Monday, March 30, 2009

Baby Hiatus

As many of you know, Brooke and I were blessed with a healthy baby boy last Monday about this time. This has been consuming and enjoyable, which is why I have failed to post in the last week. I never thought that looking at my own child would be such a moving and emotional experience, and I love it.

The current budgetary situation with our schools and any additional funding to them from the City is coming to a head in the next week or so, and I will be sure to post as that process moves forward. Thanks for understanding my absence.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Continued Budget Work

This past Monday, City Council continued its work of finding ways to reduce expenditures in the required effort to balance the City's FY2010 budget. As everyone knows, we are experiencing a severe economic contraction that is affecting government, businesses and non-profits, as well as families trying to make ends meet. Tough decisions have to be made, ones that are not fun but required.

As one member of City Council, and as I look through the line items that as a whole make up the entirety of the budget, it is important to me that as we reduce services and eliminate programs, we make an effort to do as little harm to as few people as possible. But there is no doubt, and I fully recognize and understand this, that any reductions or eliminations will negatively impact some citizens. We all wish that the economy was robust and expanding, but as we face the reality of the seriousness of the situation, there is no escaping the fact that we are significantly short in our revenue. Additionally, I believe that it is imperative and responsible for the City to do anything and everything we can to provide the school system additional funds to continue progress that is being made to improve our schools and to avoid unnecessary teacher layoffs.

I hope that anyone with suggestions or other input will contact me via this blog, my email or cell phone. I welcome it. Tough decisions will be made, and there will be unpopular reductions or cuts. These are unavoidable.

But now is the time for City Council to step up, make the tough decisions that have to be made, and show that in times of crisis, leaders can and will step forward and work to carry the City forward. I will do my best to be a part of the team that must work to help continue much of the progress we have made.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The 17th House District

This past Saturday, Del. William Fralin announced that he will not be a candidate for re-election to the Virginia House of Delegates this upcoming election. And as one might expect, jockeying for position began in earnest almost immediately. There are a lot of good folks out there who are considering runs for this seat, including many of my fellow Democratic colleagues.

I continue to be asked about my interest in running for Del. Fralin's seat, so I thought it appropriate to post on my blog to be clear in response to the inquiries: I will not be a candidate for the nomination of my party for the 17th House district.

I am flattered by the encouragement that I have received. It's humbling to have people suggest that I could do a good job representing the 17th in Richmond, but now is simply not the right time for me personally or professionally.

First, Brooke and I, within the next three weeks, are expecting our first child. I want to be around as much as possible to experience and get used to fatherhood and the many wonderful things it will bring to my life. And I want to continue to spend as much time with my wife as she will allow! Undertaking what will certainly be a challenging campaign is something I am not willing to take time to do right now.

The second reason I will not be a candidate is because I feel a responsibility to the citizens that elected me to Roanoke City Council to help as we work through what can be described as nothing less than a fiscal crisis. We are in the midst of trying to figure out how to balance the City's budget while avoiding harm to our schools and other major services. Personally, and I only apply this to me, I am not ready to turn from this task and believe that I have a responsibility to continue working hard on the many issues affecting our citizens. We have a bright future ahead of us, and again, the time necessary on the campaign trail is more than I am willing to commit at this time and in the midst of preparing the City's FY2010 budget.

I certainly wish whomever decides to enter the race the very best of luck and will look forward to hearing issues that affect our City and region discussed during this campaign season.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Support Local Businesses and Jobs

Today, Vice-Mayor Sherman Lea and I introduced the resolution that follows. The purpose of this resolution isto encourage residents and employees of the City of Roanoke and Roanoke Valley, during these troubled economic times, to support local businesses as much as possible. By supporting local businesses, we not only have the opportunity to create new jobs but, particularly in our current recession, we can retain existing jobs.


The 2nd day of March, 2009.

A RESOLUTION encouraging the residents and employees of the City of Roanoke, Virginia, when purchasing goods or services, to take into account the importance of using city or regional businesses whenever possible.

WHEREAS, the residents and employees of the City of Roanoke, in the course of daily life, purchase necessary and essential goods and services from outside businesses and vendors.
WHEREAS, contracting with local businesses will demonstrate confidence in the strengths and capabilities of the region’s business infrastructure and send a positive message to companies that will locate and grow here.

WHEREAS, many existing businesses located in the City of Roanoke and Roanoke Valley have unique capabilities, are award-winning and recognized leaders in their fields.

WHEREAS, the local purchase of goods and services is a great investment for the community because more money stays with local businesses and in the local economy.

WHEREAS, using local businesses and vendors to provide for the needs of the residents and employees of the City of Roanoke will help to create new jobs, retain existing jobs, and strengthen the local economy.

WHEREAS, people are more likely to invest in or move to the community if we preserve the culture embodied in our unique local businesses.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the City of Roanoke that:

Council adopts this resolution as a means to encourage residents and employees of the City of Roanoke and the Roanoke Valley to seek goods and services from local businesses that provide jobs to city and regional residents, whenever possible.

The City Clerk is directed to forward an attested copy of this resolution in electronic form to all City employees.


City Clerk