“Oh, so this is why he skipped the debate last night. Why campaign when you can just buy an election!” – Drew Richard, lifelong Norfolk resident, commenting on a Pilot story
“I’ve been to thousands of civic league meetings over the years and maybe 100 candidate forums,” the Mayor said, “and I regret that this one didn’t work out.”
When I pushed the City’s spokesperson, Lori Crouch, for specifics, she wrote me: “His letter states it’s a personal matter. He attending to a personal matter.”
What could be more personal than the future of our failing schools–the very lives of our children?
What could be more personal than how he’s going to save the city he calls home from being the first US victim of climate change?
What could be more personal than doing what he only has to do every four years, and that’s stand in front of the people he represents–and whose hard earned tax money he spends–and answer their questions?
According to the article, The NAACP, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters were the forum’s sponsors. I wonder if the forum had been sponsored by S.B. Ballard Construction Co., TowneBank, and Thomas G. “Tommy” Johnson if he would have considered the event personal enough to be worth his time.
Get this part: He has two challengers, one of which has raised $305, and the other, trust me, will be filing for a lot closer to $305 than $268,000.
This is nakedly about buying influence.
Why show up for a candidate’s forum when you have the election tied up after your first fundraiser? Why listen to the average citizen when, in the scratch-my-back world of small city politics, you know you can count on a cadre of insiders to donate the maximum every time out? In a city where the elections for mayor are irrelevant, what motivation does that mayor have to do anything but look out for the Old Boy’s Network, at the expense of the rest of us?
The Pilot’s Patrick Wilson conveniently lists for us contributors who gave at least $2,500. Let me briefly footnote some of these relationships.
Stephen B. Ballard, S.B. Ballard Construction Co.
Related: A special committee has selected S.B. Ballard Construction Co. as the initial contractor to build five new school buildings through an alternative bidding process, according to emails obtained by The Virginian-Pilot.
Macon Brock, Dollar Tree
Related: Norfolk neighbors frown at possible Dollar Tree store
Trust: This will happen if the Mayor wants it to happen.
Frank T. “Buddy” Gadams, Marathon Development
Related: Norfolk mayor announces more downtown apartments from Gadams
Kemper Consulting Inc.
Related: Kemper Consulting is a Norfolk-based lobbying firm that represents the City of Norfolk (and also, cough/conflict of interest/cough, Virginia Uranium)
Ronald A. Zoby, Ronald Zoby Tours.
Related: The plumbing contractor who is accused of bribing city workers and then overbilling taxpayers by tens of thousands of dollars to pay for the kickbacks is part of a well-connected, longtime Norfolk family that has owned many Hampton Roads businesses.
Deborah Butler, Norfolk Southern; Charles W. Moorman, Norfolk Southern; James A. Squires, Norfolk Southern
Related: Funny how we never hear about how the coal dust is affecting the health of Norfolk citizens.
Those are some personal relationships right there.
This is from two years ago.
This is from last year.
This is from this year.
I wonder, of the people on the list of $2,500 and over donors, how many of them send their children to Norfolk Public Schools?
I wonder, if all of them did, would our public schools be a higher priority for Mayor Fraim?
Public schools are given this little attention, and we’re meant to believe that the City will listen to us regular non-donors/just voters when we give it our feedback?
In other news:
Just get it done, y’all. The future, etc.