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


-->
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 Announce 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.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Mayor Stoney Releases Draft Education Compact Resolution, Sets Joint Meeting


On behalf of the Education Compact working group, Mayor Stoney is pleased to release the current working draft of the Education Compact Resolution. This Resolution updates and revises the initial draft Education Compact documents released in February 2017.

The draft Resolution specifies the content and purpose of the Education Compact, with a focus on establishing a collaborative framework aimed at addressing the needs of schools, children and families. The attached document is in the form of a proposed School Board resolution; it is anticipated City Council will consider a parallel resolution. This document is a draft and is subject to change.

A special joint meeting of Richmond City Council and the School Board will be held on Monday, June 26 at 3 p.m. at the Library of Virginia for the purposes of discussing the draft resolution. No official action on the resolution will be taken at that meeting.

In addition to the draft Compact resolution, please also see the attached explanatory “Readers’ Guide” addressing common questions concerning the Compact.

Mayor Stoney and the Education Compact working group thank all residents who have taken time to attend one of the 12 Education Compact meetings and provide feedback on the initial Compact proposal.

Click here to view the Education Compact Draft School Board Resolution.

Click here to view the Reader's Guide to the Revised Education Compact Resolution and FAQs.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Mayor Stoney Names Melvin D. Carter as Chief of Fire and Emergency Services


Mayor Levar M. Stoney is pleased to announce that former Deputy Fire Chief Melvin D. Carter will serve as the City of Richmond’s 21st Chief of Fire and Emergency Services.

A native Richmonder, Carter joined the Richmond Department of Fire in 1987 and rose through the ranks, serving as a company lieutenant, captain, deputy fire marshal, and battalion chief. In 2009, he was appointed deputy fire chief.

He began his career as a volunteer firefighter for the Henrico County Division of Fire starting in 1983. In 1986, he worked as a professional firefighter with the City of Petersburg Fire Department.

Carter is a member of Virginia’s National Guard leads educational sessions for local Boy Scout troops in his spare time.

“Chief Carter’s work ethic, commitment to excellence and decades of experience in our City’s fire service make him the right choice for this important position,” said Mayor Stoney. “I am confident he will serve Richmond’s residents well.”

“It is a privilege and an honor to have this opportunity to lead Richmond’s bravest in my hometown,” said Chief Carter.

Chief Carter succeeds Interim Richmond Fire Chief David I. Daniels, who joined the department in 2015 as a deputy chief and served as the city’s top firefighter for the last four months.

“I am grateful to Chief Daniels and the City of Richmond thanks him for his steady leadership and service during this important transition period for the fire department,” said the Mayor.
 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Mayor Stoney Names Bobby Vincent, Jr. as Director of Public Works


Mayor Levar M. Stoney today announced former Public Works Deputy Director of Operations, Bobby Vincent, Jr., will now serve as the Director of Public Works.

Vincent began his career at the Department of Public Utilities in 1992 as an engineer. For 14 years he served in that role, managing and planning the preventive maintenance and capital improvement projects concerning water and wastewater treatment plants, as well as the combined sewer system.

“It is an honor to be named Director of Public Works by Mayor Stoney,” said Mr. Vincent. “I am looking forward to taking on the key areas of improvement needed within DPW, as recently outlined in the VCU performance review of City Hall.”

Vincent has served in numerous leadership roles, including as Operations Manager of the Roadway Maintenance Division, Interim Director of General Services, and Chief of Construction and Inspections. Most recently, Vincent served the Department of Public Works as the Deputy Director of Operations. In this role, Vincent oversaw the Divisions of Solid Waste, Grounds Maintenance, Urban Forestry, Roadway Maintenance, Street Cleaning and CIP Paving.

In total, Vincent has served the Richmond Department of Public Works for 25 years. “We could not have a more qualified or experienced person fill this important position,” said Mayor Stoney. “I am very pleased Bobby accepted this appointment.”