Joe Thomas, the clever and entertaining host of “The Joe Thomas Show” and the program director at WCHV Radio, joined us on The I Love CVille Show powered by Greenberry’s Coffee at Barracks Road to discuss the following topics:
(1). In the past 17 months or so, five Charlottesville city councilors have charged $26,784 of taxpayer money on city credit cards for expenses.
Should Charlottesville citizens be concerned with City Council’s credit card usage as recently detailed and itemized by Nolan Hart Stout, a reporter with The Daily Progress?
Is it a big deal that Mayor Nikuyah J Walker used a city credit card to purchase personal running shoes for herself from Ragged Mountain Running Shop instead of buying the shoes with her own money?
Should we wave a red flag over Councilman Wes Bellamy’s credit card usage (his was the highest amount of anyone on Council), including his purchase at a Hooters Restaurant while traveling?
Frankly, I thought $26,784 was not a lot of money over a 17-month period, especially since its a total of five council members doing the spending. I also understand that Hooters is a restaurant and not a strip-club like the Paper Moon in Richmond, Virginia. (It’s a freakin’ restaurant, people! Give the dude a break!)
Joe Thomas, however, offered a very different perspective that got many folks across The I Love CVille Network thinking… You should really listen to Joe’s take!!
(2). Should CVillians support or revolt against Council’s wishes to increase their salaries and essentially set their own pay? On Monday, December 3, Council approved (3-2) a charter amendment regarding their own pay. Now, the proposal heads to the Virginia General Assembly, where it will likely fail.
Mayor Walker, Councilman Bellamy and Councilwoman Kathleen Galvin voted in favor of this amendment while Councilwoman Heather Danforth Hill and Councilman Michael Signer voted against this amendment.
(3). Charlottesville City Councilors currently are paid $18,000 while Mayor Walker is paid $20,000. (NOTE: Broadcaster Rob Schilling also emphasized on The I Love CVille Show that the City is offering councilors a tremendous health insurance package, so their compensation package is actually higher than the $18K and $20K).
Does this compensation package discourage people from running for City Council??? Is City Council only designed for wealthy people or for entrepreneurs and business owners who can make their own schedules? How does someone who works a 9-to-5 hourly waged job also run for City Council, especially if they have children?
James Watson, an intelligent visionary and loyal supporter of The I Love CVille Show, offered strong perspective on today’s program. James said, “it is unrealistic for a lot of people to commit themselves to a $20,000 job. Basically, anybody with a young family is at a disadvantage if they consider what it takes to be a city Council person.”
I’m going to play devil’s advocate with James here: Councilman Bellamy was an Albemarle County teacher when he won his Council seat and also the father of three young children. Mayor Walker was a part-time employee with the City’s Parks & Rec Department when she won her Council seat. These are two examples that counter this logic: “City Council is only for the wealthy who do not have young children at home.”
(4). Did Ann Mallek of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors give citizens in Charlottesville and Albemarle County enough notice regarding Monday’s announcement to keep the Albemarle County court system in the City of Charlottesville??
I was a huge proponent of keeping the Albemarle County court system around the Charlottesville DowntownMall. However, Supervisor Mallek’s clandestine approach to this announcement left a lot to be desired.
Furthermore, Supervisor Richard Fitz Randolph voted against keeping the Albemarle County courts in the City of CVille. He, instead, preferred for the Albemarle courts to head to the County, where it could be used as a leverage point to drive Albemarle’s economic growth, and to further distance itself from the revenue sharing joint venture between the County and the City that has existed for more than 30 years.
One thing I want to emphasize here: I grew up in Williamsburg, Virginia. I watched as politicians moved the courts from downtown Williamsburg to James City County to “help drive economic growth in James City County.” This economic growth never ended up happening in James City County.
You know why it didn’t happen?
Because people who go to court to face a judge about a charge or an arrest do not then say, “hey, I’m going to happy hour for dirty gin martinis, then out to a steak dinner and then later some shopping after my court case.”
You know what they do?
They go see the judge, they pay their fines, then they get back in their vehicles and they head to work or go home.
There’s no celebration. There’s no cocktail hour. There’s no dinner. There’s no shopping spree. Moving the courts from the City to Albemarle County will not drive growth, value or the economy.
Albemarle County MUST REALIZE that it is only as strong as the City of Charlottesville, and the City of CVille is only as strong as the University of Virginia and The Downtown Mall. Keeping the courts Downtown was not only the smart move for the City, but it was also the right move for the County.
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