Control Group? Who or what is a control group? And what do they do? The Control Group is our Virginia Beach City Council supported by the power centers of our city. In Virginia Beach, power centers are organized around developers, real estate companies and tourism related businesses. Power Centers are oriented to and driven to accomplish specific self-serving goals, to control the decision-making process and guide the process to the desired goal.
The power comes from the contributions to candidates for public office. They give money in dollars and so-called “in kind” contributions as well as the active participation in the campaign. For instance, the contributor may give money, the company they work for can also give money and any employee can work in the campaign.
In our political system, power over the decision making process by the Control Group continues to grow.
You may remember that Mayor Sessoms received $620,000 in contributions for his last election. So far this year, he has received $320,000. That’s about $1,000,000 to our mayor for his election and re-election. That’s money the mayor can use to help elect other candidates by paying for radio and TV ads.
What do the power centers want for all their money?
Let’s review the last ten-twelve years.
Citizens voted for a park at 31st St and against a hotel there. The referendum was not a “binding” referendum so our city council dismissed citizens’ declared wishes. We now have a hotel there because the Control Group wanted it.
Some years ago, citizens wanted the Homestead Exemption, but did not get it. Our Chamber of Commerce objected and our city council fell mute and did not press for the exemption. Thanks to the Control Group there was no exemption.
Citizens voted against the Hampton Roads Transportation Authority, but were overridden by the Control Group. Once again, citizens spoke loud and clear and council ignored the people of Virginia Beach. (The HR Transportation Authority was later ruled unconstitutional.)
Citizens have voted against light rail, but you know where that is going. And, you may remember that one of our state delegates said a few years ago that, “They will get it whether they want it or not.”
More recently, the Control Group attempted to saddle the citizens of Virginia Beach with a $60 million (plus interest) bill to help fund the convention center headquarters hotel. After some pushback, council dropped the effort. Subsequently, the Control Group contrived to pass the Tourism Zone Gap financing law that will permit council to fund 20% of the cost of the hotel at a later date.
In all of these issues, the people of Virginia Beach voted and made their requests known to all. The Control Group, including our city council, clearly has demonstrated that it has firm control and gets what it wants. Citizens do not. The Control Group wants more of our money for their projects as demonstrated by the passage of the Tourism Zone Gap Financing rip-off.
The Control Group in the future will develop light rail, the Strategic Growth Areas, the convention hotel and other projects in the so-called Tourism Zone. Thanks to the New Bankers, they will use more TIF’s and the new Gap Financing scheme.
The Control Group is in charge of our Virginia Beach.
What are you, the citizens of Virginia Beach, going to do about it?