As promised, I would like to delve into the new plans for the amphitheater in Roanoke City. I was reminded today by a reader and I appreciate the phone call.

Roanoke was applauded when they decided to remove the amphitheater plans from the budget this year. However, in an action that further perpetuated the displeasure with Roanoke City Council, they decided to add it back in. WTF? Exactly.

Two things I am sick and tired of is hearing about is that damn amphitheater


how out of money Roanoke City is!

The Amphitheater

Let me talk directly about why we don’t need an amphitheater. Because no one has shown the need for it. I have always said, going back to the Victory Stadium saga,  that if we needed one Victory Stadium would have been booked all year long. But it wasn’t.

What kind of leadership are we being run by? “If you build it, they will come”. Sure, that worked great in the movie, but in real life what guarantees to we have?

I think that a lot of the progressive things happening in Roanoke are great. Unfortunately, most are being done for the wrong reasons. Roanoke needs to stop funding private initiatives. Remember the apartment building at 1st and Campbell? Remember the tax breaks given to them? What about Ukrops? Remember the tax breaks given to them?

Get a hold of yourselves. We cannot prosper under a plan of increased tax revenue if every new tax revenue possibility is given tax breaks.

What about the City funded initiatives? Remember how much Roanoke City gave to the Art Museum? Can anyone count how many other museums we already have that are fighting for funding? Remember that huge green space where the amphitheater was supposed to go…before anyone said it was ok to put it there? Remember how much we spent on that?

What about studies and consultants? Why in the hell is Roanoke City paying salaries for some positions when every time we need data we have to outsource it? The people who should be doing it get to skate. Maybe we should be hiring more qualified individuals who can put together a report when needed.

Is Roanoke really broke?

You tell me. If you are living paycheck to paycheck and can’t hardly afford to put food on the table are you going to go out and purchase a luxury yacht?

Here are the ways Roanoke City has asked us to help out:

  • Turn trucks off on scene
  • Don’t let them idle too long before going somewhere
  • Keep the lights off as much as possible at the station
  • Don’t run the A/C too cold
  • Don’t run the heat to high
  • Don’t go out and train or ride territory too much

Here are the ways Roanoke City has forced us to help out:

  • No raise last year
  • No merit raise last year (maximum was less then 1%)
  • No more ICMA match (the maximum City paid was $25 a paycheck)
  • No more training other than on duty mandatory training
  • No more travel
  • No more college tuition assistance
  • No more pagers to find out about overtime
  • No more overtime, now we simply mark trucks out of service
  • No more vacation after signups because we have too many vacancies

I might have left something out, but that is a pretty pitiful look at what we have given up already.

Now lets go back to the $14,000,000, that’s million with an M, they are proposing to spend on the amphitheater. Do you think we have that kind of money laying around.

Bowers also praised Trinkle as a major behind-the-scenes driver in adding the City Market Building renovation and Elmwood Park amphitheater to the city’s five-year capital spending plan. Bowers said that those projects, combined with the Jefferson Center, Roanoke Civic Center and Valley View Mall, will make Roanoke a “tourism magnet that should have regional appeal throughout the mid-Atlantic states.” (source

What about us Bowers? The Roanoke City EMPLOYEES who make Roanoke City what it is. What about the ones who work day in and day out for a City who spends money so frivolously yet cannot afford to give their employees a COST OF LIVING RAISE?

If we don’t have the money then WE DON’T HAVE THE MONEY! Don’t tell us we don’t have the money and then spend $14 million like it is going out of style.

Ethics people…..Ethics….ethics…..groan…

Darlene Burcham will be retiring on March 1, 2010. She has been with the City since 1999. I cannot help but wonder if the recent article by “The Roanoker” Mag got the gears moving on the latest developments.

Check out the links below to read the news surrounding her departure.

Updated: City Manager, Darlene Burcham, to retire March 1

A look back at Darlene Burcham as Roanoke’s City Manager

Roanoke City Council prioritizes capital improvement projects

UPDATED: Roanoke City Manager Darlene Burcham retiring in 2010

The other day, The Roanoker Magazine hit the news stands with a featured article offering an in depth look at Roanoke City Manager Darlene Burcham’s tenure in Roanoke. The article displays both the good and the bad of her tenure although it delves deeply into the bad.

The article, which I believe was very well written and the writers obviously did very extensive research, perpetuates what it seems as though a lot of people have been saying for a while albeit more now with the economy in the state it is in.

While I have brought up issues I have felt the City could have done better or shouldn’t have done at all in the past, for me to attack Darlene Burcham would be professional suicide since I work for the City. I will leave that to the pundits.

I recommend reading the article in its entirety! Click here for the article

The Roanoker has created a blog of sorts to offer a place for input to the discussion. The blog is apparently being posted on by several people including at least one City Employee. Read more here

The sentiments of the spending issues is what has hurt public safety for years. Firefighters have made several attempts to block certain actions to no avail. Easily attributed to statistics (or fuzzy math if you prefer) certain people have made the numbers show what they need to make certain the public/citizens do not understand what is going on and still have the warm fuzzy feeling. That same warm fuzzy feeling that Roanoke’s Bravest have had a hard time coping without as we do more with less. All the while facing the unfortunate lack of support by the City if we are injured on the job.

I am referring to the Disability policy of the City of course. This flawed policy offers little to no support if we are injured in the line of duty. If you don’t believe me, I can put you in touch with a Firefighter/Paramedic who is my age and staring down the barrel of a long road ahead. His case is stomach turning. After an injury on the job, he has had to fight for basic rights and has had to defend his job in the wake of being cast away because he cannot work. That is an awful way to treat someone who offers his life to save that of a complete stranger. More on the flawed disability policy in the future.

Anyways, read the article!