Wilder v. Ballard
Thursday, April 06, 2006 :::
The confrontation between Doug Wilder and the Richmond School Board is getting even hotter, if that's possible. And the issue comes down to one of openness:
Goldman developed the “City of the Future” plan in late 2005 at the mayor’s behest. He came up with the idea of using existing revenues, including new money coming in from expired tax abatements, to borrow $300 million to fund a massive overhaul of city schools and other infrastructure.
At the City Council meeting in early January, Wilder called the plan “the boldest and most comprehensive educational and neighborhood revitalization program ever attempted” in Virginia. After his speech, the mayor, Chief Administrative Officer William Harrell and new Chief Financial Officer Harry Black held a press conference to address questions about the specifics of the plan.
When asked which 15 schools would be selected as the ones that most needed improvements or rebuilding, the officials said details would come later. When asked how the money would be spent, Black said, “we really can’t give a definite answer to the procedure.”
That's hardly a good sign, but it does seem to fit the Wilder pattern of shake 'em and bake 'em, then let someone else do the work. And what they do is none of your damned business.
That may have worked (somewhat) on the old School Board leadership, but there's a new chairman now -- my old neighbor Dave Ballard. And from what I know of Dave, Wilder may -- just may -- have met someone as tough-minded and determined as he is.
And the actions of the group Wilder has appointed to decide which schools will be renovated haven't helped matters at all. There deliberations, it seems, have been closed to the public. Dave's requests to sit-in have been rebuffed and delayed.
So let me offer the Mayor a bit of unsolicited advice. Dave's a good man. And tough but fair man. He's also probably the very last person you want to dismiss as just another School Board nit-wit. You'd be wise in this case to drop the dismissive attitude and level with him. Otherwise, you'll end up making the worst sort of enemy...one who really has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 4/06/2006