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council is still in that closed session... they seem to need a lot of legal advice lately.
tonight’s charlottesville city council meeting will start momentarily. it’s livestreaming here:

heather hill makes a motion to move this agenda item to the consent agenda, galvin seconds. reading the consent agenda, with this added, now.
mayor walker has a question about consent agenda item F, about the supplemental rental assistance program. she wants the report to be annual rather than every 24 months, and for the report to indicate whether the property is in the city or the county.
recall from this discussion at a may meeting that some families receiving supplemental rental assistance have been unable to find housing in the city and receive assistance to live in the county.

mayor walker’s amendment passes. they try to move on, forgetting to ask for public comment on the consent agenda, but nancy won’t let them forget! the original agreement stipulates 15 housing vouchers for homeless individuals, which she asks about the status of.
(is that high pitched whining sound coming from communications director brian wheeler’s laptop? that can’t be healthy for the computer)
on to city manager’s response to matters by the public from the last meeting. they’re going to make some improvements to the turn into 5th street station by the waffle house.
they determined there are 40 locations on city property that are single stall restrooms. 36 would need signage changes to be gender neutral bathrooms. they’re still trying to determine the cost to make those updates.
galvin says they recently received an email from a visitor to the city about the filthy state of a bus transfer station. city manager dr richardson says they will make an effort to better maintain the area.
walt’s up first for matters by the public. he will be talking about the ABRT process but starts by saying he supports moving the lewis & clark statue - we need to do better when it comes to depicting women & people of color (the statue depicts a cowering sacagawea)
walt says overhauling the ABRT process (the process by which nonprofits receive city funding) is an equity issue. mayor walker’s focus on how clients are being served is the right one & should perhaps be extended to looking at how city services are being received.
the next speaker isn’t present & a man has stepped forward claiming she can’t be here & asked him to speak in her stead. technically that isn’t allowed - someone can CEDE their time to another person, but they have to be present. sorry bud.
mary carey up next. “she should’ve been the one standing tall. they should’ve been the ones kneeling to her,” she says about the disrespectful depiction of sacagawea and lewis & clark. she is in favor of removing the statue from the main st intersection.
mary carey says councilor bellamy never did get back to her after a conversation in december about PHAR & CRHA merging. she says CRHA should be held accountable for people “being terrorized” by staff at crescent halls.
mary carey says the lewis & clark statue should be replaced with a monument to vinegar hill - the black neighborhood that was razed to develop that area.
mary carey says when public housing residents call PHAR, “they can’t get anybody.” when they call CHRA, “they get snubbed.” she asks wes what they’re supposed to do.
next commenter is a member of the crow creek sioux tribe. he’s reading a letter from the director of the sacagawea interpretive cultural & educational center in idaho which asks council to allow sacagawea’s descendants to have input on the fate of the statue.
the next speaker says he has had a very difficult time getting in contact with local government officials. he has been trying for months to get a meeting with the chief of police about selective enforcement of handicapped parking violations.
he says a limo driver nearly hit him and his two service dogs but was unable to press charges because the officer lied to the magistrate.
“the disabled community is, quite frankly, ticked off.”
he says a video related to his comments has 90,000+ views - if anyone knows what video he’s referring to, i’d like to see it! i can’t find it right this minute.
independent candidate for city council paul long is up now to talk about public transit. he says the issue is too big for the three minutes he has for public comment and instead passes council a stack of printed out articles.
myra anderson, a local activist particularly on issues of mental health access, isn’t here when her name is called. harold folley up next, talking about the police civilian review board.
he has a lot of the same questions i have! what’s the path forward? when will council vote on the draft bylaws? will there be a public forum? can the CRB get extra time if they need it?
council has the opportunity to respond to each public comment. they’ve chosen to say absolutely nothing to harold or answer any of his questions about the fate of the CRB.
this woman started her comment by asking council to make a proper monument to local civil rights activist drewary brown, then segued into her view that the sacagawea statue is good, actually, because it looks like she is “multitasking” and “gathering roots and herbs.”
wheeler’s computer is making a really horrible, continuous high pitched noise and i’m really not enjoying it. someone please call IT.
independent candidate for council john hall is proposing some kind of urban camping solution to homelessness.
democratic candidate for city council michael payne is addressing the brand new update to the downtown parking garages. they are phasing out the human attendants in favor of automated payment machines.
payne says “there are community members who are concerned about how we are treating the workers” “who actually make this city run” which is met with applause & snaps.
reverend don gathers up now. he says the last thing he wants to be doing is standing here talking to council about statues (he was a member of the blue ribbon commission on the statues a few years back)
gathers says before council empanels yet another commission, they need to talk to the shoshone people. if they do end up putting together another commission, it must have indigenous people on it.
“we can’t overlook the fact that he was indeed a slave holder. he was indeed a racist. and he was a rapist,” gathers says about the need to take a critical look at the legacy of thomas jefferson (removing his birthday from the city holiday calendar is on tonight’s agenda)
the next speaker says jefferson’s birthday should be “left alone,” saying “for bad ideas to proceed, good people need to do nothing.” my dude thinks he’s some kind of hero standing up for a dead rapist.
ms rosia is up next & thanks dr richardson for his responsiveness to her concerns.
now democratic council candidate sena magill thanks council for restriping 8th & preston.
an old white man read a passage from a confederate soldier’s memoir about how awful liberation day was, as an argument against replacing jefferson’s birthday with a liberation day celebration on the city holiday calendar. sore losers, 150 years later.
tanesha hudson approached the mic, mayor walker says, “i didn’t call you, is there anyone else?” which is met with laughter from everyone in the audience. tanesha thanks detective mooney for being so responsive to her calls.
correction: wheeler says it is NOT his computer and he doesn’t know where the awful sound is coming from

tanesha says if paige rice were black, the issue of her indictment for embezzlement would be a much bigger deal - recalling the way the media framed the story of council credit card usage by wes & nikuyah.
we’re back from recess and getting to the first agenda item - replacing jefferson’s birthday with liberation day on the city holiday calendar.
city attorney john blair did some research on city holidays.
in 1933 there were 5 city holidays on a resolution. in 1945, council passed a resolution recognizing 8 city holidays, including april 13th as jefferson’s birthday. 1971 was the first year city holidays were recognized in the city code.
march 3, liberation and freedom day, marks the day union forces came to charlottesville and began the process of liberating enslaved people.
blair is discussing the logistics of how city holidays are marked when they fall on a weekend. if the holiday is a saturday, the friday before is the city holiday. when it’s sunday, the monday is recognized as the holiday. seems pretty simple.
the issue here is the resolution proposes making march 3 & 4 a holiday. how would it be handled when friday is the 3rd and saturday is the 4th?
albemarle county currently also celebrates april 13th as jefferson’s birthday but they have an upcoming consent agenda item removing it & replacing it with a floating holiday county employees can take any time during a period of several months.
kathy galvin is confused about what a city holiday is. it just means that city employees don’t work on that date (which means city hall is closed).
blair is explaining that our courts do not observe holidays that are only recognized by the city (they follow the state holiday calendar). this is thrilling content.
vice mayor heather hill likes the idea of a floating holiday vs designating a day. mayor walker says “the reason for this proposal is clearly to undo something that has been put in place.”
i think what she means is that it isn’t about giving city employees a random day off - it’s about what we choose to celebrate. we’ve been celebrating a slaver’s birthday. we should celebrate the date enslaved people were liberated.
mayor walker: “part of this work that we say that we’re doing” is “making a strong statement about why we’re doing it.”
liberation & freedom day celebrates the emancipation of 14,000 local people.
mayor walker: “it’s about sending a message and honoring individuals that have not been honored.”
“and being intentional about it,” wes adds.
every day is thomas jefferson day in charlottesville. we don’t need to close the government on his birthday.
wes bellamy: “when you see an individual plastered across this city...” who didn’t think black people had the ability to emote. he raped a woman he owned.
wes: “those two things don’t add up - you can’t express to me that you want people to feel empowered,” while honoring a man who “felt these things about people who look like me.”
kathy galvin wants to make a statement. “it also is important to think about what thomas jefferson has done.” (tanesha says “girl, BYE!”)
galvin reads aloud from jefferson’s stature for religious freedom.
wow yeah thank you kathy for standing up for methodists who were persecuted in the 18th century. truly the real victims here!
kathy thinks it’s really ironic that the man who gave us the freedom to question our holiday schedule is now not going to be recognized on his birthday. i can’t handle this.
tanesha got up to leave, saying “you’re never gonna get it. that’s why you lost.”
mayor walker says we should talk about what those 14,000 people who were liberated thought about jefferson. let’s talk about lynching. let’s talk about the bellies of black women, slit open. black men hanging from trees.
walker: “let’s talk about founding fathers never thinking about black people when they were creating these laws,” that only applied to white male land owners. “i can’t even understand how we’re having a conversation, still,” about what he did right.
“just see it through our eyes. just see what we see,” mayor walker says. she says even tonight, white men and women said disrespectful things about portrayals of indigenous people, with an indigenous person in the room trying to speak his truth.
“of the 600 people jefferson owned, he only formally freed 7,” walker says, which is from monticello’s own website.
“we cannot wait for people to dream up a different world.”
i should not have the ability to be surprised by kathy galvin’s absolute tactlessness and racism but i somehow find myself truly stunned at the words that came out of her mouth!
heather is really worried about changing the holiday calendar without input from city staff. why would staff be sad that one holiday was replaced with two, a month earlier?
heather is talking a mile a minute and gesticulating wildly. she seems frantic. just let this one go, girl. you don’t want to be on kathy’s side on this issue.
walker says that in 100 years when someone goes through the city archives, she wants them to see that the city of charlottesville stopped celebrating the birthday of a slaver and started celebrating the emancipation of 14,000 people.
“how can we heal or even have any unity if we can’t even make a decision about a day?” wes bellamy asks. he adds that staff are unlikely to turn down an additional holiday.
“black folks have been inconvenienced their whole lives,” wes says.
“whenever we have these difficult conversations,” we want to study it, make panels and commissions, and draw it out.
mike signer is talking and i’m just thinking about this

pretty weird that three white people aren’t sure if it’s important or worthwhile to celebrate the liberation of 14,000 black people and don’t want to hear what their two black colleagues have to say.
“we’re in a society where white people control almost everything,” walker says. she doesn’t think signer’s idea of keeping the holiday but adding context to it is a good compromise.
“these kind of symbolic measures, they matter a great deal” in sending a message to a community, wes says.
“doing away with thomas jefferson’s birthday doesn’t do away with the history. that birthday is still here,” kathy’s says. “it is the american story.” she says we should “tell the whole story, the good and the bad.”
kathy thinks we need to keep the holiday so he’s not forgotten... nikuyah: “between his birth and 1945, did anyone forget about thomas jefferson?” kathy says she doesn’t know. i can’t handle this.
wes says there is absolutely no way to forget about thomas jefferson in this city. she’s using the same arguments people use when they talk about confederate monuments. we don’t need statues & holidays to remember. those are celebrations, not history lessons.
wes: “these are the kinds of steps we have to take” if we want healing. “healing isn’t always easy.”
“we have to decide” if we want to do what’s right or if we want to do what makes the majority feel good.
heather hill needs to stop talking.
city manager dr richardson says this decision is up to council. heather can’t stop holding onto the idea that staff need to be surveyed. (i have never in my life been surveyed about what holidays my employer recognizes)
heather says she “just wants to give staff flexibility.” they... don’t currently have flexibility about what holidays are celebrated? just admit you don’t care about black history, heather.
signer says he has “misgivings” about “symbolic actions” but he does support the change.
“it seems a lot to create a full weekend,” though, signer says. he wants to make the new holiday just a single day, and not set it to the actual DATE, but have it always be on a particular monday. (the current holiday is always on april 13th)
heather says she agrees with signer that it should be one day and not tied to a specific date so it’s not in the middle of the week. she still thinks employees should be given a floating holiday to take whenever they want.
kathy can’t let go of retaining jefferson’s birthday as a holiday, too, “to tell the full story of thomas jefferson.”
mayor walker asks galvin if she’s in support of one holiday in march and one in april, and because there is no support for keeping the april holiday, if galvin would support two holidays in march? she would not.
kathy proposes making march 3 a paid holiday and keeping april 13th as a holiday but not a paid day off. no one agrees.
wes pushes back on the idea of making it just one day, he’s in favor of keeping both march 3 & 4. signer says it feels “more symmetrical” to get rid of one day and add one, “that way we can say there’s no budgetary impact.”
dr richardson says he is concerned about people who work at the rec centers, part time employees. “oh, you’re thinking about us now?” nikuyah asks, smiling dryly. (she is an employee of the city parks & rec department)
kathy cannot let go of celebrating jefferson’s birthday. celebrate it yourself, kathy.
kathy wants to have two separate votes so she can vote to establish the new holiday AND vote to keep the old one. wes says it’s important for the record to show how everyone voted, seemingly in favor of allowing the two separate motions.
john blair asks if they want this on a consent agenda. wes says he wants it as an action item so the record will clearly show the vote. there will be two separate votes - one to establish liberation and freedom day & one to stop celebrating jefferson’s birthday.
signer wants a staff survey on whether people would prefer a fixed date or setting the holiday to always be a certain day of the week. wes says it’s important to celebrate it on its proper date. heather is very concerned about getting staff input.
“but kathy, that defeats the purpose,” nikuyah says.
“you don’t have support for that,” wes says.
and kathy is still whining to the city attorney about keeping a dead man’s birthday in the city code.
kathy is gonna draft her own resolution about kissing a dead slaver’s ass.
excuse me @jack, i’m trying to work here.
no vote tonight. on to the issue of the sacagawea statue!
they’re asking for $75,000 to hire a consultant for public engagement on how people feel about this racist statue.
the background on this starts on page 93 of this document
mayor walker says it’s “insane” that we need to create another commission “to continue to do this work.”
she asks brian wheeler to pull up an image of “the dignity statue in south dakota.”
it’s beautiful. she says with sculptures like this, you don’t need added context. it honors her.
mayor walker: if something is going to stand in the center of our city, should it be that [the statue we currently have] or should it be something like this [the image projected of the statue in south dakota]?”
heather hill read an email from a descendant of sacagawea who says she hopes the statue & contextualizing plaque will go back up after the intersection redesign.
nikuyah says if the options were to remove it and replace it with nothing, she understands wanting to keep it. but they should have the option of participating in the process of finding a more authentic representation to go in its place.
mike signer says it’s too hard to do new statues.
let’s just keep the shitty racist stuff, it’s too hard to do better - mike signer, former mayor of the capital of the resistance.
kathy says we do need to talk to native american people about this. heather asks if that is going to cost $75,000. kathy says that sounds like too much.
mayor walker suggests inviting native people to a special session & listening to them & deciding after that.
can someone please show me a mock-up of what this intersection redesign is supposed to look like? how is there going to be a whole park full of plaques? it’s a median.
the current redesign just involves moving this statue about 20 feet. that’s still the plan. any discussion about maybe moving it all the way away would have to come after some nebulous public engagement process (determining what that would look like is where we’re stuck now)
you know how in sim city you have to build parks and statues and stuff to improve the happiness of your residents? the game lacks the real world counterpoint: statues and parks that make residents UNHAPPY.
maybe hell is actually a city council meeting that lasts forever and it’s just neoliberal white boomers wringing their hands about how undoing hundreds of years of systemic racism is too hard and maybe we should do a study and empanel a commission.
VDOT says they would consider allowing the city to decouple the statue from the project but if i’m being entirely honest i’m not 100% sure what that means. sounds like it means they can’t blame VDOT & accompanying funds for their refusal to do anything about the statue though.
“we have an opportunity to be adding to history, not removing,” says a man associated with the project (missed his name & job, sorry)
he says at past public input sessions about the streetscape project, no one wanted to remove the statue but people did ask what could be done to highlight york (the enslaved man owned by william clark who participated fully in the expedition but is never credited)
the crow creek sioux man who spoke earlier is at the podium again. he says the shoshone people were saddened by the statue.
“it’s probably the worst statue of sacagawea in the country. if you do the research, you probably won’t find a more demeaning one.”
“let’s work with indigenous knowledge and the people that have it,” he says. if we are truly honoring a foraging sacagawea, build a program about foraging for native plants.
the statue should be moved to the lewis & clark exploratory center. they’ve already agreed to take it. there are ample opportunities for context, education, and programming there.
of the original reception of the statue by indigenous peoples: they did their best” to make do with the statue, although it saddened them. “but we have a chance to do better,” he says.
a local resident of native american heritage was unable to make it in time for public comment. wes asks if she can speak now. mayor walker allows it.
she says her children have asked her to pull over so they can look at sacagawea. “they wanted to know why she was scared. and why she was sad.” they looked at this representation of a native american woman and they cried.
when you go to a museum, you see all stages of history. when a city puts a statue in a public place, it is a statement of how they feel. now. about people who live in that place.
“i remember how that started, that story. sacagawea was not a woman who fell in love with a man. she was trafficked. she was a missing or murdered indigenous woman,” her voice falters as she tells them about the missing and murdered indigenous women who will never be found.
mayor walker emphasizes that if we are asking native americans to come here and speak, we need to take care of their expenses. we pay consultants all the time. i’m grateful she is ensuring these people will be compensated for their time and knowledge.
mike signer is very anxious about the idea of committing to paying indigenous people for coming to explain their history and their pain.
mayor walker says we need to center their voices and show what we truly value. we can’t just send an online survey and then go back to listening to whoever sends the most emails.
john blair is reading the text of the resolution. it sounds like we’re settling on earmarking $75k for this engagement & information gathering process, with the expectation that it will cost less. moved & seconded. passes unanimously.
item 4 was moved to the consent agenda, so we’re on to #5, the ABRT revision.
(background starts on page 116 of he packet charlottesville.org/home/showdocum… )
mayor walker says it’s more important that people are being served by these nonprofits than it is that nonprofits are comfortable with the changes being made.
hill notes that re-entry & mental health are two things that council has worked on that aren’t represented in the priorities listed here. galvin asks if they can be added. dimock says they can add priorities but considers mental health to be covered by the healthcare priority.
walker suggests a program that bridges the gap for people who get a better job & lose their public benefits — these people lose benefits before they start to see their new income. she proposes a program that covers things like childcare expenses for a few months.
“there’s not enough resources to say yes to everybody,” dimock says, both about the services provided and the funding for the agencies providing them.
“we haven’t heard from people who are being served” about whether this funding is even doing what we hope it does, mayor walker says. we keep centering the voices of the nonprofits who obviously hope to continue getting city funding.
it’s wild that it’s controversial at all that we should check in with the CLIENTS of these nonprofits to see whether the nonprofits are using this city money to actually serve the community rather than just relying on reports from executive directors who want more funding.
they’re amending the priorities to include “community safety/criminal justice” as a priority (to cover re-entry services and domestic violence shelters)
mayor walker doesn’t agree this is necessary, but the proposal currently includes a requirement that every nonprofit currently receiving funding will get some funding in the next cycle? even if it’s determined under the new guidelines that they wouldn’t otherwise get it?
dimock says they don’t want to “rip the band aid off” all at once right away.
dimock says staff are not currently prepared to make any kind of determination about whether an agency NEEDS the funding they are applying for from the city. that isn’t currently a part of the evaluation process.
the resolution passed unanimously. ten minute recess before the last two agenda items & closing public comment.
time for a powerpoint about scooters
there have been about 120,000 rides, approximately 700 per day, and 20,000 unique riders during the pilot so far.
50% of rides end near UVA, which the staffer says is “not surprising.”
there have been 32 reported ER visits related to the scooters, “some have been fairly serious.”
the presenter says they’d like to see more equitable deployment of the scooters, but by midday, most of the scooters are near UVA, making them inaccessible to neighborhoods.
of 3000 survey responses between march and may, 43% had ridden a scooter, 56% had not. 22% of people who had used a scooter said it was “just for fun.”
56% of scooter users would have walked if not for the scooter, meaning it wasn’t replacing some other mode of travel.
staff recommends that the pilot be extended through december and the fleet be expanded to not more than 300 scooters. they also recommend hiring a part time staff member. they are unable to provide a dollar amount for what that hire would cost.
nikuyah asks if there have been any criminal charges related to the scooters. the staffer says his understanding is that the company doesn’t pursue it when scooters are damaged, vandalized, or missing.
heather hill says there are rumors about them being thrown off buildings.
galvin is concerned about the environmental impact of the devices, particularly the toxicity of the batteries.
the resolution to extend the scooter pilot program passes unanimously.
now a short powerpoint update about the participatory budgeting pilot.
staff recommend the participatory budgeting pilot be done in the ridge street neighborhood. my main takeaway of this slide, though, is that ONE QUARTER OF CHARLOTTESVILLE CITY RESIDENTS LIVE IN POVERTY.
participatory budgeting requires participation. it’s going to take a lot of community involvement for this to work & be worthwhile.
assistant city manager leslie beauregard is honest when she says “with $100,000, i’m not sure what we’re going to be able to do.”
(i was in cambridge over the weekend & saw a ton of signs and banners advertising their million dollar participatory budgeting project!!)
that was just a report. no action needed. a call for “other business” brought alex ikefuna from neighborhood development services back to the mic.
“this is the last thing i want to be talking about,” signer says. it’s highly irregular to have something this complex brought during “other business” - NDS needs to have applications in by 7/1 for millions of dollars in funding for signalization of an intersection on east high
signer & galvin both express discomfort with a conversation about prioritizing an intersection of preston & grady vs one on cherry being conducted over email. these decisions affect neighborhoods and should be on the agenda.
mayor walker says she trusts NDS and is in support of them submitting the pre-application. wes agrees.
ikefuna says “staff did not make this decision in a vacuum,” re: the recommendation to VDOT about preston & grady vs cherry & 5th. “the decision making window was too short” for the kind of public deliberation galvin & signer are talking about.
“i don’t love this level of stuff at the end of the night. i’ve reached my limit,” heather hill says.
(maybe if we’d spent less time debating whether or not to celebrate a slaver’s birthday it wouldn’t be so late!)
walt approaches the mic for closing matters by the public, but the look of exhaustion and utter disgust on heather’s face turned him around. he says he’ll just send them an email. meeting adjourned.
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