This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or email@example.com.
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Getting a piece of the stimulus
City Manager Phil Rodenberg announced last night that the city had sent a list of projects it thinks should qualify for stimulus funds from the Obama administration to the United States Conference of Mayors.
That group is compiling a list of projects from cities around the country that they say "could be started and completed in just two calendar years." The idea, it seems from the group’s PR, is to put this giant list in front of Congress and the Obama administration as good candidates for funding from Obama’s proposed $850 billion stimulus package. That package is still taking shape, still needs approval from Congress, but is expected to include a large chunk of funding for infrastructure projects around the country.
For what it’s worth, here is Fredericksburg’s list of projects, none of which should be new to you if you’ve spent any time looking at the city’s capital improvements plan. The riverfront park is on there ($4 million), as is a new courts complex ($60 million).
Councilman Matt Kelly, who has been trying to figure out the whole stimulus thing through his post on the George Washington Regional Commission, said at last night’s meeting, and again today, that this is one place to throw out requests for money, but it’s not really clear yet how the doling out of the stimulus money is going to work.
Nobody seems to know what "shovel ready"–the term that Obama staffers have been using to describe the projects they seek to fund–means (Go look at the proposed courts site right now and see if you think it says, "shovel ready."). Similarly, nobody seems to have a definition of what will be considered an "earmark," and therefore not eligible for stimulus funds.
"There is no official avenue of approach for this money," Kelly said. "Right now nobody knows what the heck is going on.
If you look at the city’s list and think Fredericksburg is getting greedy, all you need to do is take a look at Virginia Beach’s funding request. They’ve submitted more than $1 billion worth of projects to be considered for stimulus funds. Think all those projects can be done in two years?
UPDATE: Speaking of requests to the new president, I just read a copy of a letter that a certain Caroline Street resident who frequents council meetings (We’ll call him "JLo" to avoid any unwanted consequences of giving him free publicity) handed me last night. He is asking the president-elect to assist him with a specific concern he has about Fredericksburg. (CORRECTION: This person just told me he frequents all local government meetings except for council meetings. My bad.)
Ya think this is the way to go about talking to a president?
"Please don’t think I want you to personally come down here and knock heads together, but please keep an ear out for the name Fredericksburg, OK?"
He closes with, "Good luck, dude, I’ll try to write later."
So if you see Secret Service snooping around downtown, you now know why.