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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Message to Council

I made my presentation last night. It was based on my Crime blog a couple weeks ago. After several heavy rewrites I refocused my theme in a more positive manner, because the news isn't all bad and there is hope. In addition I took out several inflamatory quotes such as "massacred families are bad for business" and "The city limits keep Richmond small, black and poor." I am angry and those are true, but probably more likely to antagonize and be misunderstood. I do have it in me to say some incendiery things. Oh well, there's a time and a place for everthing.

Here's the real deal.

Good Evening President Loupassi, council, Madame Timekeeper. My name is Paul Hammond and I live in the 2nd district, in booming Monroe Ward. Home of Perly's, the Jefferson Hotel and First Friday Art Walk. I invite everyone to come down and visit.

I’d like to thank Mr. Pantele and Mrs. Graziano for attending the town square discussing the ballpark. I think that is an issue critical to the future of downtown. 500,000 new visitors to downtown. Gives me goosebumps.

There’s a lot I’d like to talk about, but I’d like to focus on crime. Because crime hurts everyone, blacks more than whites, the poor more than the rich, the city more than the suburbs. It ensures poor neighborhoods remain poor. It creates conflict with the police, racial tension, and drives people farther from the city center and farther from each other. I think fear of crime, … more than taxes, regulations or even racism drives business and residents from the city. There are still places where even police, not to mention ordinary citizens fear to tread. The cost is literally in the billions of dollars. Just add up the salaries and capital investment of Innsbrook, Capital One, and the Arboreteum, and think what could have been accomplished if those developers had invested within the City Limits. Now consider what additional damage will be done by the imminent developments Short Pump and Watkins Center. Those dollars could be lost to Richmond forever.

There is good news ... and it has nothing to do with car insurance(laughter, really!). Richmond is on the mend. The people have spoken. They want to and will come downtown. First Friday has become a major event. There were hundreds of students, adults and even families with children walking up and down Broad Street last Friday. That’s one Friday a month, but it’s a start.

I’m guessing there’s between two and three hundred new residential units in my neighborhood and that’s not counting the River District or Jackson Ward or Tobacco Row.

20,000 took part in the Ukrop’s 10K and I’m hoping 50 to 100 thousand will come for Easter.
It very exciting.

I want to see the barricades go up again and not come down until the work is finished. I want to see a new Miller and Rhoads Hotel, I want to see the John Marshal reborn, a new Central National Bank building. I apologize, I’m not a very patient person. I can deal with the dust of progress, but I think we’ve lost ground lately.

There are just a ton of things we need to do to make this a better city, but we need to start by making the city clean and safe. If we can do that you won’t be able to keep people away.

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