From The Mayor's Desk- February 2023

From The Mayor's Desk- February 2023

By Eduardo Martinez

Earlier this month, my team and I celebrated our first month in office. I am so proud my office is fully staffed with Chief of Staff Shiva Mishek, Deputy Chief of Staff Tony Tamayo, and Policy Director BK White. We’ve started strong! Our accomplishments as of our one month in office include:

  • over 250 meetings with constituents and city staff held
  • over 20 applications to boards and commissions processed
  • over a dozen community events attended

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Boards and Commissions highlight

One key function of the Mayor’s office is processing appointments to all boards and commissions. The City of Richmond has multiple opportunities to serve, and participation on these appointed bodies can provide incredible leadership and policy experience in a wide range of subject areas. You can check out the full list of bodies, with links to individualized webpages here. We encourage interested community members to check out the various boards and commissions by attending their meetings and reviewing their charge to better understand the roles and responsibilities.

If you are interested in applying, or learning more about the process, you can contact the staff liaison for any specific body, or feel free to contact the Mayor’s Chief of Staff at [email protected] 

Credit Swaps Update (excerpt)

Our city was just recognized for substantially improving its financial health. Moody's, who just issued the exciting upgrade, is a credit rating agency that assesses municipalities for things like economic and financial strength, its management practices, and its debt and pension obligations. A better Moody's rating is important for Richmond because it provides an independent assessment of the city's financial health. This can impact our city’s ability to borrow money, attract investment, and maintain a strong reputation.

Make no mistake: we still have tons of work to do in this area. But since progressives have been on the City Council, we keep getting this good news. Thank you to our City Manager and City Staff on their hard work!

I also want to brag about my progressive colleague and good friend, Councilmember Claudia Jimenez. A big part of why we just got this upgrade is because of her. When digging into our city’s finances last year, Claudia noticed something: the city was using a risky and highly expensive financial instrument called credit swaps. As written in 2010 in the New York Times, “the promised benefits of these swaps have mutated into enormous, and sometimes smothering, expenses. Making matters worse, issuers who want out of the arrangements — swap contracts typically run for 30 years — must pay up in order to escape.”

In her analysis of the swaps, Councilmember Claudia Jimenez also learned that Richmond has paid over $60 million dollars in bank fees to engage in this practice. Thanks to Claudia’s leadership on this issue, Richmond will now save an estimated $84 million dollars over the next 12 years. We no longer use credit swaps in Richmond, and our improved financial health is being recognized across the country. 

This is what the progressive approach to city finances looks like. It’s about having a healthy distrust of big banks and complicated financial deals.