Mike D’s Top Five GOP Policy Issues for Richmond, VA, 2021

Support for Law Enforcement

Safe streets are the bedrock of any city. Without law & order our society falls a part. In my article, Three Ways to Support Richmond’s First Responders, I detail three simple ways how every citizen can celebrate their local first responders.

  1. Vocally & peacefully support the police and other first responders
  2. Speak at Richmond City Council meetings or write a letter
  3. Support first responder events and fundraisers

Freeze the Property Tax

In this article I detail Five Reasons why Richmond Should Freeze the Property Tax because it’s important that a free citizenry always reserves the right on how they tax dollars are being managed or miss-managed.

  1. Property values have tanked due to Monument Avenue vandalism
  2. Many local businesses are suffering from the pandemic shutdown & economic fallout
  3. If schools aren’t in session why are we paying the same tax rate?
  4. The public needs to be ensured their emergency services don’t have their hands tied
  5. Discretionary spending on public amenities, like bike lanes, should be halted until Public Safety is restored

Repeal the Restaurant Tax Now

It is unfair for our restaurant industry to shoulder the burden of the budget deficit which is being strained by non-profit entities like VCU who are gobbling up scarce city property without having to pay its fair share into the tax pool. This is why Mike D believes Richmond Should Repeal the Restaurant Meals Tax Now.

  1. Penalizes small business & creates incentives for them to relocate elsewhere
  2. Unfairly targets one industry
  3. It’s an attack on tax-paying private equity holders

Demand Accountability from the Public Schools

Read Mike D’s 10 Quick Facts Why Richmond Public Schools Need Reform for an elaboration on the ten headers below. Every Richmond citizen needs to ask themselves on question, why are we paying higher taxes for worst results? If Mike D get elected he promises to be a relentless advocate both tax payers by addressing the high cost of bureaucratic squabbling.

  1. Paying more than ever for administration costs for worst results
  2. Our graduation rate for students is 72% compared to the state average of 93%
  3. One out of four students in the class of 2020 have dropped out.
  4. Our superintendent is more concerned with political emails than achieving results
  5. Out testing scores are on average is below 53 points below the state average.
  6. We have schools that are literally 100 years old
  7. Over half the Richmond Public city schools do not have a PTA
  8. Our schools are becoming breeding grounds for social justice warriors instead of productive citizens
  9. Schools inappropriately choosing sides in partisan debates and unfairly discriminating against law enforcement
  10. Every four years there’s a new four-year plan to save the city schools and none ever does

Defend Constitutional Rights

2020 has been a wake-up call for many citizens just trying to live their normal lives. The pandemic lockdowns and flagrant riots is only the start of it. Amid the chaos the Democratic party has been working at a feverish pace to strip our constitutional rights. Read more about their actions in my article: Three Attacks by Richmond City Council Against the Constitution .

  1. Restricting the Second Amendment
  2. Declaring when & where we can exercise our constitutional rights
  3. Extending the duration of statewide lockdowns under constitutional scrutiny

Three Ways to Support Richmond’s First Responders

Vocally & peacefully support the police

Mayor Stoney’s face-saving tactic of paying for first responders meal’s supplied by local restaurants hurt by the pandemic was simply an attempt of putting a band-aid on a deep cut.  Mayor Stoney and his administration have been vocal and out front, but not for police; they’ve been out front for groups calling to defund the police nationwide.

People that know first responders or are related to one already know they need to raise their voice. Whether it’s challenging a friend’s misinformed opinion, espousing your support around the dinner table, or sharing a social media post about a positive experience you had with police; people need to know the importance of every police officer’s sacrifice and grow to appreciate their profession as a whole.

Speak at City Council meetings or write a letter to local elected officials

A lot of democrat-run City Council’s are presenting reforms to defund the police and, in some cases, abolish the police altogether. You and I know this is not a good idea and Richmond’s 2020 crime statistics showcase this as detailed in the excerpt below.

In the first five months of 2020, Richmond police reported 61 people had been shot and 20 people killed. But by the end of September, the number of nonfatal shootings had tripled to 187, and the number of homicides more than doubled to 49.

Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith, who took over the department July 1 amid a pandemic, civil unrest and the uptick in crime, has said the same.

“It’s a community problem,” Smith said of violent crime during a recent interview. “It’s a community issue that we all need to have a concern with, and also need to be involved with solutions, outside-the-box thinking, and general concern for our community.”

Citizens need to speak-up with the facts in-hand. You can see the Richmond City Council calendar here. Simply call-in and ask to speak at the next City Council or contact me, Mike D, on how to get speaking time reserve. You can also write a well-written letter to your representative which you can also share on your social media page.

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Support First Responder events and fundraisers

Every year the Richmond Police Department has a Facebook page stock full of events where you can engage and make connections. But, in 2020, you can look for yourself, there is no events on the their calendar https://www.facebook.com/RichmondPolice/events/ .

This is no coincidence. Police nationwide are entrenched and their events are being targeted by Antifa and related hate groups. If there are events being hosted to support police they are usually promoted under the radar. But if you happen to hear about an event or a fundraiser, every bit of gratitude and financial assistance means the world to our downtrodden first responders.

A vote for Mike D. is a vote for the men and women in blue!

Why Richmond Must Repeal the Restaurant Meals Tax Now

Penalizes small business & creates incentives for them to relocate elsewhere

If you support the meals tax then you either believe that city visitors should pay a premium tax rate for the exclusivity to eat on city property; or you believe that city restaurants should be penalized for operating on exclusive city premises.

In each scenario the city enters into an implicit agreement with the respective stakeholders. A cornerstone to this agreement is that businesses expect, in return for an increased tax, that the city would be better prepared to execute its job guaranteeing a safe and cultural enriching experience for both visitors, as well as, commercial clients.

But when city officials explicitly breach their contract by permitting and praising violent protests, now we’re entering into 8th amendment territory of cruel and unusual punishments. It is cruel for taxpayers to pay more for negligence; and it’s unusual for a city to condone vandalism which adversely impacts its own taxpaying constituency.

Put yourself in a Restaurant owner’s shoes by looking at it from a different perspective. If you were renting a $1500/month flat downtown and your neighbors wouldn’t stop throwing college parties till 2 am every night — wouldn’t you at least expect the landlord to address the problem and, if they didn’t, wouldn’t you move out?

The situation is no different for Richmond’s small businesses. Many restaurant owners who’ve built their brands in Richmond are packing their bags and moving to the counties, leaving Virginia for a more hospitable red state, or simply closing down for good.

Not only are we loosing restaurant neighbors that we love, but under Mayor Stoney we’ve rebranded that city as a social justice hot spot: in other words, stay away.. This is an unacceptable status quo for the City of Richmond.

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Unfairly targets one industry

Many lifelong Richmonders, like myself, acknowledge, as fact, that it has been the small business owners, especially the entrepreneurial restaurant owners and their hardworking staff, who’ve brought this city back from the brink. While Stoney was still a toddler it was the Richmond restaurant scene that became the bedrock which allowed the Richmond City to mature and finally manifest its cultural legacy on an international stage.

For decades intrepid Richmond restaurateurs have not only paid their fair share in taxes, but did so on razor thin margins. And throughout the rise of VCU, it was the Richmond restaurant owners that hired many VCU students giving them their first real-world experiences and some extra pocket cash.

But when VCU is gobbling up scarce city property, while not having to pay a dime in property taxes, and then the city turns to restaurant owners in order to cover the increasing deficit, there’s no way around the truth of the matter but to state the obvious: the city is unfairly currying favor to the higher education industry over the restaurant industry.

There is $29.8 billion worth of real property in the city, according to the assessor’s office. However, about a quarter of that sum — $7.3 billion — is tax-exempt, meaning more than 3,700 property owners throughout the city do not receive a real estate tax bill annually. Nonprofits, churches and disabled veterans can apply for and receive tax-exempt status. Also exempt are public entities, such as state government and Virginia Commonwealth University. VCU, with its ever-growing footprint, doesn’t pay one at all, a university spokesman says.

 

It’s an attack on tax-payers & equity holders

A city has few responsibilities, primarily, ensuring utilities, safety and prosperity. But when a city fails to deliver on those few expectations, many Americans know what core principle to recite: no taxation without representation.

Since the city of Richmond  has failed to represent the restaurant industry amid the pandemic crisis and subsequent social justice riots, they must act swiftly to repeal the meals tax. Since the beginning of 2020, the economic fallout has been made worst by the actions and in-actions of our Richmond City government. Many citizens have unnecessarily lost their jobs, their rent money, their leases, their property, and their livelihoods. Moreover, the overall reputation of Richmond City has been tarnished and its once vibrant marketplace severely depleted.

The city has a long way to go in order to repair its image as a business friendly town. The first step is a no-brainer, and that’s for City Council to implement a more inviting tax-rate that will incentivize consumers to spend their hard-earned dollar at city properties.

The second step is to make a much stronger commitment toward private equity holders who run businesses and own properties within city limits. All city businesses must be ensured, and perennially reassured by City Council, that their property rights, as well as, property values will once more take precedence over outlandish partisan vandalism and violence.

Three Attacks by RVA’s City Council Against the Constitution

Restricting the Second Amendment

An ordinance introduced in August, 2020, by Mayor Levar Stoney, and then subsequently approved by Richmond’s radical democratic-run city council, is in direct conflict with every American’s second amendment right to bear arms.  The proposed ordinance would “prohibit the possession, carrying or transportation of any firearms in any public street, road, alley, sidewalk, public right-of-way or any open public space when it is being used by, or is adjacent to, an event that requires a city permit.”

First off, if someone was going to attack an event they wouldn’t come open carrying. Second of all, true Americans feel rest assured when responsible gun owners are within the vicinity, because they know that evil-doers are less likely to act out.

Every responsible gunowner and constitutional abiding American understands that Richmond’s Mayor is stoking baseless fears by spinning and exploiting worst case scenarios in order to excel his partisan agenda.

“I just think that if you’re going to a public event, you should be able to go there and enjoy yourself, go there for your cause, and not feel under constant threat because of individuals walking around with an AK-47,” Stoney said previously.

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Declaring when & where we can exercise our Constitutional Rights

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Ralph Northam declared a statewide ban on public gatherings and the closure of non-essential businesses through May 8. During a news conference on April 10, Northam said easing restrictions is “absolutely the wrong thing to do,” but some residents disagree.

“We aren’t encouraging large gatherings,” said John March, spokesman with the Republican Party of Virginia. “But it’s a constitutional issue…We want to encourage social distancing, it’s a real thing going on but there’s real people who are really hurting.”

 

Does the ban on large gatherings violate the 1st Amendment of the Constitution?

 

Extending the duration of unconstitutional Statewide lockdowns

Here’s an excerpt from an article every Richmond citizen should read. In summary, it’s about how the Richmond Mayor usurped the Governor’s unconstitutional decree powers. Because many in power took advantage of the Covid crisis, now Mayors via political parties  have the power to shutdown businesses whenever they deem fit — without warning or restitution.

By Olivia Ugino | May 15, 2020 | RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) – Friday marked day one of Phase One, but not in Richmond. The announcement coming at the 11th hour on Thursday, leaving restaurants and other businesses scrambling to figure out how to handle their plans.

After nine weeks, some Richmond businesses were ready for the green light Friday, but it will be stuck on red for another two weeks.

Jason Thrasher is the owner and manager of The Local, a pub near VCU’s campus. He’s already lost about $200,000 in sales over the past nine weeks and had to furlough his entire 30-person staff.

“Every day I’m sweating bullets and I’m counting the pennies when I have to buy anything,” said Thrasher.

He says he spent close to $3,000 getting ready for re-opening this weekend and had five employees ready to work. Then in a press conference Thursday afternoon, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced the city would request a delay in re-opening. The official decision coming down from the Governor’s office after 5 p.m. Thursday. Thrasher says he’s expecting to lose at least 40% of what he’s bought for the weekend.

“I thought it was poor timing… I thought the mayor and the administration showed poor judgment, and how it impacts businesses and the fact that he basically waited till eight hours before to do anything,” said Thrasher.

The Mayor’s Office says it requested information necessary to make the decision Monday and didn’t receive it until Thursday morning. NBC12 reached out to the Mayor for an interview Friday and was told he wasn’t available. Now restaurant owners, like Thrasher, have to wait at least two weeks.

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Five Reasons Richmond Should Freeze the Property Tax

1) Property values have tanked due to Monument Avenue vandalism

Who would know better about the plummeting property values on Monument Avenue than the six Monument Avenue residence whom have cited it as a primary reason underpinning their lawsuit that is, at that moment, halting Northam’s egregious abuse of power to remove the Lee statue.

It’s hard to discern the real motives behind Northam’s divisive actions, but steam rolling the rights and wealth of private citizens is unbecoming by any leader, let alone a Governor. If Government officials believe they can crush property values by exercising hasty partisan policies, then why should their constituents be obliged to keep up their end? What good does it do financing the very same government that can’t even prevent graffiti vandalism?

The age-old adage still applies: don’t bite the hand that feeds you.  

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2) Many local businesses are suffering from the pandemic shutdown & economic fallout

Big Tech is good for one thing, and that’s giving us the ugly facts at scale. In July, Yelp reported 26,160 total restaurant closures of its users, 15,770 of which were permanent. Eight weeks later, those numbers jumped to 32,109 closures — 19,590 of which are permanent.

The situation is bleaker in Virginia, with 58% of restaurant owners reporting that they will be gone in six months without help. The Yelp report ranked Virginia 12th in terms of permanent closures nationwide, and 13th when factored by population.

Initial reports have claimed that at least 30 of Richmond area restaurants have closed down, but that number promises to rise unless drastic measures are taken. And restaurants aren’t the only victims, we can’t forget about hair salons and our Carytown specialty retailers who rely on the massively depleted foot traffic in order to remain afloat.

Richmond, and Virginia as a whole, could’ve avoided such a heavy-handed economic blow by simply keeping our calm in the beginning of the overblown pandemic.

It’s the job of government to provide well-vetted facts devoid of politicized bias and, if absoutley necessary, the Government should pass legislation introducing equitable regulation. It is not the job of Government to obstruct everyday commerce through looney lockdowns. Moreover, it should scare every American that Governor’s can now, at will, disturb private enterprise through panicked edict after panicked edict with seemingly no end in sight.

I believe in empowering the American people with the best available information and resources. Leaders don’t hide in the basement; leaders step out in front to provide solace and courage. Vote Mike D. to change the defeatist attitude of Richmond’s city council!

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3) If schools are virtual why are we paying the same tax rate?

It’s not fair to the tax -payers that reopening our nation’s schools has become a political football. Why must tax payers be cow-tied into paying for half the services because school districts are too fearful to open?

Richmond City schools, like many democrat urban districts, have decided to embrace virtual learning. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out if kids aren’t in schools then that must mean less electricity is being used, fewer meals being subsidized, and virtually no buses being ran.

In a similar instance, Virginia’s Fairfax County, which largely has failed to provide students any meaningful instruction or content online during the pandemic, local revenue ($10,791) added to state revenue ($3,242) means parents are financing more than $14,000 in revenue per pupil per year, not including federal funding.

If taxpayers aren’t receiving the adequate school services that their hard-earned tax dollars deserve, there should either be a serious re-evaluation of the current tax-rate, or serious consideration of a tax rebate after a forensic audit of how RPS maintained its finances amid the ‘Covid-school-year.’

My views align with those of the respectable conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation, whom believes that:

Too many districts are failing to uphold their end of that contractual obligation. Families should immediately be provided with a refund—a prorated portion of the money that would have been spent by the state in which they reside and by their local school district from the beginning of March through the end of the school year. 

Those dollars should be placed in a restricted-use education savings account that parents could use to pay for virtual tutors, online learning, textbooks, curriculums, diagnostic tests, and other products and services, in order to maintain education continuity for their children during this crisis.

Such a refund would build on the principle that education funding should always be student-centered and portable, rather than institutional.

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4) The public needs to be ensured their Emergency Services don’t have their hands tied

It’s my humble opinion that City Council member’s must be trustworthy stalwarts of the public services they are endowed to administer. But when City Council members, such as Michael Jones of the 9th District, takes one the divisive mantle of the #BLM social justice warriors in preference to being a respectable public servant for all, consequently, people begin to loose faith in the system.

If people actually begin to believe the rhetoric that first responders are their enemies rather than a force for good in order to maintain a stable society for all; then, in due course, society will eventually end up manifesting the very fear-based reality that was sold to them in the first place.

A few words from a City Council member, Michael Jones, summarizes his deep-seated and racially-divisive views:

 I am calling for a deep dive into the Richmond Police Department’s budget with the intention of defunding the police. Funding must be reallocated to communities that have been disproportionately impacted by over-policing and a continued lack of resources. We must reinvest in and support Black people, Black organizations, Black creatives, and Black businesses in our city. This discussion cannot wait any longer. Lives – Black lives – depend on it.

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5) Discretionary spending on public amenities, like bike lanes, should be halted until Public Safety is restored

The number one priority of all local and state Governments is to keep their citizens safe. Unfortunately, the chaos initiated in Milwaukee, which spawned to Seattle and then Portland, has somehow inseminated itself in the city of Richmond.

Many RVA residents have been blindsided by the destruction of their beautiful city. Now, several months since the violence engulfed large swaths of the city, you’ll still encounter city blocks with boarded up windows. Not a very welcoming sight for visitors and tourist who are seeking to spend their hard-earned dollars..

What keeps communities safe is a vibrant downtown that’s pro-business, pro-law enforcement and pro-cleanliness. On all three fronts our current City Council has failed. They have turned their backs on our businesses; they have played games with our law enforcement; and they have allowed our internationally famous public works of arts to be desecrated.

Until a long-term plan that reaffirms City Council’s support of basic, fundamental and essential services, in no way should the current city government concern itself with frivolous spending and discretionary projects such as bike lanes.

It’s not the job of the city to dictate a direction for its’ citizens; it’s the job of a city government to safeguard an environment where citizens prosper commercially and communally.