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BreakDown: Danville City Council (4/21/15)

You’ve seen the LIVE! coverage of Danville City Council’s April 21st meeting. You’ve seen Part #1 and Part#2 of our PhotoCentral articles. You’ve already gotten way more coverage of the meeting than any other media source… but that’s not good enough for SouthsideCentral. Let’s go in-depth with a BreakDown.

We’ll do this in a Big Board style so we can go from item to item.

  • It was good to see Boy Scout Troop 300 do their flag ceremony. Larry Campbell did a perfect throw after the prayer to the boys. They were mentored by Fire Chief David Eagle and only did one trial run. They nailed it. Things like that should be mentioned in the newspaper’s article but I know I’m dreaming too much for that to ever happen.
  • Last year’s “Make Danville Shine” month initiative was a huge success, and it’s good to see it come back again. I’m looking forward to the expo at the Community Market on Saturday, May 2nd.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed the public comment session. Harold Garrison was informative and entertaining. He slammed the request from Jim Turpin (the “spokesman” for the city retirees) about asking the council to save money up for the next bonus. I totally dropped the ball on Turpin’s speech from the last meeting because of preparing for my speech, and I’m glad that Garrison took him on. The first bonus that cost the city $450,000 should never have been passed, but it did on a 6-2 vote. Council made a bad financial decision then and they’d better not make another one like that anytime soon.
  • I heart Beverly Richardson. Her speech on how Grove St. has been vastly improved by the blight reduction program was a real-time word from the people who’s quality of life has been improved.
  • Bryce Simmons, the analyst from the Virginia Office of Drinking Water spoke as a citizen. His words were right on target as he calmly told the scientific facts. The city should have been doing that on a daily basis. They’ve started to regain control of the message and it’s somewhat shutting down the rumor mill. Originally, I was put off by his usage of the term “natural disaster”, but I thought about it and Words Have Meanings. It was a natural event, and it’s technically a “disaster” because extra measures are having to be taken to rectify the situation. I can live with those words.
  • There was going to be a rezoning request by William Gentry & Friends, but it was pulled off the agenda by a request from Gentry’s attorney. It seemed rather harmless and went through the Planning Commission on a 7-0 vote, so I have no idea why his attorney asked it to be pulled. I’ll find out.
  • The school board budget discussion came very close to becoming the Ed Polhamus Barbecue. Board members Steven Gould and Sharon Dones were with Polhamus in the gallery (Now, new folks, I want to remind you about Virginia’s Open Meeting Laws. SHUT UP!) The interesting part is that Gould & Dones were two of the three “No” votes against the budget due to sustainability issues. Lots of council members noticed that. I chuckled when Alonzo Jones semi-asked those two to come up and speak. That could have seriously submarined Polhamus.
  • Alonzo Jones knows his School Board stuff, having served on there before. He zeroed in on the new athletic coordinator position being created. Although he didn’t say it directly, I’m thinking that he believes that was a position created for soon-to-be-former GWHS principal Withers Jackson to take. I’m leaning to agreeing with that line of thought. If that’s the case, that’s going to make the school board look bad.
  • The school board caved on the metal roofs plan and went to shingled roofs, but they still want the savings from the budgeted capital improvement money so that it can be used on other needed projects. Today, I get an interesting suggestion on the TipLine. That suggestion said “How about using the shingle roof savings on a raise or bonus for school board employees?”. It’s an interesting suggestion but it would add to the sustainability problem that’s already there.
  • After the school board budget is approved for the first reading, we go into Speed Mode. In the around the horn session, Larry Campbell talks about some calls he got on a Star News talk show. He said callers were saying they were getting sick from drinking the water and he was obligated to being that up. Lee Vogler shows his glass of water and says “I’ve been drinking it all night. It’s safe to drink.” Then he quickly throws in an “…as we know it” and I want to throw a brick at him until I realize he’s making a joke. The water is safe to drink. It still tastes bad, but it’s safe.
  • Our good friend Leonard Harville has came in the meeting but he takes off like a rocket after the meeting is over, avoiding a SouthsideCentral interview. Damn.
  • We move to the work session and it’s 40 minutes of back and forth about the water quality issue. I’m saddened with I hear council members say “We must find the cause of this problem” because that’s probably never going to happen. This type of problem has happened numerous times around the USA. The recent flooding rains have now pushed the stinky water well further down the river.
  • The rebate idea is put on hold. I’m not sure how that can get done logistically. Lots of apartment residents don’t directly pay for their water. We’ll see how that plays out.
  • The best thing that comes out of this work session segment? My suggestion for a DEQ & Friends Roadshow to come down and spell out what we know, and what we don’t know. Stress the safety of the water and be totally straight-up about everything. It would have been better to have happened 3 weeks ago, but let’s take what we can get. Thanks to Lee Vogler for pushing that idea out hard.
  • Register & Bee reporter Vicky Morrison is typing up her article on the back row of the gallery.  She is covering up the webcam on her netbook with a post-it note that nobody can hack in and watch her. Seriously. Warren Buffett may be creeping her.
  • It’s near 10PM and I’ve got articles to write so I bailed out of the rest of the work session. The main point of interest after I left was a plan to convert city buses to Autogas (liquid propane). It will be a big cost savings.

Whew. That’s an 1100 word BreakDown and it completes this week’s city council meeting series of articles. You won’t find coverage like this from any other media source, folks. Spread the word about SouthsideCentral!


2 comments to BreakDown: Danville City Council (4/21/15)

  • Jerome Holman

    Right, wrong, or indifferent, you get an A+ on thoroughness Bruce. Having said that, some points expressed here may not be taken well due to language. Most are on point, but sometimes is challenged from raw tact. Still, I read your column daily for it’s reliability & factual reporting.

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