I am Harry David Candela, a city council candidate for Superward 7 in Norfolk, fighting for transparency and democratic reforms.
For the last two presidential administrations we have heard slogans like “too big to fail,” “bail out to save the economy,” and “quantitative easing” used to excuse CORPORATE WELFARE and huge gifts of money to corporate executives and bankers, even some that were used as bonuses. That money came out of your taxes, was misused, and denied you more chances to participate in the economy in a manner that you choose. However, the problem of such corruption is not limited to the federal level. Everyone knows about Anthony Burfoot, as well as the Bank of the Commonwealth. Then there was Mayor Fraim and Towne Bank.
On the local level, three mayors and even a few city council members engaged in the corruption of being on the boards of banks that did business with their cities, and though it is CORPORATE WELFARE and a conflict of interest, they like to call it “public-private partnerships.” They even entrench all sorts of bureaucrats in positions to administer those slush funds, and those commissars get very upset when you tell them it is time for real hope and change through fundamentally transforming government. They are worried about their cushy positions and power over others. Their current system is to keep the taxes, fees, fines and restrictions high so that fewer local businesses can start, grow, employ others and compete, while they hand out substantial amounts of money to a handful of favored large corporations that will return those funds to them in the form of paid positions.
The rich in this city government are giving to the rich in private corporations and banks while shutting the poor out. During the same time, while the fairness that is the “GIVE IT BACK INITIATIVE” is completed, the City Council is expected to stop killing start-up businesses and stop killing jobs by lowering the barriers that it has enacted to keep the poor from participating in Norfolk’s economy.
The wealthy City Council members have created an uneven playing field and an unfair economy. Best stated again, the City Council that gives so much money to its favorites should have no problem creating wealth for the people it has disenfranchised and harmed the most by deeding every public housing dwelling in this City to those who are currently residing in them with a 10 year property tax waiver. That would lift the poor out of poverty, turning generational poverty into generational wealth. Ownership creates care and community, especially through owner occupant condominium associations. Then, with stable homes, SOL test scores would improve, schools would gain certification, and our children would find hope. With Stable homes, crime rates would fall. Anyone who supports a “public-private partnership” but opposes the “GIVE IT BACK INITIATIVE” is a hypocrite keeping the poor in poverty.
To think, this is only one of my 13 issues. My full Action Items List is on hdcandela.webs.com and includes the following:
1. Move New Business and Public Commentary to City Council back into the duration and body of City Council Meetings, mandating that they will be part of the televised and historically documented City Council Meetings. It is simply corrupt to cut off and leave out what the people say to those who are supposed to represent them on City Council.
2. Institute the recording, keeping, printing, publication, and permanent internet posting of comprehensive, detailed, and specific meeting minutes from every City Council Meeting, available in printed form without charge on request by and to the public.
3. Prohibit closed and secret City Council Meetings. In the event that it is found that in the past City Council Members or the City Manager engaged in hiding unpopular, unethical, or illegal actions from the voters, accounts of those activities shall be publicized as part of a City Council Meeting in the process of making a public apology and also handed over to the highest and most proper authorities for investigation and prosecution.
4. Pass an ordinance that in the event a person present questions the validity, truth, and completeness of anything a Candidate, City Council Member or any City Employee says anywhere and at any time, that Candidate, Member or Employee shall immediately go under oath and on record repeating their statements in front of that primary person and two third party witnesses requested to assist by that primary person from the public near by or attending. Refusing to go under oath and on record should be punishable with the loss of position. This would reduce misrepresentation to the public those hired to serve them.
5. Move the Freedom of Information Act Officer from under the City Public Information Officer and into an Independent Freedom of Information Act Department. Hire three additional Freedom of Information Act Officers. Establish that resistance or delay in remittance of documents by any City employee to Freedom of Information Act Department Officers shall constitute an ethics violation mandating investigation, review and possible dismissal. Provide documents and information requested by the public under the Freedom of Information Act free of charge in electronic form, $3 on CD-DVD, or at 10 cents a page in paper form.
6. Create a Department of Ethics for the City of Norfolk Government staffed by five Specialists with investigative authority and punitive Council powers above and over the Department of Human Resources. Additionally commission the Department of Ethics to monitor and guarantee that the Department of Human Resources no longer restricts or denies City employees ERC Representation under the disguise of Employee-Employer Meetings. Investigate, adjudicate, and dismiss any City Administrator who engaged in that activity or in deception through manipulation of official forms, and in any use of administrative procedures to suppress the grievance process, cover up wrong doing, or besmirch employees. This is necessary because the City Auditors Office is restricted to only addressing financial issues, and is in practice quite less independent than it should be.
7. Post the complete City Budget online, itemized and in summary, as many other cities have done for the people to review. Currently, it is not itemized properly. Doing so would be the first step toward reducing and eliminating the yearly 11 to 26 million dollar over budget expenditures. The second step could be the reduction of each Department’s budget by 1 percent each year over a ten year period, excluding police, fire, and EMS. The third step could be the hiring of new employees only in accord with the numbers of those retiring early or as mandated. It will also be necessary to combine departments and reduce middle and upper level administrative positions through reassignment wherever possible. Every City employee serves the public and not themselves or their own career advancement. Reducing the rungs in the ladder will reduce the bureaucracy, red tape, and expense while increasing the humanity, decency, and kindness in services rendered as well as progress in the private and public sectors.
8. Provide better public safety by establishing three additional, well-staffed police substations in the center of the three highest violent crime areas of the City. One shooting is too many and Norfolk has had more than that this year. Require that all new police officers are recruited from within or near the areas they patrol. Examine and determine how better to combine the traditional, tested and trusted method of training officers with the newer method of academy in order to convey insight, wisdom, adherence to oaths, and respect for Rights. Such may also require additional review of foundational documents and the contemporary exercise of individual Rights as opposed to common enforcement practice. Officers of the court are our finest in honor, not mercenary or paramilitary. As well, consideration should be given to the further increase and development of volunteer emergency responder NGOs to help all of the City’s services in the event of disasters or emergencies.
9. Due to loss of life, excessive injuries, liability, extremely high employment turnover, improper actions, misconduct, mismanagement, and public complaints concerning the Department of Parks and Open Spaces’ Aquatics Division, and in preparation for expansion of the Norfolk Tide’s transportation line in concert with the dredged sand expansion of Norfolk beaches, it is necessary to provide professional standards of care by administrating, staffing, and running Norfolk beaches and waterfronts under Public Safety through EMS and Fire Fighting Station 13. This would be in a manner consistent with industry standards as illustrated by Sand Bridge beach in Virginia Beach, VA, Ocean City, MD, Pompano Beach, FL, Hollywood Beach, FL, Miami Beach, FL, Daytona Beach, FL, Galveston Beach, TX, Los Angeles, CA, and San Diego, CA. How much is a life worth? In order to improve the level of service at, care rendered by, and cost-benefit from City pools and swimming programs, the Division Head of Aquatics should be re-focused on those built facilities in order to eliminate deficiencies that developed after this position was created and the retirement of the senior council of pool managers. Safety personnel should live in the same City as those they care for.
10. Make the Norfolk Tide train line profitable, help the working people of Norfolk, increase property values, improve the quality of air, and use less fuel by extending the service to Old Dominion University, Norfolk Navy Station, Ocean View Beach, the Norfolk International Airport, and Chesapeake within the next four years. The studies should be concluded and action needs to be taken.
11. Reform the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority while protecting the Rights of those who have been most disadvantaged in the City, repaying a debt to those most held back by the City, creating stake holders, and building community improvement. The legacy of past Jim Crow discrimination and plantation slavery still exists today in Norfolk, and that is the reason the current residents of large scale public housing developments should be granted the deeds of the dwelling they are living in, forming condominiums of each building with a 10 year property tax waiver attached to the deeds. Doing this, the right thing, would actually be more cost effective than the City continuing to lord ownership and control over the residence thereof. Task the NRHA to reform itself into an organization focused on integrated housing ownership, developing mixed income communities. Representatives of the NRHA should not be spending time telling residents that they cannot exercise one right or another, family members are not allowed to visit, how their living room should be arranged, that mature adults cannot have a cook out barbecue, or worse, how they must vote in elections.
12. While housing might seem to be the largest mismanaged problem in the City of Norfolk, the City of Norfolk mismanages much more. Waterside Drive Shopping Mall is one example. The City had unrealistic expectations in rent, fees, and clients during a tough economy. That is why so many City properties were and are empty or under utilized. There is nothing wrong with the buildings that cannot be modified inexpensively for micro boutiques, wholesale clearance vendors, thrift curio shops, antique brokers, import-export houses, marina support, service business offices, studios, schools, daycare, or something else. However the City’s business model expectations and management are seriously flawed. Simply base the rent on a percentage of net receipts. Allow people the freedom to start a unique business and rent short term or flexibly. As well, do not charge so much for parking, even if into the evening. Think outside of the box. Work with people.
13. Foster greater public awareness and understanding as well as complete exposure and prosecution of multiple cover-ups of unethical and criminal activities undertaken by the City of Norfolk employees, officers, officials, and their friends over a number of years in order to see justice completed and give numbers of victims a sense of closure. Please refer to this list. It is only a start. As well, should you know of any other wrong-doing that needs to be remedied please contact me through email so I can help you. There is no justice without us.
I am not taking donations. I cannot be bought. It is a matter of principle. I would appreciate your vote on May 3rd, and will continue to fight for you.
For more on this candidate, here is his website.