Thursday, November 29, 2018

Local Governments Across Virginia Join Effort to Advocate for more Education Funding


Since 2009, state funding for K-12 education is down 9%, while overall student population has grown by 5%.



Today, local elected officials from across the Commonwealth are joining the call for more state funding for K-12 public education.  Leaders from a number of localities have signed on to support the March For More, which was announced on Wednesday by Mayor Levar Stoney, Richmond Public Schools leadership and education leaders from the across the region. March For More will take place on December 8th starting at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Richmond and end at the State Capitol steps.
The March is also supported by a growing number of organizations committed to increasing state funding for education, including the Virginia Education Association, Virginia Municipal League, Virginia First Cities, and the NAACP, to name a few.
Leaders from across the Commonwealth, representing a diversity of Virginians, support the March For More and are encouraging parents, students, teachers, administrators and others in the education field to participate in the march in Richmond:

Virginia Municipal League
“We represent 38 cities, 160 towns, and eight counties in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Michelle Gowdy, Executive Director of the Virginia Municipal League. “In July of this year, the City of Richmond came to our legislative committee meeting asking our members to support advocating the state to fund the true cost of education. this initiative, and our members did overwhelmingly. We then took this issue to our entire membership in October and again they overwhelmingly supported this initiative, and we look forward to supporting it going forward.”

Virginia First Cities
“We are a coalition of 14 cities from across the Commonwealth and want to express our strongest possible support for increased funding for Virginia public education,” said Kelly Harris-Braxton, Executive Director of Virginia First Cities. “We represent cities all across the state, including: Charlottesville, Danville, Hampton, Hopewell, Lynchburg, Martinsville, Newport News, Norfolk, Petersburg, Portsmouth, Richmond, Staunton, Williamsburg, and Winchester.”
“Year after year, our cities are digging deeper and deeper and making incredibly hard decisions about where to cut in order to adequately educate our children because Virginia continues to disproportionately rely on local governments to fund public schools…”

Mayor Justin Wilson, City of Alexandria:
“Localities like Alexandria are committed to the investment necessary to create 21st century learning environments for our children. However, we believe that the Commonwealth needs to recognize and fund the true cost of public education in our communities. Simply put, Virginia needs more state funding for K-12 education in our communities. Our children need it. Our families deserve it. Our leaders must demand it.”

Chairwoman Katie Cristol, Arlington County:
“As a locality that receives the smallest percentage of funds from the state for K-12 education, we’ve watched funding dwindle since the start of the recession in 2009. The Virginia Department of Education’s data shows this in stark terms: Arlington’s local expenditures for operations for the Standards of Quality in 2017 exceeded our required local effort by 181.6 percent. Shifting such a disproportionate burden of educating young Virginians on to the Commonwealth’s localities is as inequitable as it is unsustainable.”

Mayor Nikuyah Walker and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Rosa Atkins City of Charlottesville:
“We’ve asked the General Assembly to recognize and fund the true cost of public education. From adequate SOQ funding, to increasing the At Risk Add On, to funding for extended school day/extended school year programs, the Commonwealth’s attention to funding a quality public education is being called on and it’s urgent, for our children cannot afford to be kept waiting.”

Mayor Treney Tweedy, City of Lynchburg:
"Jobs are the key to economic recovery and adequate education is essential for the foundational preparation of the current and future workforce. The State should fully fund the Standards of Quality (SOQ), including support staff costs and categorical incentive funds for At-Risk students and restore funding from cuts to education over the last biennium. The state must meet its education funding obligations and should refrain from changes in methodology and division of financial responsibility that result in a further shift of funding responsibility from the state to localities. These shifts do not change what it actually costs to provide education but simply transfers additional costs to local governments, and ultimately to the local real estate tax base."

Mayor Gene Teague and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Zebedee Talley Jr, City of Martinsville:
“We are asking for statewide parity in state funding for school construction, maintenance and operations. Further, we have asked the Commonwealth to fully fund the expenditures imposed upon local school systems by implementing the Standards of Quality because Martinsville invested 148.2% above the required local effort for SOQ programs in 2016-2017.”

Mayor Kenneth Alexander, City of Norfolk:
“State support of K-12 education has steadily declined over the last generation when compared to the total growth of the general fund. Since FY2009, the state’s K-12 appropriation has dropped from 35.2% of total general fund appropriations to 29.9% in FY2019.  There have been zero direct state grants for capital improvements since FY2010, and even literary fund loans to school divisions have been impacted.  Localities have been forced to make up the difference, and other vital services for families and communities have suffered in the balance. In a time when Virginia is experiencing significant economic growth and state revenue forecasts are improving, it is critical that we atone for these cuts in investment imposed on our schools and restore state funding for K-12 education.”

Councilwoman Jill Carson, Town of Pennington Gap
“The formula for funding public schools, as it currently exists, does little or even perhaps fails to meet the educational needs of poor rural school districts."

Mayor John Rowe, Jr., City of Portsmouth:
"The local, state, and federal shares of school operations funding has shifted since 2008-2009 and Portsmouth has taken on a much larger share of funding. Portsmouth invested 296.3% above the required local effort for SOQ programs in 2016-2017. Obviously, we cannot raise property taxes on an already stressed citizenry. The state needs to step up funding for K-12 education."

Vice-Mayor Anita James-Price, City of Roanoke:
“Now is the time for leadership to clearly establish that education is Virginia’s top priority. Frederick Douglas said it best: “it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”. Let’s invest today for the future of tomorrow’s commonwealth.”

Mayor Carolyn Dull, City of Staunton:
“The General Assembly simply needs to fully fund K - 12 education and fix the SOQ formula to recognize the true cost of education, as our children deserve, and our future workforce demands.”

In Virginia, localities are required to fund 45% of K-12 education, but are funding 57% of the spending – to the tune of about $4 billion more than required. In Virginia, localities are funding more than $4 billion over the State’s required local contribution.
“This is not just an urban school problem, but a statewide issue that effects our rural and suburban localities as well. Since 2009, state funding for K-12 education is down 9%, while overall student population has grown by 5%,” said Mayor Levar Stoney. “I’m proud to stand with local governments and school districts across Virginia to say this is not only unacceptable – it is unjust and immoral.”

For more information about the March For More, visit MoreBetterStronger.com.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Mayor Stoney Announces Key Priorities for Navy Hill Project Surplus


Additional $1.2 billion over 30 year dedicated to Education (50%), Housing (15%) and the Arts (1%)
 
Mayor Stoney announced his intention today to dedicate significant portions of the surplus revenues from the Navy Hill Redevelopment Project to his core priorities of education and housing. The Mayor’s proposal, which will be included in the ordinances submitted to city council in the coming weeks, would direct 50 percent of surplus revenues from the Tax Increment Financing district to support Richmond Public Schools, 15 percent to support housing opportunities and homeless services and 1 percent for art, history and cultural opportunities. The remaining 34 percent would remain in the general fund for investments in public safety, public works and other core city services.

“By dedicating significant portions of the surplus revenues that this project will create to our top priorities of education, housing opportunities, and arts and culture, we are following through on my commitment that this project will truly be the greatest economic empowerment project in our city’s history,” said Mayor Levar Stoney.

The city’s third party analysis estimated the Navy Hill Project would generate $1.2 billion in surplus revenues to the City General Fund over 30 years. The Mayor’s proposed distribution of surplus revenues would provide an estimated $600 million for schools to use on operations or could be bonded for infrastructure and capital needs, in addition to the $34 million projected to be generated from the 1.5% of meals tax collections that will still go to the special fund for school construction. $180 million would be available for investments in housing needs such as affordable housing opportunities, public housing transformation and homelessness services intervention. $12 million would be dedicated for public projects that add to the artistic, cultural and historic assets of the city. In addition to these commitments, an additional $400 million would be available for the city to invest in neighborhoods through roads and infrastructure improvements, police and fire services, as well as other city services.

“I believe the 21,000 jobs, nearly 700 units of affordable housing and the more than $300 million in opportunities for minority business that the Navy Hill project will create already provides tremendous economic opportunities for our residents. But I’m just as excited about its potential to generate significant revenues that we can use to build a world-class educational system, to improve housing opportunities for all our residents, and to invest in art and cultural projects that tell our full and complete history. This type of project will truly enable us to build One Richmond,” said Mayor Stoney.

The Mayor’s plan won immediate support from leaders of Richmond Public Schools, who were in attendance for the announcement outside of George Mason Elementary School in Church Hill.

“This partnership is a signal of new collaboration between RPS and the City,” said RPS School Board Chairwoman Dawn Page. “I want to thank the Mayor for listening and prioritizing our children. There is much more to do, but this agreement helps us move forward together.”

“This is an important symbol of what we can achieve when we work together as One Richmond,” said Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras. “Starting in 2023, this revenue will allow us to rebuild at least another half dozen schools. That means thousands of children will have a beautiful, modern building to walk into every morning. Of course, this doesn’t solve our facility challenges, nor does it address our immediate need for more instructional dollars. But it’s a significant step in the right direction.” 
Advocates for improving housing opportunities in the city also voiced support for the plan.

“This level of investment into affordable housing will change so many lives,” said Councilwoman Ellen Robertson, Chairwoman of the Richmond Affordable Housing Trust Fund. “Right now, too many Richmonders are living in unsatisfactory conditions and we haven’t had the resources to adequately help tackle this problem. This proposed financial pledge to housing and homelessness services is exactly what our city and our citizens need.”

“This distribution of surplus revenue which directs 15 percent to housing goes a long way in finding the funds needed to rehabilitate or replace aging buildings in our public housing communities and bolster our homeless services. Everyone in Richmond deserves a high-quality home, and Mayor Stoney’s proposal affirms that it’s a priority,” said Robert Adams, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

“This announcement of an estimated $180 million over the next 30 years, in conjunction with the already announced commitment of nearly 700 affordable housing units, will change the face of housing for this city,” said Greta Harris, CEO of the Better Housing Coalition. “It will address head-on the housing crisis and homelessness and help us build an inclusive community that sends a message that Richmond welcomes and serves residents of all income levels.”

“It’s no secret that Richmond’s culture is strongly rooted in history and the arts. This commitment that the Mayor has put forward will be a significant investment in our community arts and culture programming. It is, in part, recognition that a city without arts and culture is a city without a soul. And if there’s one thing we know, Richmond has soul,” said Sarah Cunningham, Chairwoman of the Richmond Public Arts Commission.

While the Navy Hill Project still requires City Council approval, the Mayor’s plan to dedicate a significant portion of the surplus revenue to education, housing and the arts was met with support by members of City Council.

"While I will fully vet the Navy Hill proposal with the community and council, I would strongly support the Mayor's proposed allocation of the largest portion of the anticipated revenues to be generated by the project to go to our public schools, followed by housing and core services,” said Council Vice-President Cynthia Newbille. “Education and housing are the city’s most critical needs and require more resources. And the arts and cultural component will go a long way in helping to bring art into our neighborhoods to help tell the history of our city and highlight the culture of our communities.”

I look forward to reviewing this proposal carefully to ensure that it delivers all that it promises. However, I think dedicating 50% for schools, 34% for core services, 15% for affordable housing is a clear demonstration of meeting the City’s commitment to these priorities,” said City Council President, Chris Hilbert. “This is a very positive development in this process and I welcome the Mayor’s decision to pursue this avenue.”



Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Mayor Stoney Appoints Reggie Gordon Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) for Human Services


Mayor Levar M. Stoney announced today the appointment of Reginald E. Gordon to the position of Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Human Services. Mr. Gordon has served in the interim capacity since August, 2018, and simultaneously as the Director of the Office of Community Wealth Building. He will permanently assume the position of Deputy Chief Administrative Officer (DCAO) on Monday, November 26, 2018.

The DCAO of Human Services is responsible for the proper administration of government with a portfolio including direct oversight over the Departments of Social Services, Justice Services and Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities. DCAO Gordon will also serve as the liaison to the quasi-independent and state agencies including the Richmond City Health District, Richmond Behavioral Health Authority and the Richmond Public Library.

“Reggie’s extensive background in human services and numerous successes in community wealth building and related initiatives serving our citizens makes him the clear choice to serve as Richmond’s DCAO for Human Services,” said Mayor Stoney. “I am excited to work even more closely with him now in the ongoing pursuit to build ‘One Richmond.’”

Mr. Gordon’s portfolio also includes two of the city’s most critical programs, the Office of Aging and Persons with Disabilities and Office of Multicultural Affairs.

“I am honored to be entrusted with these new and vital responsibilities,” said Mr. Gordon. “The mayor and chief administrative officer (CAO) have impressed upon me now is not the time for business as usual in the City of Richmond, and I am ready to advance the initiatives designed to create positive and transformative outcomes for children, single adults and families in our city. We will find new and creative ways to achieve equitable and life affirming outcomes for all our citizens, and I thank the mayor and CAO for this opportunity.”



Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham to Retire


Retirement at year’s end caps 31 years of distinguished service in law enforcement, four years as Chief of RPD
    

After more than 31 years of distinguished public service in law enforcement, Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham today announced his intention to retire from his job as Chief of Police, effective December 31, 2018.

The chief’s retirement will conclude nearly four years of service to the City of Richmond as police chief, and caps a law enforcement career that began in 1987 with the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, following four years of active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps.
“Public service is, and has been, my life,” said Chief Durham, 55. “It has been my highest privilege to serve the men and women of this department and the citizens of this great city. I would like to thank Mayor Stoney for believing in me and for his unwavering support in allowing me the opportunity to strengthen the department and its bonds to the community. It has been both an incredibly challenging and rewarding career for me.”
Chief Durham said he is retiring at a time when the department has received national recognition as a law enforcement agency and has “a great team of employees who are doing remarkable work each and every day.

“Knowing that the department is in a better place than when I assumed command in 2015, I feel that now is the ideal time for me to focus on my personal life and to begin spending quality time with my family,” he said.

Mayor Levar M. Stoney, who retained Chief Durham as Chief of Police after taking office in January 2017, thanked him for his years of service to the Richmond community. “Chief Durham deserves our deepest respect and sincere appreciation for his tireless commitment to our city,” he said.

“He has always been a 24-7 chief,” Mayor Stoney continued. “Whether at a community meeting or crime scene, a street festival or a street protest, day or night, the residents of this city could always count on him to be there. Chief Durham gave blood, sweat and tears to this department, and Richmond is a better place because of his service. We wish him all the best in the next chapter of his life.”

During Chief Durham’s tenure, the Richmond Police Department expanded its complement of sworn officers to its prescribed strength, a move that enabled the department to assign dedicated officers to the city’s public housing courts, improving safety and security in those areas. The department also modernized its equipment and deployed technology such as body worn cameras, security cameras and laptop computers to police personnel. The department has also been recognized, and consulted by other law enforcement agencies, for its handling of public demonstrations.
Most recently, the work of the department’s homicide unit was recognized in an article in the Washington Post for the having the highest homicide case closure rate in the nation over the last 10 years. (Click Here)

As of Nov. 13, the city is experiencing a 21 percent decrease in homicides and a nine percent reduction in violent crime.

Chief Durham will serve in his full capacity as chief through the end of the year. The city will conduct a national search for a new chief. In the coming weeks, Mayor Stoney will appoint an interim chief who will assume command of the department following Chief Durham’s departure until a permanent replacement has been selected.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Mayor Announces Agreement in Principle on North of Broad Development


Mayor Levar M. Stoney today announced that the City of Richmond has reached an agreement, in principle, with the nonprofit NH District Corporation for the development of the Navy Hill neighborhood north of Broad Street. Pending final negotiation and satisfactory resolution of several outstanding details, the administration will submit ordinances to the Richmond City Council in the coming weeks for consideration and public deliberation.

The independent, third-party analysis of the proposed North of Broad project by Hunden Strategic Partners, Inc. can be found here -

Below are Mayor Stoney’s remarks from earlier today:

North of Broad Project Announcement
Remarks (As Prepared for Delivery) by Mayor Levar M. Stoney
November 1, 2018

Good afternoon.
Thank you for coming.
Almost one year ago, I stood on the Observation Deck of City Hall to announce our plans to seek proposals to redevelop a forgotten neighborhood, and to revitalize underutilized city assets in the middle of our downtown, just north of Broad Street. The bold goals for this proposal were nothing less than to significantly improve the quality of life for all of Richmond’s residents.
This is why I insisted, from the very beginning, that any proposal include the creation of jobs and the hiring of local minority businesses.
That is why I insisted that any development include a significant number of affordable housing units.
That is why I insisted on a permanent replacement for the temporary GRTC transfer station, so that our hard-working residents can have a measure of comfort and dignity on their daily commutes to and from work.
We required that any plan include the historic preservation and adaptive reuse of the Blues Armory.
And we imposed one additional, very important condition on the RFP:
That we would not endorse any proposal that would require the city to use its existing tax revenue or debt capacity to fund the project.
And we would not support issuing any bonds that would require the City’s moral or general obligation to fund any component of the proposal. Meaning, we would not put the city’s solid financial footing at risk, or compromise its ability to finance its priorities of the future.
Ladies and gentlemen, today, I am pleased to announce that after eight months of hard work and very tough negotiation, I believe we have achieved agreement in principle on all of those goals.
And Richmond is one very large step closer to transforming not only its downtown, but the future of neighborhoods, schools and services throughout our city.
I will get into some of the specifics in a moment, but I called you here today to let you know that if we are able to successfully resolve several outstanding details in the coming weeks, my administration will be submitting ordinances to City Council representing an agreement with the nonprofit NH District Corporation to redevelop the Navy Hill neighborhood north of Broad Street.
If approved by the Council, this will easily be the largest economic development project in the history of our city. 
But more importantly it will be the largest economic empowerment project in our city’s history – one that is driven by our values -- and puts Richmonders first.
In the spirit of One Richmond – that is, creating a city that works for, and benefits, ALL of us…
With this project:
  • We will create 21,000 jobs -- including more than 9,000 permanent jobs and workforce training opportunities. Less than a mile away in Gilpin Court, 75 percent of our residents live in poverty. This project will offer economic opportunity to thousands of men and women who just need a helping hand.

  • This project will include more than $300 million in contracts for minority businesses – this will ensure that our talented minority contractors are in the game and NOT sitting on the sidelines.

  • We will build nearly 680 units of affordable housing – a substantial down payment on our goal of building 1,500 affordable units by 2023. We want those who work in this neighborhood to be able to live in it as well.

  • We will build a new GRTC transit center here in the heart of downtown, so that residents across our city can have a facility that offers shelter and dignity to our hardworking men and women who rely on public transit.

  • We will preserve and restore the historic Blues Armory - bringing it back to life as a centerpiece of this newly revitalized neighborhood.

  • And we will reconnect our street grid and raise Leigh Street so that we can create a true walkable and vibrant neighborhood that links to a resurgent Jackson Ward.

Employers and those in Richmond’s tourism industry have long said that we need an additional convention center hotel that could expand the city’s lodging capacity and allow it to compete with other cities for conventions and events, estimating that we have lost more than 31,000 lodging nights over the last five years to other cities with more capacity.
So this project will include an upscale 500-room hotel, with event space, retail and commercial opportunities.
They also said we needed a replacement for the decrepit, 46-year-old Richmond Coliseum, which is costing us more than $1.5 million every year to keep open and whose maintenance needs threaten to eat into our limited debt capacity.
So this project includes a state-of-the-art arena that will be the largest in Virginia – an asset that will allow us to compete not just with Charlottesville and Norfolk, but with the Charlottes and Nashvilles for major events and the revenues they bring.
I know Richmond is every bit the equal of these places.
*
For years now, achieving these goals – jobs, housing, neighborhood revitalization and economic empowerment – has been elusive.
We all know the problem – our city has many pressing needs, and we do not have the resources to meet these needs.
We know the state has shortchanged Richmond Public Schools in education funding.
And that same state government, which we are home to as a capital city, has many lovely buildings that occupy a substantial portion of our downtown – and don’t pay taxes.
We can – and we are – demanding more.
But until that happens, we can’t burden our homeowners and residents with more taxes and higher costs.
And we can’t cut our way to funding our schools, fixing our streets and delivering the level of services our residents and families deserve.
I was elected Mayor on the belief of what Richmond can do, of what it can become.
And today is about what Richmond can do.
With this project, we will leverage private investment and underutilized city assets in our downtown, to maximize growth that will benefit everyone in our city. This project represents a $1.4 billion investment that does not raise taxes and does not incur financial risk to the city.
It will generate an additional $1 billion in additional tax revenue over the next 30 years.
And we will use that additional revenue to finance the needs of our neighborhoods – for better schools, for better streets and for better core services.
Simply put, this is a game changer.
*
This is not a project into which we enter lightly. And frankly, the final agreement that we hope to present to Council in the coming weeks is very different from the proposal that was submitted to us in January.
As you know, my CAO Selena Cuffee-Glenn, our city attorney’s office and top city staff from multiple departments worked with our financial advisors, Davenport and Company, to review and negotiate the proposal.
And as you also know, I said publicly, (and we said privately in negotiations), that the proposal as initially presented to us on issues such as affordable housing and minority business contracting did not go far enough. We were not going to move forward without substantial changes in these and other aspects of the proposal.
As it stands, the $300 million worth of opportunity to our minority businesses in the agreement represents more economic opportunity than we have been able to create in the last ten years combined as a city for our minority businesses.
The 680 affordable housing units will also represent one of the greatest expansions of affordable housing in our history.
To ensure we were doing everything correctly, to make sure the numbers that we came up with were indeed, numbers that would work for the city, we added another layer of due diligence.
We directed Davenport & Company, our financial advisors, to hire an outside third party to review the projections and details of the proposal, including the Tax Increment Finance district that we propose to use to finance the city owned assets that are part of the project.
The independent analysis by Hunden Strategic Partners, which we will provide to you tomorrow, not only confirmed our own analysis, but forecasts greater revenue projections.
In fact, based on the analysis of our third party, we believe that this project could provide our city with over $1.7 billion of revenue over 30 years.
This far exceeds the revenue that would be generated if we did nothing.
Ladies and Gentleman, there is a cost for doing nothing.
And just to be clear, tax revenue from the proposed TIF will ONLY go toward paying the debt on the Blues Armory, the Arena, and bringing Leigh Street up to grade. The developers and bond holders will shoulder 100 % of the risk for this project. 
*
I believe that every Richmonder, every neighborhood, should share in our prosperity. Not just old Richmond, but new Richmond, in all its diversity and emerging talent. 
For me this is not about a new coliseum. This is about what this project allows us to do. If we do nothing we do not create over 20,000 jobs. If we do nothing we will not build nearly 700 new affordable homes. If we do nothing we will not generate a billion dollars in revenue that can be used to make critical investments in our neighborhoods – our schools, our streets and our services.    
We must grow the pie so that everyone gets a piece. Either we take the steps and the unique opportunity we have now with this project to make a transformative difference in the lives of our residents, or we do nothing -- and keep waiting and hoping for all this to happen, without the additional investment needed to make it happen.
*
I am so proud of the work of many people throughout the city who have helped us reach this point today – it is truly a partnership between the public, non-profit and private sectors working together.
And while the work is not yet done, I would be remiss if I did not recognize the determination, focus and diligence of my team, led by Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee Glenn and her directors, City Attorney Allen Jackson and his team, Matt Welch from economic development and David Rose, Roland Kooch and Jimmy Sanderson from Davenport.
This project simply would not be possible without the dedication and engagement of our business community. I’d like to recognize, and thank Tom Farrell, CT Hill and the board of NH for forming this nonprofit entity to submit this proposal, and acknowledge Union Bank CEO John Asbury for his institution’s substantial commitment to this transformational project.
These leaders have not only have invested in Richmond, but they also share a love for this city. They understand its many needs. And they believe, like we all do, in Richmond’s potential for greatness, and for that, I thank you. 
We also would not have reached today without the support of one of our leading non-profit organizations in the city, The Community Foundation. 
The Community Foundation recognized the transformative nature of this project and has committed $5 million dollars to the affordable housing component of the work.
Thank you, Sherrie Brach Armstrong, for the amazing way The Community Foundation is partnering with us on this.
I’d also like to recognize and thank Greta Harris with the Better Housing Coalition for being here today and for your commitment and partnership in the affordable housing component of this project.
*
Ladies and gentlemen, this is an important day for our city. It is an opportunity.
The cynics out there will point to all the things we can’t do. They will point to projects in the past that were either ill-conceived, or poorly timed or poorly executed, that never lived up to their potential, and some of that is true.
But this is the wrong way to think about our future. This is an old Richmond way of thinking --that Richmond shouldn’t try to do great things today; that she can’t do great things tomorrow.
Well, we can, and we will.
This city has grown. I am standing here before you as proof that the Richmond of yesterday is not the Richmond of today, or more importantly of tomorrow.
We are changing. We are making progress. And now is not the time not to let our past fears define our future opportunities.
I encourage City Council to take the time it needs to review this agreement once it is submitted, and I encourage the public to ask questions of the developer and of my administration. Everyone will have the chance to kick the tires, as we have. I am excited about embarking on this process, and what we can accomplish for our city together.
This is a game changer.
This is our time. This is our chance to pass on prosperity to everyone in our city, and to secure a better future for our children.
Let’s make it happen.
Thank you.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Mayor Stoney Launches Richmond Census 2020 Complete Count Committee



Click here to view the announcement video.

Today, Mayor Levar M. Stoney launched Richmond’s Census 2020 Complete Count Committee. The Committee has been established to ensure that no citizen in the City of Richmond goes uncounted.

“For each person uncounted, the city and organizations miss out on $2,000 worth of funding each year until the next census,” said Mayor Stoney. “That’s $20,000 for each uncounted person over a ten-year span. Our team will use its networks and expertise to make sure we reach every square foot of Richmond.”

The Mayor also stressed the values of being counted and encouraged every Richmonder to participate. The Complete Count Committee will keep residents informed and ensure the most robust representation of our city in the 2020 Census.

Members of the Complete Count Committee can be found here.

For more information please contact Chelsi Bennett, J.D., Chair, Complete Count Committee at Chelsi.Bennett@Richmondgov.com or (804) 646-7978. You can also visit: RVACounts2020.com and follow us on social media @RVACounts2020.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Mayor Stoney Announces the City of Richmond has the Highest Municipal Equality Index Score in Virginia


Mayor Stoney is proud to announce that the City of Richmond received the highest Municipal Equality Index scorecard in the Commonwealth of Virginia as determined by the Human Rights Campaign. Out of the 11 municipalities scored in Virginia, Richmond received a 94. Out of the 506 municipalities scored in 2018, the City of Richmond experienced the most significant score increase nationwide.
Richmond was named a “MEI All-Star” and spotlighted as a “city boldly leading the way to equality” in the Human Rights Campaign’s 2018 MEI report. 
“I am thrilled that Richmond has taken so many positive steps to protect and support our LGBTQ community,” said Mayor Stoney. “I have always said that no matter the color of your skin, the neighborhood you live in, or who you love, that you are welcome in the City of Richmond – and Richmond’s 2018 MEI scorecard echoes that message.”
Each year the Human Rights Campaign rates cities across the United States based on their initiatives to support LGBTQ communities. This process is called their Municipal Equality Index (MEI) scorecard where cities are scored from 0-100 on items such as non-discrimination laws, transgender-inclusive health benefits for city employees, inclusive workplaces, and LGBTQ liaisons in the city’s executive office, to name a few. 
In 2017, Richmond received a 42 on the MEI scorecard. By working with City Council to establish a Human Rights Commission and non-discrimination laws, designating a policy advisor to serve as the Mayor’s LGBTQ liaison, and offering transgender-inclusive health benefits for city employees, Richmond was able to increase its score by 52 points since 2017.
Richmond’s score increase is celebrated by state groups such as Equality Virginia, a non-profit that advocates for equality for LGBTQ Virginians, and Virginia Pride, an organization that provides support and resources for the LGBTQ community.
“The work for full lived equality begins in our local communities,” said James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia. “Equality Virginia applauds the efforts of Mayor Stoney and the Richmond City Council towards creating a city where gay and transgender people can live, work, and play free from discrimination. To see Richmond’s MEI score double in one year shows just how seriously Mayor Stoney values creating an inclusive city.” 
“The work that Mayor Stoney’s Administration has done to make Richmond a safe and welcoming place for LGBTQ community members to live, work, and visit is incredible,” said James Millner, President of Virginia Pride. “Mayor Stoney campaigned on making Richmond a more inclusive city that celebrates its diversity and he has kept his promise.” 
“I am delighted that Richmond is able to progress at this level,” said Mayor Stoney. “However, we would not have been able to make it this far without the help of officials, such as Councilmembers Parker Agelasto and Ellen Robertson, who were key in moving Richmond’s Human Rights Commission and non-discrimination laws forward in the city council.”
Fortune 500 companies look to the Human Rights Campaign report as a guide to where they may relocate as they need cities that reflects their values.
Local organizations have also demonstrated support of Richmond’s efforts to protect the LGBTQ community.
“Richmond is leading the way on a national level,” said Bill Harrison, Executive Director of Diversity Richmond, an organization dedicated to being a voice and resource for LGBTQ Richmonders. “Mayor Stoney is building bridges to make Richmond a stronger, healthier, and more prosperous city.”
“We are grateful for Mayor Stoney’s leadership to make Richmond a more inclusive place,” said Katherine O’Donnell, Richmond Region Tourism Executive Vice President. “Celebrating diversity and equality is important for Richmonders, as well as visitors. With tourism in our region continuing to grow, the Human Rights Campaign’s latest index score is a reminder to LGBTQ+ travelers that Richmond is welcoming, friendly and open to all.”
Mayor Stoney said that the news should be celebrated by the entire city. 
“We have come a long way over the past two years, and will continue our great work to make Richmond more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming.”