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Media Coverage
Richmond Council Meeting Resembled Greek Tragi-Comedy
February 7, 1996


Wednesday, February 7, 1996
Section: Opinion
Page: A11
Column: Readers' Forum

After attending the Richmond City Council meeting of Jan. 29, I wasn't sure whether I had been at a circus, a documentary show on U.S. congressional structure, a Greek tragi-comedy (no offense to Greeks intended), or a rerun of "Politics as Usual in Richmond." I decided to lump it all up in the latter.

The debate about the issue of changing the current "agenda setting" meeting of the council was the highlight of the evening.

It was most interesting to watch and listen to the various players (the mayor, the city attorney, other members of the council, and the public speakers) try to elucidate what they understood as the truth of the issue.

It was clear that one of the main questions, that of whether the mayor will be disenfranchised by splitting the agenda setting meeting into two committees, was not answered.

The city attorney fell back again on an earlier response that "a decision will be rendered from the state attorney general in a few weeks."

So he was no help. The self-professed "youngest" member of the council, Alex Evans, tried to turn the question of a public respondent, Jay Vincent, a well-respected senior citizen, into a federal case by equating Vincent's plea to shelve the idea of the two-committee structure to "dissolving the U.S. Senate."

I expected a much higher level of debate from Evans.

His question to Vincent was disrespectful to him, appeared to question the intelligence of everyone in the room, and gave the impression of a bush-league play. It was inappropriate and not germane to the issue, that is, unless he has visions of a higher grandeur and wishes to be addressed as "Senator Councilman Evans."

Tact is the first requisite of diplomacy, and diplomacy is the first requisite of statesmanship. He has a long way to go, judging from the lack of tact he displayed at the Jan. 29 meeting.

The hidden agendas of the rest of the council, though palpable, remained for the most part, hidden. I wanted to hear especially from council members Lesa McIntosh, Tom Butt and John Marquez.

This is a tremendously important issue to the future governance of the city of Richmond, which was one of the main issues of the recent City Council election campaign.

I urge every resident and voter of the city to come to City Hall or tune in on KCRT for the council meetings.

Allan Jensen