Delaying city reopening
does more harm than good
Mayor Levar Stoney wants to delay the reopening of Richmond because he says he needs more data and analysis from the Virginia Department of Health. Stoney also said that because minorities are disproportionately infected by the coronavirus, reopening the city would increase their exposure even more.
If Stoney truly wants to help minorities, he should focus on determining why minorities are disproportionately affected and then develop a realistic, implementable plan to address the problem. He also should understand that while gathering more data and learning from science are important, these should be used to provide guidance, not to create policy or make decisions.
Making good decisions requires a commonsense understanding of their short-term and longer-term impact. In the short term, delaying the opening of Richmond keeps businesses closed and people out of work. In the long term, this will create a significant tax revenue shortfall. To replace this lost revenue, Stoney will have to raise taxes and the price of city-provided services. This will fan the flames of discontent that already exist.
It also is common sense to try to understand the mood of the people. People do not want the government telling them how they must live. Keeping Richmond closed will make Stoney look like an autocrat or bureaucrat, neither of which is desirable in a free, democratic society.
It is difficult to change people’s mood. But it would be an empathetic gesture of good faith for Stoney to stop drawing his mayoral salary to demonstrate unity and solidarity with his suffering constituents.
Effective governing of the city requires a firm knowledge of how to use common sense in making hard decisions. Stoney might be hurting Richmond by trying to learn this on the job.