Editor's note: This article appeared in Richmond magazine's August 1999 issue.
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Tim Kaine as mayor of Richmond (Photo by: Jay Paul)
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Tim Kaine drops off Nat Kaine and other children at Fox Model Elementary School before his mayoral duties of the day begin. (Photo by Jay Paul)
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Tim Kaine, with hands clasped behind head, in a budget session before a night council meeting. (Photo by Jay Paul)
Tim Kaine's face is so scarce around his law practice that during a staff appreciation party, he has to introduce himself to employees who have been with Mezzullo and McCandlish for several months.
That isn't because Kaine is a lackluster performer. He recently won a $100 million judgment against Nationwide Insurance for alleged discriminatory practices in minority neighborhoods. He also has been nominated as Trial Lawyer of the Year by the American Trial Lawyer Association.
But these days, Kaine is concentrating on being mayor for $27,000 a year.
“I will be a lawyer all my life,” Kaine says, “but I'll probably only be mayor once. I don't want to get to the end of being mayor and think, 'I could have been a great mayor if I'd just spent more time on it.’ ”
A year into Kaine's two-year appointment as mayor, spending too little time on city business is not the problem. In fact, Kaine is often praised for his patience, availability and willingness to discuss city issues, On the flip side, he is often assailed for his reticence to take stands on issues. Kaine's biggest problem is struggling to manage a legal practice and a political career with his responsibilities as a husband and father.
A Mayoral Monday
At 7:30 a.m., April 19, Richmond's mayor is trying to balance a huge coffee mug and a bowl of cereal while ushering his children —Nathaniel, 9, Linwood, 7, and Anella, 4 — through the breakfast routine in their Ginter Park home. Kaine's wife, Richmond Juvenile Court Judge Anne Holton, reminds Nat about a creative writing assignment he is supposed to turn in, while Kaine hurries dawdling daughter Anella to finish her oatmeal.
Soon coats are on, feet are sneakered, and the maroon family Caravan departs for the car pool. Kaine picks up four children, one in each grade from kindergarten through fifth. He’s ordered to turn up the radio. To change the station. To guess what one little girl just saw on a car bumper. Right now he’s not Mr. Mayor. He's just the car pool dad.
A chaotic half-hour later, lunch boxes, backpacks and chattering children spill out at Fox Model Elementary. The mayor takes a hit from his coffee mug and rustles through his pile of papers to find his page-long daily schedule — today’s section of the computer database kept in City Hall where residents’ names, addresses and meeting times are logged by Kaine and his staff.
First stop, the Hotchkiss Field Community Center for a community family health fair. Members of the Urban League converge to shake hands with “Tim” as he tells everyone to call him. Visibility means support, he believes, so making as many of these appearances as possible is a high priority. The beeper on his belt shrieks an interruption. Kaine, like a gunslinger, reaches for the cell phone normally holstered on his hip, but in yesterday's haste he left it on its charger in the mayor's office. A volunteer offers one. A few minutes later, he returns. The caller was U.S. Rep. Tom Bliley, who had stopped by City Hall for an impromptu meeting. After three minutes of phone time, Richmond's canal boat project wins a pledge of support from Bliley. Kaine smiles a wide grin of success and rushes into the table-lined gymnasium like a one-man welcoming committee. He is a master of the two-minute conversation. To those he knows already, kind words and pats on the shoulders follow a ready smile. Strangers are met with a quick handshake and a few questions to get to know them. Everyone is thanked for participating before Kaine moves on to the next person.
A young mother stands nearby as the mayor makes his way toward the door. He shakes her hand and introduces himself as Tim. After a brief conversation about her child, the woman asks, “Who are you with again?”
“Oh, I'm the mayor,” Kaine grins, placing his hand on the now-embarrassed woman's shoulder. Hurrying to his next appointment, Kaine speaks momentarily with four firefighters showing their pumper engine to the children: “You are doing a great job.” It is the refrain he recites whenever he encounters city employees.
One Big Family
Two hours later, after a reluctant stop at the dentist to get a tooth crowned, Kaine's schedule shows that he is due in the NationsBank building for the annual Mezzullo and McCandlish staff appreciation party. It's a festive event in which aprons eclipse Brooks Bros. suits, and the attorneys serve the administrative support team. This year's theme is a fiesta, complete with sombreros, tacos and Mexican music.
Kaine sweeps in with smiles and handshakes. Though rarely a part of the firm’s daily scene, his is a popular face. Managing director of the firm since Dec. 1, Kaine oversees the staff on behalf of the five-member directors' committee. Because of the little time he spends in the office, he has never met some staff members.
Clearly enjoying himself when tapped to speak to the troops, the man introduced as the firm's "taco supreme" pokes fun at his own absence from company functions — except parties.
Sherri Harrington, Kaine’s secretary for 11 years, giggles and shakes her head. She came to the firm when Kaine was just a rank-and-file lawyer in his first year there. “I knew him when he was nobody. I always remind him of that,” she jokes.
In all of that time, the woman Kaine describes as one of his best friends says there is one thing that indicates what type of man her boss is: “Even with all of his schedules and responsibilities, his family comes first with him.”
Nat's baseball games are inked on Kaine's schedule as boldly as meetings with congressmen. And Kaine's often-malleable schedule is ironclad on Wednesday afternoons when city schools dismiss early at 1:15 p.m. During this slot, the phone rings unanswered and work comes a distant second to helping with homework, playing ball or going to the library with his brood.
It is a respite from the pervasion of business into his private life. But even the kids' sporting events are peppered with city business, with parents using bleachers time to discuss their agendas.
"Sometimes [people always talking business] can really be tiring," Kaine acknowledges. "That will probably put an informal limit on my tenure on City Council .... I'm fairly certain that I'll run for council [again in 2000], and if that happens, I’d love to be mayor again." But after that, it'll be time to call it quits. “That will be eight years on council and I'd call that a good run.”
Anne Holton, Kaine's wife, has plenty of experience as the family member of a politician. Her father is former Gov. Linwood Holton. She says the experience of having lived in the governor’s mansion as a child helps to get her through the busy life as wife of a politician. She has an advantage, Holton says, that her mother didn't enjoy when she was Virginia’s first lady: As a judge, Holton is prohibited from attending any fund-raising events or overtly political rallies. She gets to stay home with the kids.
Though Holton regrets that Kaine is often called away from the family on city business, she knows he is doing what he believes in. Even before he was mayor, when he was just the Second District councilman, he would put in 70-hour weeks, Holton says. “He's going to be that kind of busy. It's in his nature.”
But the demanding mayoral schedule is taking its toll, Holton admits after a long pause. She’s seen changes in her husband since he took office. “He’s more harried,” she says. “He is more straight to the point about things” because he is so inundated. “It may seem contradictory to say this as well, but he also lets things roll off his back more. He knows he can't worry about things as much as he used to.”
Still, with rumors of Kaine being courted for statewide office, perhaps taking Holton back to the governor's mansion, she jokes, “If Tim were to run for higher office, I keep threatening to campaign against it.”
As for the kids, Holton says, “They would love to have more of daddy's time than they do,” but they find it “fun and cool” that their father is the mayor.
The walls of Kaine’s high-rise corner law office are adorned with family pictures and his Richmond Bar Association Pro Bono Publico award. Large piles of city documents and maps have established a beachhead in the corner.
Kaine could look over his broad desk and see the green island of Capitol Square in the shadow of the concrete and glass City Hall — if he were in his law office long enough to enjoy the view. These days, Kaine’s practice has been pared back like a bonsai tree.
Since becoming mayor, Kaine’s practice is primarily one case, the suit against Nationwide Insurance. He won the first round, but the case is on appeal. If the higher courts uphold the decision, the suit will set a national precedent.
But that lingering case is not the most pressing concern as Kaine looks again at the day's schedule. Though a legal brief for the appeal is due in a few days, he must get to another meeting to assure a Jackson Ward African Methodist Episcopal church that City Hall supports its future growth.
Kaine knows how important traditionally black churches are to their neighborhoods. The deeply religious mayor attends one himself. His is the only white family in the congregation at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church, where he and Holton were married and where he sang in the choir for a decade before having to give it up to be on City Council because he could not make rehearsals.
A Desk Job
Back in City Hall, the mayor yawns and kicks his feet up on his large desk. He sips Coke from a plastic cup, his secret to remaining energized. “I just drink a lot of soft drinks and caffeinated coffee.”
Two neat piles about an inch thick rest on the blotter. One is the day’s mail. The second is the stack of telephone messages that collect any time he is out of his office.
“Before being mayor, I prided myself on returning every call myself. The first few months [after my appointment] I tried to cling to the illusion that I could still do that,” he says. Lately, city staff members return calls that don't need his direct personal attention. Giving callers a prompt answer is more important than hearing his voice on the line, Kaine says.
Sometimes, even the most important callers just have to wait. That happened in September when Vice President Al Gore called to invite Kaine to the White House to discuss Richmond's drug and crime initiatives. Kaine declined. It was the week of his family's scheduled vacation.
Since Kaine took office, the undercurrent is that he is being groomed for higher office by the Democratic Party. Though Kaine admits that he agrees with some of the Democratic Party's principles like giving aid to those in need and using government to help people, he has refused to choose a party affiliation. If he leans toward the Democrats, his allegiance is not blind. “[President] Clinton is an idiot [for the Monica Lewinsky affair] and he deserves all of the negative vibe created by it,” Kaine says.
In the Zone
The mayor’s office is remarkably well-organized. The desk is home to an in-box and a gold pen set, which Kaine shuns in favor of a plastic Bic. On a table are two homemade trophies: a roughly carved wooden key with thanks scribbled by Carver Elementary second-graders and a baseball autographed in the crooked and cramped letters of Little Leaguers.
Phone to his ear, Kaine scratches notes and types additions to his computerized schedule while he awaits a voice on the other end of the line. He hurriedly dictates into a tape recorder a letter of thanks to Bliley for his support of the canal project. The fax spews out a letter. City employees stream in and out of the ever-open door, preparing for a 3 p.m. budget work session.
This year, for the first time, Richmond initiated a two-year fiscal plan, so work sessions to iron out budgetary details have been intense and lengthy.
As the mayor cuts through his crowded outer office to get to the budget meeting, flower delivery people arrive laden with bouquets for staff appreciation week and cards signed “Tim.”
One assistant stops Kaine to invite him to her niece’s second birthday party. “I know you are busy and don't feel like you have to come ... ,” she begins, but is cut off when the mayor smiles and asks, “Where is the party and what time?”
For nearly three hours, city department heads parade funding requests through the large conference room overlooking Broad Street. City Councilman John Conrad reels off questions at funding seekers while Kaine sits quietly.
As 6 p.m. nears, a caterer hustles in and out to assemble a buffet. A 15-minute recess is called to fill plates and stretch, but Kaine never gets to leave the vicinity of his chair.
The daily press has disappeared to file tomorrow's stories. The public has grown weary and gone home. Only city staff and five council members remain. It is time for Kaine to take charge. Setting aside his plastic fork, Kaine calls for each district's wish list.
One at a time, each council member lists requests ranging from a few thousand dollars to fix streetlights and curbs to several million for a new community center. When it becomes Kaine's turn to make requests for his district, he declines. He later admits an ulterior motive.
“The Neighborhoods In Bloom project [where six neighborhoods were chosen to receive a concentration of federal redevelopment funding left to the city to administer] gave me basically everything I want,” Kaine says. By not asking for more, it ensures others won't grow jealous of what the initiative already has granted and will leave funds to help their districts. Kaine packages his admission with a wink and a smile.
Federal grants were spread haphazardly across the city for years. Constituents in each district might have felt like they were getting attention, but because the money was stretched so thin, nothing substantial was getting done, Kaine says. “We were fooling the public but not fooling ourselves.” So the council decided to concentrate efforts in the areas most in need, even if some districts received none of the federal money. Though the program received flack for its steering of resources, the Neighborhoods In Bloom communities have flourished. Kaine is proud of the effort.
Almost five hours after this marathon Monday budget meeting began, the mayor is reclined in his chair, hands behind his head, shirt wrinkled, hair tossed, a large yawn escaping. Decisions have not been solidified. The weary council agrees to continue the agenda to next week, before the regularly scheduled Monday council meeting. Most exit hurriedly.
It takes several minutes for the mayor to walk the 50 feet to his office as staff members pull him aside to discuss concerns. A WTVR Channel 6 camera crew asks for a sound bite. Not wanting to take credit from others, Kaine refers the crew to Vice Mayor Rudolph McCollum because the program they are asking about is “his baby.”
City Hall is quiet by the time Kaine shuffles the last paper on his desk and makes his way to the parking garage. Other than the mayor, only the cleaning staff is still working at 9 p.m.
Timid or Torrid?
Opinions about Tim Kaine are as divided as Richmond is by the river.
He is accused of, and praised for, not taking sides on issues — choosing to let the parties in contention battle out an agreement.
Others chide Kaine for being vocal and bullish, as witnessed in arguments with Chesterfield County supervisors over their reluctance to extend public transit into the county.
“I’ve had a few meetings with Tim and I would say that he brings comments forward and we're allowed to discuss them in a more open way,” says Harry Daniel, who has been on the Chesterfield board since 1980 and is currently its chair.
Kaine is better than the two previous mayors about making time in his schedule to discuss issues, Daniel offers, but he refuses to comment on Kaine's leadership ability or him personally, saying only that the two are working out a system to deal with regional issues.
Exasperated by Chesterfield County's attempts to derail a regional transit system earlier this year, Kaine alluded to racial biases, saying that Chesterfield should admit what its true reticence is about connecting the city and the county. Kaine's charges followed Chesterfield's refusal to allow public transit to service more than just a few stops in the county even after the city had worked to assuage funding and logistical concerns.
On Kaine’s aggressive push to influence Chesterfield County decisions, Daniel says, “He is entitled to his opinion on things.”
Henrico County Board of Supervisors Chairman Patricia O'Bannon says Kaine stepped on some toes when he assumed such a strong tone toward Chesterfield County. “I feel that his approach on some regional issues was probably honest in doing what he thought best for the city and what he believed in, but somewhat naive politically,” O'Bannon says.
“He is honest and he believes in what he says, but he has to learn to work through political channels,” she explains. “It takes about a year to understand all of the ins and outs of how things work.” After Kaine has gone through what she calls the “breaking-in period,” she says he'll be more effective in the city and with regional issues.
One of Kaine’s most vocal critics of late is Jeanne Bridgeforth. Her organization Save Our Shelter has been embroiled in heated conflicts with City Hall over accusations of mismanagement at the city's animal shelter.
“My experience with Tim Kaine has been nothing short of disappointing,” Bridgeforth says. “In Tim's vision, there's only the big picture. He doesn't seem to see the issues he sees as small are important to others.”
Bridgeforth says Kaine told her three years ago that the animal shelter fell low on his list of priorities, which focused on education, crime and economic development.
“Tim is very calculated. He's going to play the side that is more politically advantageous. ... He acts more out of self-protection than out of a willingness to take a stand and take the flack whatever the outcome,” she says.
“The one thing I can say about Tim Kaine on the good side is he would listen and was pretty good about returning phone calls, but nothing would ever come of it.”
While Kaine agrees the shelter was not in his top priorities when he was elected to council, “that doesn’t mean I haven't taken her concerns seriously. Every time they’ve come to me with a new issue, I’ve taken them seriously ... I think they are pleased with the response they are getting with [City Manager Calvin] Jamison.”
Accessibility is something that has won Kaine praise. Isaac Regelson, architect, civic activist and president of the Midtown West Neighborhood Association, which includes the mayor's neighborhood, says, “You can have an audience with Tim Kaine and he will listen to you. He's always demonstrated an eagerness to discuss with people neighborhood and community issues.”
Regelson says Kaine used to attend neighborhood association meetings regularly and was an active force in the area until his mayoral schedule caused him to became less visible. "He's a bit less responsive since he's been elected mayor. But if I had a hot-button issue or something was going down that I needed him for, he'd be there."
Republican congressman and former Richmond mayor Tom Bliley has first hand experience in the rigors of the job. "I think Kaine is doing a very good job. He is a thoughtful and patient person — two things very important to being mayor.”
Kaine is well informed and works well with the council and constituents, Bliley says. "He's laid back and in constant communication with the rest of the council. And he tries to guide the council toward a consensus. I don't think I could point to any weakness in him."
Robert D. Holsworth, director of Virginia Commonwealth University's Center for Public Policy, describes Kaine as “a bridge builder.”
“Kaine is somebody who is fairly visible as mayor compared to some other mayors. He certainly plays a larger role in a lot of activities,” Holsworth says. But Kaine's eagerness to build bridges also comes with a price. “It's a failing that is traditional for bridge builders,” Holsworth says. “They are not willing to take stands.”
"He's not the Giuliani-type. He's not the kind of mayor who is the tough guy of the '90s you see in some urban areas," Holsworth says. Nowhere was that more apparent than in the recent flap about the Robert E. Lee portrait on the floodwall, he says.
“Richmond took a national hit ... because there wasn't anybody out front saying, this is what Richmond is about,” the professor says. When people outside of Richmond were looking for a spokesperson for the city during that event, the person they saw was Sa'ad El-Amin, the councilman whose protests brought the portrait down on grounds that it was offensive to African-American Richmonders. That is a situation where a strong mayoral voice could have made a difference, Holsworth says.
Behind the Scenes
Kaine's most vocal moments are generally reserved for behind-the-scenes work.
With all of the controversy that has erupted since he became mayor last July, including the city manager selection process, continued fiscal strain, the Richmond Animal Shelter and the Robert E. Lee portrait flap on the eve of the canal opening, Kaine has been as busy extinguishing flames as he is sparking new programs for the city.
The year’s biggest challenge came when the Rev. Leonidas Young, former mayor and Seventh District councilman, pleaded guilty to charges of fraud. Kaine implored council to maintain solidarity and neutrality as 19 charges stacked up against Young. The council was shattered when Young admitted his guilt on four counts.
“I was very happy that I kept all of the council members out of it,” Kaine says.
The day Young pleaded guilty, council members called a special meeting. It was an emotional gathering, with council members passionately expressing their disappointment and anger at Young for dragging them into the fray. As the press clamored for a statement, council members told Kaine, one of the most vocal in his disappointment, and Councilman Sa'ad El-Amin, Young's friend and closest ally in City Hall, to write an official statement. After 30 minutes, the two emerged with a declaration expressing disappointment and disassociation with Young while pledging to concentrate on city business, not scandal. The council appeared to the public as a solid unit.
Eyes Wide Open
If Tim Kaine is anything as a mayor, he is honest about the city’s problems —regional and racial tensions, economic development and low city employee morale. He is not a car salesman, glossing over bald tires and dents brought about by negligence. He talks about the nicks and scratches just as much as the city's bright spots.
Throwing his legs over the arm of one of the leather chairs in his office like a child sprawling out to watch television, Kaine settles in for a meeting about the city's fiscal future on April 21, the Wednesday after the April 19 budget meeting. City finance officials begin outlining protocol for the city’s pending credit rating process.
Kaine is told that the controversy about choosing someone with no municipal government experience, Calvin Jamison, as the city manager will come up. So will the failure of the Sixth Street Marketplace. "There will be some pointed questions. They read our newspapers and know that there are troubles here," Kaine is warned. "I don't mean any disrespect here," one adviser says, then tells Kaine there is concern about the ability of the city's leadership to secure Richmond's financial obligations.
"I don't feel hesitant at all about wading into that stuff," Kaine says. He'll do the explaining, he says, and prove to the rating committees that the city manager, council and mayor are well prepared for the financial challenges ahead. (In mid-May, Standard and Poor's and Fitch’s allowed the city to maintain its AA-bond rating. City officials didn't convince Moody's to raise the city from A to AA. Kaine says that the drop occurred in 1994 when the outgoing council dipped into city reserves.)
An afternoon of meetings and telephone calls speeds by until a contingent arrives. With controversy raging over alleged mismanagement at the city's animal shelter, the mayor is asked to meet with representatives of animal rights groups worried about rumors of improper euthanasia methods and animal mistreatment in the shelter as well as with advocates for the employees supposedly fired after voicing criticism of the shelter to the media.
(At the end of March, after a March 16 Style story on the shelter, Shelter Administrator Selina Deale had been temporarily removed from her post and reassigned to other duties while an investigation was completed by the city manager's office.)
Kaine is the sole city representative facing seven visitors. He is barraged with criticism about the city's investigation into the shelter and accused of inaction and conspiracy to cover up the gross negligence alleged by informants. Visibly ruffled, Kaine tries to remain amicable as the emotional visitors level accusations that he is stalling and unconcerned with the well-being of animals.
He lays down his bottom line: “You’re experts in this and I’m not. You may be frustrated with me because I don't know the ins and outs of all of this.” He ends with a pledge to investigate all of the possibilities, including administrative action against management, privatizing the shelter or creating a board of governors, after the budget process has been completed.
Even after the heated debate and visible anger on both sides, Kaine shakes hands with each member of the group before he leaves.
Welcome to Our World
Late that evening, Kaine pulls into Whitcomb Court, a housing project in northeast Richmond.
He is watched intently by a crowd of children playing in the street. When Kaine steps out of his dented black Dodge pickup in a pair of blue Dockers pants and a casual Tommy Hilfiger shirt, they run up shouting “Tim” and “Mayor Kaine.” He takes a few minutes to recall where he has met the children — one during a school visit, another on a work program, a third at a sporting event.
Once a month, the mayor attends tenants’ council meetings throughout the city. Before going out of his own Second District, Kaine invites the City Council representative representing a particular housing community to join him.
The mayor takes a seat in the yellow-and-green, cement-block recreation center. Behind his head is a poster depicting children of all races holding hands around an elongated globe. The caption reads, “Welcome to Our World.”
Kaine watches attentively as the tenants’ council discusses crime, trespassers and litter. He speaks little during the formal meeting, asking only to review a folio of crime statistics for this area. Members of the tenants’ association tell Kaine that they have expressed their concerns to their councilman, Sa'ad El-Amin, to no avail. Kaine instructs them to work through proper channels but says he will work on the issues as well.
“Timmy,” one older woman on the council says, “I just want to tell you that this has been the first council that's sitting downtown that the council members have gone out to the districts just asking what they can do to support us. Thank you.”
Kaine leaves and races across town. He is scheduled to speak at Ginter Park Presbyterian Church.
Walking to the podium, the mayor rolls up only his left sleeve, grasps the lectern with both hands and launches into another of his famed impromptu speeches. “I want to use the millennium as a time for reflection for our community. We'd be fools not to,” he says.
Racial and regional sores must heal and the only people who are going to be able to attack that, he says, are the leaders who have avoided it for too long. “Folks, [political] institutions are anemic and ill because people don't participate anymore.”
When Jesus was collecting the loaves and fishes, he could not have made the miracle that fed the thousands if the few who had food did not place their bounty into the basket, Kaine says, illustrating that everyone needs to get involved. Twenty minutes into the speech, he stops. “That's my pitch. Now I'll be glad to answer questions.”
Crunching the Numbers
The following Monday, April 26, City Council business crowds the schedule.
The conference room is full by the time the mayor arrives about 1 p.m., almost an hour late for the informal City Council sessions scheduled before the 6 p.m. biweekly televised meeting. A morning speaking engagement delayed him.
Kaine enters the room waving one of the parking tickets that have been drawing criticism since the city privatized parking enforcement. He throws his ticket on the table, lashing out playfully at the city manager. “This parking thing is getting really out of hand!”
The mayor pleads his case: “I just stopped on Franklin Street for a minute to run inside and I came out and this was on the window.”
“Well, they haven't towed you yet. I’ll have to work on that,” City Manager Calvin Jamison shoots back.
After the parley, pats on the back are passed around to the mayor and city staff who participated in the previous Saturday’s Tour de Richmond, a bike ride through the city sponsored by the mayor and City Hall. The event attracted hundreds of cyclists, far exceeding projected attendance estimates. Warm fuzzies soon melt as the budget debate ensues. Kaine sits quietly, watching councilmen Joseph Brooks and John Conrad wrangle with city staff members about proposed budget cuts in various programs.
Emerging from his cocoon of silence, Kaine ushers the group through a calm decision-making process. They move thousands of dollars like poker chips from one pile to another to balance available funds with organizational needs and to cover some extras — sidewalk and curb improvements, streetlights, parks and nonprofits.
“Everyone still respect themselves?” Kaine jokes.
Sitting in the Big Chair
Already five hours into council meetings for the day, the mayor calls the televised evening meeting to order.
Awards are first. Kaine reclines in his chair and jovially praises honorees. But the meeting's tone soon turns sour.
During time for public comment, a homeless advocate lashes out about city-imposed obstacles for opening homeless shelters and a lack of public funding for homeless advocates. He argues for almost 15 minutes beyond the allotted three-minute period and continues to be belligerent even after the mayor takes time to explain the origin and intent of the city's homeless policy. Finally, Kaine asks the angered man to step down or be ejected from the room.
Next is a distraught former city animal shelter officer. He chastises the council for not taking direct action on charges of mismanagement and animal cruelty levied against shelter administrators before those administrators fired employees who went public with criticism.
Outspoken former city councilwoman Shirley Harvey follows.
“Tim, please tell us how much money and how many man-hours were spent on your bike race [the Tour de Richmond] this weekend, hopefully to give you a ride to higher office,” Harvey demands. Some members of the audience applaud. Kaine forces a smile and thanks Harvey for her activism.
“The reality in politics is you're going to do things that make people mad,” Kaine later says of the tongue-lashing. “I think that's one reason people don't want to get into politics. But I think there's something kind of good about that. Even if people are upset, I try to remind myself that at least people are participating in government.”
The barrage over, Kaine watches the gallery clear after the last agenda item has been decided.
It's only 9:15 p.m., an unusually early recess for a council meeting.
Maybe he'll get to see his kids before they are asleep.