Monday, November 12, 2012

Redskins Bandwagon, Not So Fast

On March 8, writing for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Michael Martz and John O‘Connor reported that the Washington Redskins and the City of Richmond had been talking about the pro football team conducting some of its preseason practices in Richmond in years to come.

Although I was somewhat puzzled with why the team’s front office would want to leave Northern Virginia, to hold three weeks of preseason football practices in Richmond, in July! it was delightful news. Naturally, I hoped for the best. After all, I’ve been a Washington Redskins fan longer than I can remember. It goes back to when I was a little boy watching games with my grandfather, who was a Redskins fan.

He was also a WWI veteran, so I’m thinking about him today.

On June 6, the RT-D’s Olympia Meola  reported bigger news about the Redskins, this time from Gov. Bob McDonnell’s office.
The Washington Redskins will move their summer training camp to the city of Richmond in 2013, at a site not yet identified. 
Although "a site not yet identified" seemed strange, at first that didn't worry me. Hail to the Redskins!

On June 30, Robert Zullo wrote in the RT-D about a search committee devoted to finding the best site for the Redskins to conduct their practices next summer. The article said the committee would report its finding in mid-September.
A panel appointed by Mayor Dwight C. Jones will consider at least 10 city sites for the Washington Redskins summer training camp that is planned to arrive in Richmond next year. The 18-member committee is composed chiefly of representatives from local business, banking and higher education and is tasked with advising the mayor's office on locations and financing related to hosting the three-week training camp.
The process that followed did begin to raise worries. At first I thought they were doing it backwards. Why conduct a study that should have been done before the Redskins and Richmond announced they had come to an agreement for a deal?

On Aug. 31 Michael Martz reported on the site-choosing process.
Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones says he has two "very good" sites for the Washington Redskins to bring their training camp next summer — City Stadium or behind the Science Museum of Virginia. Now, the city has to find $9 million to $10 million to build the facilities the NFL franchise expects at one of the sites by July.

"Now we are in a position to put our (funding and sponsorship subcommittee) to work and figure out how we're going to bring in the money to get the job done," Jones said at a news conference Thursday at the McGuireWoods law firm in downtown Richmond.
By this time it looked to me like the decision had been made behind closed doors to use the behind the Science Museum option, but for some reason the mystery was being perpetuated. Why the dog and pony show?

It reminded me of when the Richmond Flying Squirrels pretended they were letting the fans pick the nickname for the team. But for a baseball franchise to use an old radio station type of phony contest, to drum up interest, was fine. And, it worked like a charm.

However, for a city to indulge in such a bogus promotion didn't make much sense to me. So, I wondered, what else could it be?

Then, on Oct. 23, came the devilish details: The Redskins/Richmond deal involves Bon Secours Health System, the old Westhampton school building and the grounds surrounding it. It also involves another development in the East End by Bon Secours. It's very complicated. Ordinarily, it would take months for a Richmond City Council to properly study such a far-flung agreement.  

And, this piece by STYLE Weekly's Scott Bass followed on Oct. 30.
"We don't think a 'rush job' is fair to the public nor in the best interests of the city," Loupassi and Goldman write.

Indeed, the mayor gleefully tells reporters at the Leigh Street Redskins site Oct. 22 that construction could start as soon as that afternoon. "The Redskins want to be ready to use this in 2013 so you might see something happening before you leave here today," Jones says to hearty chuckles. "It's got to happen very fast."
Today’s RT-D story, “Richmond council set to vote on Redskins deal tonight,” by Robert Zullo, adds more to my sense that timing had a lot to do with the way this has played out. Now City Council is under the gun to act swiftly. Members don’t have much time to ask questions about all the facets of this deal.

It looks to me like the mayor is trying to steamroll this thing through. That doesn’t mean anything illegal has been done. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad deal for tax payers in Richmond. What it does mean is that the mayor needs to be taught a lesson about what can happen to a guy who is too pushy.

Vote on Redskins deal tonight?

Please, not so fast. And, didn't we just have an election? What do new members of council think?

City Hall needs to sell us this deal. City Council members, new and old, need to ask lots of questions of the salesmen who are in such a hurry.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What Can Stop the GOP’s Meltdown?

The day after the election, Wednesday, I declared a one-day moratorium on gloating and sarcasm over the election results. In the same spirit, I resisted the urge to offer advice to any Republicans I encountered. At happy hour at Chiocca’s, facing a few grumbling conservatives who were itching to harass a handy liberal, it wasn’t easy to stay true to that spirit of restraint.

Now the moratorium is over.

Accordingly, on Thursday, the Republicans who got their collective ass kicked royally on Tuesday, ought to take a good look at some bad moves they’ve made since they celebrated their midterm victories in 2010. They need to cast off their my-way-or-no-way blinders, pronto.

If they do they might see that the explanation for several of the losses the Republican Party absorbed on Tuesday was tied to how much the USA has changed in recent years. The percentage of the total vote that is white male has been steadily shrinking and it's going to continue to do so.

Which means it’s time for some conservative old goats to face the music.

Speaking of goats, if the Republican Party continues to allow the likes of Karl Rove, Grover Norquist and Rush Limbaugh to shape its agenda, while those three guys will do just fine, the GOP itself will continue its meltdown.

The Tea Party-driven strategy the congressional Republicans have used for the last two years blatantly turned its back on solving problems. Their only goal was to deny any success whatsoever to the president, in order to defeat him on Nov. 6. No doubt, if they continue to try to sell their obstructionism as patriotism, they do so at their own peril.

Given Tuesday’s results, it seems that nefarious strategy backfired. Now, facilitated by their own noisy denials of post-election reality, the meltdown process is intensifying.

Conservatives who despise the union movement have been bashing teachers as if they are the problem with government spending. Forget about borrowing money to prosecute wars, it’s the teachers! In doing so, Republicans come off as anti-public education and that will never set well with middle class parents and young voters.

Last night, professional wiseass Andy Borowitz wrote on his Facebook page: “To survive as a party, the Republicans need to welcome people who believe in different things than they do, like science and math.”

Feeling it had the momentum to elect almost anybody, the arrogant GOP fielded some Looney Tunes villains as candidates in 2012.

At the top of that list was Missouri’s senatorial candidate, Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin. As Akin is a plain fool, the Republican powers that be in the Show Me State had to know that. But it looks like they mistakenly thought anybody could beat Claire McCaskill.

In Virginia, George “Macaca” Allen was another obviously bad candidate. He was damaged goods and Virginia Republicans knew that. But they must have figured it was in the bag, anyway.

Hey, couldn’t almost anybody could beat that liberal Obama ally, Chairman Tim Kaine?

Apparently there was a good amount of ticket splitting in the Old Dominion, where Romney voters couldn’t vote the straight ticket, if it meant supporting Allen, a man widely viewed as an obnoxious bully.

A big part of how Republicans in Missouri and Virginia could believe those two Democratic candidates would be easy to beat was that so many conservatives live in a virtual echo chamber when it comes to following politics. They see most of the mainstream media as prevaricating liberal tools, so they put their faith in the Fox News brand of truth and parrot its talking points.

No one should be surprised when bad candidates lose.

Like it or not, running a national campaign is the test for president. It may not be the best way to audition candidates for the job and campaign finance reform is sorely needed, but as of 2012, it’s what our system provides.

Well, Obama’s advisers just ran a masterful campaign. They targeted the key battleground states and won them. Colorado! Iowa! Nevada! New Hampshire! Ohio! Virginia! Wisconsin! Lots of young voters look at those results without seeing ideology.

No, they see competency.

At long last, Republicans have to accept that when they use thinly-veiled appeals to racists, as they did repeatedly during the 2012 campaign, they are constricting their party’s growth. Such tone-deaf reaching out to the most hateful elements of the electorate has to stop.

The same goes with opposing same-sex marriage and trying to outlaw abortion. The justification for those two backward positions is tied to old time religion, and they are both killer millstones.

While I could easily go on lecturing my stubborn happy hour pals and their ilk, instead I’ll sum it up this way:

Unless Republicans can learn from their mistakes and start to articulate a smart, up-to-date approach to conservatism, one that appeals to tomorrow’s multicultural voters that might want to see more imagination, efficiency and prudence in the way government does business … then, tha, tha, that’s all folks!

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