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About Mountain_Junior

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    Hampton Roads, VA
  1. Yes, I agree that small-minded attitudes are getting us no where but, if by saying that Raleigh is in a league of its own, you are implying that it's an unfair comparison because Raleigh is some special case that Hampton Roads can’t compete with, then I don’t see it that way. It’s not like Raleigh/Durham sits on some deposit of Vibranium that makes Research Triangle Park only possible there. It’s just that leaders in NC saw that their post-war economy was floundering, recognized an opportunity to change it, seized that opportunity, and most importantly, weren’t undermined by local leaders derailing it as part of a zero-sum intercity rivalry. (It’s location straddling Wake and Durham County is no accident) That’s not to say that rivalries don’t exist there, but for a number of reasons it was able to be shepherded through without any of that stopping it. What I’m saying is that there is nothing that stops us from doing something grand like that here, except for our government structure and the history of hostility in our area. In terms of government structure, I mean annexation law and how cities grow and find revenue that supports the running of government. Raleigh and other NC cities have grown through annexation whereas HRVA cities could not after all the nearby counties consolidated into independent cities. (This is no judgment on the cities/counties that did consolidate. It was VA law at the time and they would’ve been foolish not to take advantage of it.) Raleigh annexation history In HRVA our independent cities grew, as would be expected, and now we had our older cities with other adjacent cities right next to them and all are in effect competing for the same people/businesses/organizations because that’s how they grow and build new revenue streams, not as NC cities do through annexation. Also, since they don’t exist within counties, and are thus tangent to one another, there is no middle ground, so if a big regional project like RTP is being built somewhere, it HAS to be built in one of our cities(assuming here we’re talking about the contiguous seven cities). However, once a location in a host city is chosen, the others will often back out or demand a reassessment of the chosen site because to go forward and support that project would be to give the host city an asset(like an industrial park, stadium, airport, etc) that it will then use to market itself as “better than” those surrounding cities. It is a basic zero sum game: a point for that city subtracts a point from my score. Leaders can’t cooperate without looking like they caved to the other cities. When that cooperation falls through, our cities go it alone and now Hampton Roads has 5 airports, multiple small entertainment venues, a handful of small sports teams, 4 or 5 mini-downtowns, etc., but none of which can compete with another urban area of similar population elsewhere. In NC, on the other hand, the cities annexed the growing urban areas that were developing on their fringes and as a result, no major city with a competing downtown grows up right on its border. So when it comes time to cooperate on something like RTP, the cities can support it being in between them, within the counties that surround it. There’s also not the same history of hostility that exists between those cities because Raleigh’s creation myth isn’t that it was founded to stop Durham from taking that area over and Durham doesn’t feel like Raleigh stole its place. (Ref: Norfolk and VB turbulent history here) That’s not to say there aren’t rivalries and in-fighting at times there, but it doesn’t have the effect of derailing regional cooperation every time. Bottom line, nothing is stopping us but us. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  2. I have to be honest, I actually enjoy reading the comments. It’s my guilty pleasure Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  3. Raleigh growing faster than Hampton Roads isn’t really news. And it’s not the fault of any one city or city council. It’s been understood for some time that we have a government structure that fosters harmful in-fighting, drives away businesses, and scuttles the types of cooperative efforts that make regions thrive. And it’s been happening for a century or more. 1928 Daily Press: UNIFICATION OF EFFORT URGED OF INTERESTS AND CITIES ON HAMPTON ROADS “Believing that the industrial and commercial interests of the two sides of the Port of Hampton Roads are the same and that the establishment of separate municipalities cannot overcome economic conditions, J. Gordon Bohannan, chairman of the State Port Authority of Virginia and members of the port authority met in conference yesterday with city officials of the Hampton Roads cities … in an effort to secure greater cooperation between the cities of the port… Realizing that the problem was too big to solve without serious and long consideration … the Port Authority chairman … ask[ed] each of the four Hampton Roads cities: Newport News, Norfolk, Hampton and Portsmouth to appoint committees … to reach some solution to the problem of intercity antipathy which is alleged, to exist between them now.” 1950 Daily Press: PROMISING PORT PROPOSAL “One of the most unfortunate circumstances of the development of this area has been the separateness of its various segments.… [C]ommunities that have almost everything in common have vied with each other for port business and industrial development while they should have been fighting to bring business to the area…. To the outside world the Hampton Roads area must present a united front if it is to win confidence and trust. An area divided against itself as this area has been is its own worst enemy.” 1974: Daily Press: DESIGN GROUP URGES END OF IN-FIGHTING IN DEVELOPING REGIONAL TRANSIT SYSTEM “The Tidewater localities, planning district commissions, and politicians should stop their in-fighting over boundaries and begin working together to formulate a regional transportation system or they will continue to suffer from ‘arterial sclerosis’ of the cities…” 1996: Virginian-Pilot: CITIZENS SAY A LACK OF COOPERATION HURTS EFFORT AT LURING JOBS “Citizens attending a neighborhood forum on regional issues Thursday said there was not enough cooperation among Hampton Roads cities to attract corporations that provide good-paying jobs. The citizens also named three other major stumbling blocks to luring major businesses: negative publicity about water problems, uncertainty about defining the region and promoting its strengths and inadequate region-wide transit, including lack of a light-rail system.” 2017 Virginian-Pilot: REGIONAL SUCCESS SUFFERS AS CITIES COMPETE “Municipal decision-making in Hampton Roads tends to be so inwardly focused that little consideration — if any — goes to how one city’s decisions affect life in another. That’s especially frustrating because while we may each be a resident of individual cities, the borders between municipalities matter little in our daily lives, or in the business we conduct or, really, in how we are perceived by others. … It means that cities compete far more than cooperate … since what benefits one city is not necessarily perceived as helping its neighbor. It means that the region’s cities, representing 1.7 million Virginians, have left uncountable opportunities begging because businesses from beyond the region see individual cities squabbling rather than a cooperating community. … And that leads to the kind of short-sighted choices that end up costing all of us.” History shows that competing localities with conflicting agendas have not and will not deliver on regional aspirations. So no need to waste any astonishment on the fact that disunity has left the region lagging its peers. Unification of Effort Urged Of Interests and Cities on Hampton Roads https://www.newspapers.com/image/231534235/ Promising Port Proposal https://www.newspapers.com/image/231248728/ Design Group Urges End Of In-Fighting In Developing Regional Transit System https://www.newspapers.com/image/230963735/ Citizens Say a Lack of Cooperation Hurts Effort at Luring Jobs https://scholar.lib.vt.edu/VA-news/VA-Pilot/issues/1996/vp960517/05170482.htm Regional success suffers as cities compete https://pilotonline.com/opinion/editorial/article_c37d51ac-bf56-5869-8583-9821bd7a5238.html
  4. BFG, you know I agree with you. Just a few considerations. First, I think the idea if at-large seats is much needed here. You want some folks who are the big picture members that act as the sort of “disinterested third party” when folks pick sides on an issue. Second point, a quick look at VA code brings up some relevant articles. This top one notes that city councils are currently restricted to a max of 11 members so such a council would require a change to this or an exception for HRVA. Not that this would be impossible though. The new city’s charter would have to be approved anyway and some other things would have to be included in there, so this would just be one of them. For such a large metro area I think the justification is there. —————— § 15.2-1400. Governing bodies. A. The qualified voters of every locality shall elect a governing body for such locality. The date, place, number, term and other details of the election shall be as specified by law, general or special. Qualification for office is provided in § 15.2-1522 et seq. B. The governing body of every locality shall be composed of not fewer than three nor more than eleven members. https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title15.2/chapter14/section15.2-1400/ This next one seems to say in para 9.b. that constitutional officers (mayors, city council etc) can stay put if that’s part of the consolidation agreement. ———————- § 15.2-3534. Optional provisions of consolidation agreement 9. a. In the event of establishment of a consolidated city, there shall be a new election of officers therefor whose election and qualification shall terminate the terms of office of their predecessors; provision may be made for the exclusion from such new election of such elective officers as is deemed desirable. b. In the event of the establishment of a consolidated city, the constitutional officers of the consolidating jurisdictions may continue in office at not less than their salaries in effect at the effective date of consolidation; the selection of each constitutional officer for the consolidated city shall be made by agreement between those persons holding such respective offices, and the other or others, as the case may be, shall become assistants or chief deputies, upon filing of a certification of such agreement in a circuit court and approval by the court; in the event no agreement is reached or no certification is filed on or before a date stated in the consolidation agreement, the circuit court shall designate one officer as principal and the other or others, as the case may be, as assistants or chief deputies; and in the event of a vacancy in the office of assistant or chief deputy thereby created during such term, the position shall be abolished. Each such officer shall continue in office, whether as the principal officer or as chief deputy or assistant, until January 1 following the next regularly scheduled election pursuant to § 24.2-217, whether or not the term to which such officer was elected may have expired prior to that date. When the effective date of the consolidation plan is the same as the end of the term of one or more existing constitutional officers for the consolidating jurisdictions, an election shall be held to elect such constitutional officers for the consolidating jurisdictions for a new term to begin on the effective date of consolidation. Such newly elected officers may or may not become the principal constitutional officers of the consolidated city under this provision. https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title15.2/chapter35/section15.2-3534/ Anyway, as I said you have my vote. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  5. One other point. This is basically what I and many others mean when we talk about consolidation. The new city’s charter would just have to be written so that there is a metro council and each borough would have its own council and even mayor(NYC does it this way). Then citizen-level services (fixing pot holes, dog catchers, building permits, etc) stay at the borough level but the big picture, strategic, long term stuff like transportation, land use planning, and big infrastructure projects, happen at the metro level. Besides consolidating and writing a charter with this system in it, there’s really not another way to organize it this way. It’s also worth noting that Suffolk, VB, and Chesapeake all have boroughs today for this reason: consolidation without preserving the existing communities is unpopular and seen as “wiping them out”. I guess I’m basically saying that I agree with you. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  6. The problem is that there is essentially no provision in VA law for this type of thing. It’s one of the state’s serious shortcomings and people have been writing about it for decades. It’s why consolidation gets brought up over and over again. Many if not most would prefer a metro approach to full consolidation but since that’s not available our options are: continue to flounder and lag other regions or consolidate. And before anyone says “HRPDC”, I’ll just say that HRPDC is an advisory body. They have virtually no authority to compel the localities to abide by the plans they come up with. And that is by law. You can’t just “make HRPDC stronger” without a general assembly vote. In short, our state is woefully equipped to deal with regional issues or action. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  7. So it’s not super clear in the article but what I think it’s saying is that military personnel will now be counted where they are stationed, like Hampton Roads, instead of where they initially enlisted(this is known as the home of record). The article says that previously “all military members serving abroad during the head count” which included “both stationed and temporarily deployed troops” would be assigned to a state’s population totals “based on the addresses provided when they enlisted.” This means that in the past, if Sgt. Joe lived in Iowa when he enlisted, that would be his “home of record”. So even though he actually lives near Fort Story because that’s where the Army has assigned him, the census will count him as a resident of Iowa because that’s where he lived when he joined the Army. The article then says that “After years of advocacy by lawmakers and community leaders from areas with military bases nearby, the Census Bureau decided to make a switch for the 2020 census and count deployed troops at the bases or ports they are assigned away from on Census Day, April 1.” This is because places like VA and others that have big mil populations are basically saying “these military personnel live in our states, use our infrastructure, send their kids to our schools, rely on our services, etc. but if you count them elsewhere, we don’t get the funding and representation that should come along with that.” I think it’s probably more about congressional representation but you get the idea. The confusion is that at any point, about 15% of those personnel assigned to Hampton Roads (or any other base/area) are deployed overseas to the Middle East, Africa, Europe, etc. DOD is saying that they can’t provide that deployment data in time for the census deadline. But the census wants to count Sgt. Joe as “not in Virginia” if he’s in Africa at the time of the census. So that 15% of 83K won’t be counted as “in Hampton Roads” for census purposes. They’ll be counted as “overseas.” The remaining 85% will be counted toward our total here (instead of their home of record), which is a change from previous years. Anyone else read it differently? Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  8. True, especially since those same numbers will be taken from other urban areas all around the country (although this may be negligible). I think another interesting angle to this is who will benefit locally. I’d seem to me that VB and Chesapeake might have more to gain than Norfolk and Portsmouth given that lots of the workers from those cities reside in VB and Chesapeake. VB already is ahead in population so it may not make enough of a difference to matter but it probably will skew in their direction a bit. Also I wonder if that could cause electoral districts to look really different. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  9. HRCOC claims its 83K so yeah I’d say that’s a boon for Hampton Roads. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  10. Thanks. That’s very kind. I agree that it’s fun to sort of wonder what we’d look like if Norfolk had continued to grow south and east while Portsmouth grew south and west. I think we’d have like a Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex happening, at least on the southside. I think it’s interesting that even the City Manager of VB in 1969, the city that only 7 yrs prior to this had consolidated w/PA county to stop Norfolk’s growth, predicted that we’d be a single consolidated city by now. From his letter that was put in a time capsule: “I believe that the Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach cities will be merged into one city called “Tidewater” with a population of more than four million people.” https://pilotonline.com/news/local/history/article_3ac3fad4-0700-53c2-8230-59f3186d6d41.html Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  11. From a political perspective, yes I think merging the cities and their governments is a challenge, however in terms of the mechanics of government, it’s easier to merge, say, two cities than a county and an adjacent independent city. In VA code, Title 15.2, Ch. 35 “Consolidation of Localities” it states that there are some extra hoops to jump through when consolidating dissimilar units of government, making it a little harder. Also, if you look at the way cities and counties are organized, the services they provide, and how they earn revenue, those dissimilar elements add another level of complexity to it. As far as the governments being a hurdle, I agree with you, but it’s worth noting that across our history, there have been a large number of local government officials who’ve expressed support for the idea of consolidation, however this is usually after they’ve left office or in private. So my sense is that it’s less about them not agreeing with it and more about them feeling that any support for it will look like a betrayal to their voters. As far as Norfolk getting greedy with land grabs, I’d have to say that is a pretty unfair telling of the situation. The fact is, that this is how all cities grow. It’s not unfair and it’s not greedy. It’s normal. Populations move into the area surrounding a city, but as they begin to grow and benefit from the jobs, infrastructure, services, and amenities paid for by the central city, they get annexed so that their taxes can properly contribute to the maintenance of the city that they so obviously benefit from. It’s only because Virginia foolishly adopted a moratorium on annexations and allowed city/county consolidations into independent cities to block core city annexations that resulted in what we have now. Jim Oliver explained in 2015 by saying that “Fifty years ago Norfolk, Charlotte, Nashville, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Portland, Ore., were seen as older, midsized, economically stable cities that were unlikely to become regional centers. In 1965, Virginia's largest city, home to the largest military bases and an international port, was seen as the most likely of those to grow and prosper. By 2015, each of the other regions has prospered and grown by harnessing their regional power. Our region has failed to meet its potential by any of a number of economic measures and has remained largely balkanized. Between 1990 and 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hampton Roads grew 14 percent in population while Charlotte grew 58 percent, Nashville 43 percent and Jacksonville 38 percent. The annual payroll per-private-business employee is $32,481 here, $42,221 in Charlotte and $37,274 in Jacksonville.” https://pilotonline.com/opinion/columnist/guest/article_5cc66e48-5360-5725-a05c-a8fecc29ea62.html Given that our region now exists the way it does, consolidation is our best hope to ever compete again with other regions. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  12. More real world proof of the benefits of consolidation. Daily Press: While mired in investigations and death, Hampton Roads Regional Jail's board fought against change https://www.dailypress.com/news/southside/dp-nws-regional-jail-investigation-0411-story.html Quotation about the regional jail: “With responsibility dissipated through the multi-member board, there is no one elected official accountable for what happens there. ‘If everyone is in charge, then no one is in charge,’ said Michelle Deitch, a jail oversight expert and senior lecturer at the LBJ School and the School of Law at The University of Texas at Austin.” Contrast it with this statement about the consolidated city of Jacksonville: Tale of two mergers: Jacksonville - The Gainesville Sun https://www.gainesville.com/news/20080512/tale-of-two-mergers-jacksonville Excerpt from the article: “Mullaney said much of Jacksonville’s success in consolidating lies in its decision to create a strong-mayor form of government in which the mayor is essentially the executive director of the whole county. Rinaman said the accountability that form of government created has been the most important benefit of consolidation. ‘Not having responsibility spread all over the countryside is probably the key achievement,’ Rinaman said. ‘The mayor is responsible for just about everything, and is therefore more responsive. If something goes right or wrong, there’s no question about which governmental body is to blame.’” Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  13. Hey everyone, something a little different for you here. Attached are 3 screenshots of a poem I wrote last week about the unification/consolidation of Hampton Roads. I thought that this might be a way to get people to think about this issue, while also (hopefully) being entertained. What I’ve attached is a draft so it may get a few minor changes still, but I think it’s about as it will look in its final form. Although I recognize it does need to be shorter. Ultimately, this will likely become a submission for WHRO’s “Writer’s Block”, a local radio program that showcases musicians, storytellers, poets, and spoken word artists from Hampton Roads (via public performances that are recorded, edited, and played at a later date). I’ve read some work for them before and hopefully this will make the cut as well. I got the idea to do this after remembering an 1887 poem called “One Civic System” by George Nowitsky. (If anyone wants to read it, let me know and I’ll send it to you) Anyway, I hope you enjoy. If you have any feedback, I’m happy to hear it. And if you want it read by someone famous, like Morgan Freeman or Michael Caine, look at a picture of them first, then read it. You’ll hear it in their voice in your head. So that’s fun. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  14. Hi everyone. I'm 37 and live in Chesapeake, but I'm not from the area originally. I moved here first in 2004, lived in Hampton, then moved to Virginia Beach when I got married and my wife didn't want to drive through the tunnel for her work. Then moved away for work in 2006, then back to the area in 2014 to Chesapeake. Been there for almost 5 years now I guess. Now my wife is bugging me to move to Norfolk or Portsmouth (she wants to live in a walkable neighborhood), so I might soon be able to say I've lived in 4 of the 7 core Hampton Roads cities. Anyway, since moving back here in 2014, I started getting more interested in my community, and began reading and learning about the area, going to city council meetings, HRTPO meetings, got Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press subscriptions, listening to Hearsay and other radio shows, etc. As I learned more and began to see articles and such talking about harmful competition between the region's cities, I began to wonder, like many people do, why the region never became a single city. I have an undergrad degree in political science, so I kind of knew where to look and what to look for. I started digging and haven't come up for air since. It's how I found this forum. Eventually, I went out and got memberships to the ODU, Chesapeake, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach libraries, so I could look over old newspapers. I bought a couple of books. And now I know enough to really turn people off in conversation. But my real motivation for all that reading was to have some context and some facts in these discussions. Too often when I talk to people about consolidation/merger/regionalism etc, it becomes a conversation of "I think this" vs "I think that" and since there's no accounting for taste, it just ends there, both realizing that we disagree and that's about it. While an exchange of outlooks is important, I like to get to facts, reports, surveys, and data. So, in short, sorry if I go hard with sources and citations on my posts. It's just how I think. Anyway, I love it here and will be trying my very best not to move any time soon. I've lived quite a few places in my life, but Hampton Roads feels really different. I'll close with this: When I told my wife about this forum, she said "oh good, you've found your people", so I'm obviously happy to be a member here.
  15. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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