Here are some thoughts which you can hopefully post in your
E-Forum. though we don't agree on how to solve this problem, I
do appreciate your continuing to help people understand the
seriousness of this time bomb.
Subject: Rogers' Response on potholes: Waiting is too expensive
Richmond has a lot of problems which need fixing. Tom Butt, in
his E-Forum, suggests we have the luxury of picking and choosing
other problems over fixing potholes.
Many of our other problems we
are fixing with Redevelopment money will be pretty much the same
until they are fixed.
Potholes repair costs are
increasing exponentially. I won't bore you with the statistics,
but John Geluardi's (excellent as usual) article details them
(article is in Tom's E-Forum).
We are going to have to fix the streets sometime, it is only a
question of when.
Tom rightfully suggests that the Council should do a survey to
get public input.
While I agree we should (coupled with an invitation to join a
free City E-Mail service where Richmond would send out notices
and information) , I think there is serious evidence already
that the pothole issue is serious to the public.
When I scheduled Neighborhood Finance Committee Hearings earlier
this year, Finance Director Goins and City Manager Lindsay
attended. In presenting the 5 year Capital Improvement Budget,
which increased the budget to fix potholes by 2 or 3 times what
it had been in the past, Goins noted that they had heard the
residents' comments about potholes. (Depending on the meeting ,
crime or potholes were clearly the highest priority items.)
After trying, unsuccessfully, to convince my colleagues for
about a year to use Redevelopment money to fix potholes, I did a
City wide mailing during my re-election campaign to send in a
letter to the Council asking the Council to spend $5,00,000 per
year on fixing potholes. Well over 300 residents sent in the
letters, but the Council was not convinced. The Council also
didn't support Tom Butt's proposal to schedule a study session
to look at the broader issue of how to deal with the pothole
It could also be argued that my coming in first in the recent
Council race was a sign of the public's agreeing with me that
we need to take action on fixing potholes, but I think my
showing probably had more to do with my including pictures of
my son, who is simply adorable , on my campaign flyers. :)
As Tom has noted, these are not perfect indicators of public
sentiment, as they do not include a lot of people who don't
participate. However, surveys also are deeply biased by the many
people who don't participate.
The main argument against spending Redevelopment money to fix
potholes was that it was supposedly illegal.
However the City has previously included $1,000,000/year in
Redevelopment money to fix potholes by paving streets, and our
Redevelopment outside counsel has advised us that it is legal.
(By the way you may have seen a campaign hit piece against me
paid for by the Richmond Firefighters making the same suggestion
that my proposal was illegal, and that I knew it was illegal.
It's not surprising that they didn't understand the law, as the
hit piece was written by Darrell Reese, whose inability to
understand what is legal resulted in him being convicted of
felony tax evasion.)
Tom also suggests that I should detail which existing
Redevelopment program I want to cut if I am going to advocate
spending $5,000,000/ year on pothole repairs. I am not
suggesting cutting already approved projects. I am suggesting
that, given the problems unchecked potholes are causing
us, given the exponentially higher costs of continued inaction,
and given that no one else has even suggested any other serious
plan, that we should prioritize $5,000,000/ year out of our
Redevelopment budget, with the understanding that we won't have
as much money to spend on other Redevelopment projects in coming
years. Some of our spending is aimed at helping our existing
residents, but much is aimed at helping to build homes so people
from other cities can get a good deal on moving to Richmond.
that is a luxury , given Richmond's abysmal level of funding
for vital services , that we simply can't afford.
Even if the Council did adopt my proposal, most years in the 5
year capital budget would still not have the roughly $11,000,000
per year needed to keep our streets in the same horrible
condition that they are now.
Finally there are approved projects and proposed projects which
will greatly increase our already rapidly increasing