Mayor should tackle
basics, not big deals
In a recent Letter to the Editor, I criticized Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney for neglecting routine city functions, and referred to an over-budget school construction project.
Online commenters labeled me as Republican, white and accused me of having left Richmond as part of white flight (actually, it was my employer who moved me). One thoughtful commentator suggested the "strong mayor" type of city government as the source of Richmond's travails. The logic followed that county governments have competent, experienced, professional managers who report to a citizen-elected board of supervisors unlike a politically elected mayor. This reminded me of when Robert Bobb accomplished so much for Richmond as city manager.
And recently, as a consultant, Bobb came to the rescue of Petersburg. Who did he hire to implement that successful and major turnaround for those citizens? Jack Berry, the very same individual who unsuccessfully ran against Levar Stoney.
So while the system of government can make a difference, so, too, can individuals who focus on delivering basic services that benefit those who are, unfortunately, the least among us.
Stoney appears to be an upstanding individual who has made his family proud. And he most definitely has been an exceedingly better mayor than Dwight Jones. But instead of going after big deals like replacing the Richmond Coliseum, which will mostly benefit Dominion Energy, Richmond needs someone to reduce a bloated city bureaucracy, hold city managers and employees accountable for serving its citizens, improve the ability of small businesses to thrive, pay the city's bills on time, accurately charge for reasonable taxes and fees on a timely basis and restore basic services to be performed in a reliable and efficient manner. All of that will clear the way for lower taxes that help those struggling to keep up.
Jacksonville Beach, Fla.