“The people are ready, the leaders are not.” — James Crupi
Richmond City Council is slated to vote — no, has to vote (by state mandate) — on a final amendment to the Downtown Master Plan tonight in City Council chambers.
Pre-game coverage starts at 6PM on WCVE, sponsored by Harris-Teeter. Looks like it’s going to be another bruiser… wait, have we been here before?
Yep, once again City Council wants to emasculate “The People’s Plan.” What started as the most inclusive and forward-thinking public document that Richmond has ever produced could be gutted at the very last minute by an amendment that basically favors development over protecting green space — hardly a plank of the document.
To see “highlights” of the last council session, and see YOUR council in all its glory, click onto Silver Persinger’s excellent Richmond City Council Reporter blog for web video. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll inevitably ask, “That’s a city councilperson?”
If you think you understand the politics and the process behind Richmond’s DMP, go ahead and take Save Richmond’s E-Z 2 Love the Downtown Plan quiz. And then, because this is Richmond’s Downtown Plan, you can amuse yourself with Save Richmond’s amendment to that quiz.
In a nutshell, this is all about Echo Harbour. And whether or not one deep-pocketed developer should decide what a key and historic view of the James River looks like. But it’s also a story about vision, or lack of it. And, unfortunately, it’s also a story about conflict-of-interest and blatant patronage politics. It’s a Richmond story.
But here’s the thing to warm your cockles — the tale is peopled with folks who have been telling the city, again and again, at charettes and public hearings, at committee meetings and mayor’s forums, exactly they want. Unfortunately, this city council and mayor continue to shuffle their feet, mumble some platitudes and take another call.
People wonder why we’re not more optimistic about city leadership at Save Richmond. I give you Exhibit A: The fate of our Downtown Master Plan.
The final days of this document are a textbook example of how communities can lose their nerve, and how they can give away their most valuable assets, hastening their obsolescence. This car crash finale is also a signal to citizens about what future inclusive documents can expect from the “process.” Already compromised all to Hell, and pushed to the very last minute by indecisiveness, one of the DMP’s central tenets may just be cast aside tonight.
Business as usual.
And, to paraphrase Yoda, “That is why we fail.”