Take-Aways: the Week in Review

Bob Woodward's new book, Mayor opens up, weed law weird, ex-cop says no racism at CPD, and more...

From Bob Woodward and Robert Costa's new book, Peril: Trump erupted in anger at former GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan, who sought a doctor's advice and did research on how to deal with someone with narcissistic personality disorder after Trump won, Woodward and Costa reported, because he denounced the white nationalists who rioted here on A12.

Ryan tried to explain to Trump that he had a duty to condemn neo-Nazis -- but Trump had other concerns.

"These people love me," Trump told Ryan, according to Woodward and Costa. "These are my people. I can't backstab the people who support me."

Reminder: white supremacy goes on trial next month in the Sines v. Kessler lawsuit. Tyler Hammel provided a nice report on a Miller Center event discussing the trail in July if you want to get up to speed. And Molly Conger is already tweeting on pre-trial efforts.

Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker, who has always refused to talk to local reporters, finally opened up for what seemed like a therapy session with reporters at Charlottesville Tomorrow after announcing her decision not to seek re-election. "Her voice was peppered with sniffles. She held a tissue in her hand and closed her eyes in an attempt to hold back more tears. She took a quiet moment and a few sharp, shuddering breaths before wiping her eyes with the tissue and continuing." Walker explained that it was a difficult decision, but in the end realized that her efforts to fight "overt, covert, and internalized racism every day" in city government had "taken a toll on me and my family."

"...increasingly, she said, she couldn’t see the benefit of trying for another term. She said she believes that her work toward dismantling systemic racism throughout the city is important and necessary, but she alleges that other elected and appointed officials, as well as the community as a whole, haven’t supported that work in concrete ways. That, she said, was an enormous — and ultimately impossible — burden to bear alone."

Quote of the Week:

I've noticed that hardcore NIMBYs like to use rhetorical questions, which are really just accusations and insults dressed up as questions, but this anonymous one takes the cake!

"Well, if you went into Barracks/Rugby and Greenbrier and destroyed all the houses and replaced them with nothing – I mean, it sounds crazy -- except maybe to an ill-tempered New York Times opinionator -- and replaced them with nothing, but instead, I don’t know, maybe salted the earth and waited 50 years for the ghost of Harlan Bartholomew to vacate the soil for Hades, what would happen to housing prices in Charlottesville?"

Charlottesville Tomorrow- "The start of 2021 saw challenges for the council collectively, and Walker specifically. The city grappled with finding a new city manager to replace Tarron Richardson, who resigned suddenly in September 2020."

I continue to be puzzled by how the history of former City Manager Tarron Richardson's time here [Read: A Mental Maze: what we can learn from Tarron Richardson's brief time as city manager] keeps getting swept under the rug, when in fact his resignation wasn't sudden at all, and there's a direct link to what happened then and what is happening now.

Like Walker, Richardson said his job had "taken a toll" on him physically and mentally, adding that he was "hampered by city officials who didn’t respect where their authority ended and his began," and treated unfairly by a daily paper he said had a history of not portraying people of color in a positive light. But Walker, and most of those who support her fight against systematic racism in city government, were silent after Richardson announced he was resigning, offering no comment on how he was treated as only the second Black City manager in Charlottesville's history, and the first chosen in a public search process, during months of internal strife where it seemed that almost every public official in a leadership position was working against him.

The fiasco resulted in the hiring of Chip Boyles, a move Walker publicly celebrated, praising his experience in the community and his ability to provide a "neutral lens" on what needed to be done to stabilize city government.

And now here we are. The City's first Black woman Police Chief unceremoniously fired, and the City's first Black woman Mayor reduced to tears and calling it quits.

Both Charlottesville Tomorrow and the Daily Progress ran an opinion piece by retired Charlottesville Police Captain Bryant Bibb in which he declared that the CPD "is not now, nor has it ever been, a systemically racist organization." He added that Mayor Nikuyah Walker and a "small group of supporters" were presenting a "false narrative" by saying systematic racism existed in the department. However, just weeks ago, Charlottesville's Police Chief at the time, RaShall Brackney, published her own opinion piece in the Daily Progress saying that A12 was "a catalyst for the [CPD] to remove our blinders and confront systemic racism in our own institution." What's more, a report from a private consulting firm last year concluded that Charlottesville and Albemarle disproportionately arrest black people, and that race-based disparities exist in the treatment of individuals in otherwise similar situations. A day later CT ran an opinion piece by local attorney and activist Jeff Fogel, who accused Bibb of creating a false narrative. "He’s wrong, and this false narrative will only fan the flames of aggressive, warrior-type police officers," Fogel wrote. "Black people in Charlottesville know from their own experiences that racism permeates the CPD. Moreover, there is demonstrable evidence that this is so."

BRHD Update: “Based on what we know now, the vaccines protect against known variants, including the Delta variant. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is one of the best ways that we can protect ourselves from this virus. Unvaccinated people are 17 times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19. Cases in fully vaccinated people are uncommon. When they do occur, though, current information suggests that fully vaccinated people who do become infected with the Delta variant are at right for transmitting it to others. However, these individuals are likely infectious for a shorter period of time as compared to unvaccinated people. Because the Delta variant is spreading so quickly, we recommend that everyone get vaccinated and wear masks indoors (regardless of vaccination status).”

Virginia's new marijuana law sure is strange now. You can join a new social club on the DTM now where you can smoke weed, because it's illegal to smoke it on the street, but it's still illegal to buy weed. The only legal way to get weed is to grow it yourself or receive it as a gift from someone who has grown it, but it is still illegal to buy marijuana seeds or plants. The plan is to open the market for the sale of weed in 2024, but some lawmakers think that waiting like that is only boosting the illegal market for weed.

“People know it’s legal and they probably think they can buy it legally. And it’s going to become more and more difficult to explain that to the general public,” Del. Paul Krizek, D-Alexandria told the Virginia Mercury. “We don’t want to facilitate an illegal market out there.”

What's more, how on earth do you transition equitably to a legal weed market? As the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, the industry could generate $698 million to $1.2 billion in economic activity, and so there's going to be a lot of folks who are going to want a piece of that pie.

Virginia Mercury - David Mays, a General Assembly legislative analyst, said the medical industry is suggesting that lawmakers give them temporary licenses to sell to recreational customers on the condition that they each serve as an incubator for five new licensees who qualify for a planned social equity program, which is aimed at directing a portion of new marijuana business licenses to Black Virginians, who faced disproportionate enforcement of marijuana laws under prohibition.

While several members voiced support for the approach, House Majority Leader Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, said she was skeptical, worrying the plan would actually end up hurting the state’s social equity program. She cited past efforts by the state to help minority and women-owned businesses, which she said haven’t always been particularly successful.

“A minority or woman is brought in and a company says, ‘We’ll incubate you. You’re a partner. Wink,’” Herring said. “Then they get access to a social equity license. It does harm to the whole spirit of what we were trying to do.”

Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, who chairs the oversight commission, called it “an important issue to flag.” Asked after the meeting whether he expected legislation would be forthcoming that moved up the date of retail sales, he said it was still too early to say. The General Assembly reconvenes for its next regular session in January.

“It’s worthy of this subcommittee to consider if it can be done while still ensuring robust participation by social equity applicants,” he said.