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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Return of the Council

Dear Mr. Pantele,

Glad to see the Council back on the job, at least in a more public way.
I read with interest the joint position paper in the Times Dispatch. It
seemed, as it had to be, a carefully worded statement. Trying to get
nine people, in this case seven, to agree to anything cannot be an easy
thing to do. At least it represents the beginning of an organized
challenge to one man rule in Richmond. I am not much of an insider,
but my guess is that things are worse than they appear in City Hall
these days. I am growing more concerned about the systematic gutting
of department heads and the resulting loss in institutional memory and
experience. In my observations over the past few years, Richmond has
been blessed with city employees dedicated to building a better
Richmond. The new people coming in are going to owe their jobs to the
Mayor. I am not sure what we are gaining by this process and I don’t
know what input or impact the Council can have under this new form of
government. There really isn’t much point in me producing a litany of
complaints against the mayor. He has claimed the high ground and seems
to thrive on conflict. I’ve just about given up finding any common
ground with him. I think it’s time to move on to damage control. I
heard a story at the Friends of Monroe Park meeting on Saturday from
Turk, whom I had just met. He said that Paul Goldman had challenged him
about just how good an investment Libraries and Parks were. After all,
how many people actually go there? IN the case of Monroe Park, not
many at all, unless you count the homeless/vagrants that currently
overrun the park. Ordinary people, students and families avoid it with
good reason and will continue to do so till the City takes some strong
moves to control the numerous charities that operate there. The same
goes for the Main Public Library. I’m not really trying to lecture
you, but this does illustrate the mindset we are dealing with. I have
no doubt you could tell more such stories. I hope we will continue to
find a solid majority on the Council who are willing to make a
principled stand against the Mayor.

Please continue the solid work you are doing on behalf of the City.
Maybe soon we will have an ally in the Governor’s office.

Paul Hammond
Downtown Richmond

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