Monthly Archives: November 2009

#Ukropalsye is Back!

Rachel DePompa – bio | email

Oh, here we go again. Every time I write about Ukrop’s my blog is overloaded. Well, I finally have a legitimate update for you. We’ll start with Ukrop’s profits. For the first time this year, the company posted a quarterly loss. The chain lost $1.4 million in the third quarter. That would seem like bad news, but it’s not. The company posted decent earnings in the first two quarters… almost two million in profit. Which means, Ukrop’s is still in the black, just as it heads into the biggest quarter of the year.  I talked to VCU marketing professor David Urban who says other chains like Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Kroger and Food Lion have been slowly chipping away at Ukrop’s but we still won’t know how much until after the fourth quarter. The company, of course had no comment for me today. And I want to give a shout out to Richmond Biz Sense, who first broke the story and has done a bang up job staying on top of the Ukrop’s Saga.

We learned today that a food fight is underway in Carytown. Kroger has declared war on Ukrop’s and is even copying a long-standing tradition. The Carytown Kroger has new carts and is now sending bag boys to your car with your groceries. The store is also hoping to expand its prepared food selection and plans to lease the CVS next door so it can expand. David Urban says Kroger “smells blood in the water” an is getting aggressive. Kroger didn’t call me back today to comment.

As for the search for a buyer?? Nothing new to report. I’ll keep digging around. Promise!

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Richmond’s Budget Problems: 10 million in the hole

Rachel DePompa – bio | email

Update: Friday Nov. 20th: Met with the city’s Deputy Chief of Finance today, Marcus Jones. Nice guy. He’s been on the job for about 3 months now and walked into a tough budget.  The city’s already trimmed 25 million from its budget. Now its facing another 10 million dollars in cuts. The city’s already made the tiny cuts to get by… this time there may have to be some real meat. Not good news. Service and jobs could be on the table. The mayor has given his finance people until mid-December to come up with a viable plan. Update end.

The state just released a bleak financial picture and a day later… Richmond follows. The city is facing a $10 million dollar budget shortfall. It’s actually not too bad considering the city has a $1.5 billion dollar overall budget. The mayor cites reductions in state funding and a drop in sales tax revenues as the reason for the shortfall.  Mayor Dwight Jones says, “The entire nation has been experiencing lingering effects of the recession and Richmond is no exception. A number of key revenue sources weakened in FY 2009, and they are continuing to falter in the current year (FY 2010).  Moreover, we have to be realistic and assume that the ripple effects will continue into FY 2011.”

The main reason for the lower than project revenue is the decline in the sales tax collections. Local sales revenues are 7.9 million less than projected and the state share is down $1.9 million. Another $2.6 million of the shortfall is a direct result of the state’s budget cuts announced in September 2009.

The Chief Deputy of  Finance will speak before Council Vice-President Ellen Robertson’s Finance Committee meeting  tomorrow at 4:00 in City Council chambers. He’s going to go over the shortfall and how the city is planing to handle it.  Sounds like I’ll be following up on this tomorrow.

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Filed under Budget, City Council, Dwight Jones

The Business of Stripping…

Rachel DePompaRachel DePompa – bio | email

Is that a headline or what? So, I’ve been in the ABC hearing all week listening to (the often times) graphic testimony about the alleged going-ons at Sam Moore’s Club Velvet. It’s interesting that this entire liquor license hearing stems from the 10 month undercover investigation by ABC agents.  (The place was raided by Richmond Police on Feb 23, 2007.) From the raid, Moore was eventually convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and served a 30 day jail sentence. This is the only other thing to come out of that investigation… an attack on his ability to sell alcohol. His attorney’s said today they believe Moore is being targeted because of the type of business her runs. A former stripper testified today, the club had a reputation for drugs and prostitution and she quit to get away from it all. It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens. Velvet has been open for 10 years and has a clean ABC record. No prior violations. This raid has led to serious charges (specifically a place for prostitution.) No way to tell which way this hearing will go. A decision won’t come down for several weeks and even then it can be appealed to circuit court. We may not know how this will all shake out for several months. And the saga continues…

 

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Newbille’s New Seat

Rachel DePompaRachel DePompa – bio | email

There’s no denying who the residents in the 7th district wanted to represent them. Cynthia Newbille won with 52% of the vote. Despite six candidate, she had a decisive victory and she takes the reigns of her new job on Monday. The City Council meeting will begin with her swearing-in ceremony.

Cynthia Newbille Ad

Cynthia Newbille Ad

Newbille was swamped in controversy earlier this year, when she was seeking the temporary appointment for the seat. But much of that was drummed up by her competitors. Newbille may have only recently moved back to the district, but it’s clear she’s been a staple there for several years. Not only did she grow up in the 7th district, but she came back. She’s served her community in numerous roles and now she’ll help on the council. It’s clear she has the backing of key city leaders, so it will be interesting to  see how that plays out over the next year. She was supported by Mayor Dwight Jones, former council member and Delegate Delores McQuinn, current council Vice President Ellen Robertson and State Senator Henry Marsh. She told me last night she’s excited for the opportunity and plans to leave her current posts to focus full-time on the council. Her first big test will be Echo Harbour.  She said last night….. “Anything that destroys the character of one of the most incredible natural resources we enjoy in this city or precludes public access to that is not the project for us.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under City Council, Dwight Jones, Echo Harbour, Election, Uncategorized

7th District Seat Council Race

Rachel DePompaRachel DePompa – bio | email

Was there ever any doubt at what I would be covering election day? You know i’ll be chasing down the 7th district council race. There are six candidates vying for the seat originally vacated by Delores McQuinn earlier this year. Tomorrow is a special election to fill the remainder of the term.  So, here goes… all you need to know about the 7th District Council Race.

The Candidates: (in alphabetical order)

Ronald Bond: Life and Health insurance field underwriter.  Says he will listen to residents about Echo Harbour. **(see below)

Clarence Kenney: Former city parks employee. Says he will seek a compromise on Echo Harbour saving the view and allowing development.

Deanne Lewis: Buys and restores old homes. Vocal opponents to the Oakwood Heights project in Church Hill. She says she’s against the proposed site for Echo Harbour.

Cynthia Newbille: Manages City’s East End Initiative. Acting Director of the non-profit Family Resources Center. She says she will not take a position on Echo Harbour until the final proposal is submitted but she’s opposed anything that blocks the view.

Garry Powell: Human Resources coordinator for Patient First. Believes Echo Harbour site should be publically owned to preserve the view.

Robin Robinson: Instructional Assistant at the Metropolitan Day School. She out right opposes Echo Harbour.

**Echo Harbour is a controversial development that will be the first big test for the 7th District Representative on the Richmond City Council.

Analysis:

I’m hearing you can’t overlook Cynthia Newbille. She has the money and the major supporters… Dwight Jones, State Senator Henry Marsh and former 7th district council woman Delores McQuinn. Local political analysts tell me Robin Robinson might be the dark horse in the race, but if  Newbille makes a strong showing in the Church Hill precincts she will most likely run away with the race.  

Stats on the 7th District:

According to the US Census:

86% of voters are African-American

54% are women

74% are over the age of 18 ——–  13% are over the age of 65 

70% make $50,000 or less

The average household income is $47,000

The district includes: Church Hill, Union Hill, Tobacco Row, East End, portions of Shockoe Bottom

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Filed under Echo Harbour, Election, Uncategorized