While we’re talking about Mayor Jones’s proposal to develop Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom, have you noticed there are two petitions floating around the city that stadium opponents think will put an end to the mayor’s madness. As you know the drafters of the Bill of Rights guaranteed the right of the people to petition the Government for redress of their grievances. So I guess that petitions are good. On the other hand there are so many people with grievances, and in this age of instant mass communications, I am asked to sign at least a dozen petitions a day. The Federal Government itself has a website encouraging citizens to submit petitions for the president to address. But, I am sort of wondering why the need for these two new petitions.
I haven’t seen the petitions physically yet, but I understand that they are submitted under the authority of section 3.06.1 of the Richmond City Charter. That section provides that if a petition is filed containing the signatures of 10% of the highest number of voters who have voted in the city in the past five elections (a number that is estimated to be 9,800) requesting an amendment to the city charter, then the amendment shall be put on the ballot as a referendum question for all city voters. If the voters approve the referendum, the amendment is to be submitted to Virginia’s General Assembly for its approval. The two petitions circulating today request the following amendments to the City Charter:
1- Proposition A proposes an amendment to the Charter creating a new section 2.04.02, providing that under the City Council’s powers contained in section 4.02 of the Charter, “there shall be created and funding provided for” the Historic East End Shockoe Bottom Commission. The Commission shall prepare (within nine months of its creation) a report to the Mayor and City Council on “how best to achieve economic growth while at the same [time] preserving the vital history of [the] area including the historic record regarding those uniquely significant events having taken place in the Shockoe Bottom area of the Historic East End.” Proposition A also provides that the City Council shall take no further action concerning the mayor’s Shockoe development plan until the Commission submits its report.
2- Proposition B proposes an amendment to section 3.06.1 of the Charter broadening the authority of a minority of members of the City Council to call for an advisory referendum on issues relating to Mayor Jones’s Shockoe development proposal. With regard to ordinances relating directly to the baseball stadium proposed by the mayor the amendment would allow 3 of the 9 council members to call for an advisory referendum. With regard to ordinances dealing with various funding options for the Shockoe development the amendment would allow 4 of the 9 council members to call for an advisory referendum. Under existing language in section 3.06.1 a Council resolution calling for an advisory referendum requires that the issue be submitted to the voters and that the results of the referendum be reported to City Council for “