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.