What the heck has gotten into Charles Samuels?
The sometimes stern but normally mild-mannered 2nd District councilman got a bit testy at Monday’s Richmond City Council meeting when he apparently felt that the mayor’s chief of staff, Grant Neely, would not offer a straight answer to a question regarding the mayor’s Shockoe Bottom baseball stadium plan.
It all started during the agenda review. Councilman Jon Baliles, 1st District, and Council President Michelle Mosby, 9th District, mentioned a meeting with Mayor Dwight Jones and members of his administration regarding a proposal that Baliles and three other council members put forth to reallocate $10.6 million from the mayor’s Shockoe plan to help fund repairs to city schools. It was introduced months ago, but council has delayed considering the resolution several times.
Under assurances from the administration that the money would be used solely for the “slavery heritage site,” Baliles agreed to withdraw the proposal at Monday’s meeting.
“It was explained that the money would not be transferred to schools, but used for the slavery heritage site,” Baliles said of his meeting with the administration two weeks prior.
Before Baliles could withdraw the resolution, Samuels sought confirmation from someone in the mayor’s administration that all of the money would be used for the planned slavery heritage museum. Neely strode down to the podium to quell his concerns, but was hesitant to directly answer Samuels’ yes-or-no question. The resulting back-and-forth saw neither Samuels nor Neely give ground on the matter.
“As we discussed the other day, plans are moving forward with the heritage site,” Neely offers.
“Am I hearing you correctly that this money will only be used for the museum?” Samuels says.
“The money will be used for the heritage site.”
Samuels, growing noticeably impatient, began pressing. “Yes or no?”
Neely would not budge.
“I know I can’t keep asking the same question over and over again and expect a different answer,” Samuels says.
Unsatisfied with Neely’s explanation, Samuels made a motion to continue the measure until the May 11 meeting, at which council will consider budget amendments. Council unanimously voted to do so, and the brief episode ended.