Richmond City Council’s proposed budgets increase police funding, Virginia Volvo plant workers go on strike, and Richmond advocates call for a new school building.
13 – That’s the number of people who were killed during the Columbine High School shooting on this day in 1999. The shooting and attempted bombing carried out by students at the high school resulted in the death of 12 students and one teacher.
To donate to the Virginia Center for Public Safety, a non-profit, non-partisan organization fighting for the reduction of gun violence in Virginia, you can click this link.
Richmond City Council’s Budget Proposals Increase Police Funding
Three different proposals by members of Richmond’s City Council to amend the city’s 2021-2022 budget include funding increases for the city’s police department.
Councilwoman Ellen Robertson, who represents the 6th District, is proposing $4.2 million in additional pay for police and firefighters in the city. Representing the 8th District, Councilwoman Reva Trammell is proposing increasing funding for police and fire compensation by $3.5 million next year. Cynthia Newbille, another council member representing the 7th District, wants to increase pay for police and fire in the capital city by a total of $4.4 million.
To pay for these amendments to the budget, council members are proposing cuts to a variety of departments within Richmond’s government.
For Robertson, those cuts include a proposal to eliminate the city’s financial support of Homeward. Homeward is the city’s only provider of safety net shelter services for houseless people. She also is proposing to eliminate the city’s funding for tax relief programs which benefit seniors and disabled residents.
For Trammell, she is proposing cutting half of the city’s funding for the RVA League for Safer Streets. The league is a basketball and educational program for young men from Richmond communities with high crime rates. Newbille, meanwhile, wants to cut non-departmental charitable contributions by 10%.
Only the cuts Robertson is proposing will be enough to finance pay increases for police.
The Richmond Police Department’s current budget totals $96,371,697. According to GlassDoor, the department already pays officers about $52,106 a year.
Volvo Plant Workers Go On Strike in Virginia
Nearly 3,000 workers are striking at a Volvo truck manufacturing plant in Dublin, Virginia. Members of the United Auto Workers decided to strike over contract negotiations between its members and Volvo.
According to reporting by WDBJ, last month both sides agreed to a 30-day extension of their existing contract. Franky Marchand, the plant’s vice president and general manager, told WCBJ that “progress was being made, and we had offered substantial increases in our employees’ compensation.”
The Roanoke Times reported that representatives of the union have met with Volvo representatives over the past three months. They told the Times they’re frustrated with the company’s failure to provide “any substantial offer” prior to the deal’s expiration date. The Times also reports that the union is available to reconvene negotiations on April 26.
Windsor Department Stopped Police Brutality Victim Before
The same U.S. Army lieutenant whose lawsuit against police in Windsor went viral recently was also stopped by members of the department in November.
This interaction in November was uneventful and ended with the lieutenant simply receiving a ticket for speeding.
The lieutenant’s experience a month later, however, was anything but routine.
Police officers in Windsor attacked and arrested Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario in December. Footage of the police pepper spraying Nazario, who is Black and Latino, made headlines last week.
The town of Windsor released the November traffic stop footage on Friday.
Nazario’s lawyer, Jonathan Arthur, says the traffic stop video from November is irrelevant to his client’s case against the town. That’s according to reporting by WAVY.
“It is a credit to the character and integrity of lieutenant Caron Nazario that all they have managed to find was footage of a speeding ticket, a traffic stop. It is a traffic stop where lieutenant Nazario again waits for a clear, safe space to pull over. A traffic stop where lieutenant Nazario remains calm and courteous. It is a traffic stop that is irrelevant to the deplorable actions of the town of Windsor’s police officers. It is footage whose release is only intended to retaliate against and to re-traumatize their victim,” Arthur said.
Question of the Day: Getting Vaccinated
Richmond Advocates Call For New School Building
Members of the Richmond NAACP are objecting to plans by the Richmond School Board, which they say could result in delaying the construction of a new school building. That’s according to reporting by NBC12.
“Grown folks who are tasked with the responsibility to serve the public need to stop posturing, just build the schools, that’s all we want to do,” James Minor, a representative of the Richmond NAACP, told NBC12. “Our children, the parents and the staff deserve better. We want a new high school in Southside.”
The School Board gave its approval for the development of the building in question, George Wythe High School, back in 2018. Three years later, there is still no new school building. And, this month the board passed a resolution giving themselves greater power in overseeing the bidding, design, and construction of schools in the city. This resolution is what community activists are objecting to. They say it will slow the construction of the new school.
In response, members of the school board say they’re saving taxpayers money. Members also say they’re depoliticizing the building of the new high school by transferring construction decisions away from the city government.
“In Richmond, city authority to manage school construction has meant overspending on external contractors to manage work that our district should have overseen. It has meant the district faced difficulty managing repairs for contracts that the city owned. It has meant using prototypes for school construction that don’t meet the needs of our district…. Simply put, it has tied school construction to Richmond’s ever-shifting political dynamics. I don’t want to see that happen again,” wrote Kenya Gibson.
Gibson is a member of the Richmond School Board, where she represents the 3rd District.
Monday’s Trivia Answer: A Literal Short Pump in Virginia
Sometimes, history is very literal.
Short Pump Town Center is a shopping mall in Richmond, Virginia. It gets its name from the popular stagecoach stop and tavern in the area from the 1800s. Apparently, that tavern had a well in the yard with an unusually short pump handle.