You remember that old line, don’t you? “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Well, we have been “fooled” many times – shame on us. We were fooled by the effort to slide a vote through on the headquarters hotel with no notification to citizens that council was seriously discussing the issue. Now we have been fooled again by this absurd (and successful) scheme to fund a consultant to convince citizens that an arena would be good for us.
Who is fooling us? The Control Group is behind these and other schemes.
These are two examples of the Control Group in action – a coalition of some members of city council, senior city staff and those developers who would profit from an arena working in secret. 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.
A review of the Control Group’s accomplishments of the last ten-twelve years shows the extent of control they have over our government.
Years ago, 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.”
Nor long ago, 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.
Most recently we find that the Control Group has secretly been funding a consultant to study an arena. Our city council did not allow citizens to vote on those expenditures.
In the earlier 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 is in charge of our Virginia Beach. In the future, an uninhibited Control Group will develop light rail, the Strategic Growth Areas, the convention hotel and other projects in the so-called Tourism Zone.
Getting the picture? Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us many, many times, shame on us for our continuing head-in-the-sand approach to our own government. As long as so many citizens of Virginia Beach remain in the Uninformed category, we will be fooled, conned, duped, suckered (take your pick) many more times.
What are you, the citizens of Virginia Beach, going to do about it?