F.T. Rea 
Member since Apr 1, 2009





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Re: “City Council Meeting Degenerates Into Weird, Chaotic Mess

Gene, you wrote: “I remember years ago an anti-war protest with F.T. Rea as some sort of spokesperson on Monument Ave resulted in property damage and vandalism to private property.”

The trouble with that inflammatory statement is I have no idea what “protest” you’re talking about. There was no such incident, and it’s pure poppycock to say I have been “known” locally as an activist.

However, I have been writing about politics and popular culture under several mastheads since the mid-1980s. Written a lot about sports, too. Before that I ran a movie theater. The only time I remember speaking at a City Council meeting was in 1985. (Somewhat ironically, it was about handguns.)

More to the point, I was not at the Council meeting last night and I have no connections to the folks you lambasted, although I do know Schintzius, but only casually. Obviously, you don’t know much about my history, but apparently you’ve recently seen my name associated with opposing the baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom.

On that one issue, this year I have crossed the line from being an observer and commentator to being an activist. Now I‘m a member of the ad hoc group collecting signatures to get a referendum on the ballot in November. That’s the Citizens Referendum Group. Since I don’t know who you are, Gene, I won’t guess at your motives for making stuff up.

6 likes, 10 dislikes
Posted by F.T. Rea on 04/15/2014 at 3:20 PM

Re: “Blocking the Plate

If how a city spends its money says what its citizenry cares about, maybe we ought to stop fussing about incidentals and take a harder look at how Richmond proposes to spend its money. Do most Richmonders really favor building a new baseball stadium over building new schools? When one considers Richmond’s bleeding infrastructure needs, should City Hall be looking at replacing its current baseball stadium, built in 1985 with regional-cooperation dollars, by going it alone?

And, let’s not even talk about how a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom won’t cost taxpayers a nickel in the long run. Anyone who knows the history of the various build-it-and-they-will-come schemes of the last 30 years knows better than to believe such boasts by boosters. Hopefully, those voters who know better than to believe a handful of boosters, pretending to represent widely-held opinions, will support the Citizens Referendum Groups' two ballot items on election day.

If 2014’s reality demands we make a choice, right now what matters the most? Public education? Professional baseball? To take more control over some of City Hall’s money decisions, sign the petitions in April. Vote in November.

14 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by F.T. Rea on 04/07/2014 at 3:06 PM

Re: “Blocking the Plate

There are several reasons for opposing the mayor’s revitalization plan with building a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom as its centerpiece. The members of the new Citizens Referendum Group that is pushing to let the voters weigh in on election day don’t all agree on which is the most important reason.

Yes, some of those circulating petitions in Richmond are passionate about wanting to properly investigate Shockoe Bottom’s history and protect that neighborhood from an outrageously inappropriate development. Then some see another build-it-and-they-will-come boondoggle in the making; they want to stop it. Others stand against an impractical plan that enriches developers, while turning a blind eye on new troubles it would likely spawn and what baseball fans seem to prefer. Then there are plenty of folks who don’t want to see another nickel of John Q. Public's money spent on sports, period.

Meanwhile, those who stand opposed to such a plebiscite have a tough job on their hands. They have to convince voters who’ve watched 27 different members of City Council dither with the stadium issue for a decade that too much democracy can be a bad thing.

12 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by F.T. Rea on 04/04/2014 at 11:02 AM

Re: “Blocking the Plate

There are thousands of voters in Richmond who are against baseball in the Bottom for a variety of reasons. Didn't the RT-D’s opinion poll published last fall say over two-thirds of Richmonders were opposed baseball in the Bottom? To lump all those folks together, to put them in a negative light, is a transparent tactic that won’t fool many people who’ve paid attention to this 10-year-old controversy.

Some Richmonders opposed to the mayor’s so-called “revitalization plan” want to properly investigate Shockoe Bottom’s history and protect that neighborhood from a plan they see as wrongheaded for several reasons. Others stand against an impractical scheme that enriches developers, while ignoring what the area’s baseball fans seem to prefer; they see an empty stadium down the road, with the Squirrels gone and the taxpayers on the hook again.

Given Richmond’s woeful history with publicly-financed downtown projects, trying to avoid another build-it-and-they-will-come boondoggle is hardly a fringe concept. And now there are some in Richmond who are working to let the voters finally have some say-so.

Regarding archeology and the potential of a slave museum, etc., from here on there’s going to be a lot more money in telling the whole truth about the Shockoe Bottom slave markets and the Civil War, than there will be in keeping history buried and perpetuating fantasies about the Lost Cause.

27 likes, 11 dislikes
Posted by F.T. Rea on 04/02/2014 at 11:09 AM

Re: “Gym Rats

Meanwhile, City Hall wants to borrow zillions to throw at a new facility for professional baseball games to be played.

In light of this piece about the sorry state of Richmond’s sports facilities for school children -- and Carol A.O. Wolf’s recent Back Page piece, “Kicking the Can” -- the priorities coming out of City Hall seem skewed in the wrong direction. So much so, it turns the mayor’s slogan about a “tier one city” into what used to be called a “cruelty joke.”

6 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by F.T. Rea on 03/13/2014 at 1:21 PM

Re: “Kicking the Can

Kazoo: The public-financing of sports stadiums is going out of style all over the country. Taxpayers are wising up to the scams. Moreover, Richmond has a baseball stadium. With some fixing up, it could continue to serve the needs of a Double A franchise just fine.

As far as how your saying most of the supporters of the stadium in Shockoe Bottom also support public education goes, maybe that’s true. Since I don’t know many people who like the mayor’s plan, I can’t say. But in recent years I’ve seen a lot of public education bashing coming from noisy folks of the conservative political persuasion.

For a long time Richmond has been a heavily Democratic city. With the best guesses/surveys suggesting Richmonders disapprove of the stadium in the Bottom plan at a two-to-one, even a three-to one level, I’m guessing Jones has much more support in this matter from Republicans than he does from Democrats. Just my guess. I’d be interested in seeing how others see that aspect of this controversy.

When you dismiss the whole list of civic-minded reasons locals have for opposing the mayor’s plan as “shallow,” well, I sure hope more supporters of the mayor’s wrongheaded stadium scheme use that same haughty putdown.

16 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by F.T. Rea on 02/13/2014 at 4:02 PM

Re: “Kicking the Can

Protecting Shockoe Bottom from an undesirable, wrongheaded development is one very important motive to oppose the building of a stadium there. While the history angle of that part of the city is the most oft stated reason to oppose the mayor’s plan, there are other worthwhile considerations. So, it’s important to note that the opposition to the Shockoe Bottom Stadium scheme is not just a bunch of history-loving sports-haters.

It’s not mostly metro area baseball fans who say they won't go to the Bottom to see a game, either. Nor is it just folks who live in the adjacent area, who object to traffic jams and parking backing up into their neighborhood.

And, as Carol Wolf points out so well, another important aspect of the overall picture is the skewed priorities consideration of committing taxpayers’ money to a new stadium for minor league baseball, while public schools and athletic programs for Richmond‘s schoolchildren are being neglected.

Of course, some of the busiest pushers for building a stadium in the Bottom may also be bashers of public education, in general. They might say parents who care about their children send them to private schools. So who cares if a struggling public school system gets the shaft? Let's face it, some people are happy to turn their backs on what has been a cornerstone of our society -- free public education.

For a list of sound reasons, the vast majority of Richmonders seem to oppose the mayor's plan to shoehorn a baseball stadium into a place where it doesn't make good sense. If the mayor doesn’t want to serve the majority of city dwellers, who is he choosing to serve?

16 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by F.T. Rea on 02/13/2014 at 2:26 PM

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