Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New Council seated

Roanoke City Council met for the first time yesterday with two new members - Ray Ferris and Bill Bestpitch. I'm looking forward to working with both and am confident we'll have a cordial and collegial Council.

It's also important to thank Rupert Cutler and Gwen Mason for their service. They both worked hard to make the best decisions for Roanoke during these very challenging times. Dr. Cutler deserves the opportunity to have more free time and to pursue challenges important to him. And Ms. Mason has a challenging new role with the U.S. Attorney - one I know she'll be excellent filling.

As we begin a new fiscal year, we should work hard to find opportunities in this financially troubled time. There are opportunities out there and we need to find them and take advantage of our ability to more efficiently and effectively run city government.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Full Council dinner tonight to support meals tax/Roanoke City schools

Tonight City Council will gather to go on a progressive dinner in support of the temporary increase in the city's meals tax for the sole benefit of Roanoke City Public Schools. The schools faced an enormous deficit this year, mainly caused by funding cuts to localities out of Richmond. Council made the tough decision that a lack of responsibility in Richmond didn't merit similar irresponsibility in our own policy making decisions. Given the significant progress made in our schools over the course of the past two years, Council supported the temporary increase in the tax to stave off major programmatic cuts in the schools.

The dinner will begin with appetizers at Table 50 downtown, then proceed to Thelma's Chicken & Waffles on Orange Avenue for dinner. To conclude the evening, Council will travel to Pop's in Grandin Village for dessert. This dinner shows a strong commitment on the part of Council to support our local businesses while also supporting necessary funding for our schools.

I'm hopeful that the media will cover this positive, community-oriented and important event that shows a united Council working together to better our city. It's an opportunity to highlight an improved working relationship amongst Council Members, and one that is definitely newsworthy.

Regardless, it's the right thing for Council to make efforts to support our local restaurants during a time when few options left us with little choice but to increase the tax over the next two years. I'm really looking forward to it.