Governor Terry McAuliffe may want to remove the Civil War statues from public places, but I’ll give him credit for this: He’s not dogmatic. He acknowledges the conflicting principles at work. Speaking at WTOP yesterday, he acknowledged that removing the statues in Richmond could cost the city a big chunk of change.
When asked who should pay the cost of removing the statues, he said:
“Well, that’s a great question. So when I say the cities — my good friend the Mayor of Richmond, he’s come out on this issue as well, and he as mayor is facing five to ten million dollars if you want to move the statues. He, meanwhile, has got to make sure he’s providing money for education. So, that’s a great issue, and that’s something that these communities — and that’s why I say the local — the cities ought to make that determination.
(Listen to the interview here.)
Aside from the cost of dismantling the statues, removing them would harm real estate values along Monument Ave, selected in 2007 by the American Planning Association as one of the 10 Great Streets of America. The Washington Post quoted Bill Gallasch, 74, president of the Monument Avenue Preservation Society and a former real estate appraiser, as saying that removal of the statues could cost the city $3 million a year in lost revenue.
McAuliffe doubled down on his message on the Jimmy Barrett Show on WRVA radio this morning:
If I’m the mayor of Richmond or I’m on the City Council I’m faced with a tough decision. Do I spend, I don’t know, five to ten million dollars taking something down when I got schools – I’ll tell you my first priority has got to be schools because I got to get people employed. Richmond has to deal with the issue that a lot of folks, young millennials are here, but then when they have children they sort of move out to the neighboring jurisdictions for education. We got to keep everybody right here in this beautiful city. And that’s their biggest challenge. So I would agree with Valerie, let’s go ahead and put some context to these things and move forward. This is going to be a debate that’s going on for a long time. But what I try to get back to, and everybody likes to latch on to this monument – this isn’t about monuments. It’s much bigger, it’s much broader, and I got to fix education and we got to work on the things, Jimmy, to give everybody an opportunity.
As I’ve said previously, taking down the statues doesn’t help one African-American school child get a better education. Indeed, as McAuliffe makes clear, reality is complicated. The politics of symbolism carry a cost.
Update: According to the T-D, the $3 million estimate of lost property revenue is likely excessive, Gallasch derived the figure by assuming a 10% loss of property value not only of houses along Monument Avenue but in the adjoining Fan and Museum districts. Other appraisers dispute such a widespread impact.There are currently no comments highlighted.