Thursday, July 05, 2007

Wilder Victim of Widespread Plot

Those of you who have not been reading the Times-Dispatch for the last few days probably don’t know how bad things have been going for Mayor Doug. Everybody in city government who is not subject to the mayor’s control is suddenly turning and biting the hand that doesn’t feed them.

First it was the Superintendent of Richmond Public Schools, Deborah Jewell-Sherman. According to the mayor, Dr. Jewell-Sherman “double-crossed” him. His mayorship, as reported in the July 3 Times-Dispatch, wrote to Jewell-Sherman saying, “I am appalled at your duplicity.” It appears that Jewell-Sherman had the audacity to seek an alternative to Doug’s edict that Richmond Public Schools vacate its offices at City Hall and move to commercial office space on West Broad Street. Rather than doing as Mr. Wilder instructed, Dr. Jewell-Sherman actually helped the School Board in its plans to enter into a private-public partnership to develop one of its own properties to be its new headquarters. The worst part of this insubordination is that the Superintendent doesn’t work for the mayor and therefore he can’t fire her. If there is one thing that Mr. Wilder cannot tolerate it is an independent public official.

Only one day later, the plot was joined by city auditor Umesh V. Dalal. According to the July 4 story in the Times-Dispatch, Mayor Doug sent a “blistering” letter to Mr. Dalal after Dalal had written to his mayorship demanding cooperation, not obstruction, in his audit of Doug’s administration. Mayor Doug chided Dalal for his “effrontery” in demanding complete access to the records of Doug’s number one ally, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Harry Black. The mayor was particularly upset because Dalal’s earlier audit of Richmond Public Schools did not uncover the cesspool of corruption that Doug knows is hiding somewhere in the five or six floors of City Hall occupied by Richmond Public School administration. When asked about his behavior, Mr. Dalal replied, “Neither the mayor nor the council tells me what to do. He (His mayorship) is the one insisting that I be independent of the council. That means I have to be independent, period."

Dr. Jewell-Sherman and Mr. Dalal join the spreading insurgency against Mayor Doug that also includes City Council President William Pentele and School Board Chairman George Braxton. All of these city officials asserting their independence are making it more and more difficult for Mayor Doug to establish the total control over everything that happens in Richmond that he has been seeking since he took office more than two years ago. However, since his term runs until January 2009, we can still hope that Mayor Doug will earn his statue on Monument Avenue.

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