About 60 people turned out for today’s 7th District Meeting hosted by interim City Council 7th District representative Betty Squire at the Peter Paul Development Center. Speakers included Mayor Dwight Jones, RPS Superintendent Brandon, a representative from the Richmond Police Department, Delegate Jennifer McClellan, and School Board 7th District representative Don Coleman.
Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones
First up was Mayor Jones, fresh from the Irish Festival. He reiterated a message of unity and progress for the city and towards regional cooperation, and restated his embrace of the Downtown Master Plan and the recommendations of the city auditor. Jones said that the city is seeking all of the stimulus dollars that we are due and will not miss “a single penny that should come to us”. Such money will be targeted at schools, public safety, and transportation, with the intent of make Richmond a “tier-one city”.
Comments from the audience included suggestions to anchor the Shockoe Center proposal around a publc park instead of a ball park, a long inscrutable statement by a man from Ghana, and a question about Echo Harbor, none of which received much of an answer.
Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Yvonne Brandon
Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Yvonne Brandon followed Jones at the podium. She began by saying that RPS is undergoing transformation, but that there are great strides yet to be made. RPS has improved the graduation rate by 10%, almost 90% schools have state accreditation, 87% of the schools have made AYP. Brandon said that RPS is moving to embrace of the state process for procurement (EVA) to be able to further take advantage of scale, and that the school system is implementing energy efficiency programs.
She touched on the budget process, saying that RPS will be able to maintain student/teacher ratios next year, that there will be no staff reduction. Looking forward, the first phase of the City of the Future plan has MLK Middle School scheduled for extensive renovations and includes a feasibility study for placing a school in Fulton.
Asked about the potential closing of Bellevue ES, she referred to the planned study for Fulton as to what may determine the closings of schools in the East End.
Richmond City Police
Police speaker: crime is down. Citizens are the key. A huge decrease in homicides over the past 10 years. Prostitution stings along T Street recently.
Questions from the audience: thanks for recent focus on Venable Street. Thanks for anti-skateboarding signs in Patrick Henry Park.
Betty Squire, Jennifer McClellan, Don Coleman
The announcement of other meetings. Schoolboard 7th District representative Don Coleman speaks.
Towards the end of the meeting, Squire was asked directly “Why did you vote the way that you did about Oakwood?” Her response was basically “It was zoned that way. I respect the property rights of people.” Squire also confirmed that there is no money available to board up vacant properties, but said to contact her with the addresses of any problematic properties.
There is a move to get a memorial in Fulton; 71 houses are slated to be built in Fulton.
There is some shit going on in Fairfield Court. Drugs are bad.
Open Forum on the Budget
April 4th @ Police Academy from 11AM-1PM
Regular Budget Meetings
April 7,8,9,14,15 at City Council Chambers @ 2PM; April 16th @ 2:30PM
Community Open House @ Armstrong High School
April 29, 6PM
April 7th District Meeting
April 25 – location TBA
with Commonwealth Attorney Herring& Sheriff Woody
See also Silver Persinger’s Richmond City Council Reporter & Telegraph for another take, he was across the room recording as well. It looked like he was probably better able to get the folks asking questions from the audiance.