City Pursues More Cultural Exchanges

Indie writes: City Manager Gary O’Connell is headed to Bulgaria, WINA reports, where among other things, he “hopes to set up an exchange where officials from the city of Plevin, Bulgaria will visit Charlottesville.” The city also has a sister relationship with Besancon, France and Poggio a Caiano, Italy. Is there tangible value in these relationships or is it just a waste of time?

24 thoughts on “City Pursues More Cultural Exchanges”

  1. Pleven? (You misspelled the common accepted English transliteration of the name of this city, BTW.)

    So, I take it that Sofia and Plovdiv wanted nothing at all to do with us?

    Three observations:

    (1) I wonder what the Bulgarians will make of him.

    (2) I wonder if O’Connell can read any cyrillic or if he’ll just keep wandering around until he finds a translator or gives up and come home after getting stranded in Sofia.

    (3) I wonder if any "enterprising" Bulgarians will try to sell him any real estate in Pleven or any cultural relics. Some of them are good at that, you know.

    (4) How can I become a cultural ambassador for the People’s Republic of Charlottesville? I travel cheaply!

    Next countries for cultural exchange with Charlottesville:

    –Mongolia (outer)

    –East Timor

    –Papua New Guinea




  2. From the WINA report:

    O’Connell says the trip is funded by a nationwide city manager’s association and there’s no cost to the taxpayers.

    Hm…I could be mistaken here, but it would seem that the City is likely paying for Mr. O’Connell’s membership in said association, which means that city taxpayer funds are, indeed, being used – albeit indirectly – to pay for this excursion. I doubt the association is self-funded, and I don’t recall any recent “Save The City Manager’s Association” telethons or anything like that.

    But as I said, I could be mistaken here.

  3. Just doing a quick search on the net, a 2002 council report gives an idea of what these sister city relationships are all about:

    "Mr. Caravati said areas of mutual interest include culture, education, economic development and trade. Mr. Caravati recommended that a sister city committee be established for this relationship which would be responsible for planning and raising funds. Mr. Caravati asked Council to authorize him to work with the Mayor of Besancon to establish the formal sister city relationship."

    I imagine the one they have with Italy and the one they seek to develop with Bulgaria would be similar, but I’d be interested in knowing "the specifics."

  4. I think he needs to tend to business here at home instead of travelling to Bulgaria of all places. WTF is wrong with this city? I don’t understand Charlottesville and I don’t think I ever will…

  5. Why Bulgaria? Do they even have any culture to exchange? At least the Italian connection (which has slowed in recent years) was started by the connection between each town’s respective heroes, Mazzei and Jefferson. Realistically though, what’s the point of all these exchanges if we start a bunch of them and not bother to keep them up.

  6. and yes, we as taxpayers are paying for some of this. The source may "fund" the trip as far as expenses go, but take his annual salary and divide it by the number of days or hours he is there. That is what WE are paying for. I have a real problem with that.

  7. And this sort of nonsense in general – not to mention council’s inattention to good government between stunts like this and its oh-so-helpful foreign policy resolutions – is why the city is so short of funds that it needs to raise fees and taxes again this year. If the ivory tower idiots who run this town spent half the time and energy on fiscal responsibility that they spend on finding novel ways to waste other people’s hard-earned tax dollars, they could pay every city employee a living wage and have a little left over for spudnuts – and leave a budget surplus besides.

    The hell with the city government. I’ve had enough. This summer I’ll be moving into a new house east of town (I’m not saying where, but it’s nice and rural and it sure ain’t inside the city limits) and the city of Charlottesville and its Berkeley-wannabe council can go to hell in a handbasket without me or my taxes. Let it turn into another Richmond, a decaying, incompetently-governed core surrounded by well-governed counties to which the productive citizens and businesses have fled. We’ll see how long revenue sharing lasts, and how pretty the Mall looks, when that happens.

  8. I don’t take as hard a line as you on this issue–Charlottesville’s diverse and abundant culture for a city of its size is a good thing. However, I still think it is useful to question how our city leaders spend their time, and in this case, is going to Bulgaria helpful to the city? I can see how, yes, helping a country overcome communism is positive, but… I don’t know… I just want to know how his trip and interest in creating yet another sister city relationship will directly better the lives of city residents. Are there more pressing problems he should be focusing on?

  9. Well Bruce, Welcome –

    Except we "counties" contribute a good slice of income to the city via "agreement" or is it a "Treaty" when it is with the State of Charlottesville.

    Your golf (if municipal) and other fees are stacked a little higher if you are from the County although inasmuch as we pay taxes to Charlottesville I don`t see how they get away with it.

    A major problem with Council members is they are much too much secure in their jobs.

    If City folks had any guts they`d vote them out if only to show who is boss.

  10. If City folks had any guts they`d vote them out if only to show who is boss.

    Not without opponents, they can’t. Last election, there was one incumbent running with one Democratic nominee that I suspect you would lump together with the Dems on Council now. That left one Republican and one independent, Stratton Salidis. The Republican beat the new Dem, which didn’t actually vote anybody out of office, but it’s in the direction of your stated goal. In the election a year from now, we’ll have three seats coming up, though it’s an unknown how many incumbents will seek reelection or who might be running from the public. But that’s the next opportunity to “show who is boss,” anyhow.

  11. Please tell me we’re not spending taxpayer dollars on this … if so, then in this era of tight budgets it’s pretty much BS.

  12. Hey, is it any surprise that one of Charlottesville’s "sister cities" is in France?

    Read into that what you will.

  13. Caravati likes France and Maurice likes Italy, so these relationships were likely fostered by their interests.

  14. Where are the asian sister cities? South America? They talk about diversity-

    NO MORE! No more europe cities until all other continents have equal sister city representation.

  15. Maybe the city was so impressed by PVCC’s recent performance of "Arms & the Man" they had to check out Bulgaria for themselves!

    That being said, in this foreign policy climate, I applaud any efforts to build positive ties between the US and the international community.

  16. You going to run again Waldo?

    I don’t always agree with you, but I feel confident that you’d be focused on the right issues, willing to think things through, and do a little research instead of resting on laurels.

    The city council needs a bit more shaking, I think.

  17. The politicians in the Asian cities are too busy attending their duties at home to become involved in these frivolous schemes and the folks south of the border are too busy perfecting smuggling protocol.

    I thought OC had more sense but the City Council mentality finally got to him.

    I think.

  18. You going to run again Waldo?

    Not next time, I’m afraid. UVa just turned me down for the third time, though Tech accepted me. Short of Christ himself intervening, it appears that I’ll have to move south to Blacksburg this August in order to complete my education. Bummer.

  19. UVA rejected me for the third time as well. We should start a club.

    I’ll be completing my education in either Memphis or Providence!

  20. UVA rejected me for the third time as well. We should start a club.

    *Laugh* We could give one another awards for tenacity. :) Hey, don’t forget to call WINA — apparently, they think such things are newsworthy. :-P

    I’ll be completing my education in either Memphis or Providence!

    Well, I hope that you consequently find more useful than ever, to keep up with what’s going on here. :)

  21. That’s pretty funny.

    I’ll find cvillenews useful. Never thought I’d have to pay to get the free weeklys.

    Anyway, good luck at Tech.

  22. From WINA, June 17: "A visit to Bulgaria has given Charlottesville’s city manager some ideas. Gary O’Connell went to Plevin, Bulgaria as part of a mission sponsored by a national city manager’s association. O’Connell says Plevin has a big downtown plaza with a lot of nighttime activity, and he’d like to see the same thing for the Downtown Mall."

    What an epiphaney on O’Connell’s part! Charlottesville definitely doesn’t have one of the large downtown plaza’s that everyone flocks to at night! Nooooo! We ain’t got nuthin’ like that! He sure is coming up some creative concepts that haven’t been done before!

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