Norfolk Leaders: Take a Hint

14 01 2010

In past years, Norfolk residents have never really seemed like they cared too much about who was running the city. Most elections went uncontested. Incumbents, almost without exception, were able to keep their comfortable seats. Four years ago, when Norfolk was finally able to popularly elect their mayor for the first time in nearly 100 years, the election was almost one-sided. In fact, had Dan Montague not stepped up to run against Fraim, it would have been. What happened, councilmen? Fraim now has three opponents. ‘Word on the street’ is that his seat is not the only challenged seat. Burfoot and Wright both have challengers for sure. There is a fourth that has possible opposition, although I cannot remember if it was Williams or Riddick. Also, regardless of Hester’s victory or failure in the mayoral race, she has to relinquish her council seat. This may be a new beginning for Norfolk. The remaining council members might want to take note and remember who they work for.


Norfolk Public Schools: Who’s in ‘charge’?

8 01 2010

With all this talk of HRT and the apparent want to fire the one ‘responsible,’ I have to wonder… Why not now? I consider problems like those allegedly reported at LaFayette-Winona just as serious as communication failure at HRT. The school board apparently hadn’t heard about this problem until the Pilot started investigating. In fact, the Pilot story states:

“Although state investigators conducted their investigation in September and published their findings on Oct. 14, board members said they first officially heard of testing irregularities from school officials in a Nov. 9 e-mail. That e-mail from the school division informed them that The Pilot was looking into the situation but didn’t provide details”

If the school board hadn’t heard, I would put money down that says the City Council was in the dark as well. Where is the outrage here? Judging by the response to the HRT situation, shouldn’t the school board be calling for the Superintendent’s head? Shouldn’t Council? I will go out on a limb and say its about the money. Sad, i know, that apparently HRT’s money is more important than a school system with integrity. Its only our children. The future of Norfolk and all. In my opinion,  the children that we have in our schools are much more valuable than whatever cost overruns could have occurred with the Tide. As a resident of Norfolk, I feel that the city’s apparent uneven application of accountability should stop. Remember that fellow Norfolkians; the City Council is up for election this year.

US Development – Preserving Norfolk’s Past

5 12 2009

The Virginian-Pilot has reported that a South Carolina company, US Development, has purchased the Union Mission building, formerly the Navy YMCA building. They plan on renovating the structure and converting the building into 90 apartments. These units will be priced for the middle class, starting at $800/month. In addition to this great move for the Union Mission building, the company also announced that they have similar plans for at least 4 additional historic downtown properties, totaling $100 million and 1,500 new apartments. This is a excellent opportunity for the City of Norfolk and its residents. The increase in affordable living space downtown will increase the amount of people that live downtown. Most of these new, middle-class renters will be more likely to walk where they need to go and/or take public transportation. This, in turn, will be better for downtown shops and restaurants, the mall, and even the upscale apartments and condos, which will be more desirable when the street-scape is flourishing.

Norfolk has spent so much time and effort erasing our past that we have already lost so many buildings. Not too long ago (2007), Norfolk demolished three historic buildings to construct a four-star hotel. At the time, they couldn’t wait. It just had to be done right then or the building would not get built and the world would end. So they tore them down. Going on three years later, the still-vacant lot sits, covered in grass and gravel. The city says that they are waiting for the economy. I wonder how they could be waiting if it was supposed to be built two years ago when the economy was good.

Regardless, it is about time that we had a developer who had an actual interest in preserving historic buildings instead of tearing them down. Perhaps this is the beginning of a new path for Downtown. The district will actually grow, without the city’s help. More residents are needed Downtown to truly make a successful downtown. It is a shame that our council could not see that. Instead, they tore down buildings and catered toward the wealthy and the upscale. All of that is nice, but it won’t survive without the people of the middle class.

Norfolk to Eliminate Option of Recall Election

16 11 2009

At the Norfolk City Council meeting on Tuesday, November 17th, 2008 at 2:30 PM, the council will attempt to remove all references to a recall election from the city charter. In other words, if we don’t like what a council member has done, we can do nothing about it. There will be no way to remove a member from office except by court-order, an expensive, time-consuming proposition. Additionally, they want to up the number of signatures needed to get something on the ballot, from 4,000 to 8,000. If you can and you care about the future of your city, please attend this meeting to show your feelings toward this underhanded attempt at keeping their seats for eternity.

To Norfolk City Council: A good leader is not concerned with methods of removal, because he knows that by his own virtue, he will be re-elected. A good leader is not afraid of being removed. In fact, a leader who truly cares about the city he leads, would fight to keep any and all means of challenging his own seat. The failure of challengers strengthens a leader’s credibility. The lack of challengers does not mean that a leader is good, but rather that people have resolved to accepting a poor leader. Norfolk City Council, you should only be afraid of a recall election if you have done something that you know that the citizens would be angered by. Furthermore, making it more difficult to get an item on the ballot only reinforces to the residents that the Council is afraid that the residents are going to try to remove them from office. How frequently have residents gotten the required 4,000 signatures for a referendum? Not many. Why would you need to increase that number?

To Norfolk Residents: Please vote against any council member in your area that votes in support of this proposed change. We need leaders that are afraid that their actions have consequences. We need leaders who are afraid of the population. This keeps them honest and voting inline with the feelings of their constituents.