Check out the new article I just got published thanks to the fine folks at RVA Mag! Mayor Jones’ Meals Tax Proposal Leads to Tummy Aches
Posts tagged ‘richmond’
The massacre at a gay club in Orlando has created a groundswell of unfortunate responses by both the political right and left on the issues of immigration, guns, and policing. These poor responses include erasure of a queer identity and (un?)intentional racially/immigration status oppressive politics.
I have been trying to hold back my initial reactions to the Orlando shooting. Some of that has been a deliberate with holding of opinion, and some has been due to how numbing these sorts of events can be. Processing the news, the grief, the fear, and then the responses on all sides is a major intellectual and emotional undertaking. A lot of my friends in LGBTQ communities around the world have been struggling with the fear, sorrow, anger, etc. that the massacre created.
What I have noticed is similar to the observations of others – mainstream reaction to the Orlando shooting involves a lot of jumping to conclusions and ignoring the victims and survivors. What this does is add insult to injury for lgbtq and poc communities, and ultimately I say leave the door open for more future oppression and violence against those communities.
The reality that the shooting at Pulse happened on Latinx night and involved many people of color and immigrants seems to have been overshadowed by outside agendas to promote an anti-immigrant response. Even though the shooter was a man of color and american citizen born and raised. Outside forces are twisting this tragedy to fit the narratives they have already written. The anti immigrant crap is largely coming from the political right. Were this a white shooter, it would be a lot easier to suggest it was a racially motivated attack. The shooter being of color himself, and a first generation American makes it not so cut and dry. However, the issue of the identity of the victims must not be ignored in analysis. Many of the victims were immigrants, the children of immigrants, from the colonized territory of Puerto Rico and some undocumented folks as well. Responding to this shooting with anti immigrant legislation, and legislation which will ultimately result in more racial profiling is NOT honoring the victims and survivors. It is basically spitting on their graves.
The political left has their own contradictory bill of malarky to sell the public in response to this incident. The anti gun whiplash response is in full effect, largely ignoring the facts about existing gun laws, guns, and the not great political implications of their suggested gun laws.
Flashy scandals frequently rock the City of Richmond’s government sector. From bad investments, to bad investments, to a lack of financial accounting or accountability, the administration routinely fails to make good choices about how the money it collects from all of us is spent.
And there is a percentage of citizens who routinely spend their time, energy, and money pushing back against the choices being jammed down the throats of us ordinary folks. Locals seem to lose out when local government decides how to spend money. This seems to be a consistent theme.
For the record, I will mention a few of these recent follies – the Redskins Training Camp, the Shockoe Baseball proposal, the Stone Brewery deal, and the UCI Bike Races. All four of these involved large amounts of money, big financial promises, flashy promotion, and stepping all over the wants and the needs of local citizens, their businesses, and their projects and passions.
This is all frustrating, complicated, disheartening, at times even maddening. But what is missed, too much, is that this is quite frankly leading us to an incredibly scary situation. A situation where kids are getting shot on a semi-regular basis and there is no reason to think things will get better.
Mayor Jones will have you believe that these long term investments of his will pay off and help the City. I want you to understand that we do not have time to wait for these schemes to possibly pay off. As of the 2010 census, 40% of the youth in Richmond lived in poverty. This is a scary high number. Combined with our failing, falling apart, and floundering public school systems we are setting ourselves up for a generation with too few skills, too little education, and not nearly enough hope.
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For your window restoration, sash cord repair, glass replacemeny, reglazing, general contractor, carpentry, landscaping, and historic renovation needs.
ALL the money!!!
Richmond seems to have access to ALL the MONEY!!! For any stupid, classist, racist, sexist, etc. idea that comes down the pike. This is what half of my articles are about as is, but I could not let the $53,000 for a fence to keep homeless people from possibly sleeping under a new bridge pass without comment.
News story here if you hadn’t heard about this bullshit.
And if you’ve missed about all the other crap we spend public funds on, check out this article I wrote recently recapping some bad investments.
Just remember- the people who run this town (for now), think it is perfectly reasonable to spend Fifty Three Thousand Dollars to build a fence to prevent homeless people from having the shelter of a bridge if they choose it. But they privatized a major park, want to build a baseball stadium, neglect the schools, built a football stadium for a racist team, are funding a brewery and restaurant, don’t have a central homeless shelter (more coming on that from a group of us soon), fail to maintain public housing in good conditions, etc. Basically – what the hell!
And, this involves Venture Richmond, who LOVE to act like they are nice people, and Dominion Resources – the fuckers behind the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Venture/Vulture Richmond has mega ties to Dominion and McGuire Woods Law Firm who is representing Dominion to sue landowners etc. It’s basically all connected, from environmental issues to homelessness to eminent domain etc. We have to pay attention and call out this stuff constantly.
This has been a rant.
So support my work and buy a dang thing! More zines and crafts coming soon, and a book a few years out!!
Anarcho-Redneck Response to Recent Richmond Open Carry
by Mo Karnage
Richmond has been all in a tizzy over some recent exercising of the right to open carry guns. We’ve had some folks carrying guns in Target, and other carrying them in Carytown. Appearances of guns and those toting them at both locations seem to upset the delicate sensibilities of those who enjoy their capitalism from a more middle class seat. As my friend Dave says, the violence that happens at Target is all in the products on the shelves (sweatshop labor, animal cruelty, and environmental destruction for yall who ain’t picking up what I’m putting down). We’ve also seen local activist Chris Dorsey get hauled out of a City Council meeting over a dispute, which was blamed on his openly carried gun, and then the media gallery of the Council Chambers be closed out of a weird fear of gun wielding journalists- or something.
Maybe I don’t watch enough tv news to be shocked and upset by visible guns, or maybe its because I’m from Hanover county, but to me, guns aren’t an upsetting sight. This is the South. I haven’t been able to find a year on the start Virginia’s Open Carry policy, leading me to believe that we’ve had the same laws on the books around Open Carry for at least several decades now, and more likely since the origins of Virginia time. This is a gun state, but unfortunately not everyone here has sufficient knowledge or experience with guns and gun safety to be coming to the table ready for debate. So we have some culture clash going on.
Allow me to paint a picture. In a world where our government engages in endless war, supplies arms to oppressive regimes like Israel, engages in torture home and abroad routinely, and uses police and private security to patrol our domestic neighborhoods with an ever increasing amount of technology and weaponry, liberals are worried about the potential of violence coming from some deranged white guy who thinks he is in a shoot em up video game or whatever.
To me this is a sign of a society which had it’s autonomy erased, and has become dependent on larger bureaucracies, to its detriment. To me, this is a sign of a society which has had its understanding of the concept of violence thoroughly muddled, and has fallen prey to the idea that violence only occurs from the little guy- not the powers that be.
I also see this fear and confusion as a result of a culture that routinely chooses to treat only the symptoms of any problem, as opposed to addressing the root causes. I would argue that this method of addressing symptoms is promoted through capitalism for several reasons – mainly that it encourages greater consumerism, and prevents folks from questioning the very system of capitalism itself as a root cause of or contributing factor in many of our society’s problems.
Now why, some folks I know have been asking, would someone open carry a rifle? Well for one, because you sure as heck aren’t allowed to conceal carry it. Conceal Carry Permits in Virginia are only for handguns. You are not allowed to conceal long arm guns like rifles or shotguns (hence rules about barrel length etc.). For two, because not everyone wants to or can get a Conceal Carry Permit for any gun – they require being 21, money, a class, and usually takes about 6 weeks to get to you anyways. Not everyone wants to go through the trouble and paperwork to get a CCP and you know what, that is their right.
I’m sure there are more reasons to open carry a rifle, including it being your only gun, as well. There are plenty of practical times where one might open carry a gun, going to a friend’s house nearby, not wanting to leave it unattended in a vehicle, etc. The folks open carrying in Richmond lately are doing so in a fairly unnecessary way. No doubt. Some might call them jackasses. No doubt. But I think that as much as liberals are ignorant about open carry and brainwashed to be fearful, these folks are ignorant about liberals and their fear, and brainwashed by the gun lobby. Essentially we’ve got apple and oranges cultures coming to a head. The people open carrying are not doing so to make others scared, and indeed are surprised by the way people are scared. Their intentions might be poorly thought out, or lacking understanding of broader issues but they aren’t bad. Actually, both sides are often coming to the table full of fear- fear of guns and fear of gun rights being taken away. To discuss these issues coherently we need to get beyond the fear to analyze where everyone is truly coming from.
The anti-open carry camp seem to have an out of sight out of mind approach to guns. They aren’t actively upset until they can see them. And the assertively open carry camp seem to have an idea that if they don’t exercise their rights they might atrophy. Other gun owners have chimed in, worried that the attention being drawn to the issue might cause more harm than good, and they bring a valid point to the table. If liberals can’t see the violence- because it happens in wars in other countries over oil, or in sweatshops where their kids’ toys are made, or in forced prison labor where their office furniture is made or asparagus is grown (holler at yer local asparagus Ellwood Thompson’s), then it pretty much doesn’t exist. It is the flashy, in your face, reminders that seem to get folks all worked up.
If you weren’t at City Council tonight, here is my recap.
Before the meeting I spoke again with Michelle Mosby (9th district), who informed me that per our agreement after the last meeting, she had gotten the Public Comment period moved to earlier in the meeting’s agenda. I had made the request because I feel that Charles Samuels intentionally pushes that comment period later in the meetings to avoid having more attendees hearing what the public has to say. Typically by the end of the meetings many people have filtered out. It also seems that the public should have their say before votes happen, in case their information might be influential to a council person in some way. In exchange for the moved public comment period, I agreed to yell less and be more ‘respectful’. This all came about as I tried to explain to Michelle that when Charles Samuels refused to allow public comment on agenda items, the public was going to have their say one way or another, which was what we saw at the earlier April meeting. I hope that public comment stays early on the meeting agendas. Although the new 6 month trial of 1 meeting a month seems likely to cut into the ability of the public to speak.
About 16 RPS students came to express dismay at the refusal by the administration to fully fund schools. Their presence was a follow up to this morning’s walkout protest where around 200 students from 5 different Richmond Public Schools left school and marched to City Hall to protest the lack of full funding for schools, and the poor condition of many of the schools. #rvawalkout was the tag used for this campaign.
Isabella Arias, a student at Open High, spoke in the public comment period, but essentially had their concerns dismissed by Charles Samuels. Isabella made several salient points, including that to be a first tier City Richmond needs first tier schools before stadiums.
The other major issue I picked up on tonight was item 10 on the consent agenda. The way the agenda was written was very deceptive, and the ordinance sounded vague. Charles Pool tipped me off that in fact the ordinance had to do with giving Venture Richmond money.
“Ordinance Number 2014-80 (Patron: President Charles Samuels – To approve the Work Plan and Budget for the fiscal year ending Jun. 30, 2015, for the provision of services in the Downtown Richmond Special Service and Assessment Districts. “:
That ordinance is about, well, it is hard to tell by the little bit of information put on the agenda.
However, a closer read of the full text of the ordinance revealed that it would give $700,000 to Venture Richmond for their programming, including Canal Cruises, Friday Night cheers, Tredegar Green, their ‘ambassadors’, and more. The full text of the ordinance was not in the agenda, and was not among the papers placed on the ledge to be distributed. I found it only with the help of Silver Persinger, in the giant binder of ordinances down in front.
I asked City Council members to vote no on this item. The sneakily worded ordinance was very misleading to residents. An additional problem at this meeting was that, as usual, there were not nearly enough agenda’s printed to go around. Many people in the audience wanted agendas, and could not get copies, and therefore had a very difficult time following along.
One reason to vote no on giving Venture Richmond money or tax breaks is their Tredegar Green amphitheater plan. Residents of Oregon Hill, neighboring Tredegar Green, overwhelmingly object to the project, and Council should not support this funding.
The ‘Ambassador’ program which is also funded through this grant, says that Venture Richmond’s ambassadors “discourage behavior that threatens the future prosperity of downtown”. To my ears, this sounds like a gentrification patrol, using their authority to promote a set of standards which residents have not had a say in. I question who’s standards and who’s prosperity are being kept in mind and promoted by these ambassadors, and seriously question why tax payer money should be supporting their agenda.
The $700,000 also funds events like Friday Cheers and Canal Cruises. Friday Cheers is the Venture version on an event which used to be free on Brown’s Island, but now costs $5-10 depending on the show. Somehow getting public money for the event has resulted in them charging attendees. The Canal Cruises are another money making enterprise for Venture Richmond, but subsidized by the taxpayers. The tickets for the cruises cost $5-6 depending on your age.
Additionally, Venture Richmond has used their money to fund the sorts of political lobbying campaigns that non-profits are not actually supposed to engage in. As of February 5, Venture Richmond had stated they spent $32,500 on the Loving RVA campaign, a transparent support campaign for Mayor Dwight Jones’ Revitalize RVA baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom plan. Dwight Jones is also the President of the Venture Richmond Board of Directors. City Council President Charles Samuels (2nd district) and Vice President Ellen Robertson (6th district) are also on the Board.
The bottomline here, again, is that City Council is spending tens of thousands of dollars on plans that are not fairly bid, not wanted by residents, and not beneficial to residents. Parker Agelasto (5th district) and Reva Trammell (8th District) have both supported the idea of getting the $40,000-50,000 necessary to open one library location on Sundays for a year. Currently no City libraries are open on Sundays. Well, shoot, with $700,000 we could keep 14 libraries open on Sundays for the year, more than 1 per district.
$700,000 could also go a long way towards fixing the roof of school, and other urgently needed facility repairs on school buildings. In fact, $700,000 is exactly how much money the School Board is looking for in order to repair the roof of one elementary school and one middle school. While City Council and the School Board play pass the blame, but not the buck, students pay the price.
Firefighters have also recently come to council to ask for more financial support, specifically for their career development. These folks help our communities to stay safe, and deserve support.
The 3 million needed to be raised by the Monroe Park Conservancy, who recently landed a 30 years for $30 lease on Monroe Park, is basically just over 4 times that $700,000. Maybe if we kept that money for our park system Council would not feel the urgent need to privatize our public spaces.
The leasing of Monroe park and this grant to Venture Richmond are both examples of essentially no bid auctions of public resources. These are plans designed for 1 specific group. In the case of Monroe Park, the call for public bids was a technicality followed only when Caroline Cox pointed out their illegal no bid process. My bid was the only competing bid, and it was a protest bid. While the Monroe Park Conservancy had over 3 years to develop a plan and then a bid for the plan tailored for them, I had 30 days. For Venture Richmond’s 700,000 grant, which they receive year after year, the issue isn’t even up for a bid at all.
We have the money for our parks. We have the money for our schools. We have the money for our libraries. We have the money for our firefighters. We have the money, City Council just consistently chooses to spend it on corporate welfare and the rich instead of the things the rest of us want and need. Vote them out in 2016.
Update!! Easter Sunday – protest Venture Richmond, a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom, and Monroe Park Lease at Robert E. Lee statue at Monument and Allen in front of Alice Massie’s house from 1-5pm Please Share!!! Spread the word and bring signs and banners and noisemakers!!!! #rvacouncil #monroepark #venturerichmond #nostadium #shockoebottom #rva #foodnotbombs #rvafoodnotbombs #anarchist #radical #wingnut #vulturerichmond
This is the text of the speech I will be delivering on 4/14/14 at City Council during the public comments period. Below the speech are 2 amazing songs and information on the May Day Parade and Celebration in Monroe Park!!!
In 2013 the City of Richmond spent 11 million dollars to build a training camp for the racist football team from D.C. That racist team is the 3rd richest of all the teams in the NFL. But the City of Richmond has to pay them half a million dollars a year to practice here for 8 weeks. That comes to a total of 4 million dollars over the course of the 8 year contract. The rest of the year the facility remains vacant.
The training camp space can and ought to be used as a homeless shelter and resource center for the poor- who make up 27% of Richmond residents. The locker rooms and other aspects of the facilities make the training camp a huge improvement on existing options for the homeless.
Oh – and speaking of the homeless, they are facing the very real threat of being evicted from Monroe Park by the Monroe Park Conservancy if City Council approves this bogus lease tonight.
I have to ask- what kind of people spend 15 million dollars on a racist football team that is already the 3rd richest in the league, but would rather put at further risk some of our most vulnerable residents in order to not spend 3 million more on Monroe Park? What kind of people?
If the City of Richmond funded the entirety of the Monroe Park Renovations that would only be 2/5 of the amount being spent on that racist football team.
If City Council chooses to pass the leasing of a public park, which is an invaluable resource to low income residents, to a private entity made up of the rich and powerful who which to silence and make invisible the homeless, City Council is engaging in violence, classism, and morally reprehensible behavior.
If City Council supports the racist football team from D.C., Council is disgusting and oppressive. The Washington D.C. City Council voted in 2013 to condemn the racist name, and Richmond City Council needs to as well.
If you support the construction of an unnecessary baseball stadium on historic slave market grounds, you need to step back and educate yourself on racism. If you think the public should fund the baseball stadium spending over 80 million dollars before taking care of our schools and parks you are ethically bankrupt and have no business acting as a leader in this region. Funding the entirety of the Monroe Park Renovations without leasing the park would cost 1/13 of what the stadium is projected to cost.
As my friend Gary Llama pointed out, this City government is acting like an irresponsible person with a credit card who spends money on fun frivelous things like eating out, vacations, and videogames, while ignoring their rent and utility bills and debts. This behavior is fiscally irresponsible and morally reprehensible and I urge you to change your ways.
Our public schools are literally falling down on and around our students. In Sunday’s paper Mayor Jones is quoted saying, “When that community re-gentrification takes place, thats when schools really start turning around”.
So according to the Mayor, when low income and people of color are forced out of a community by upper middle class white people the schools get better. He thinks that the violence of displacement is necessary to improve schools. I bet if the Mayor and City Council did not spend public funds on baseball, football, and tax breaks for Vulture Richmond there might be money for our schools and parks.
I am telling you, we will not go quietly. Scratch that, we will not go. The neoliberal direction of this administration is creating a resistance among the people, and we will not go, we shall not be moved.
We Shall Not Be Moved by Pete Seeger – some get pumped music for the resistance. Because Resistance is fun – which is also why you should join the fight to Keep Monroe Park Open and Free at the annual May Day Celebration and Parade! Info Below!!
Update on May Day from the meeting last night –
May day parade will meet at 2pm on Thursday May 1st in Clay abner park.
The parade will leave the park around 2:30 and march to Monroe Park.
Getting to Monroe Park by 4 at the latest. In Monroe Park there will be a potluck cookout, speakers, workshops and bands as we hold down the park until dark.
We want May Day to be fun, invigorating, and anti- stadium, anti-privatization of Monroe Park, and in support of Fast Food workers and everyone fighting for a Living Wage.
So make your own signs and banners and puppets and parade floats and costumes and bring a dish to share!
All Saints Theater will be organizing their puppets with support and determining the parade route.
Day of, we will need bike marshalls, medics, legal observers, copwatchers, and more!
And another of my favorite resistance songs- Which Side Are You On by Rebel Diaz!
New article on the Richmond Railroad Museum