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
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
[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
The Disney version of Davy Crockett liked to say, “Be sure you’re right. Then go ahead.” Certainly, that is the preferred mode of operation at PortsmouthCityWatch.org, but when objective documentation is unavailable and a train is moving down the track in what looks like the wrong direction, action is preferable to paralysis. For that reason we are reaching out to the Portsmouth citizenry in advance of a special meeting of the school board on June 27, 2016. Continue reading
In reviewing the agenda for the upcoming council work session and regular meeting of June 14, I am deeply dismayed that no briefing is scheduled regarding the request for proposals the city was to have issued for municipal waste disposal services post 2018. Citizens’ comments on this matter over the past few months, both at SPSA board and council meetings, have demonstrated that our community is interested and concerned about the final decision. For council to have put the original proposal from SPSA back on the agenda without offering any sort of explanation from the city administration about how we have returned to square one is disrespectful of the public’s right to know. I ask, then, that you reflect on and reconsider your way forward. At a minimum before any final action, the city management team should provide the public a written explanation of available options considered and the reasons for their rejection or acceptance. As the citizens of Portsmouth will be bound by the SPSA Use and Support Agreement until at least June 30, 2027, we should have enough information in hand before the agreement is signed on our behalf to know that it will best serve the public interest.
In seven days city council will likely be making one of the biggest decisions of the year and another that could affect us on multiple levels for at least two decades. The first and more predictable of these is adoption of the annual budget. The second is whether to approve a pair of post-2018 refuse disposal agreements with the Southeastern Public Service Authority (SPSA).
A lot can happen in a week in Portsmouth, which makes prognostication a challenge, even for the best crystal ball readers. Going by the published budget calendar and a fairly consistent historical trend, though, we have a reasonable expectation that council will vote on May 10 to adopt the FY 2017 budget in one form or another. With no overt tax or fee increases proposed, it should be a rather “wham-bam-thank you, ma’am” portion of the agenda. Surely, no flashpoints emerged at the public hearing last week, as evidenced by the relative scarcity of speakers at the citizens’ podium during the appointed time. Continue reading
Portsmouth has recently completed a round of Budget Community Engagement Meetings, which presented useful information on the city’s various programs. In gathering attendees’ responses to budgetary questions, the City took an important first step towards becoming more open and responsive to Portsmouth’s citizenry. The more citizens feel engaged in and important to the process, the more likely they will support the city’s efforts on their behalf.
However, spending for all these programs requires funding and there was little discussion of the City’s ongoing economic development plans. It seems evident that an overriding priority must be creative and continuing economic development, shared regularly, and as fully as possible, with the public. Without courageous and tenacious efforts to revitalizing business in the city, Portsmouth will never have sufficient funds to meet its obligations laid out in recent meetings. Such efforts will help preserve our current population of residents, and bring new residents to live, work and spend in our city. Following are some important ways to keep us moving forward. Continue reading
For those as tired as I am of hearing political opportunists exploit the fears of our citizenry, a full-page ad on page 7 of the January 4, 2016, Virginian-Pilot was a sight for sore eyes. Ministers, rabbis, imams, community groups, and numerous citizens pledged to stand together against intolerance in its many manifestations. Not only were we happy to see it, but my wife and I were glad that the sponsors provided an opportunity for more of us to add our names to the initial, impressive list. Continue reading
Although the perpetrator in question is a familiar personage in our city, calling 1-800-Lock-U-Up, the Portsmouth Crime Line number, will not get him off the streets. What he is doing is not a violation of the criminal code. No, it is a time-honored political tradition: robbing Peter to pay Paul. Vice Mayor Paige Cherry’s job description allows him to lighten all of our wallets as long as he does so by city ordinance. Assuming at least three of his council colleagues vote with him this Tuesday evening, that ordinance will result in the imposition of higher vehicle registration fees in our city starting July 1, 2014. Continue reading
PortsmouthCityWatch.org issues an invitation to all residents to bring your video-capable devices to the Portsmouth City Council meeting on Tuesday, January 8. Since, as noted here and elsewhere, council has ordered the taxpayer purchased and maintained cameras in the council chamber turned off when the non-agenda portion of the proceedings commence, they do not have the final word on the matter. The Honorables may think they can act like the rulers of the People’s Republic of China, but though they can “pull the plug” on a few cameras, they can’t turn off the internet search engines, video streaming, or the creative impulses of our citizenry. Let’s let 100 electronic eyes scan the chamber Tuesday night. Charge up those I-phones, Androids, tablets, cameras, and camcorders; take a few sound checks before the gavel goes down; and prepare to show the “deciders” the power of techno-democracy.
Food for thought, Mayor and Council Members: unlike the “house” videographers who don’t pan the council dais during citizen presentations, we will. Your texting, smirking, sidebar conversations, dozing, and other forms of inattention will be on the record for a change. Enjoy the show!
YouTube, here we come!