For a prime example of just how desperate “the business community” is to stop Paul Goldman’s candidacy in the 1st District City Council race, all one need do is pick up the telephone when it rings.
Early Thursday evening, voters received a somewhat hysterical “robo call” from current 1st District office holder and all-purpose “Who Runs Richmond” waterboy Manoli Loupassi, pleading with the district’s voters to elect Bruce Tyler:
“With the election on Tuesday, I’m asking you to join me in voting for Bruce Tyler to replace me on city council. It’s critical that we unite behind Bruce Tyler because we face the prospect of electing Paul Goldman, a divisive figure who repeatedly attacks Richmond’s most respected business leaders. Right now, the race is between Bruce Tyler and Paul Goldman. This is Manoli Loupassi, reminding you to vote for Bruce Tyler on Tuesday. This call is paid for by Bruce Tyler For City Council.”
Loupassi’s phone message came the same day many in the 1st District received a slick mailer that went on and on about how “independent” Bruce Tyler, the “business community”’s candidate, is. Uh-huh. Sure.
It’s worth recalling that Manoli Loupassi pledged not to endorse anyone for 1st District City Councilman at the beginning of the race. I guess the pile of cold hard campaign cash offered up by “Booty” Armstrong, Chesterfield developers and bitter ex-Virginia Performing Arts Foundation executives overruled all of his previous promises and convictions. It seems that the “honorable” Mr. Loupassi is hoping to become the next Virginia delegate for the 68th district. His fundraising prowess speaks for itself and this success is largely due to ol’ Loup’s longstanding, ah, willingness to please favored constituents, even when that involves raising your taxes.
Like this special gift he gave his friends in 2003, a little something that you and I have to contend with each and every time we buy a meal in the city of Richmond:
Im going to support [raising the meals tax]. It is a decision I have reached after a tremendous amount of thought about all the issues as everyone knows, Im not sure this is how we should have funded [the performing arts center] Things are very rapidly turning a corner [in Richmond] Mr. City Manager, you should be commended for the work that youve done. Councilman G. Manoli Loupassi, Richmond City Council, July 2003
If you got Manoli’s gravely-voiced message tonight, save it to put in the time capsule. It’s desperation time for the city’s “old guard” their vision of Richmond city government as a fertile field of connected “deals” and insider-trades at the expense of the rest of us hangs in the balance. Listening to Loupassi’s spiel, you can practically feel the beads of sweat coming off of the faces of those who still hope to “run” Richmond. He’s right about one thing: This one race is about the future of the city whether we go backward to the recent past when a small cabal of unelected insiders determined public policy behind closed doors… or not.
Luckily, Paul Goldman is no stranger to the world of political ambushes. He had his own “robo call” out, answering Loupassi’s shameful attack, within hours. This counterpunch featured Richmond Circuit Court Clerk (and 1st District resident) Bevill Dean, who lamented the fact that Goldman was getting bushwacked in such a crass and unfair manner (remember that Mr. Loupassi had formerly claimed that Goldman’s plan to overhaul Richmond’s school system was “brilliant”). Mr. Dean told voters that asking tough questions about the affordability of a $100 million arts center is hardly anti-business. It is in fact “pro-taxpayer.”
Apparently, there are some people in the 1st District who have to be reminded of such things.
[And if you want to know why issues surrounding the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation are still so important, from accountability to financing, look no further than today's Times-Dispatch story on the latest announcement from the Foundation concerning its future plans #197 in an ever-shifty series. Please note the many discrepancies between the Foundation's latest financial report and reality... the latest promises that there will be details "next month" while other assertions go curiously unverified... the continued shameless pandering to "the children"... the ongoing battle over who will "control" the Carpenter Center and how the Foundation hopes to spend more than $20 million of "City of the Future" money while still maintaining ownership and complete stewardship of the historic theatre. It's still quite a boondoggle, folks, and don't think who will be elected to sit on the next council isn't relevant to how everything will turn out. I've said it before and I'll say it again: If this scheme is allowed to fly, with no checks and balances and with the public shut out of the process, then Richmond will officially have no standard for future public-private deals. It's just that simple.]
In the end, as this blog has predicted all along, the 1st District race is coming down to the Foundation and the millions in taxpayer money that have been wasted by Bruce Tyler’s well-heeled supporters and the millions they believe are waiting to be played with still. If you haven’t noticed by now, they get by with a little help from their friends.