Publisher’s Notebook: Real Leadership

The following is an eMail message I received from Lt. Governor and Gubernatorial Candidate Ralph Northam in response to this weekend’s events in Charlottesville, VA. I reproduce it here as an example of how real leaders address important issues. It is a welcome contrast to statements from the fake leader occupying the White House.

[Fellow Virginian],

Today, our hearts break: They break for the efforts to bring hate and division to our Commonwealth. They break for the victims of this act of white supremacist terror. They break for the lives lost, and the families grieving now.

I offer my deepest condolences to the families and victims—I know I join many Virginians today praying for the young woman who lost her life in a reckless act of terrorism, and the tragic loss of two Virginia State Police troopers who perished in a helicopter crash outside Charlottesville on Saturday. These brave Virginians are some of the best we have to offer, and my thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones today and in the difficult weeks ahead. Continue reading

Open Letter to School Board re: Summer Retreat Agenda

Among the principles that inform the political philosophy of PortsmouthCityWatch.org, these two are key: 1) conduct the business of the public in public, and 2) afford the public abundant opportunities to weigh in before deciding public policy. We are opposed, therefore, to the Portsmouth School Board taking up during the summer retreat scheduled for today and tomorrow two action items that we believe should be considered in a regular or special meeting. The items in question are the adoption of the revised student code of conduct, item 7.3, and the approval of a contract for transportation services for students with special needs, item 7.4. Continue reading

Open Letter to the Port of Virginia re: Portside

In the course of the FY 2018 budget adoption meeting of the Portsmouth City Council, City Manager Patton stated that our city has requested a grant from the Port of Virginia, the purpose of which is to fund all or a portion of the construction of an entertainment/food and beverage service venue. Although I have not seen the request in writing, I presume that its submission was under the Aid to Local Ports program. I have two main objections to such a request: first, that the city submitted it without requesting public input as to the desirability of such an endeavor, and second, that the project does not meet the requirements for such a grant. As the first issue is self-explanatory, I will elaborate only on the second.

The purpose of the funds requested is to build a venue on the Portsmouth waterfront for food and beverage sales and entertainment. The Aid to Local Ports Policy housed on the Port of Virginia web site, however, contains this central provision: “Funds will be used to support capital needs of publicly-owned ocean, river, and tributary ports and their marine facilities within the Commonwealth whose primary purpose is the flow-through of goods for consumption [emphasis added].”  In my judgment, the request from my city does not meet those criteria. Although under a liberal interpretation, the project in question could fit within the definition of “landside facilities”, the structure proposed is not “for handling and storing waterborne commerce”. Previous success in obtaining a PoVA subsidy to construct a fishing pier, also something of a stretch with regard to the underlying policy, has likely emboldened my city officials to solicit more money for this incompatible use. I would urge those responsible for vetting local requests under the Aid to Local Ports program, therefore, to reject the current application that my city has tendered.

Please let me know if you need additional information.

Yours truly,
Mark Geduldig-Yatrofsky

The Portside Smokescreen

Fans of “A Prairie Home Companion”, that all-weather mainstay of public radio, became well acquainted with the manners and customs of Lake Wobegon, MN, the mythical “little town that time forgot, that the decades cannot improve”. The venerable scribe of Portsmouth, Ms. Ida Kay Jordan, would be right at home there, too, spinning her yarns about fabled Portside-on-the-Elizabeth, the enchanted venue in which, by her account, all people were truly created equal and good times were enjoyed by all. (See her latest homage in the May 7, 2017, edition of the Portsmouth Currents or online at KEEP THE NEW PORTSIDE “SIMPLE, FUN”.) With substantial support from city council for a Portside resurrection and a possible handout from the Virginia Port Authority for some or all of the $750,000 projected cost, she might well see a new structure rise close to where its predecessor stood. Continue reading

Publisher’s Notebook: You Ask; We Respond

As a political activist, I put my name to a lot of petitions, letters to elected officials, and political surveys. One of the last came to me today from the Common Good VA PAC, and the invitation to “leave . . . feedback for Governor McAuliffe” proved irresistible. We believe in telling the truth as we know it, even when it may prove “inconvenient” to the listener. This one will likely fall into that category: Continue reading

Publisher’s Notebook: Open Letter to Council on Filling the Vacancy

The November 21, 2016, resignation of Council Member Danny Meeks presents an opportunity. Under the provisions of our city charter (see Chapter 3 Section 3.04), when a vacancy on that body occurs, the remaining members can appoint someone to fill the seat temporarily. As CM Meeks’s term of office will expire on January 1, 2017, the amount of time the temporary appointee will hold the position is relatively brief. Nonetheless, were council to appoint one of the Council Members-Elect chosen by the voters earlier this month, that person could get her/his feet wet a bit early. In my view, getting a head start on a new job has benefits to both the job holder and her/his constituents. Continue reading

Guest Opinion: Shannon Glover for Mayor Endorsement

[Tracy Link is a small business owner and civicly engaged Portsmouth citizen. She graciously allowed us to share this posting from her Facebook timeline.]

Tonight, my husband, a Cleveland native, is sitting with his remote in hand, flipping channels between the opening Cavs game and the opening World Series game. Like everyone who ever lived in Cleveland, he’s hoping to see it emerge as a City of Champions. But in many ways, it already has. They have improved their economy, attracted some of the best new businesses, fixed much of their crime issues, and started working on being a renaissance city, built for the future out of the ashes of their past. Continue reading

October, and Just Before, Surprises

In national politics, the “October Surprise” is some headline-grabbing revelation about a candidate in a high-profile race in the month before an election. The news, usually negative,  is expected to change the outcome of the political contest. Locally, the post-Labor Day “reveal” of People for Portsmouth PAC endorsed candidates and the just-announced Martin Luther King, Jr., Leadership Steering Committee PAC endorsements could be considered in the same category . . . almost. In the cases of our hometown PACs, many of the candidates getting the nods from the “powers that be” in the African- and European-American elites were totally predictable (marked TP below). Some were reasonably predictable (RP). Others were complete shockers (CS). Asterisks (*) denote special cases. See if you agree. Continue reading

City Council Candidate Forum, September 10, 2016

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Portsmouth Taxpayer Alliance Co-chair and Forum Moderator Pat Simons

The Portsmouth Taxpayer Alliance hosted a forum for city council candidates in place of their regular monthly business meeting. Although invitations went out to all ten candidates, seven attended: Rev. Leon J. Boone, Mr. Nathan J. Clark, Mr. Mark A. Geduldig-Yatrofsky, Ms. Lisa L. Lucas-Burke, Council Member Elizabeth M. Psimas, Ms. S. C. “Cathy” Revell, and former Council Member Ray A. Smith, Sr. The candidates had two minutes for both opening and closing statements and up to one-and-half minutes per response to a series of wide-ranging questions submitted in writing by those in attendance. The video record of the forum at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSDUcRtKmWg. The running time is about an hour and twenty-seven minutes. (Videography by Mr. Peter Olanitori for PortsmouthCityWatch.org)

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Candidate Leon J. Boone

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Candidate Nathan J. Clark

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Candidate Mark Geduldig-Yatrofsky

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Candidate Lisa L. Lucas-Burke

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Council Member Elizabeth M. Psimas

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Candidate S. C. “Cathy” Revell

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Candidate Ray A. Smith, Sr.

Publisher’s Notebook: People for Portsmouth Endorsements and Interview

For a long-time advocate of openness in the civic realm, the candidate endorsements by the People for Portsmouth Political Action Committee were epoch making. Many organizations in our city and region — the Martin Luther King, Jr., Leadership Steering Committee, the teachers association, the firefighters’ union, the police association, the realtors’ association, to name a few — select their favorite candidates, bestowing praise and often contributions upon them. Some of these groups vet candidates through a nominally competitive process involving questionnaires and interviews for everyone running; others, anoint their champions in backrooms without any notice to non-members that they are deciding whom to endorse. Whatever the process, as private organizations they are free to choose whomever they like for reasons known only to members of the selection committees. Continue reading