Thursday, July 04, 2013

Why be afraid of democracy?

On Independence Day, I’m celebrating my freedom of speech to call for a fresh dose of democracy here in Richmond. As of yesterday, I’m a member of the new Facebook group, Referendum? Bring It On!

This group is calling upon City Council to allow the people to speak. (Joining it is free and easy.)

When I say "the people," I mean Richmond's citizens, its taxpayers. The key is: Do those taxpayers want to prevent the City of Richmond from building a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom?

Or not?

Hey, it's that simple.

Still, in a preliminary committee meeting on July 1, six members of City Council voted to muzzle the voters, to block the November referendum, which was a proposal by Second District Councilman Charles Samuels.

In my view, Samuels has offered Richmond a sensible new tool to settle what has been a thorny debate.

Yet, following the (July 1st) discussion of Samuels’ proposal, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch's report, the six who opposed it were hard pressed to come up with anything more than flimsy reasons for their blocking tactic. One of Samuels' colleagues opined that it would be too much like California to resort to a referendum to fix the 10-year-old problem.


Most Richmonders have known for years that Shockoe Bottom is absolutely the wrong neighborhood to pave over to build a baseball stadium. Most local baseball fans have known for years that their opinions haven't counted for much.

Aren't those the two biggest reasons why the boosters of baseball in the Bottom are afraid of democracy?


RT-D columnist Michael Paul Williams scolds City Council and calls for a citywide referendum on the baseball stadium issue.

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