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  City Council Reduction Proposal Thuds with Legislators
January 28, 2004

A motion I made last night to allow the voters to decide if they would rather have a smaller city council died for lack of a second. My objective was to make the City Council more efficient, to reduce staff time and save money all important goals it would seem in these fiscally challenging times.


Richmond is perhaps unique among cities of our size, and many larger, in the number of city council members we have nine. Most cities and counties get by fine with five or seven. One of the problems Richmond has is that we continue to convince ourselves that we are so different from other cities we cannot practice the organizational and operational efficiencies that have become commonplace elsewhere. And this continues to cost us big bucks.


Several arguments against downsizing the council were offered by three speakers and several City Council members. Some believe that a smaller city council would result in diminished representation of neighborhoods and minorities perhaps with all council members living in Marina Bay instead of just the four who now live there. One councilmember said that fewer council members would make it cheaper for special interests to buy the City Council. Another councilmember rebutted the minority representation argument, reminding us that a majority, or even supermajority, of minorities has dominated the City Council for decades not a problem.


The Mayor wanted to consign the idea to the Procedures Committee the traditional graveyard of good ideas.


Once again, the City Council has determined that it not the voters knows what is best for Richmond.


I intend to continue this quest to place the matter on the November 2004 ballot. I am soliciting volunteers who will manage a campaign to do so via the initiative process.