Richmond-y Goodness

For people like me, who’ve been deeply distracted all week and haven’t had much of a chance to blog, there’s no better way to get in touch with what’s shaking in River City than reading Don Harrison. This one’s a beauty, covering the mayoral election, the city’s war on nightlife, the decrepit schools…it’s all good.

But Don does raise a few issues that need to be addressed. The first is the city’s aptly-titled war of attrition against night clubs it deems unsavory:

You’d really have to be a “certifiable” apologist for the status quo in order to defend the city’s totally-illogical targeting of the Cotton Club and Club 534, as detailed in this week’s Style Weekly. Still, I’ve heard no staunch defenders of property rights out in the blogosphere or anywhere else standing up to denounce the city’s blatant harassment and targeting of nightclubs they don’t approve of — but can’t legally close down.

I plead guilty to not following this story, but will admit that it has that special statist odor which usually seeps from the pores of bureaucrats with more time on their hands than common sense in their heads. Or, to be more precise, they seem to have more than one master…in this case, very possibly, VCU, which wants one of the properties in question and tried recently to purchase it, but were unsuccessful. Read the whole Style piece to get a sense of the byzantine maneuvering going on here… and then ask yourself whether the much vaunted changes in Richmond’s political culture are merely cosmetic, or simply illusory.

The real fun for locals, though, is the upcoming race for Richmond mayor. The current incumbent, Doug Wilder, has systematically burned and then dynamited the ruins of just about every bridge he has during his tenure. That’s not to say some of those bridges didn’t deserve what the treatment they got. They did. However, residents are right to ask whether the Wilder years have really, truly, beneficial. Having left the city nearly four years ago (owing almost entirely to the condition of the city’s schools), it’s hard for me to say whether the day-to-day operations have improved. But even from a distance, it is apparent that Richmond has a long way to go before it is fully clear of the incompetence that characterized its government. Somehow, the great white elephant of a performing arts center is still moving forward. For whatever reason, the school system’s overseers still seem more interested in settling personal scores than improving the lot of their young charges. And the political culture still seems to be as backward and tribal as ever.

For those reasons and more, folks like Paul Goldman and Jackie Jackson have decided to run for mayor, while Wilder remains publicly uncommitted. Perhaps he will dive in, and I suspect that if he does, he will be the prohibitive favorite. However, Paul Goldman’s mere presence in the race should make any contest between the two worth watching. As for Jackson, who still seems to be shopping for a constituency, I can’t say that her presence will make much of a difference. That could change as the race develops, of course, but for now, Richmond residents may be in for a contest pitting the Wild One against his one-time Richelieu. They could (and maybe should) sell tickets to that one.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


  1. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I thought this article at least tangentially relevant:

    “Richmond penalized by Va. aid formula?
    The city gets less money from the state for schools than its 3 main suburbs”

    this part:

    According to the state, Richmond is wealthier and less in need of school aid than Chesterfield, Hanover or Henrico counties.

    It’s better off than the Northern Virginia suburb of Manassas Park and the suburban Tidewater communities of Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Poquoson and York County. It is also better off than booming Spotsylvania and Stafford counties.

    I wonder if the mayoral candidates will address this issue.

Leave a Reply