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April 16, 2024
Richmond City Council
Lincoln Saunders
Levar Stoney
Sent Via Email
Re: City of Richmond’s Diamond District Proposal
Dear Richmond City Officials:
A few days ago, I read an April 8, 2024 Richmond BizSense article that I found quite disturbing. If my memory is correct the article stated:
40% of the construction of the Diamond District’s improvements are mandated to be awarded to minority owned businesses.
40% of the construction contracts are mandated to be awarded to union labor.
10-20% of the residential units are mandated to go to “low income” tenants.
City leaders now intend to put taxpayers on the hook for $40 million of revenue bonds for the construction of the minor league stadium.
I apologize if my recollection of what the BizSense article stated is not 100% accurate, but when I checked the article before writing this letter, for some reason the article had been revised and information on minority contracting and union labor had been deleted. I’m guessing these deletions were done at the insistence of City “leaders” who are interested in keeping this information from the public.
Each of you owe a fiduciary duty to the City of Richmond and taxpayers. The municipal fisc is not your private “cookie jar” to use to bolster your political preferences and to enrich yourselves. You are a steward of other people’s money and therefore have a very high standard of fiscal responsibility. Your duty demands wise fiscal management which requires that all contracts be let to the lowest bidder and most capable contractor. This minority owned business condition is blatantly unconstitutional and each of you are openly inviting a federal civil rights suit naming you as a defendant. All of you know that this provision is discriminatory and a violation of the law. Your acts are intentional and egregious. As recent court cases confirm, you have no governmental immunity, and your E and O insurance will not defend you or compensate you against any lawsuits. Frankly, I don’t know how any of you can prevent being sued personally with such a blatant discriminatory provision.
The labor union provision is also of questionable legality and reeks of corruption. Again, your duty is to secure the best price by the best contractor. Period. The taxpayers all know what this provision is about, a sop to labor unions who in return give money to your own campaigns, your political parties and to various other organizations that support you politically and dish out favors that benefit you, your family and your political allies. It’s basically a money laundering and kick back system paid for by the taxpayers.
Low Income Housing. In what world does any real estate project cap its upside in any project? Again, each of you is a fiduciary and steward of other people’s money, and as such you are required to see that the development is as profitable as possible. You should want an enhanced tax base and a successful project. Wherever “rent control” has been deployed, it has always been an unmitigated disaster, interfering with market economics, housing supply and reducing the incentive to supply capital into the housing market. It is incredibly short-sighted and will prove to be detrimental to the project. I have heard repeated stories from young people in developments where a municipality has forced these lower income requirements and have been told first-hand about an array of criminal activity, such as drug dealing, shootings and even murder. Moreover, studies indicate that those awarded these low-income units don’t pay their rent and are delinquent many times more than those paying the market rent. All of this brings down the asset value of the development, hurts the tax bases and costs the City more in services. Frankly, it is asinine.
I would suggest that instead of using taxpayer money for corrupt political reasons that each of you use your own money to fund whatever political or personal causes you desire. To screw over the taxpayer is unethical and corrupt, and all of these efforts come with significant liability risks for all of you.
I don’t know why it’s the City’s responsibility to build a ballpark for a private business, much less go on the hook for over $40 million dollars in funding for a private business. I believe that if the City had just sold this land to private developers with no conditions when it could have, there would be a thriving mini-city already built generating millions in tax revenue. But, I will leave these arguments for another day, as of now your “development conditions” are blatantly unconstitutional, corrupt and misguided. I urge you to drop these conditions and live up to your fiduciary obligations to the City and taxpayers.
Very truly yours,
Robert C. Smith


Rob Smith

Rob Smith is a lawyer and Managing Director of Chartwell Capital in Richmond, Virginia. He is mean as a snake and likes to kick little puppies when he see them. He also enjoys making children cry and tripping old ladies. He is extremely superficial and shallow. His favorite pastimes/hobbies are pissing people off, littering and being obnoxious.

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