It’s fitting on this first-in-a-while rainy day to write about the lack of transparency in our city government. Despite recent promising events, like the charette, Richmond’s politicos are rapidly returning to the status quo of obfuscation, backroom deals, and just plain old incompetency.

Story number one

Mayor Wilder cancels a town hall meeting to discuss the “revitalization” of Gilpin Court. Wilder’s mouthpiece Linwood Norman was unusually forthcoming about their wheeling and dealing:

“There’s behind-the-scenes planning going on, but the meeting was to kick that off,” Norman says…

How, exactly, does one kick off “behind-the-scenes planning” at a public meeting?

What?

Does that even make sense?

The real story is that land so close to downtown is too valuable to waste on poor folks- just ask Phillip Morris who funded (in part) a “revitalization plan” for the area which is so close to their new real estate investment. How much public input was part of that plan? So far as I can tell, none.

Story Number Two

Staubach Co. chosen to create plan for N. Boulevard.

John Sarvay said it best at Buttermilk and Molasses:

One thing not made clear in the Times-Dispatch’s recent article on the selection of The Staubach Company as the development company-of-choice to figure out what to do with 60 acres of city-owned land in North Richmond is how the Dallas-based company was selected. Apparently, they don’t have to attend spring training to play ball with Richmond’s City Hall — unlike Tulsa, where Staubach had to submit a proposal (competing against three other development firm[s])….

Here’s hoping one of Staubach’s first recommendations is that the significant residential population surrounding the North Richmond tract be included in the conversation, not to mention its most immediate educational neighbor — Virginia Union University. (I’m sure VCU already has tickets to the game.)

Thank you, John.

John and I have been repeatedly hammering the theme of the necessity of public involvement in planning. It’s dismaying that our elected representatives have handed the reigns over completely to a corporation from out-of-town. We’ll be watching what happens.

Story Number Three

Despite the headline on today’s TD about massive improvements to the city’s parks, there’s no mention whatsoever of the parks master plan which was to be finalized and revealed in September.

Has anyone seen this elusive document?

The Parks Department’s webpage sure hasn’t. The only page about the master plan is absurdly out-of-date.

Nothing like poorly advertised opportunities for public input followed up with no presentation of the results!

Speaking of poor advertising, River City Rapids reminds us that the results of another charette will be presented tonight!

“Presentation on the future of Monroe Park” Thursday, Oct. 18 from 6:30-9 p.m.

The meeting will be held in the first floor meeting room of VCU’s Brandt Hall, 720 W. Franklin St. across the street from the park. For more information, call Tyler Potterfield, 804-646-6364.

Of course, that information is not available on Monroe Park’s website- not even on their calendar of events.

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