Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Baseball stadium referendum; a needed dose of direct democracy

Charles Samuels has come up with a idea that could do much to settle the issue of where to play professional baseball games in the city of Richmond. Or, where not to play those games. And, since that issue has been flapping in the breeze for over 10 years, why wouldn’t the best solution be to let the voters weigh in on it?

Samuels, who is the Second District’s representative on City Council, and the President of the body, said in an email released from his office yesterday that on June 24th he will propose a referendum be held in November that will put the question of baseball stadium location before the voters. He wants it on the election day ballot

Having followed this issue since I first wrote about it for Richmond.com 12 years ago -- samples: herehere and here (there are plenty more but those links should do) -- I am delighted to say that I support Samuels’ bold initiative. While it won’t settle every issue associated with minor league baseball, in my view the results of the referendum would be likely to finish off the persistent push to stuff a baseball stadium into Shockoe Bottom. 

On the other hand, for any number of reasons, there will be some number of people who will oppose the referendum idea; oppose it with a passion. A portion of them will be happy to tell you exactly why. Some will say this a decision that elected representatives ought to make. Problem is -- that hasn't worked.

Others will criticize the referendum, while hiding their motives; they will try to nitpick the referendum solution to death. Most of those hidden agendas will be more about politics and real estate values than baseball. Those agendas will be more self-serving and shortsighted than anything else. 

To paraphrase Matthew 7:15 and 7:16: Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their poppycock.


Yes, I'm all for it. After a decade of back and forth debate, why not a shot of direct democracy? Straight up ... no chaser.

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