by Jon Baliles

Left In The Cold

The Richmond Free Press Editorial Page ends the year batting 1.000 and goes two for two this week. The main editorial covers the disgraceful lack of attention, urgency and concern by the mayor and the administration for those in need of shelter during last week’s arctic blast. It opens with two sentences any “leader” should be ashamed of:

“Here’s the good news: So far, there have been no reports of unsheltered people freezing to death in the arctic blast that hit the Richmond area just before Christmas. With private and city-supported shelters full, people were left in the cold.”

It goes through the debacle over the past few months (you can read more here and here) and questions why zoning and special use permits were held out among the excuses as to why shelters in certain parts of town were unable to open. I recall a time not too distant when the mayor used “emergency powers” for numerous other issues during the pandemic; I guess emergency shelter for the homeless in 10-degree weather does not qualify.

The editorial also notes that the Council approved a special use permit two years ago for a shelter by a different operator in the same spot on Chamberlayne Avenue in Northside, but this year they are still waiting to get through the red tape.

“It would seem simple enough to create a legal fig leaf that would have allowed CCC (Commonwealth Catholic Charities) to fully open. No, it was more important that CCC gain its own permission slip, even if that took forever and left desperate people in the cold.”

And then, the brilliant denouement:

“Mayor Stoney has lectured everyone about how this city’s goal is to create One Richmond and equity for all. Apparently, you had to read the fine print on his messaging: Legal niceties are more important than people. Alas.”

Jon Baliles is a former Richmond City Councilman. This column was published originally in his blog RVA 5×5 and is republished here with permission.

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2 responses to “RVA 5×5 – New Year’s Nuggets”

  1. Maybe the dumpster fire is what has [so far] kept unsheltered people from freezing to death.

    Seriously, though, this SOB used his emergency mayoral powers to expedite the removal of inanimate objects from the city, but he can’t figure out how to clear the way for a private entity to do a job his city government should be doing?

    Wow. Just, wow!

    1. He was inept as a staffer for DPVA and a puppet when he worked for McAuliffe. I had hoped he was growing up into actually being an adult and a leader as mayor. Doesn’t seem to be the case.

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