The war of attrition towards an inclusive Virginia Beach drags on. It faces a potential flashpoint next year with City redistricting. However, no one should have any illusions: the fight will take years more. I offer this list of 10 Points to serve as guidelines on the way there.
1. Reform of Virginia Beach's obscene at-large voting system is The Holy Grail, but it won't come easy.
One of the principal lessons I learned from the 2001 redistricting process is that Virginia Beach's elite craves power above all else. They're ready to see our city reduced to a trash heap as long as they can lord over it when we get there.
I hold little hope we can get City Council itself to back reform in 2011. However, we need to fire a shot across the bow to let them know we're not taking this bullshit sitting down. It will mark the incumbents (and their backers) as anti-inclusion in subsequent years.
2. Keeping a Redevelopment & Housing Authority out 0f the hands of the City of Virginia Beach is paramount.
Listen to what neighborhoods get mentioned when the subject of redevelopment comes up, and note they're inevitably minority neighborhoods. Give a R&HA to our status quoers tomorrow and they'd start bulldozing the minority concentrations.
When Virginia Beach history is written, it may record that the beginning of the end of the status quo was the narrow loss of the 1996 R&HA referendum question. Consider what could have happened if they had won....
That said, it may be prudent to trade the elite a R&HA whose redevelopment powers are limited to the Strategic Growth Areas (minus Seatack) in return for something substantial, like a hybrid voting system.
3. Housing stock is the potential chokepoint, so take on the issue.
Fewer Whites live in Virginia Beach than a generation ago. What population growth we've had has been entirely minority. The key to continuing the influx is to look to making sure there are enough affordable housing units for them to come.
4. Light rail is the second most important piece of the puzzle.
When people can come here from Norfolk (and - later - Portsmouth) via train in minutes at bus fare, it will be a dramatic game changer. That will largely erase the city lines on a practical basis.
5. Pursue board and commission seats.
What good does it do to get to an inclusive Virginia Beach only to not be able to govern it? (See: the Congo after the Belgian withdraw.) There needs to be a cadre of inclusionists with board and commission experience capable of running the government when that prayed-for day comes.
To take Council only to leave the boards and commissions in the hands of status quoers would mean getting status quo reports from them. I don't think so.
6. Advocate for Department of Economic Development (DED) funding.
We're going to have to provide quality jobs for those here and those who want to come.
In addition, we'll need a strong commerical base during the transition. (See: Quebec when the Parti Quebecois took power.)
7. Work through the Minority Business Council towards having a thriving number of minority businesses.
We need a base of businesses friendly towards funding our City Council candidates. (Hey, it's how the elitists do it.)
8. Support greater integration into the region.
Closer ties with minority-majority Portsmouth and tipping Norfolk strengthens our hand here.
9. Don't waste gunpowder fighting plausible City capital projects.
Our elitists have an edifice complex. If they want to build things we can later reap the benefits from, let them.
10. Smash the remnants of the extremist Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA).
The all-White breakfast cult pushes an agenda that would trigger a mass exodus of minority residents from Virginia Beach. Also, they have no intention of doing single or multiple issue partnerships with anyone.
The sooner the demise of the VBTA, the quicker that City Council elections go from being fought primarily over fiscal policy to being contests about inclusion. You want to hear status quo candidates try to rationalize exclusion?
The bottom line: victory is inevitably ours as long as we play our cards smart.