Friday, October 20, 2017

Mayor Levar Stoney One of Four Mayors Selected as 2018 Class of Daniel Rose Land Use Fellows


The National League of Cities (NLC) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI) today announced mayors from four cities, Richmond, VA, Columbus, OH, Salt Lake City, UT and Tucson, AZ have been selected as the 2018 class of Daniel Rose Land Use Fellows by the Rose Center for Public Leadership.

Mayor Levar Stoney will join mayors Andrew Ginther, Jackie Biskupski and Jonathan Rothschild in leading teams from their respective cities. The mayoral teams will receive technical assistance on local land use challenges from NLC, ULI and their peers from the other fellowship cities. 



The four city teams will convene next week for a retreat at ULI's Fall Meeting in Los Angeles.

“Land use decisions are critical to the overall success of city economic and community development," said Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and Executive Director of the National League of Cities (NLC). “We are thrilled to extend the expertise of the Rose Center for Public Leadership Land Use Fellowship to the cities of Columbus, Richmond, Salt Lake City and Tucson, and we look forward to seeing the opportunities and outcomes that these partnerships provide.”

The Rose Center's mission is to encourage and support excellence in land use decision making by public officials. Established at ULI in 2008 with a $5 million gift by ULI Foundation Governor Daniel Rose, the Rose family and ULI in 2014 formed a strategic partnership with NLC to bring its robust expertise in local government leadership to bear on the Rose Center's programs. 



“I am honored to be selected as a fellow for this incredible initiative, now in its ninth year,” said Mayor Stoney. “Richmond’s fellowship team will bring new opportunity to a critical and targeted development initiative in our city.”

Included are City Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille, Jane Ferrara, chief operating officer of the Department of Economic & Community Development and Robert Steidel, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Operations. The project manager is Ellyn Parker, public art coordinator at the Department of Planning & Development Review.

To assist the fellowship city teams, the Rose Center has assembled eight urban development and design leaders from around the nation who will serve as their faculty advisers over the course of the fellowship year.



Richmond’s advisers will be Andre Brumfield, who leads Gensler’s planning and urban design practice from its Chicago office; and Colleen Carey, president of the Twin Cities-based Cornerstone Group, which seeks to transform communities through socially responsible development projects.



Past fellowship teams have successfully led changes in their cities after receiving technical assistance and strategic advice on topics such as revitalizing aging commercial areas to attract new businesses and jobs; how new investment in older neighborhoods can more equitably benefit existing residents; the role of transit and transportation infrastructure in city building; and developing new community engagement models in transitioning neighborhoods.

“The Rose Center’s fellowship program has a consistent track record of mayoral teams effectively working together to help solve the land use challenges of our nation’s leading metropolitan areas,” said ULI Global Chief Executive Officer Patrick L. Phillips. “Cities are the heart of our country’s economy, serving as hubs for human capital and innovation. We are excited to partner with NLC and the new class of Rose fellows to highlight creative approaches and solutions that other communities can replicate to become more health, prosperous, and sustainable.”

To view the full NLC/ULI release, click here.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mayor Stoney, Sprint and Richmond Public Schools Announce Free Device and Wireless Service Program


Today at George Wythe High School, Mayor Levar M. Stoney joined Sprint Regional President Brian Hedlund, Richmond Public Schools (RPS) Interim Superintendent Thomas Kranz and RPS School Board Chair Dawn Page to announce RPS participation in the first year of the Sprint and the Sprint Foundation’s 1Million Project. The program will provide participating RPS high school students will receive free devices with free wireless service.

“Through the 1Million Project, we will begin to bridge the technology divide that puts our kids at a disadvantage when they go home to do their school work and don’t have access to the online resources they need,” said Mayor Stoney. “If we want our children to succeed, if we want them to compete and build a brighter future, we need to give them the tools to do so, and we must connect them to opportunity.”



Nationwide, about 70 percent of high school teachers assign homework to be completed online, yet more than 5 million families with kids do not have internet access at home. Sprint created the 1Million Project to help close the Homework Gap by providing 1 million free devices to high school students over the next 5 years.



“Having access to technology can be the bridge to academic success for many high school students,” said Brian Hedlund, Sprint President for the D.C., Maryland and Virginia Region. “Our goal with the 1Million Project is to help close the homework gap that exists for some of our youth in Richmond. These devices and internet service will provide academic opportunities that extend well beyond their classroom doors.”



Richmond Public Schools is one of 118 school districts (over 180,000 students in 1,300 schools) participating across the country. Sprint will be giving 1,050 RPS students a free wireless internet capable device and wireless service while in high school for up to 4 years. 



"Richmond Public Schools is pleased to have the opportunity to partner with Sprint on this initiative to increase our efforts in providing equitable educational opportunities for our students," said Interim Superintendent Thomas Kranz. "We appreciate the support of the mayor and the City of Richmond in helping us to level the 'learning field' and eliminate the homework gap by ensuring that our students who do not have internet access at home receive these devices as an additional learning resource. This collaborative partnership will positively impact the academic success of our students." 



"On behalf of the school board, I would like to thank our school administration for their hard work in coordinating this effort as well as Mayor Stoney for his continuous support of Richmond Public Schools," said School Board Chair Dawn Page. "It takes all of us -- our city leadership, our school board, our school administration and partners like Sprint all working together to make a real difference in the lives of our students."


For more information on the Sprint 1Million Project, contact Roni Singleton, Eronia.Singleton@sprint.com or call 703-929-3655.

For information regarding RPS student participation, contact Kenita Bowers, kbowers@rvaschools.net or call 804-780-7100.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Mayor Stoney Announces Administration Appointments


Mayor Levar M. Stoney is pleased to announce the City of Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities (DPU) Director Robert Steidel will now serve as the city’s Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Operations.

Steidel has served as the city’s DPU director since March of 2011, after serving as interim director starting in July of 2010. He oversaw five utilities:  gas, water, wastewater, stormwater, electric street lighting and both the utility and non-utility call centers serving more than 500,000 residential and commercial customers in the surrounding metropolitan area. In his new role, Steidel will maintain control over DPU and add the Department of Public Works (DPW) and Richmond Animal Care and Control (RACC) to his management portfolio.

“Bob’s experience and commitment to the city make him the right person for the job,” said Mayor Stoney. “I know he will continue to serve Richmond’s residents well.”

Mayor Stoney is also pleased to announce Christopher Frelke will serve as the new director for the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities. Frelke has been serving as an Adjunct Professor in Organization Management at Mount Olive University in North Carolina. Previously, he held a number of positions for over 12 years in the City of Raleigh’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources department, including Assistant Recreation Superintendent, Senior Staff Analyst and Program Director.
“Our parks and recreation facilities play a vital role in our residents’ quality of life,” said Mayor Stoney. “I’m looking forward to the ideas and engagement Chris will bring to city government in this important role.”

Steidel will assume his new position Sept. 30; Frelke will start Oct. 30.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Announcement by Mayor Levar M. Stoney on the Monument Avenue Commission


After consultation with the chairpersons of the Monument Avenue Commission, Richmond Police Department, local and state officials and members of the Richmond community, I have decided to postpone the previously scheduled Sept. 13 public meeting of the commission, with a plan to reschedule in October.

This decision is made in the interests of public safety, and to allow for a restructuring of the commission’s engagement with the public, promoting accessibility and constructive dialogue so more voices can be heard.

We will provide additional information on the next steps of the Monument Avenue Commission in the coming weeks. Please continue to offer your input and suggestions through the website, monumentavenuecommission.org.

I remain deeply grateful to the members of the commission for their commitment and courage to take on this challenging and important work.

Monday, August 21, 2017

RVA Education Compact Passes Unanimously





Mayor Levar M. Stoney is pleased to announce the unanimous passage of resolutions by both the Richmond Public School Board and City Council establishing the RVA Education Compact.

Passage of the Compact marks the first time the RPS Board, City Council and administration have entered into a formal agreement to work together to develop collaborative solutions addressing the needs of our school children both inside and outside of the classroom.

“We took a significant step today toward improving public education in the City of Richmond,” said Mayor Stoney.

“I’d like to thank all the members of City Council and School Board for their commitment to this collaborative process, as well as the public who participated and offered their feedback and comment on previous drafts over the last several months. 

“I look forward to working with the council and board on shared strategies to drive down child poverty while lifting up academic performance in our schools.”

Mayor Stoney has directed his senior policy advisor for opportunity, Dr. Thad Williamson, to work with Interim Superintendent Thomas Kranz to develop and finalize an operating plan for the Compact, including a detailed schedule of meeting dates and timeline for action. That plan will be made available to the City Council and School Board at each body’s next schedule meetings.

It is anticipated the first joint quarterly meeting between the mayor, council and board will take place in September, with the first formal meeting of the Richmond Children’s Cabinet also taking place then.
The Education Compact stakeholder team is expected to be finalized by the end of September as well, with its first meeting due to take place in October.

The mayor’s office will continue working over the next month to establish a dedicated website for the Compact to host all documents, data and relevant information.

Copies of the mayor’s remarks to the joint meeting of the City Council and School Board can be found here. Copies of the resolutions approved can be found here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mayor Levar M. Stoney Statement on Monument Avenue


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When I spoke about the monuments earlier this summer, it was from an optimism that we can take the power away from these statues by telling their true story, for the first time.

As I said in June, it is my belief that, as they currently stand without explanation, the confederate statues on Monument Avenue are a default endorsement of a shameful period in our national and city history that do not reflect the values of inclusiveness, equality and diversity we celebrate in today’s Richmond. 

I wish they had never been built. 

Still, I believed that as a first step, there was a need to set the historical record straight. That is why I asked the Monument Avenue Commission to solicit public input and to suggest a complete and truthful narrative of these statues, who built them and why they were erected. 

When it comes to these complicated questions that involve history, slavery, Jim Crow and war, we all must have the humility to admit that our answers are inherently inadequate. These are challenges so fundamental to the history of our country, commonwealth, and city that reducing them to the question of whether or not a monument should remain is, by definition, an oversimplification. 

But context is important in both historical, and present day, perspectives. While we had hoped to use this process to educate Virginians about the history behind these monuments, the events of the last week may have fundamentally changed our ability to do so by revealing their power to serve as a rallying point for division and intolerance and violence. 

These monuments should be part of our dark past and not of our bright future. I personally believe they are offensive and need to be removed. But I believe more in the importance of dialogue and transparency by pursuing a responsible process to consider the full weight of this decision. 

Effective immediately, the Monument Avenue Commission will include an examination of the removal and/or relocation of some or all of the confederate statues.

Continuing this process will provide an opportunity for the public to be heard and the full weight of this decision to be considered in a proper forum where we can have a constructive and civil dialogue.

Let me be clear: we will not tolerate allowing these statues and their history to be used as a pretext for hate and violence, or to allow our city to be threatened by white supremacists and neo-Nazi thugs. We will protect our city and keep our residents safe.

As I said a few weeks ago, our conversation about these Monuments is important. But what is more important to our future is focusing on building higher-quality schools, alternatives to our current public housing that provide dignity and safety for all, and policies to provide opportunities for all Richmonders to succeed.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Mayor Stoney Announces Formation of the Monument Avenue Commission


Mayor Levar M. Stoney today announced the formation of an ad hoc advisory group, the Monument Avenue Commission, to help the city redefine the false narrative of the Confederate statues that line Richmond’s grandest boulevard.

The commission will be tasked with soliciting public input and pooling its collective centuries of experience in history, art, government culture and community to make recommendations to the mayor’s office on how to best tell the real story of our monuments.

“It’s our time; it’s our responsibility to set the historical record straight on Monument Avenue’s confederate statuary,” Mayor Stoney said.

“Equal parts myth and deception, they were the ‘alternative facts’ of their time – a false narrative etched in stone and bronze more than 100 years ago – not only to lionize the architects and defenders of slavery – but to perpetuate the tyranny and terror of Jim Crow and reassert a new era of white supremacy. 

“It is my belief that without telling the whole story, these monuments have become a default endorsement of that shameful period – one that does a disservice to the principles of racial equality, tolerance and unity we celebrate as values in One Richmond today.”

Mayor Stoney has also charged the commission with exploring the possibility of adding new monuments to Monument Avenue.

“I think we should consider what Monument Avenue would look like with a little more diversity,” the Mayor said.

“Right now, Arthur Ashe stands alone -- and he is the only true champion on that street.”

To guide this process, the mayor has assembled a diverse and experienced team of experts – historians, artists, authors and community leaders.

The Mayor has appointed Christy Coleman, CEO of the American Civil War Museum, and Gregg Kimball, Director of Education and Outreach for the Library of Virginia, to serve as Monument Avenue Commission co-chairs.

Click here for a list of other commission members and city staff assigned to assist the commission, which will also work with David Ruth, Superintendent of Central Virginia for the National Parks Service, who will advise regarding this National Landmark Historic District.

Two public meetings will be held over the next 90 days. Dates, times and locations will be announced next week. Residents will also be able to offer suggestions on the website, monumentavenuecommission.org.

When he ran for office, Mayor Stoney said the Confederate statues required context – that is, an explanation of what they actually are: who built them, why they were built and how they came to preside over the culture of this city. Today’s commission announcement is the first step in fulfilling that promise.

“The best way to change hearts is to educate minds,” he said.

The Mayor also suggested another strategy to balancing the historical ledger in Richmond.

“These are all important projects, and important symbols that help educate and build a bridge to understanding a more complete history,” the Mayor said.

“Let’s make our next monument a new school. A new community center. An alternative to public housing that restores dignity and pride of place,” he said.

“America’s history has been written and rewritten and our struggle with race in this country persists, not because monuments rise or fall, but because, fear makes people falter,” the Mayor continued.

“What lasts, however – the legacy that will endure – are the people we build, the minds we enlighten and nurture, and the hearts we open on both sides.

“If we can do that, then we will not just have a few new monuments. We will have thousands – living monuments to understanding, inclusiveness, equality and promise,” the Mayor added. “They are the ones who will know the difference between myth and fact, embrace just causes, not lost causes, and they will write the next chapter in the history of our city.

“Setting the record straight on Monument Avenue is one very important step on the road to One Richmond.”

Background:

Richmond is unique among cities in many respects in how it has handled its complex and conflicted Civil War and Civil Rights history.

It was the capital of the Confederacy and the home of the first African-American Governor in the United States – L. Douglas Wilder, in 1989.

A statue of segregationist state senator Harry Flood Byrd sits on Capitol square less than 100 years away from the Civil Rights memorial honoring Prince Edward County student Barbara Johns, whose brave protests for equal treatment in education helped bring about school desegregation in the commonwealth.

We have expanded the conversation and understanding of history and erected the statue, “Reconciliation,” acknowledging this city’s role in the Triangle Slave Trade in Shockoe Bottom.

A statue of Abraham Lincoln and his son Tadd stands next to the American Civil War Museum, the only museum dedicated to telling the story of the Civil War from multiple perspectives: Union and Confederate, enslaved and free African Americans, soldiers and civilians.

Next month the city will dedicate a new statue of Richmond’s own Maggie Walker on Broad Street, and next year, an emancipation statue will be commemorated on Brown’s Island.

It is also moving forward developing a plan to commemorate the Devil’s Half Acre and Negro Burial Ground along Shockoe Creek.

History:

The statues on Monument Avenue were erected between 1890 and 1919, as the rights of African-Americans were being systematically removed.

In 1867, 105,832 African American men were registered to vote in Virginia, and between 1867 and 1895, nearly 100 black Virginians served in the two houses of the General Assembly or in the Constitutional Convention of 1867–1868.

But in 1876, two constitutional amendments were ratified in Virginia that instituted a poll tax, disfranchising men convicted of petty offences, and the number of registered voters plunged.

By the turn of the century, as Jim Crow took hold, there were no more black legislators in Virginia until 1968.

Click here for the full remarks as prepared for the Mayor.