Special/Signature Issues » Teachable Moments

Beware the Prodigal Politician



May 2004: After initially balking, former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder announces he's running to become the city's first elected, at-large mayor in nearly 50 years, sending the city into euphoria. No more circus at City Hall. No more Paygo accounts, bribery scandals or rooftop exorcisms. No more Richmond an irrelevant third-tier city. Better schools, lower crime, more efficiently run city government. Wilder wins 80 percent of the vote. Tinkerbell flies down from the castle.

January 2005: He takes office and almost immediately our Wilder dreams turn into night terrors, Natasha Henstridge style. Beautiful bosomy supermodel shows interest in us — OMG! — and then sticks her alien tongue through the back of our skull. During the next four years Hizzoner increases spending by $10 million and runs off all the talented city directors, cuts off funding for schools, launches a near-military state downtown with an after-hours eviction of the School Board and sparks a bunch of lawsuits that cost millions. 

July 2008: On his way out, Wilder not only dismantles City Hall, but also sends his alien spawn to destroy the career of Virginia Commonwealth University President Eugene Trani and beloved Police Chief Rodney Monroe, his only good hire who received an erroneously obtained degree from VCU.

January-December 2009: Mayor Dwight Jones spends the first year trying to clear out the gooey, snakelike extraterrestrial pods at City Hall.

Politician of the Decade: L. Douglas Wilder

Runner-Up: Gov. Tim Kaine's ascension from mayor to governor to DNC flak.

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