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Monday, June 22, 2009

Doug's Greatest Hits

I came to Richmond with a very distorted view of who Doug Wilder was. Basically I knew nothing about him except his place in history, the first black/African American Governor in US history. He had a nice smile (beware the smile). When he showed up as the reformer of Richmond government, I was ready to go along. I voted for the new city charter without reading the list of ingredients. I assumed the lawyers got it right. I assumed wrong. I wasn't even shocked when he decided to fill the position himself. It seemed only natural and I thought he might be the man to lead Richmond into a new era. While he did NOT get my vote, I knew it was a foregone conclusion. Nobody ever rode in on such a high horse with such high expectations. There was a new sherrif in town and things were going to be different from now on.

Well they were different alright. Among the highlights.

  • Disbanding security at City Hall and hiring his own private security detail.

  • Running through several press spokesmen till he found one who wouldn't speak to the press.

  • Hiring his nephew to do something, skirting City personel regs.

  • Attempting to confiscate several million dollars in contractual obligations to Sun Trust

  • Renting a Tobacco Row apartment to qualify as a candidate for Mayor.

  • Hiring, then firing Paul Goldman, his long time political svengali.

  • Bringing the Performing Arts Center to it's knees, the reviving it at 2/3 it's original size.

  • Firing City Council staff unless they pledged a loyalty oaths.

  • Holding the city budget hostage till he got half of what he wanted.

  • Bullshitting everyone with his open door policy. He was never there.

  • Hiring Shiela Hill-Christian to clean up his image. She quit months later with a cryptic note about her integrity, which she has kept intact.

  • Illegally naming CFO Harry Black as his new Chief Administrative Officer.

  • Freezing out the Richmond Braves till they took their ball and went home.

    And last but not least...

  • The Friday Night Fiasco which consisted of

    1. Ordering Police Chief Rodney Monroe to seal off City Hall like some kind of coup de tat.

    2. Movers then came in and packed up the entire RPS office (furniture, computers, file cabinets, personal property and potted plants and loaded them onto trucks.

    3. Hauling them out to 3600 Broad St only to be turned around by a midnight court injunction.

    4. Paying for the whole fiasco with money earmark to help victims of the Battery Park sewer flood.

    5. Provoking yet another lawsuits with City Council which he lost. Total legal fees were about $1,000.000. That's one million Washingtons.

It was an amazing time and not one of Richmond's finer moments. I've more or less blocked out the past four years. They started out with such promise. So much could have and should have been done. He was the George Bush of Richmond, never doubting his own genius and not caring who got buried on the way. No word from Jon Baliles on his view from the inside of the beast. I always wondered how he got talked in that trainwreck. So far he is not talking.

Bill Ferrar, former Wilder press spokesman, wrote an interesting piece in Richmond Magazine. I plunked down my $3.95 just to read it. I can't find the link to the story but it read like a personal nightmare. The best thing to happen to him was to get fired while he still had some time to recover his integrity and salvage his reputation. So were done now and Mayor Jones is putting some to sleep, but I say thank God I don't have Doug Wilder to kick around any more.

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Anonymous said...

He is not the first Black Gov. in the U. S. He is the first ELECTED Black Gov in the U.S. The first black Gov. in the U.S. is P.B.S. Pinchback.

Paul Hammond said...

You are correct. From Louisiana, I believe.

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