I found Style Weekly's interview online with Mayor Dwight Jones very interesting. It appears the mayor is not going to change his past strategy of claiming he is keeping the City Council and public informed, when, in fact, he did not in regard to the Shockoe Bottom plan.
The administration conceived the plan without any council or public input. There was no preliminary plan made available to either the public or the council. Then, when the administration had all the details put together the way they wanted them, the mayor revealed the plan and said "take it or leave it." He also refused to consider alternatives.
Council members held district meetings on the proposal but some of those meetings were controlled by the administration. Those I attended had no question-and-answer periods. Incidentally, I went to several and most of the people attending were against the plan or had serious questions that they were not allowed to raise.
This strategy has been used in past capital and development projects by the City of Richmond and it only creates confusion and mistrust.
What's needed is a city ordinance mandating that the full City Council be brought into all discussions — from conception to final proposal — of major projects requiring council approval. Without such a mandate, we will continue to have the same nonproductive process we have experienced in the past.
I suggest you interview some of the five City Council members who were prepared to vote down the proposal and get their views on this subject.