Thursday, April 05, 2007

News from the Campaign Trail

I have been attending most of the City budget meetings- "a glutton for punishment." True, but a lot work happens during the work sessions and I wanted to see the push and pull of the budget debate. The newspaper had done a good job of covering the budget debate this year, but I like to decipher it through my own filter, not a reporter's. I discovered I enjoy the budget/policy development stuff. I am a lawyer so details and minutia are part of my life, but these details make a big difference. The City Council meeting was packed again this week. When it is not budget time, only the diehards (Yes. You, Peter) and high school students, who are assigned this as homework, attend of the Council meeting (the students all leave around 8).

I had a press conference this week, see coverage by the Progress and comments are posted at myspace. I stood at the corner of 10th and Page streets to discuss my proposal for substantial rehabilitation loan program. As chair of the CDBG task force I have seen how overwhelmed the non-profit sector is just to bring homes up to the building code.

My thought is in order to avoid tearing down some homes as a result of the blighted condition of the home, the City can provide low interest loans (possibly with deferral on payments) to homeowners to have private builders come in and rehabilitate their homes. And I am not talking Extreme Makeover rehabilitation, but only to bring the home up to the building code therefore SAFE for the residents.

I enjoyed the Left of Center meeting at Starr Hill on Tuesday night. The discussion involved education, Juan Diego Wade and Steve Kolezcar spoke on their philosophies and how they approach their roles on their respective School Boards. I had the opportunity to meet some new people who enjoy political discussion.

Next week looks like a busy week too (4/10- special meeting of Council to approve the budget). The City Democrats are holding their annual fundraiser on the 14th and Mark Warner is attending the 5th District annual dinner in Danville on 4/12. I should have some fun things to talk about (unrelated to budgets) as a result of these adventures.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

A Comment from Peter (emailed since the comment wasnt being accepted):
I appreciate your noting my regular attendance at city council meetings. But, I tend to think of myself and others who are regular participants at council in a more positive way - as an enthusiastic and committed stakeholder rather than a 'diehard'. I know your intention is not to cast this group in a negative way, but to me diehard is a term for those holding onto the status quo beyond its time. I think of myself promoting that our city's challenges be approached in a more rational, more sustainable, or more equitable manner than is the current situation. Perhaps a more apporpriate term would be a 'push-hard' than a 'diehard'.

I am thrilled that there are ever more of these push-hards at council meetings expressing their views, ideas, and proposing alternative (and often superior) solutions to problems being addressed by city staff and council.

Being a push-hard may be a seemingly thankless task, but in fact with the advent of council meeting rebroadcasts on TV-10, I have had people I don't even know stop me on the downtown mall to share their thoughts about issues I raise at council meetings.

If more of our fellow Charlottesville citizens would share their thoughts at city council, I believe our local government will have no choice but be more responsive to our collective concerns. If there are any diehards in the decision making process, I think some of our city staff and council members may fall into that category on many issues. Does the Meadow Creek Parkway issue come to mind?