Mayor Dwight Jones has had a bad week and it had little to do with all that rain.
On Monday morning local high school students walked out of their classes to converge on City Hall. Their well organized, orderly demonstration riveted our sometimes squirrelly attention spans to Richmond’s skewed spending priorities. The students carried signs decrying the woeful conditions of school facilities and protesting Mayor Jones’ plan to build a new baseball stadium for the Flying Squirrels in Shockoe Bottom.
When the students showed up at City Hall on Monday morning Jones should have sneaked out of the building. Armed with nothing but his bogus blather, Jones should not have faced those kids emboldened by their righteous cause. He looked bad, and it was only Monday.
On Thursday morning the Richmond Times-Dispatch broke the story of a developer’s plan to build a stadium on the Boulevard, perhaps relying on private funds more than public funds. First District representative Jon Baliles was quoted in the piece. Later on Thursday, he orchestrated a City Council vote to remove some of the funding from the proposed stadium in the Bottom scheme.
Meanwhile, with his recent moves, it looks to me like Baliles, the son of a former governor, is positioning himself -- nicely -- to run for mayor of Richmond in 2016. On the heels of the what the kids did on Monday, his timing was impeccable. Opposing the scam of tying the stadium to a slavery museum needs a champion among the electeds.
Now Baliles can be it. For him, it looks it looks like a smart position, especially if he's interested in gaining power in town. That’s because a lot of people, both for and against the mayor‘s stadium plan, can smell the utter phoniness of insisting the stadium and museum must rise or fall together. Tying the slavery museum's fate to the fate of a baseball stadium was an absurd reach in the first place. This was the week that became much more obvious, even to casual observers.
With his response to Council's vote that suddenly pulled a rug out from under his so-called revitalization plan, Jones sounds like a schoolyard bully who’s suddenly gotten scared. Are the kids he used to beat up suddenly teaming up on him?