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it’s that time again, comrades! if municipal government isn’t your cup of tea, you may wanna mute for the next six hours...

city council met in closed session this afternoon for interviews for the interim city manager. maurice jones is leaving at the end of this month. who will be at the helm next month? maybe we find out tonight!
also on the agenda tonight: finally gonna rename our parks, probably

and the city manager’s response to the shitty and uninformative public briefing we had last week!

wonder why they’re saving this for last? couldn’t possibly be to minimize the number of people still in chambers, right?
assistant city manager mike murphy & acting city attorney lisa robertson are the only folks on the dais. this city can’t seem to keep personnel or show up on time.
meeting called to order with no sign of mike signer. can’t say he’ll be missed.

nikuyah and wes both remained seated during the pledge, which we see and appreciate ✊
assistant city manager mike murphy is exactly as charismatic as his outgoing boss maurice jones. that is: equivalent to a wet paper bag.
he’s introducing this little mini pig parade — the same ones we heard from at the community briefing last week.
mike murphy: “no permit has been approved for any event in emancipation park” but the city is planning for a large gathering regardless.
“we will take a new approach to security around any permitted event in the park.” ok but there isn’t going to be a permitted event so i’m already seeing an issue there, champ.
chief brackney up first: she’s “thankful” that the community “keeps asking those tough questions.”
funny way of showing gratitude 😂
“we have a safety and security protocol that will balance” safety & freedom.
says they will “slowly unroll” the street closures and information to help people decide “how they want to participate”
brackney says there will be traffic restrictions between 9th & ridge mcintire and high & water, “more robustly” restricted parking.
“we understand the tragedies that can occur when you commingle vehicular and pedestrian traffic.”
albemarle county PD up next: “our strategy... our staffing levels have been increased” to facilitate rapid response. “our officers have been advised that they will be working 12 hr shifts throughout this deployment.”
albemarle county police officers have been given “civil unrest” and “additional constitutional law” trainings.
much of the same information we heard at last week’s community briefing.
“the virginia state police is humbled to be a part of this community engagement process.”
please engage with us in the form of a thorough after action report about the failures of last august.
“i’m not prepared to answer that question” the vsp rep says to wes when asked about metal detectors.
vsp: “they will be actively engaging those that are participating” and “keeping the two groups” separated.
“officers down to the lowest level understand that they can take action,” including making arrests.
the virginia state police say they are working on training their officers “on what laws are enforceable.”
what does that mean?
“as you probably know, there was a memorandum of understanding in 1994...”
i appreciate the confidence, but it is perhaps misplaced 🤷‍♀️
you can watch live at home if you’re interested in being quietly enraged

“it’s DEFINITELY what’s best for the city of charlottesville” says a woman who moved here three months ago.
the fire chief says they’ve been meeting biweekly since march.
“we are planning for worst case scenarios.”
“civil disturbance is something communities need to be prepared for.”
wes asks specifically where resources for mental health, overheating, etc will be located that weekend. the response is vague and doesn’t answer the question.
heather suggests neighborhoods have a point person to be the contact between vulnerable populations and the unified command.
if you don’t want to talk to the police, find your neighborhood narc!

kathy is patting them all on the back for “this display of unity” and good communication.
bootlicking bonus round: an old white man in the gallery stands up to announce how grateful he is for the police. SIT DOWN, SIR.
there is some polite clapping from middle aged middle class white folks as the cops exit.
now on to matters by the public. first speaker is talking about restructuring city government to become a strong mayor city with wards (rather than a city manager style of govt with at-large city councilors as we have now)
second speaker is from mountainside senior living in crozet with an update about their memory care program.
third speaker is also signed up to talk about about changing our city’s style of government.
“i have come here tonight to bring democracy to charlottesville.”
“imagine my dismay when i found that charlottesville did not have a democratic government.”
god grant me the confidence of a mediocre white man.
as the timer goes off he confidently says he would be absolutely willing to serve on a task force. incredibly generous offer, sir.
oh yeah, we’re still talking about THE BLASTING ORDINANCE! 💥💥
next speaker is “here to appeal to your roles as stewards of the health of this city” and begins by kissing kathy galvin’s ring.
her concerns are “threefold.” she has A LOT OF CONCERNS!
another speaker talking about changing our city’s form of government. there is a staff report on what this change would entail on tonight’s agenda.
she says there may be difficulty in recruiting and retaining qualified staff in a politicized environment... as opposed to?
“do we want big money spent on local mayoral races?”
(somebody remind me what mike signer spent on his council run?)
the speaker says any change to the city’s charter shouldn’t be changed over a single hearing, that the city should get to vote. it’s my understanding that the state legislature would actually have to make this change.
nikuyah says she did receive $26k in donations to her campaign but it’s clear from her votes that “no one purchased me.”
nikuyah says you have to make sure “you’re not being bamboozled into thinking the change will be beneficial.”
harold folley cedes his time to jim shea, one of the candidates not selected for the civilian review board. he encourages council to look at the way the police (and their atty, former prosecutor denise lunsford) have reacted to the CRB.
“those that oppose accountability and reform are shielding misconduct. they are protecting racists.”
light ‘em up, jim ✊
more blasting talk 💥
this man is the exact opposite of an explosion. he is speaking in an incredible monotone.
i’m so sick of this blasting talk.
ms rosia bringing her concerns about an unsafe street crossing back to council. this seems like a fixable problem, y’all.
she turns to address communications director brian wheeler and says his meetings with reverend edwards are not sufficient, that he does not represent the entire black community, and wheeler should be meeting with the broader activist community.
kathy wants to address the crosswalks at west main street and asks mike murphy to address ms rosia’s concerns.
“i’m not sure why it’s taking so long”
“quite frankly neither am i,” he says.
this speaker says the last council “tried to hit a home run” renaming lee park emancipation park, but it “was a long foul ball.”
he says the name market street park is “inoffensive & safe,” but misleading because there is no market.
oh my god let’s just not name the fucking park
oh that was a long weird pitch for the failed campaign to name it swanson park. sit down.
this speaker asks the city to stop encouraging people to stay home the weekend of A12. if we all stay home, the nazis have won.
“why not be the city council that stands up against white supremacy and stands behind its residents?”
“permits should be denied to nazis and people should be encouraged to fill our public parks.”
“the world is watching. let’s show it what charlottesville can become.”

the gallery claps wholeheartedly, i hear mary carey say “i like her!” from the back row.
“alleys are a tremendous opportunity.”
folks, i have learned a lot about alleys this year.
this local conservative radio host violating my civil rights by making me listen to his boring radio show. please change the station.
wes asks if the ward system might lead to certain neighborhoods’ issues being neglected.
mr ponytail said “the competition for coalition is what drives the representative republic.”
if i wanted to hear this dude talk, i’d listen to his radio show. time’s up.
mary carey says she’s been here since 1946 but it seems it matters more what special interest group you belong to these days.
mary carey tossing out names of real heroes of the charlottesville community, turning around to scold the man who spoke in favor of naming the park swanson park.
she says she feels for the people from belmont who are upset about the blasting, but where were they when her community was suffering?
“people in crescent halls, on hardy drive... they need help, too!”
she finishes powerfully, the gallery applauds... mayor walker says “ok, so um... we’re gonna take a break.”
brief recess.
bit of a long recess.... nearly half an hour and just showing signs of starting back up soon.
signer has now graced us with his presence, a little over two hours late.
asst city manager mike murphy missing from the dais now as we start back up.
now reading the consent agenda
nikuyah motions to pull items D, E, and F from the consent agenda. wes says, jokingly & exasperatedly, “we’re gonna be here until 1am!”
kathy says “i don’t think i have the votes, but i cannot vote for item H” and wants to pull it from the consent agenda so she can vote for the rest of it.
heather wants to make a comment on, but not pull, the item about item G, the parking modified zoning amendment.
not a long of consent to the consent agenda tonight...
kathy says the drive through item, item H, is not in keeping with the planning commission’s recommendations or the land use map.
she’s scolding us about fast food & obesity and cars and global warming.
heather motions to waive the second reading of item J, the blasting ordinance. wes seconds.
mike pipes up and says he supports kathy’s motion to pull item H.
some confusion about what they are voting about, but they unanimously vote to waive the 2nd reading on J.
a lot of confusion and crosstalk. council clerk paige rice says she can note kathy’s objection to H without pulling it. they’re going to vote on the full agenda (minus the 3 nikuyah wants to pull) with kathy’s exception to H noted.
unanimous vote in favor.
this is hilariously disorganized, dense, and bureaucratic. in awe of how absurd this is.
mike now making a confusing, rambling comment about drive through windows.
wes motions to table the discussion of the drive through issue for further discussion another night... but they already voted on the consent agenda with it included?
***there is no city council meeting the first monday of august. this is our last city council meeting before august 12th.***
kathy motions to table it until the meeting at the end of august, which passes 3-2.
they voted unanimously to pass the consent minus the 4 items they pulled.
they will revisit the three items nikuyah pulled at the END of tonight’s meeting and the item kathy pulled next month. now it’s 9pm and we’re on to the actual first agenda item.
acting city atty robertson recommends they approve the release of the stormwater management agreement. i didn’t read this part of the agenda packet... no takers on the public hearing for this. kathy moves they adopt the ordinance, heather seconds. no discussion.
they voted unanimously... but no vote actually required. this is just the first of two readings. bit overzealous.
oh we talkin’ ‘bout alleys again, y’all
hey, sorry, the word zoning makes me zone out. it’s a problem i’m working on but honestly i gotta pace myself.
no takers on the public hearing, no discussion, no vote - just the first of two readings.
moving on.
lisa robertson says of this agenda item, “i would recommend that you approve it because you don’t really have an alternative.”
a local attorney at the mic now for the public hearing. she asks if she can show them a 15 slide presentation... they aren’t into it.
lisa robertson says she should email them the slides, which they can review before the second reading of this ordinance. nikuyah wants to go ahead and watched the presentation, which will take “7-10 minutes.” kathy agrees. wes & mike are exasperated.
and we are watching this lady’s slideshow now. the timer just went off. apparently there are no rules for some people.
is this a conspiracy to bore everyone into going home before the park renaming, public event permit guidelines update, and consent agenda items D, E, &gEE9
of course kathy wants to fucking chat about it
several public comments on this issue, hearing now closed. mike motions to adopt. kathy seconds. no discussion, no vote tonight.
now on to the park renaming.
“it’s not a scientifically valid sample of public opinion” says brian wheeler of the resurvey based on the results of the previous survey.
mayor walker says dr holly edwards’ family did NOT want her name associated with the park, which was suggested earlier on in this process
both wes & nikuyah had hoped for more meaningful names. wes says “when we choose neutral names, when we choose easy names, it allows us to not truly deal with the issues that we’ve had.”
“if that’s the will of the people, so be it.”
“i hear you councilor bellamy, and i also have heard the public several times as well.”
kathy, please stop. just entirely stop.
she says the names can always be changed again later. let’s just change them every six months forever.
heather moves to rename the parks the top choices from the survey, market street park and court square park. kathy seconds. carries 4-1 with wes dissenting.
now on to a report & discussion on a strong mayor system of government
wes says the people deserve to directly elect the mayor, even within the “weak mayor” system we currently have.
why does heather always seem like she’s about to cry
apparently newport news has a very similar model to charlottesville, except with a directly elected mayor (who still has a largely ceremonial role/no real executive or administrative power)
“it’s not an all or nothing sort of thing. there’s a lot of nuance,” says the staff member.
it’s possible to have a mayor with veto power or who has additional sway over the budget process.
wes: the first step should be to ask the general assembly to allow us to make these changes because if they say no, it’s for nothing
city atty robertson: they’re unlikely to give broad permission, you have to work through exactly what you want & then ask
i think i’m getting bursitis in my right middle finger from holding my phone. this is a workplace injury.
nikuyah says, coyly, that maybe the solution is just hiring a city manager who is more open to what they want.
“maybe some of the concerns would be addressed” if the city manager was “treating the council-management relationship as a team”
she just called maurice the fuck out, y’all.
nikuyah says “most of the conversations about qualifications” have been directed at her, that we wouldn’t be hearing the same kind of discussions about someone else in that seat.
she says a strong mayor system wouldn’t necessarily fix our problems. that the government we have isn’t working for the people but this may not be the solution people are making it out to be.
“we’re operating within a context.” mike, that’s deep.
mike took a wrong turn and thinks he’s in a lecture hall in front of impressionable young poli sci students.
after speaking for seven uninterrupted minutes, mike says “just a couple more things...”
nikuyah gave me a withering look for my snort of derision.
mike says he favors a strongER mayor but not a strong mayor.
kathy is VERY CONCERNED that this is distracting us from the task at hand, “we must find an excellent city manager.”
(she’s right)
wes points out that this discussion predates jones as city manager, this isn’t just about the job he did. (but come on, that’s a huge part of this particular iteration of this conversation)
mike asks paige rice if the “our town” town halls are starting up again soon, wants to have structured prompts (like this issue) for them (he doesn’t say: rather than just hearing complaints).
paige says they’re set to start up again concurrent with the new school year.
wes calls our current style of government “outdated, kinda like those statues.”
kathy: “we might consider having a task force look at it.”
wes: “i’m tired of task forces.”
nikuyah urges folks to think about this long term, without her in mind. “i’m here now,” but this change is for the long haul.
brief recess before the rest of the agenda (don’t forget we have three items pulled off the consent agenda to tack onto the end here, too)
that “actually five minute recess” lasted thirteen minutes. we’re going to die here.
i wish i’d brought a blanket. remind me next month, ok?
just the first of two readings on the appropriation of $50k to the mountainside senior living memory care unit. no vote tonight.
unanimous vote in favor of item 9, something about alleys.
now on to the first of two readings on amending the city’s special events ordinance. with no meeting the first week of august, they aren’t going to be able to pass this before the 12th unless they waive the second reading tonight?
lisa robertson says they’ve reviewed use of the stadium approach in many other localities.
they realize many events take place where there is not necessarily a permit, which effects their ability to set up security & “safety zones” ahead of time.
the ordinance would allow for banning “restricted items” from designated areas set up by police, whether or not there is a permitted event (?)
heather: “we would waive a second reading?”
lisa: “that’s right.”
unanimous motion to waive it, heather motions they adopt the ordinance, mike seconds, no discussion, carries 4-1 with nikuyah dissenting.
that’s the entire agenda. now circling back to the three items pulled off the consent agenda a few hours ago
nikuyah has questions about what kinds of situations the city would be retaining outside counsel for, how council would be notified.
robertson says it would allow council to direct her to seek outside consultation.
heather motions to adopt, kathy seconds. passes unanimously.
nikuyah asks how council would be updated on the plans of the director of emergency management between now and august 31st
(this person is typically the city mgr, but with jones’ departure this is complicated a bit)
robertson this would allow the director of emergency management to “sign agreements” in an emergency, when there is no time for proper channels.
“a lot of things could fall under this reaolution...” nikuyah is worried about the power this would put in the hands of the interim city manager.
the interim city manager will be the director of emergency management during the anniversary of A12. this resolution gives this yet-unnamed person a great deal of power during what may be a significant civil disturbance.
mikey still has hurt feelings that he didn’t get read into all the security plans last year. he wants to write that into the resolution as a requirement.
lisa robertson clarifies that council has the ability to revoke any agreement entered into by the director of emergency management by voting in a new resolution.
“but these things move very quickly,” mike says. cites the decision to invoke a curfew last year (i’d forgotten about that!)
they are adding language to the resolution that council will be notified any time the power conferred by it is executed.
the resolution passes unanimously but i can’t help but note that nikuyah’s vote came in a few beats after everyone else’s. she seems to have some lingering reservations.
now the third of nikuyah’s three pulls from the consent agenda: discretionary funding to nonprofits
mike (signer) asks mike (murphy) why an outside consultant is necessary. he says it definitely is, unless they have concerns, in which case they can probably do it without one. so...?
motion to maintain funding for currently funded projects at the 2019 level, carries 5-0.
and now on to an ordinance? i thought we were done! heather says “we’ve got a couple items under other business.”
some dudes in suits presenting the CPC settlement
“the water street garage is gonna continue to operate under the condominium regime.”
i have no context for this years’-long legal battle. this town is complicated, y’all.
mike motions to accept the settlement in the lawsuit.
kathy seconds. carries 5-0.
there is one more item - an ordinance to amend section 2-41 of the city code: place & time of regular city council meetings.
amendment would allow council to cancel any regular meeting of city council. there is no public hearing requirement.
nikuyah: “based on the events that we are preparing for...” she asks if they should move this vote to september.
aha, this amendment is about folks’ VACATIONS. jesus christ.
kathy absolutely cannot reschedule her vacation because she already coordinated with out of state family. heather nervously says she could come back early.
“this is particularly bothersome to one person,” lisa says in response to mike’s question about whether this is really necessary.
mike wants to change the language to open it up to broader control about adding or moving meetings. to change the meeting schedule “as we see fit,” adds heather.
apparently the missing august meeting is historical precendent, not ordinance.
mike murphy adds in that it’s already the case that the council can, with adequate public notice, call a meeting at any tome.
resolution amended to “cancel or move the date” of any public meeting.
heather motions to waive the second reading, carries 5-0. heather motions to adopt the ordinance, carries 5-0 without further discussion.
and now we’re back to matters by the public. seems like a couple folks held on to the bitter end.
first speaker says she agrees council deserves time off, but not holding another meeting before A12 is not a good idea.
next speaker asks if the city has looked into buying or leasing sufficient jersey barriers or water barriers to block off vehicle traffic during events. he cites the officer who “got scared” on A12 and vacated her post, opening 4th st to the vehicular attack that killed heather.
nikuyah greets the third speaker with “good morning.”
at least we have a sense of humor about this hell.
the speaker says they don’t come to these meetings anymore. that they have PTSD from being manhandled by police at last year’s klan rally. but they have concerns about the permitting ordinance change - it puts too much decision making power in police hands.
“i just don’t understand why you keep putting more power into their hands, why you keep trusting them.”
“i urge you to think a little bit more. think about what you’re doing when you say ‘VSP, you’re gonna take charge.’”
these decisions hurt counterprotesters, not nazis
wes teases brandon collins, but he does have a closing public comment for us.
“city staff does need to stand with us.”
“it’s about getting in the streets and saying to these knuckleheads, ‘go home.’”
brandon urges folks with more privilege to be in the streets, telling nazis they aren’t welcome here.
brandon also argues against a ward system — it dilutes political power & has a lot of room for corruption. “power gets congealed in these neighborhoods” and “ultimately i think poor people would lose out.”
no further public comment. heather moves they convene a closed session on appointments for the position of city attorney. (are they meeting NOW? damn.)
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