You think you know your local government?
Take this Easy to Love quiz and get schooled on how much you really know about such things as ignored city audits, unconstitutional noise ordinances, stacked consent agendas, $37,000 desks and taxpayer-funded jaunts to big cities that aren't Richmond.
Will you feel smarter after you take the quiz? Probably not.
Will you feel better about your city after taking the quiz? Depends on which booster you ask.
1. Of the following positions in Mayor Dwight Jones' administration, which job is currently vacant?
A. Economic development director.
B. Finance director.
C. Parks and recreation director.
D. All of the above.
2. In a recent Richmond Times-Dispatch business story, Byron Marshall, the city's chief administrative officer, was hailed as a can-do model of hard-working efficiency. Which of the following things happened this year under his watch?
A. The city's dance hall ordinance was passed but City Hall set up no procedure for business owners to comply with the law.
B. Marshall executed the city's towing contract, which immediately came under fire after people who were towed got charged more than state law allowed.
C. A city auditor found numerous irregularities in the parks and recreation department, including damning information about the most expensive front desk ever constructed.
D. Marshall failed to provide, in a timely manner, the completed documents that were needed for the city to qualify for federal economic development assistance. This prompted a rushed City Council vote on the matter before the Dec. 31 deadline.
E. The mayor's office promised to deliver a final consultant's report on the future of the Richmond Coliseum as well as a plan for renovating the train depot by mid-November. To date, no final report has been released.
F. Construction on a new downtown ice skating rink began without proper permits — details that Marshall referred to as “routine.”
G. All of the above.
3. How do the salaries of top City Hall employees — such as Byron Marshall — compare with the salaries of top officials in the previous Wilder administration?
A. Dwight Jones' top brass make 10 percent less.
B. Dwight Jones' people make exactly the same.
C. Dwight Jones' brain trust is paid 10 percent more.
D. Dwight Jones' team earns 21 percent more than Wilder's team.
4. City Councilman Chris Hilbert recently told Style Weekly that despite appearances to the contrary, City Council and the mayor are making progress on important issues. He referred to the ground breakings for two new schools as a sign of this progress. Which of the following is true about city school construction?
A. The schools' front desks are to be made of solid gold (Take that, parks and rec!).
B. This school construction is actually a holdover from Mayor Douglas Wilder's City of the Future plan.
C. These new schools will come complete with computers from 2007 (Note: These are recent warehouse finds!).
D. These new schools will be named after Mayor Dwight Jones and all members of City Council not named Bruce Tyler.
5. According to projections, the operating budget of the Richmond Public Schools will have a shortfall of $14.3 million in 2012. What will administrators do to help make up this huge deficit?
A. Cut as many as 39 salaried positions.
B. Serve mystery meat all week long.
C. Hold classes in that new ice skating rink outside CenterStage.
D. Have children teach themselves, “Lord of the Flies” style.
6. In September, Richmond's bond rating was up for consideration again by the nation's major financial analysts in New York. How did members of City Council and staff of City Hall react?
A. City leaders proposed meeting with the credit agencies via teleconference call, in order to save taxpayers the cost of numerous plane tickets and hotel accommodations.
B. City leaders sent two representatives to meet with the agencies, and these reps returned to Richmond the same day in order to avoid unnecessary travel expenses.
C. City leaders sent only Byron Marshall, the city's chief administrative officer, in an attempt to impress the credit agencies with his can-do efficiency.
D. City leaders sent three times as many representatives (nine people) to New York as each of the counties did — on the taxpayers' dime. They did the same thing last year.
7. City Hall passed a new noise ordinance this year. Which of the following is not a true statement about this ordinance?
A. It was heavily criticized by local lawyers before its passage.
B. It prompted one local musician to start a Facebook page called Richmond's Noise Ordinance is Completely Insane.
C. It outlawed sounds that were not religious in nature after 11 p.m.
D. It made those convicted subject to a misdemeanor conviction and $1,000 fine.
E. The councilman who drafted the noise ordinance, Charles Samuels, told reporters that the document had been heavily vetted.
F. There was no public process put in place for residents to weigh in on the new noise ordinance.
G. A judge ruled it unconstitutional and the city did not appeal the ruling.
H. All of the above are true.
8. Which of the following actions taken by Richmond's Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Herring actually happened?
A. Herring stood up in court and told a judge that he believed Richmond's noise ordinance was unconstitutional and that he would only enforce it “begrudgingly.”
B. Herring told news media he wished he could have prosecuted the band that fought the noise ordinance because one of its members allegedly insulted a police officer — an accusation that was never proven in court.
C. Herring said that owning a music-related business in Shockoe Bottom is a “privilege.”
D. (Sigh) Our commonwealth's attorney did all of these things.
Answers: 1. D, 2. G, 3. D, 4. B, 5. A, 6. D, 7. H, 8. D
Don Harrison is Style Weekly's arts and culture editor.
Opinions expressed on the Back Page are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Style Weekly.