The arbitrary, adversarial actions taken against Ralph White, one of the city's foremost citizens, if not THE foremost citizen, is contrary to everything the Park should stand for. He has probably picked up more glass than any recycling center in town, and personally connected with more citizens than any politican ever dreamed of. I can't count the number of times I have visited the park when many dog walkers openly flaunted the leash law without any fear of reprisal. This makes it difficult for those who are afraid of dogs, or who want to watch birds (me), to enjoy the park in peace. If we can't enforce the laws we pass, we shouldn't pass them. And if we are not going to ensure the public participates in the protection of our beautiful Park resource we all pay for, then at least let Ralph keep doing what he does best-he is a one-man show for demonstrating James River Parks Systems advocacy. Pam Dummitt -----Original Message----- From: Diane Dunaway [mailto:trees@xxxxxxxx] Sent: Saturday, March 26, 2005 7:36 PM To: Treerichmond@xxxxxxx; trees@xxxxxxxx; reapokorny@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx; PokornyK@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; judymdh@xxxxxxxxxxxx; mlerwin@xxxxxxxxxxxxx; msrumsey@xxxxxxxxxxxxx; no2pencil@xxxxxxx; RBWL117@xxxxxxx; lashiel@xxxxxxx; sloop@xxxxxxxxxxxx; talktojanine@xxxxxxxxxxx; toni.cooper@xxxxxxxxxxxx; VPB262@xxxxxxx; rbb3@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; James.Lasher@xxxxxxxxx; mike.huntleydesign@xxxxxxxxxxx; damiles@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx; tellcca@xxxxxxxxxxx; dmvd7s@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; heidipthompson@xxxxxxxxx; marionk@xxxxxxxxxx; oserogu@xxxxxxxxxxx; Lritadee@xxxxxxx; dodsonmp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; clburn@xxxxxx; ancourser@xxxxxxx; rcromey@xxxxxxxxxxxxx; AnnetteMcghee@xxxxxxx; burtonba@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; d-lamount@xxxxxxxx; claireshaffner@xxxxxxxxxxx; info@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; marjorie@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; BridgesJK@xxxxxxx; jameslhicks@xxxxxxxxxxxxx; Suitable@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx; thomas.n.waller@xxxxxxxxxxxx; Greenway@xxxxxxxxx; LGH1025@xxxxxxx; hammyford@xxxxxxxxx; TYeaman@xxxxxxx; westviewcivic@xxxxxxxxxxx; jamessties@xxxxxxx; Tbandy@xxxxxxxxxx; linwood.norman@xxxxxxxxxxx; Dharrington@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx; fda-pres@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; membership@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; chris@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; wahooburt@xxxxxxxxxxx; Goheeens@xxxxxxx; vantuyle@xxxxxxx; eloleary@xxxxxxx; susnfisher@xxxxxxxxxxxxx; JamesL@xxxxxxxxxxxx; reneeking@xxxxxxxxxxx; mrmerrell@xxxxxxxxxxx; awilliams@xxxxxxxxxx; mingandshelley@xxxxxxxxxxx; sedodsn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; srwilliams@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; vs70@xxxxxxx; braines@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; beckyhartz@xxxxxxxxxxx; Markbrandonesq@xxxxxxx; Steve.sadler@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; srousseau@xxxxxxxxxxxxx; sdallas@xxxxxxx; Dummitt, Pam; epes.family@xxxxxxxxxxx; Jeff.Feix@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; chrismattingly@xxxxxxx; MitchuML@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; JAMOSEY@xxxxxxx; Itzjulienva@xxxxxxx; gwojt@xxxxxxxx; ZAGreen@xxxxxxxxxxx; edwardrd@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; harrisonb@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; magnus.akesson@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; fewmit@xxxxxxxxxxx; lpowell@xxxxxxxxxxxx; sweisiger@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; smweisiger@xxxxxxxxxxx; jjzeugner@xxxxxxxxx; wal35@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; AJBerdeen@xxxxxxx; john.weir@xxxxxxxxx; sharon.hill@xxxxxxxxxxxxx; thorgar@xxxxxxx; hamiltoncw@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; JewellEM@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Subject: Ralph White, James River Parks of Richmond (FOWBP) Hello fellow green lovers of FOWBP, Here's an urgent issue I thought you would want to know about. -Diane Hi, Time is of the essence, because Tuesday is when a decision will be reached on Ralph White's future with the City of Richmond. That's when the "verdict" will be announced. Please also keep in mind that the sooner you can act on this information, the more people you can reach, because many will be busy with Easter and children's break activities, and may not receive this information in time. I'm sending you in this email: Summary, City leaders' contact information, Sample letter by a friend, and the Richmond-Times Dispatch article with details. Please consider acting on this information, and urging others to do the same (including those who may live outside Richmond city limits, but who may care about this issue.) Even a short two-sentence phone call or email will have a distinct impact. We are both calling and writing to our representatives. We are writing to you as citizens, residents of the City of Richmond, representing our own concerns, and not those of any organization or group. Thank you. Diane Dunaway and Paul Stenbjorn, 804-519-3682 SUMMARY Many of you are certainly aware that the City's Department of Parks, Recreation, and Community Facilities has filed insubordination charges against Ralph White, the manager of the James River Park. Ralph has been removed as the city's naturalist, demoted from manager to a recreation technician II, and placed on administrative leave. It is possible that Ralph could be dismissed as a disciplinary measure. A large insubordination case has been built against Ralph, As many of you know the James River Park System is a Richmond treasure and Ralph is its trusted guardian. His tireless attendance to the parks ensures that their value is increased for all Richmonders. Further, he excels in teaching young and old about our natural world, having a deep understanding of ecological systems, as well as local and natural history. We are all indebted to Ralph for his passionate and selfless efforts. Regardless of the root of these charges, we believe that an injustice has been done to Ralph. If he violated park regulations or had a difference of opinion with others within the city's management, we believe that these differences could and should have been resolved without the threatening measures taken thus far. Ralph has always been a friend to us Richmonders who use the parks' facilities. Since these are our public lands we feel that we are required to speak for their protection. There is no greater steward of this public resource than Mr. White. We are saddened by these events and hope that if you care about the James River Parks you will let others know about this injustice, and contact those who can prevent it from going further. Time is of the essence, since the "verdict" will be announced Tuesday. CITY LEADERS TO CONTACT Council members can be reached at 804.646.7955. The Mayor's number is 804.646.7977. Their emails are: City Council 1st Manoli Loupassi: mloupassi@xxxxxxxx 2nd Bill Pantelel: bpantele@xxxxxxx 3rd Chris Hilbert: hilberca@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 4th KathyGraziano: graziakc@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 5th Martin Jewell: jewellem@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 6th Ellen Robertson: ellen robertef@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 7th Delores McQuinn: delores mcquindl@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 8th Jacqueline Jackson: jacksojm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 9th Eugene Mason: masonea@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Mayor's Office Mayor L. Douglas Wilder: wilderld@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Paul Goldman: goldmanusa@xxxxxxx Parks and Recreation Dinesh Tiwari: TiwariDV@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx City Administrator William Harrell: WEHARREL@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx SAMPLE LETTER SENT BY FRIEND; FEEL FREE TO USE ALL OR PARTS OF THIS Dear ---------: I live and work in the City of Richmond, Virginia. I am involved with a number of groups in the area, including ----- , and other organizations. I am writing as a citizen to express my outrage at the insubordination charges filed against Ralph White, former Manager of the James River Park. Mr White has given this Park, this City, and this region a truly extraordinary Vision, twenty-five years of incomparable professionalism and dedication, hard work and inspiration. I cannot think of any other City employee who has given nearly as much time, energy and infinite patience to make such a critical program such a huge success. While he has occasionally made mistakes, we all do, and I know of other incidents involving City Personnel on City property which include much more egregious offences. I know you are in a difficult position, getting pulled into a conflict which should never have progressed this far. I hope you have Solomon's wisdom to resolve this issue. Mr White has done more to enhance the City's reputation than all the many administrations and Department heads have done in decades. Mr White has about 5 more years before retirement and certainly does not deserve such harsh, out-of-scale treatment and punishment. From the City's point of view, the James River Park System would be irreparably damaged by Mr White's demotion or firing. Talk about cutting off the nose to spite the face! A better leader/manager couldn't be easily found, nor could such a person make up for Mr White's institutional knowledge, his articulate vision, the plans in head and drawing boards, and cadre of enthusiastic volunteers and very passionate supporters. We NEED Ralph White for these next five years! To be quite frank, the City has this baffling, incredible propensity for shooting itself in the foot, time and time again. I attended the meeting last month with Parks and Rec management, Richmond Police, and city parks representatives, in which three or four automatic gates and police assistance in dealing with park problems, opens and closings were discussed. My God, how the problem-solving, or "solution", rapidly degenerated into chaos. Where was the full process, the citizen buy-in, the public information dissemination from the City? Please don't let this snowball into a total disaster, and please don't let it be another tragic example! Take the longer view on this issue and do what's best for the City, and for the James River Park. . Sincerely, ------------- CC -------- RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH ARTICLE Thursday, March 24, 2005 (Part of this story was also aired on WCVE radio, and I'm not sure if elsewhere as well.) Ban On Night Park Use Violated Manager's In Trouble For Letting People In After Gates Are Locked By Rex Springston and Jim Nolan, Times-Dispatch Staff Writers Ralph White, manager of Richmond's award-winning James River Park, faces a disciplinary hearing today for opening locked gates in the park against a supervisor's orders. Under a new city anti-crime policy, gates are being locked at sunset and opened in the morning at several park areas, including the popular Pony Pasture Rapids and Huguenot Flatwater in South Richmond. White said he twice unlocked gates at those areas to accommodate evening and early morning paddlers, bird-watchers and dog walkers. Locking those gates "is an unfair imposition on the very users we want," White said yesterday. He added, "I was insubordinate because I simply could not have this radical change in park management take place. . . . With 20-20 hindsight, this wasn't very smart on my part. It was pretty bone-headed." The case raises two questions: How should the city deal with White, 61, widely known as a tireless leader and promoter of the riverside park for 25 years? And how are the needs of legitimate park users balanced with security concerns? With the exception of a special event, it is illegal to be in a city park after dark and before sunrise, police said yesterday. Until recently, however, the city had been reluctant to block access to the parks. While officials acknowledged that some park entrances are more troublesome than others, all have been the target of residents' complaints and criminal activity, said Second Precinct Police Capt. Michael Shamus. "You're looking at alcohol, disorderly conduct, drug usage, [sex] cruising," said Shamus. Christy Everson, a spokeswoman for the city's Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities, said it is city policy to not comment on personnel matters. Everson said no one was available yesterday afternoon to provide specifics on the park-locking policy. But she said it is under review. According to White, city police began about three weeks ago locking gates at night at three parking lots where people reported crimes. The lots serve the 42nd Street and Reedy Creek entrances to James River Park, as well as Forest Hill Park, all in South Richmond. White said those are problem areas, and he agreed with the new policy. Almost immediately, White said, the policy "morphed" into the locking of other city park lots, including those at Pony Pasture and Huguenot Flatwater, miles northwest of the problem spots. In mid-March, White said, he locked open the gates of the Pony Pasture and Huguenot Flatwater just upriver. The gates stayed open two or three days until a city worker cut those locks off, White said. On another occasion, White said, he simply opened the city locks. Some canoeists and kayakers like to paddle under a full moon, said Ralph Hambrick, chairman of the Falls of the James Scenic River Advisory Committee and a White supporter. If the city requires the closing of parks at sunset, "the ordinance may need to be adjusted," Hambrick said. The lot closings began with a request by 4th District Councilwoman Kathy C. Graziano for money to install electronic gates at Forest Hill Park and the 42nd Street and Reedy Creek entrances -- places about which she has heard the most complaints. While waiting for those gates to arrive, police began locking existing gates, she said. Graziano said electronic gates, which can be programmed to open and close at specific times, should solve the access problem. Graziano said she couldn't comment on White's disciplinary case. But generally, Graziano said, "Ralph held that James River Park together. If we didn't have Ralph, we wouldn't have the park in the shape it's in." Shamus said the lockouts will curtail crime. "We're trying to make the parks safe and family friendly." He said locking some parks while leaving others open would not be an effective strategy. "You have the possibility that with one park closed and the other open, you'll just shift the criminal activity to the open place," he said. "It wouldn't be fair to the residents to enforce the law in one neighborhood and not the other." White said he was placed on administrative leave with pay March 16, accused of insubordination. He said he faces a hearing today at 2 p.m. at City Hall. He said potential penalties range from a written reprimand to firing. James River Park is a series of wild riverside lands and islands covering more than 500 acres. White, who started with the park in 1980, oversees it with a staff of two. Richmond's Web site notes that Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine in December named James River the "Best Urban Park," calling it "a treasure chest of natural beauty." White was named "Best Trail Guardian." Contact Rex Springston at (804) 649-6453 or rspringston@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Contact Jim Nolan (804) 649-6061 or jnolan@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Times-Dispatch, NBC12 Survey: Do you think the city should discipline Ralph White, manager of Richmond's James River Park, for opening locked gates in the park against a supervisor's orders? Yes, No, Maybe, Undecided Do you agree with White's statement that locking those gates 'is an unfair imposition on the very users we want? Yes, No, Undecided This story can be found at: http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD%2FMGArticle% 2FRTD_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1031781759683&path=%21news&s=10458559 34842 You are subscribed to VA-Richmond-General. To unsubscribe, send email to va-richmond-general-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' in the Subject field. To adjust other settings (vacation, digest, etc.) please visit, http://www.freelists.org/list/va-richmond-general.