Monthly Archives: July 2010

City Council Members Call for GRTC Task Force

Rachel DePompa ‚Äď bio | email

GRTC Task Force:

The GRTC may be under new scrutiny this year. Two city council members, (Bruce Tyler of District 1/Doug Conner from the 9th) want to create a special GRTC Task Force. Here’s a link to the actual ordinance under consideration. Under the proposal, the council would appoint 9 voting members to recommend new legislation, plans, policies and programs that promote efficient mass transit in the city. The task force would also look at working with interested private organizations to improve the service and the efficiency of the GRTC.

Bruce Tyler came up with the idea and told me, “Personally, I believe the GRTC could have done a better job of managing their business. At the same time, I’ve gotten a lot of folks saying they’re doing a great job. I feel like the only way to get to the truth in the matter is to have a task force.

Doug Conner is a co-patron of the ordinance and said, “I thought i t was a great idea, because, once and for all, we can look into the GRTC and figure out the pros and cons.”

Tyler (who has been a constant critic of the agency) pointed out that the City Council gives the GRTC about 11 million dollars a year. He said, “I want us to look at innovative solutions to take th is into the next 20, 30, 40 years. I also want us to look at this from an efficiency standpoint. We can do it better. We can do it more cost-effective.”

I caught up with GRTC Ceo John Lewis. He tells me that he welcomes the extra attention. He said, “I’m excited and pleased that the council is willing to put together a comprehensive task force. Hopefully, with the expertise needed, to really take a comprehensive look and how we operate public transit in the region.” Lewis says his agency was already vetted by the federal government, state government, and by a panel of peers. He says national experts named the GRTC the leading transit system in the country in 2008. He says, “We’re the only system in the country of our size that does not have a sustainable revenue source.” He says of the task force, “let’s be bold with the opportunity. let’s look at how we can make this system better; how we can make it sustainable; how we can make it long-lasting. Anything else would be a disservice.”

The full city council has to approve the creation of this task force. It could take up the issue this September. If created, this task force would have one year to meet and come up with recommendations.

Extras: And, just wanted to say thanks to this local blogger for the shout-out. ūüôā

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Around Richmond: The Summer Edition

Rachel DePompa ‚Äď bio | email¬†¬†¬†

So, here’s what been going on around the¬†city¬†this summer.

Child Left on School Bus Circus: Well, it almost felt like that Abbott and Costello¬†skit¬†‘Who’s on First’. Who’s investigating? What? No.. Who?¬†

The¬†hours after¬†a 4-year-old¬†was left on a Richmond city school bus¬†where frustrating (to say the least).¬†I’ve covered several stories in Richmond where a child was left in a hot car or van and an investigation was always immediate. But on this day, a Richmond Police spokesperson told us they were not looking into the matter. We were told it was a “school issue.” That immediately seemed odd, because Richmond City Schools have no criminal powers. And in recent months, Richmond has had a history of charging people in these type of incidents. The child has asthma and is autistic and was on that bus in the heat for more than an hour.¬†The child’s mother made a very interesting point. She said, “If it were me. If I had done that. I’d be sitting in jail.”¬† That really stuck in my head….

Eventually after several calls to Richmond Police and to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, we were told an investigation was underway. The next day, charges were filed. On Wednesday, the school system announced a plan to add a new safety measure to all of its school buses.

Public Works:¬† Richmond is looking for a new director of Public Works. Dexter White has taken a job in Atlanta. He will become that city’s deputy director of Public Works. He’s been Richmond’s head of PW since March of 2008. White leaves his post at the end of the month.

Animal Control: Several sources tell me meetings and brainstorming are underway this week to figure out who should control, Animal Control. After the city dissolved¬†its Department of General Services, the Mayor’s Administration recommended Animal Control go to Public Works. However, there was an instant backlash to that idea in the community and among a few City Council members. Some argued that Animal Control should be a function of the Richmond Police Department. City leaders are privately debating the issue this week. Chris Beschler¬†will formulate a recommendation and give it to CAO Byron Marshall. Marshall will update City Council members on the new plan, later this summer.

Office of Minority Business Development:¬†The Mayor’s office announced this week that¬†it has officially created a director position for the office of Minority Business Development.¬†According to a press release, the position¬†did not exist when Mayor Dwight Jones took office. This is also a step in fulfilling a campaign promise to increase the presence of minority owned businesses and minority participation in projects. It looks like Vicki Rivers will get the job. She’s essentially been working in the position since July 1st, but most re-apply.

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Filed under City Council, City Hall, City Hall Talk, Dwight Jones