Chris Graham: He’s right

He’s loud, no question, but he’s right. He is David O’Brien, and he’s been known to those who watch Waynesboro City Council meetings on the city public-access channel over the years as the guy who makes a lot of noise about a lot of things.

He’s making noise these days about the deal approved recently by City Council to borrow more than $3.4 million to buy some scrub land at the foot of the Blue Ridge so that we can then invest another $7 million or so into it with the hopes that in 20 years we can maybe generate some economic activity out of all that.

David and I agree on a major point and then disagree on a major point. Where we agree is that the city has allowed itself to be taken. It should not have paid anywhere near what it has agreed to for the property, and we both think, and I think time will prove us correct, that the reason that the city overpaid is that the individual City Council members wanted to repay political allies for their support.

Where we disagree is on the value of the long-term investment. I ran for City Council three years ago on a platform that included plans for a public-private project on that exact piece of property that I envisioned would generate high-tech jobs for Waynesboro. I still think it will, and if it takes 20 years for the plans to come to fruition, well, that’s the way the world works.

I’m still all for the city committing resources to this effort. I think it will pay dividends manifold in the end.

Did the city need to spend $3.4 million on the property? I don’t think we needed to spend a dime. Let the private sector hold the cards and the risk. We as a city should be willing to partner with private interests on these types of projects, but the art of job creation and economic development is ultimately one best left to the private sector.

(Funny how this kind of thinking got me labelled a liberal tax-and-spender three years ago by the very supposedly arch-conservative people responsible for this boondoggle today, ain’t it? Whatever.)

More columns at TheWorldAccordingToChrisGraham.com.

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Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.


The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
 
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