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Charlottesville Could Use a Little Change

Everyone knows what happened in Charlottesville last summer. Those events have formed the unchallengeable justification for a continuing public celebration of resentment and victimization that is now the foundation of civic life. The school system, local media, clergy, not-for-profits, the University of Virginia, and the community college, all sing from the same hymnal of the one true path to an inclusive and diverse earthly paradise.

Just this week dodgy local celebrity Katie Couric was the headliner of festivities touting her newest oeuvre, “Re-Righting History,” which follows the Perky One “as she learns about monuments in Charlottesville; Birmingham, Alabama; and New Orleans.” Because “she didn’t see many people talking about Confederate monuments,” last summer, Ms. Couric decided to confront the neglected issue with a TV show soon to air on National Geographic.

Full of Hate

In her courageous pursuit of truth and racial reconciliation, Ms. Couric elicited healing insights like: “Those statues have layers of meaning, but now, they’re also layered in Heather Heyer’s blood;” “None of this foolishness had anything to do with the statues or with history;” and “Charlottesville is actually full of hate.”

Soon an annual spring festival called Tom Tom (Tom as in Jefferson, but with an edge, get it? How cool!) will convene. This predictable orgy of auto-backslapping Charlottesville–hipness will have as its keynoter another aging factually-challenged network cast-off, Dan Rather. A key happening during Tom Tom will be the We Are Here Diversity Festival sponsored by the University of Virginia and the City of Charlottesville. Headlined by camera-shy local worthies Khizr Khan, and the mother of the late Ms. Heyer, the festival promises paradigm-shattering creativity, viz.: “the festival will bring the community together by showing the depth and breadth of diversity.”

Not to rest on the laurels of having fostered a monolithic culture in town, Charlottesville’s City Council can also point to real public policy achievements  like successfully strong-arming a developer to build low-cost housing units (but well away from the luxury condo development in question—even right-thinking Charlottesville elites have their limits),  continuing to stall another developer’s efforts to complete a derelict eyesore that  looms over the Downtown Mall, and engineering a leftist takeover of the local historical society promising “partnerships and relationships with community organizations and new bylaws, programs of exhibitions, and projects that reflect diversity.”

In addition the Council has just decided to put other people’s money where its mouth is by adding $115,000 to an already record budget to raise the “living wage” from $13.79 to $14.40, provide $240,000 for  its cronies and mouthpieces in “outside agencies and nonprofits,” and $90,000 to subsidize Charlottesville’s version of the Young Pioneers. The projected 2019 budget total, for a “city” of about 47,000, is an astounding $179.7 million.

Dollar Issues

While Charlottesville has been successful at browbeating or otherwise securing the indulgence of residents with the means and talents to challenge the prevailing craziness, the town has been less successful when it comes to outsiders whose skills or dollars it needs. The City Council’s record of comic antics dating back to before last year’s riot has not amused potential candidates for high-level municipal positions. Both the search for a new police chief and a new manager of emergency services have had to be re-opened before the interview stage because leading candidates dropped out.

In addition, fewer retail and lodging dollars are coming in from outside town. There has been an alarming year-long decline in city retail tax revenues. While there is no organized boycott, local anecdotal evidence suggests that Central Virginians are definitely avoiding Charlottesville out of considerations ranging from safety and general shabbiness, to the disapproval of the political/ideological climate, to just no longer needing to go there. Chamber of Commerce surveys indicate a decline in attractiveness of the city to potential visitors, while there has also been a significant increase in tax revenues in the surrounding Albemarle County as a result of expanding shopping and entertainment opportunities outside the City.

Testing the Limits

Finally, Governor Northam has just signed a bill permitting an annual review of the revenue-sharing agreement between Charlottesville and Albemarle County. This agreement, in effect since 1982, is a form of protection money the county pays to the city in return for the latter’s not grabbing valuable county land. The bill could open up opportunities for the county to keep more of its growing tax revenues, while also requiring the City to report annually on exactly how it has used the “shared” funds.

Actually stopping, or at least curtailing, the payoffs to the City would require a degree of resolve not currently in evidence in liberal Albemarle County, but the new law at least can initiate one of those “conversations” so beloved of suburban moderates. County residents can, at a minimum, now demand their politicians provide a plan for exploiting this new opportunity to keep more revenue at home, thereby stabilizing if not reducing Albemarle’s own heavy tax burden.

Much  will need to happen before this  threat develops beyond the theoretical, but loony Charlottesville may soon find itself testing the limits of soccer moms’ and sensitive suburban dads’ beneficence towards a town where breast-baring harridans exercising their constitutional rights to equal treatment under the law by taking off their tops are taken seriously, Whole Foods or no Whole Foods.

Read More From James V. Capua

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