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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Letter to my councilman

Dear Bill,

I can’t and don’t seem to want to keep up with the soap opera that is City Hall. I do appreciate your toiling in the fields and keeping up the good fight. I wonder if you have some extra sympathy for Manoli Loupassi now. He was so sincere and genuinely wanted the Mayor to succeed and to be his man on the council only to be torpedoed again and again. You do a good job, but no one could put on a look of disbelief and shock like he could. No one turns into a worthy opponent like someone who was once a true believer.

Ray McAllister column today jolted me to life. Bosnia? Did you really say that? It’s pretty funny even if it is a muddled analogy. By the way, I do agree with you. Not about Bosnia, but about us building things halfway. The arts center was flawed concept, but a worthy goal. Here we are 3 years into the new era and progress is just beginning to be made. I wish Save Richmond would have saved us from Doug Wilder. He really is the 900 lb gorilla. People of substance seem to be genuinely afraid of him. He can sling dirt with the best of them and not seem to get dirty himself. I think of him as our own little George W. Bush although … well let’s drop that particular subject.

I’ll continue to confide in you. I recently had despaired about the future of the city and my own connection to it, but that proved unproductive and depressing. Sometimes you just have to swim against the current. The city (all cities) is so important to the present and future. Living in the city is where green begins. I have walked to work virtually every day since I moved to Richmond. This is no grand accomplishment since I could hit my office (uh, really it’s a cube) from my living room window with a bb gun, not that I ever would do that, but still I am proud. I have been waiting for the city (shopping, services, nightlife) to come to me, but it has been a long wait. Friday Cheers has been running at half schedule, the Carpenter Center, well you know about that. The nearest shopping center is just across the city line (Willow Lawn) and the streets surrounding my building feel less safe than ever. These days, perception creates reality. If people don’t “feel” safe, they won’t go out; they won’t come down, visit or build. Broad Street (Bosnia) is still dismal and depressing. Except for one Friday night a month it is not a safe or pleasant place to be. I live here. For God’s sake what must our visitors think? Franklin Street should be a showcase. It is such a beautiful tree lined street with historic and new buildings and a dense population of students and professionals. Well, all that money is finding a home and thank God that some it is finally being spent in the neighborhood, but it is critical that we make the streets look and feel safe. Whatever progress we have made is just a small portion of what of what would be happening if people felt and knew that it was safe to bring your wife, mother and children downtown. I’m always amazed when I see families spilling out of Theatre IV. The children look so out of place and I’m so grateful to see them. It takes a spirit of adventure and a small amount of foolishness to do this. It’s one of those small mirales that gives you hope.

I could go on and on, but I won’t. If you’ve gotten this far then I thank you for your patience. I felt the need to vent and haven’t had the time to make a council meeting lately. I hope I get to see you Sunday at Meadow Park. I’m looking forward to the day when Monroe Park feels just as safe and relaxing.

Take care,


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