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Monday, March 27, 2006

Crime hurts everyone and everything

- Crime hurts everyone and everything , blacks more than whites, the poor more than the rich, the city more than the suburbs, the police and even the criminal. It ensures poor neighborhoods remain impoverished. It increases tension between the police and the black community, tension between the races, drives people further and further from the city center, eroding the economic and cultural base of the Richmond. It fosters fear, distrust and anger. Shopkeepers view customers as potential thieves or even personal threats. Customers view shopkeepers as exploiters and bigots. I think fear, more than taxes, regulations or even racism drives business, residents and even visitors from the city. It is argued that crime is way down in the city, but that is a relative comparison. There are still many places where councilmen, mayors and even police fear to tread, especially at night and rightly so. It is difficult to estimate in dollars, just what this costs the city, but I maintain it is in the billions. Try adding up the cost, in salaries and in capital investment, of Innsbrook, Capital One, and the Arboreteum, just to name a few. Think what could have been accomplished if those developers had invested within the City Limits. Now I ask you what further damage will be done to the corporeal existience of the city by the imminent developments Short Pump and Watkins Center. This is a zero sum game and those dollars and their economic impact will be lost to Richmond forever.

In my three minutes I’d like to speak to two more topics briefly. One, the City Limits that serve more as a barrier than a boundary to the City. This is an issue that someday must be addressed. The natural boundaries of this city should extent at least to Parham Road. The current boundaries serve mostly to keep Richmond small, black and poor. There are people and politicians on both sides of that lines in whose interest it is to keep it that way. It is not in the interest of the City of Richmond nor it’s citizens nor in the broader interst intestests of the entire region.

Secondly, I believe that basic reform is necessary to the constitution of Virginia.. The current law that separates cities from the counties that surround them serves only to artificially divide us. In this case into at least three separate, competing entities. I’ve heard it said by county politicians that the new proposed mall in Chesterfield is needed to draw tax dollars and shoppers away from both Stony Point and Short Pump. This is so counterproductive it is ludicrous. Richmond’s gain should not be Chesterfield’s or Henrico’s loss. While overlapping jurisdictions may be inefficient, they also help to see that the interests of the entire region are considered. I think more attention needs to be given to the damage fostered by the current. Just because this is the way it's always been done doesn't mean it always has to be this way. I encourage you to dream big and seek the greater good.

Thank you for your time and attention.

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