Archive for the ‘Local Government’ Category
It is not often that one of the most powerful people in Washington, D.C. politics gets involved in a local race for Commonwealth’s Attorney. But in the structure of Henrico County GOP politics it became a necessity.
But even though Rep. Eric Cantor has called for Matt Geary, the embattled GOP nominee to step down. Geary has pledged to stay in the race.
Geary granted only one interview in the wake of an aggressive push by Republican leaders to get him to step down. Wednesday on NBC12 First at 4, he revealed that he learned that Cantor was withdrawing his support from my twitter page. He said “he understood”, why the Congressman broke the news in that fashion. Cantor’s break comes after Henrico County GOP Executive Committee leaders asked him to step down on Monday.
In both cases, Geary, who is currently guaranteed a ballot position in the fall election, remains defiant.
“I don’t hope to win this race, Ryan,” he said. “I will win this race.”
Geary has had a rough couple of weeks. Party leaders raised questions about an extra-martial affair and questionable business deals. Geary calls the questions about his business practices far-fetched, but admits to the affair. He told me he made a serious mistake and that he is trying to recoup his reputation and regain the trust of the people who once supported him.
“I disappointed several people, lots of people in fact, with the decision I made last year,” Geary said. He went to say, “I exercised poor judgement quite frankly.”
Up until this point, Geary has been unopposed and had a clear path to victory. Now Republican leaders are re-grouping, trying to determine if they should encourage another candidate to run as an independent. Geary welcomes the challenge.
“I certainly don’t want an opponent, nobody running for office would want an opponent, But I am not concerned about it in the least, ” he said. Adding that if another Republican wants to run that he or she would be forced to quit the party if they were elected by running as an Independent or Democrat.
And as he looks forward to another 3 months of scrutiny, Geary would not guarantee that there is nothing else from his past that could haunt his campaign again, but did say he wasn’t worried about any future revelation.
“The issue is, am I the person that is most qualified to be Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney? and if you look at my record… I think I am the person to be the Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney.”
You can see the complete interview with Matt Geary below.
Congressman Cantor’s complete statement asking for Geary to step down is after the jump:
Richmond Congressman Eric Cantor is quickly becoming one of the leading voices of the “loyal opposition”. He is regularly called upon by national media outlets to give the Republican point of view in the highly charged debate over health care reform. In a live interview today on NBC12 First at 4, Cantor told me the concerns of the country are similar to the concerns of the people in his Central Virginia Congressional District.
“Most people, here in the Richmond area and throughout our state really are as concerned with the direction this country is headed,” he said.
But Cantor’s high-profile does come at a cost. President Barack Obama, the leader of the free world, has made no secret that he disapproves of the tactics Republicans are using to fight his proposals and has used Cantor on multiple occasions as an example. Most recently, during a highly charged health care summit hosted by the White House, Mr. Obama seemed to indicate that House Minority Whip was grandstanding. Cantor brought the entire 2,700 page bill to the meeting and used it as a prop during his discussion. At the time the President said that move was an example of “the kinds of political things we do that prevent us from having a conversation.”
Cantor scoffed at the idea that his demonstration of his displeasure with the bill, was anything by genuine. “This is a 2,700 page bill that cost a trillion dollars,” the Congressman said on NBC12. ”It is an attempt to transform our 1/6th of our economy and frankly doesn’t address the primary issue, which is how are we going to bring down costs for people.”
Always adept at staying on message, Cantor responded to the President’s raucous rally outside Philadelphia by saying that Republicans believe that the health care reform debate, just needs to start from scratch. “Most of the American people are at the point where they don’t like the bill that the president is pushing,” said Cantor. ”They would rather us set it aside. And go in step by step and have a new approach to deal with health care costs. Then try and expand access.”
If Cantor’s high profile advocacy is costing him political points locally, it is not evident yet. The Republican has already beat back one prospective Democratic challenger, and no others appear on the horizon. It is clear that the local Representative is in store for big things, provided the GOP delivers on the predictions that many are making for the fall elections.
You can see my entire interview with Cantor below.
Governor Bob McDonnell is working overtime to get a fledgling Richmond charter school off the ground. City leaders and School Board members have been battling community members over the opening of Patrick Henry Charter School on Richmond’s Southside.
The school is set to open for classes in July, but is falling short in support from the school district, which has been lukewarm in some cases or downright combative in others. Traditionally public school supporters have been resistant to the introduction of charter schools because they believe they bleed resources from other parts of the district that have desperate needs of their own.
Enter the state’s new Governor. Bob McDonnell has never shied away from his support for the development of charter schools and has found numerous opportunities to tout his support of President Barack Obama‘s “race to the top” program, which calls for the creation of a version of charter schools across the country. McDonnell is having a hard time pushing charter school funding through at the State Capitol, in part because his is being forced to subtract, not add to public school budgets.
However, one of the unique aspects of the charter school model is its aggressive approach to raising private donations to sustain its operation. Patrick Henry is no different. Supporters of the new school have solicited private donations to get the new operation off the ground and now McDonnell himself will become front and center in that effort.
As first reported by Chris Dovi and our friends at RVANews, McDonnell will headline a private, invite-only fundraiser in support of the Patrick Henry Charter School. NBC12 independently confirmed with the Governor’s office that McDonnell has agreed to take part. The goal would be to help Patrick Henry raise the necessary funds to get the building open and secure a lease.
In addition to the very public support by the Governor, City Councilman Marty Jewell is working behind the scenes in an attempt to convince city school leaders that opening Patrick Henry is in everyone’s best interest. Jewell sent a letter to Kim Bridges, one of the school board members who has expressed concerns about the development of charter schools. In the letter Jewell pleads with Bridges “to urgently embrace fundamental change in educational delivery.” Jewell asks Bridges and the board to consider a financial committment to get Patrick Henry’s doors open.
A transcript of Jewell’s letter to Bridges can be found after the jump..
On Thursday I spent the evening at the Hanover County Planning Commission meeting. For many of my colleagues and probably most people in general there are few things that sound more boring. I really enjoyed it. I am one of the few people that gets excited to see civics in action and I enjoy the ebb and flow of a good local government meeting. There is nothing like the use of Roberts Rules of Order to get the blood flowing.
90 percent of meetings like this rarely get covered. They are mostly procedural in nature and we don’t have crews to send to every gathering so we try and monitor the ones that are dealing with important issues impacting the public and get to those. Last night’s planning commission meeting Hanover was one of those meetings.
Developers in Hanover have plans to build a brand new mixed use development very similar to what they are building in Short Pump. The problem is that in order build the project safely, traffic safety engineers determined that a road that leads to an historic church needs to be closed. Not surprisingly, members of the church are not happy. (If you are interested, Sunni Blevins has the back story in the video player on our main page It is titled “Public invited to discuss development project”. )
I picked up the story at last night’s meeting where a legion of the church’s members packed the auditorium at the Hanover County Administration building to plead their case against the closing of that road. One by one they made passionate and sensible arguments. It was enough to convince the commission (which seemed to be leaning in favor of passing the proposal) to deny the application, but allow the developers and planning department to come up with an alternative solution to shutting down the road. You can see my story on the vote last night here.
What impressed me last night was how the commission and the members of the public engaged in a civil and responsible discussion on the matter at hand. Both sides had very reasonable arguments to support their points. The staff of the planning department was only trying to protect public safety and the church members felt that they were there first and should not have to dramatically alter their lives to allow for the development.
At a number of different points during the discussion, church members said they were concerned that no matter how loud they screamed, their voice would not be heard. But that turned out to not be the case. The commission listened, they acted and now an alternative that suits everyone’s needs will have to be met.
I have been to enough of these meetings to know that it doesn’t always work this way, but when it does it is a thing of beauty. At least from the perspective of a geek like me.