Tag Archives: Richmond Baseball

City Hall’s 60 Million Dollar Spending Spree

Rachel DePompa – bio | email

Let the quibbling begin! This week we learned Richmond’s Mayor had scored big. He negotiated a deal with the Richmond Metropolitan Authority (RMA) for $60 million. The money is a decades-old debt, owed to the city from when the Downtown Expressway was built. It was supposed to be repaid in 2022 when the road was officially turned over to the city. Jones got it much earlier than expected and kicked off a welcome “firestorm.” Everyone has an opinion on what to do with the money.

Which brings us to today. Three city council members called for a press conference. It was clear, the mayor’s announcement of the money and some of his ideas for spending it had hurt some feelings. Marty Jewell wondered  aloud why the Mayor hasn’t yet asked for council member opinions on how it should be spent. It was clear today, we’re in for a long debate over how the money should be budgeted.

The mayor made said on Tuesday, he believes some of the money should go to the communities that were pushed aside when the Expressway was built.  He’s targeting poverty and believes several projects in those area would boost the tax base and spur development. He’s made suggestions about helping build a new ball park and re-paving areas like Jeff Davis Highway.

Reva Trammell, Marty Jewell and Bruce Tyler focused on Richmond’s historically high tax rates. Trammell says the city should find ways to lower the admissions tax, meal’s tax and real estate tax. Tyler added, “At the end of the day we have to figure out a way to reduce taxes so that we can take the burden off the citizens.”

Jewell said, “clearly there are a lot of needs. Some of his approach (the mayor) makes sense, but then there are other ideas. We’re not short of them on council.”  Trammell added, “The money belongs to the citizens of Richmond, not the mayor, not the council.”

Council President Kathy Graziano was not a part of the press conference. She said today that the city should be cautious with the money; spending as much time “saving it” as spending it.

Now the city doesn’t actually get any of this money until at least November and you probably won’t see it budgeted until the 2012-13 budget cycle. So, there’s several months for the mayor and council to get together and work out a plan.

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

Top Ten Richmond Stories of 2009

Rachel DePompa – bio | email   

Back from vacation and ready to work. Well, for three days. Then I’m off on vacation again! In the meantime, our Henrico County reporter Andy Jenks was asked to name the top 10 stories of 2009. A difficult task I think he aced. His top stories covered our entire viewing area, so I’ve decided to ride his coattails and post the top stories for the city this year. My criteria was simple… the story must have happened in the city’s borders and must be a talker!  Here goes….

10. Burglar Shot and Killed in Union Hill: This one hits criteria number two right away. A Virginia Union student shoots and kills a man breaking into his girlfriends car. Eric Driver is eventually charged with murder and instantly sparks a gun debate over whether or not you have the right to protect personal property. His case goes to trial in February.

9. CenterStage/Miller and Rhoades Open: Two Richmond landmarks are open again. Miller and Rhoades is now a hotel and condos. The project was years in the making and has sparked the revitalization of Broad Street. CenterStage soon followed. Also years in the making, it will be interesting to see what the venue does for arts in the River City.  

8. Storm Water Utility Fee: They said no new taxes… but this new utility fee certainly has become one. Homeowners on average pay about 45 dollars a year. Businesses on the other hand face stiffer charges. We’ve seen some bills in the thousands. The fee is designed to help pay for future storm water projects. Now, there are rumblings that the City Council may revisit this idea.

7. The City’s Budget: The good news.. no layoffs this year at City Hall. The bad news… we’re now 10 million in the hole. The stimulus money got us through, but now some tough choices are ahead at City Hall. This story will carry over into 2010….

6. Shockoe Bottom Development Strikes Out: A baseball stadium in the Bottom? There were no grey areas here. You were either for or against this idea. And the naysayers won out, and the Bottom lost a big chance to grow. Or did the Bottom win because it can choose its own identity? I suspect this healthy debate will rage on for years to come.  

5. GRTC Deadly Accident: A woman walking to work is mowed down by a GRTC bus. She was in the cross walk and had a walk light. The driver was eventually convicted of reckless driving. A sad story that turned tabloid when a local media outlet decided to run a graphic and unnecessary picture of the accident. You can read my thoughts about that in prior blog posts. 

 4. Vacant Properties and Richmond Slumlords: In a down economy, you expect to see some blight and down trodden areas. But, the attention vacant properties are getting this year deserves a nomination. Lets see??? We have Oliver Lawrence going to jail and then having to serve part of his sentence in one of his rundown properties. You have my Don Lacey investigation: a former Henrico County cop and real estate agent accused of bilking dozens of Richmonders out of millions. His vacant properties line Richmond’s East End. And then there’s the new legislation being considered by City Council to give people tax breaks for building on vacant lots or for fixing up old homes. And don’t forget the new slumlord website which calls out bad property owners.

3. Wilder Out/Jones In: This story technically happened in late 2008 with the election, but Jones didn’t take office until January. Anyways, Jones jump to the helm of this city is a complete 180 from what we had just one year ago. Though, it makes my job a little more boring, I’m sure residents are grateful for the calm at City Hall. The City Council and the Mayor actually get along. We’ve had no knock down/drag out fights. If there’s a disagreement, it appears to be worked out rather than stonewalled or fought in the media spotlight. All I have to say is this… What a difference a year makes?!?!

2. Squirrels Crack Richmond: (Baseball is back) After a year without a team, it was  nice to have some good news to report. And this new ownership group has really gotten people excited about baseball again. Even if you don’t like the team name or the logo, you were probably interested in knowing what it was going to be. My twitter page went NUTS the day the team decided on a logo. Let’s just see if that enthusiasm continues to opening day.

1. #Ukropalyse: No other story gave me such a headache this year! 🙂 (that’s why it gets my number one vote!) Also, no other story generated more emails to my inbox, twitter messages and secret phone calls and anonymous sources. With more than 3,000 employees in the area and a shopper in every household, people wanted every bit of information they could get on this Richmond icon. Six months of rumors became news headlines. And just before the New Year, we have the end of an era. Ukrop’s sold its stores to Royal Ahold.

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Filed under Baseball, Blogging, Budget, CenterStage, City Hall, City Hall Talk, Doug Wilder, Dwight Jones, Election, Martin's Food Markets, Ukrop's

Is Richmond a Tough Nut to Crack?

Rachel DePompa – bio | email

The squirrels logo has landed and it’s drawing people out of the woodwork! I posted a twitter picture of the logo and within two hours more than a thousand people had viewed it. 250 more posted comments on my twitter page with their thoughts. I’ve got to hand it to the new owners…they are marketing geniuses! The Richmond Braves never got this much attention except for when they decided to leave. These owners get packed press conferences, front page headlines and top news stories. Also, the crowds at these press conferences are not just media members and they continue to grow. They opened the new baseball team store an hour after the announcement and it was jammed with customers. Flying Squirrel hats and shirts were flying off the shelves. I will say, the majority of the comments I got about the new logo were negative. Then again, in years of reporting experience, the nay-sayers are always louder than the supporters. 

The new team logo!

 

 You can vote on our online poll here. Tell us what you think of the name. And you’ll get another chance at a name soon when the “name the mascot contest” starts December 14th. 

Some of the comments I got on twitter: 

@shortpumppreppy  Kinda cool actually 

@Joe_Stanley There are no words for how ridiculous this entire idea is. 

@heyart “Flying Squirrels” has grown on me. It screams Minor League. The kids will love this. 

@Nicholkola if mighty mouse had an arch nemesis, it would be the Richmond flying squirrel. 

@thomasmcdonald I will be getting a Squirrels hat ASAP! 

@katiebailey  Considering the team name, I think it’s silly, but decent. 

@Nicholkola Seriously? it’s like mighty mouse, squirrel style. 

@eddiRVA Angry badger?

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Filed under Baseball

Flatheads, Swine Flu and Debates Oh My!

Rachel DePompaRachel DePompa – bio | email

SWINE FLU:

Achoo! I know at least 10 people who came down with the swine flu in the last week! I am determined NOT to be the next to go down.  Alas, I missed out on my chance for a free H1N1 shot today. I was at a press conference where the Mayor got a shot to set the example for the rest of the city. When he finished, they had a few to give away, but ran out quickly. I have a feeling we’re going to be hearing a lot of stories about the Health Department running out of the vaccine.

BASEBALL NAME CONTROVERSY:

With the Hambones out,  I thought it would be fair to point out tonight that almost all of the remaining names could be considered offensive to someone.  In this politically correct day and age, it’s hard to please  anyone. I received an email today about the name Flatheads: Did you know…

Flathead Indians are a Native American race of people/tribe living between the Cascade Mountains and Rocky Mountains. Appropriately named the Salish – they initially lived entirely east of the Continental Divide but established their headquarters near the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. Occasionally hunting parties went west of the Continental Divide but not west of the Bitterroot Range. The easternmost edge of their ancestral hunting forays were the Gallatin, Crazy Mountain, and Little Belt Ranges. They were called the Flathead Indians by the first white men who came to the Columbia River. The name, used in error, in the pejorative as slang – was said to derive from the flat skull produced by binding infants’ skulls with boards and is used for many Native Americans

I’m pretty sure, the baseball owners meant a type of Catfish… but I’m also pretty sure they meant no harm by the name Hambone either.  Just saying….

7th DISTRICT SEAT DEBATE:

The 7th District Candidates Forum is Thursday, October 15 from 6:30-9PM at the Robinson Theater. Open to all interested citizens of the community and 7th District. Contact John Johnson at (804)814-1066

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Filed under Baseball, Election, Swine Flu

It’s Monday: What’d I Miss This Weekend?

Rachel DePompaRachel DePompa – bio | email

I’ve been out-of-town since Thursday so here’s an update to a few stories…..

GRTC Photo Controversy:

The Free Press has apologized. The newspaper posted a disgraceful picture after the deadly bus crash two weeks ago. (You can read my prior thoughts about that here.) The editor and chief has finally addressed the incident in the newspaper.  He also posted several of your comments on the editorial page. For all that the newspaper did wrong that day, I commend the editor for addressing the error in judgement and taking full responsibility.

In the paper he wrote….  “I pledge that the Free Press will learn from our mistake, with the goal of becoming more attuned to the sensitivities of
humanity. I pledge that we will make a greater effort to practice
what we preach.”
— Raymond H. Boone

Here is a link to the apology. (Make sure you scroll to page A8.)

The Name Game:

I’ve tried my hardest to refrain from commenting on the names in the running for the new Richmond baseball team. I’m going to stick by that rule, but many of you seem to have a lot to say. 🙂  I will say that Double A teams in the country often have silly or goofy names.  It’s part of the marketing to get people into the seats for Double A.  You have to remember these are players who are twice removed from the pro’s…. not one step away. It’s harder to get people excited, which is why the names are usually silly. Also, you have to give it to the new managers of the Richmond “Whatchmacallits.”  They’ve gotten more press about these names in the last week, then the Richmond Braves got in a month’s time. Smart marketing!

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Filed under Baseball, GRTC

Baseball Comes Swinging Back!

Rachel DePompaRachel DePompa – bio | email 

As a huge sports fan, I can’t for the life of me understand why Richmond doesn’t have any sort of professional team. I’m originally from Maryland (just outside DC) and I can’t miss a Redskins, Capitals or Maryland Terrapins game. Throw in the Wizards, and the Nationals and I’m set! So, why oh why can’t a professional team catch on here in Richmond? People have told me over and over “Richmond is just not a sports town.” I’m still trying to figure out why. 

 

 

The scene is set for Baseball at the Diamond

The scene is set for Baseball at the Diamond

In the meantime, I got to meet the owners for the new team in town and I have to say they were all pretty cool guys. They seem genuinely excited to be in the River City and are optimistic their product will catch on. Only time will tell, but I plan on catching a game or two, to see what all the hub-bub is about. Will you?

 

 

 

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Filed under Baseball

Back in town for Richmond Round-up

Rachel DePompaRachel DePompa – bio | email 

Sorry for the LONG delay in blogs, but I was sent on secret assignment this week. (No, really!) I was gone for two days, but i’m back today and ready for the week in review.

Gene Lepley: I was so happy to see my former co-worker today. Many of you ask about him often, so here is your update. He’s now the public information officer for the Richmond Police and I had the pleasure of interviewing him for the first time today. You’ll see him on the news tonight! (08-13-09)

Big Brother is Watching: I first told you about cameras in Shockoe Bottom last October. Now, Police have officially jumped on the bandwagon. There are now 8 cameras in the bottom around the Farmer’s Market. I’m curious how you feel about this. I talked to several business owners who are ecstatic to have the extra protection. The camera’s do tape footage that is kept for several days. That means police have a chance at catching some crimes on tape.

City Hall is on VACA: I know you’re probably wondering why I haven’t written about City Hall in a while, but that’s because there’s seriously been NO NEWS! Everyone is on vacation or about to head out. I’m trying here. Please send me some inside information!

Baseball: My sources tell me an announcement is coming soon! Stay tuned….

 

 

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Filed under Baseball, Blogging, City Hall, City Hall Talk