Former Republican governor and U.S. Sen. George Allen plans to speak next week to the Richmond Crusade for Voters, one of the city's oldest black political activism organizations.
Allen recently teamed with former Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Paul Goldman to add umph to Goldman's years-long push to make federal historic tax credits available for school renovation projects. The two have been invited to speak on the proposal.
“I'm honored that they would ask me to come, and along with Paul Goldman we'll be presenting this idea,” says Allen, who sees this issue as transcending any potential bad blood that may remain from past transgressions. “I don't expect we'll have any hostility at all. If we can get people from diverse opinions and backgrounds behind this it makes it all the stronger.”
Crusade President Antione Green, who previously interned in Allen's Senate office, extended the speaking invitation to Allen and Goldman.
“This is hugely important issue,” says Green, who also recently appointed a fact-finding committee, headed by City Councilman Marty Jewell, to study the proposal.
“I think the important thing here is what's at stake and what's on the line -- what's on the line is being able to finally solve a financial challenge to renovating aging school facilities in Richmond schools,” says Green, who acknowledges the potential controversy that comes with bringing Allen to a group that leans Democratic, many of whom saw Allen's use of the derisive ‘macaca' term two years ago as a sign of racial insensitivity. “I think it would be unfortunate for anyone to reduce the debate to personalities, whether it's myself or Paul Goldman or George Allen.”
The proposal that Goldman and Allen are championing would involve what amounts to a single-line alteration to the federal tax code, allowing public buildings that are renovated but that retain their original purpose (such as schools) to qualify for historic tax credits.
Allen, who inked Virginia's historic tax credit legislation says this issue transcends bipartisan politics.
“I always believe that you should judge matters based on the merits of an idea,” he says.
The federal tax credits, when coupled with already-available state tax credits, could mean savings of 40 percent or more on the cost of school renovation projects, according Goldman as well as a number of tax credit experts.
The Richmond Crusade for Voters meets Nov. 17 at 2416 Chamberlayne Ave.