on a Richmond Times Dispatch editorial about the Put Schools First/Richmond School Modernization referendum that will be on the ballot on November 7th. (interestingly enough, this column appeared briefly a week or so ago on the Times Dispatch website with Delegate Loupassi’s name instead of Sturtevant’s.)

Excerpt:

This summer, dozens of citizens — spurred by the Richmond Crusade for Voters, the Sierra Club and others — braved 100-degree temperatures to gather signatures to put an end to the past six decades of government inaction. A record number of Richmonders — 15,000 — personally signed the petitions needed to get the school modernization initiative on the ballot. It should be crystal clear to all elected city officials that the citizens are tired of talk and want action. The charter change is very simple. It asks the mayor, after consulting with the City Council and the School Board, along with allowing for public input, to develop a fully funded school modernization plan for consideration within six months of the charter change becoming effective.

Although the editorial lauds ‘bipartisanship’, local Democrats continue to be less than welcoming to this grassroots referendum. In contrast, the Richmond Green Party has endorsed the referendum. From their press release this past July:

The Richmond Greens recognize that the decades of neglect and mismanagement of Richmond’s public school system is not solely the fault of the City of Richmond or Richmond Public Schools alone. The actions (or inactions, in some cases) by the Virginia General Assembly have exacerbated the issues affecting our public school system. However, we believe that anti-poverty initiatives need to include the modernization of school facilities to ensure our children have a better opportunity to unlock their utmost potential.

The modernization of our school buildings is not only essential to a quality education, but also promotes economic, racial, and environmental justice. Modernizing our school buildings will give the City the opportunity to invest in solar power and other “green” technologies to help reduce operational costs and combat climate change. It will also free students from the distractions of leaking/falling roofs, pests, and health issues (e.g. mold contamination) that seem to be exclusively present within school facilities mostly attended by African American students. And finally, Mayor Levar Stoney will have the chance to prove his commitment to enhancing education for children in every zip code of the City.

The Richmond Greens support the Put Schools First petition drive and will provide our support whenever possible. Efforts are currently underway to help our candidate, Montigue T. Magruder, win his House of Delegates race. As we inform the public of his candidacy, we will continue to inform voters about the Put Schools First petition to raise help raise awareness. We would like to extend our thanks to the Richmond Crusade for Voters and Sierra Club for leading the petition drive and would like to work with them on future endeavors.

So, a couple of things to watch:
Will Delegate Betsy Carr continue to say that she has not read enough to take a stance on the referendum? She will be at a neighbor’s house this Wednesday as part of a meet’n’greet. Magruder has one scheduled for Nov. 1 at the Bits and Pixels store in Carytown. Will the corporate media continue to largely ignore the political race here between Democratic Carr, Green Magruder, and Libertarian Crocker? (Both Magruder and Crocker support the referendum).

If the Put Schools First/Richmond School Modernization referendum passes this November, will local environmental and faith-based groups join the Sierra Club Falls of the James in calling for energy conservation, green building, and solar roofs to be part of Richmond school modernization?

We know that Dominion and the Richmond Children’s Museum are partnering to put small, ‘experimental’ solar on a few school roofs, but citizens should be demanding that Richmond install large,’working’ solar arrays on public schools (and elsewhere). Other Virginia localities are in the process of doing so now, often at their students’ urging.

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.