Posts Tagged ‘scott burger’

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RVA Environmental Film Festival Announces 2014 Dates and First Confirmed Film

For immediate release
Contact: Tara Quinn
Email:; Phone: 804-301-5352

Richmond, Va. ~ Plans are rapidly moving forward for the fourth annual RVA Environmental Film Festival (RVA EFF), to be held around the second weekend in February, 2014. The Enrichmond Foundation, Falls of the James Group – Sierra Club, Capital Region Land Conservancy, EarthCraft Virginia and the James River Green Building Council have been working together to make sure this year’s festival is the best yet, with many insightful films designed to raise awareness of environmental issues relative to all residents of our planet – and to Richmond citizens in particular.

The film selection subcommittee is pleased to announce its first confirmed film, “Lost Rivers”, a Canadian documentary that was just released this past year. Lost Rivers takes its audience on an adventure down below and across the globe, retracing the history of lost or forgotten urban rivers by plunging into archival maps and going underground with clandestine urban explorers.

“Certainly this film speaks to how Richmond and other cities are rediscovering their riverfronts, but now with the proposal for a Shockoe Bottom stadium, perhaps this film will reignite interest in one of Shockoe Bottom’s lost natural features, Shockoe Creek”, said Scott Burger, a Sierra Club and RVA EFF film selection subcommittee member.

The film is tentatively scheduled to be shown at the Byrd Theater on afternoon of Saturday, Feb. 8.

Thanks to generous sponsors such as Bon Secours, Whole Foods Market, the Sierra Club-Falls of the James Group, REI, EarthCraft Virginia, Slow Food RVA, James River Association, Carytown Merchant’s Association, Watershed Architects, and The Fresh Market, this event is free and open to the public. This year’s Festival will feature a VIP reception to take place on Feb 7th. In addition, an environmental short film contest has been launched.

More information about other films, guests and speakers, and specific schedules for each day will be made available as the event becomes nearer. For more information on the Festival, including sponsorship and volunteer opportunities, visit


See trailer for Lost Rivers by clicking here:



Here is an update on the issue of the Water utility charges in the City of Richmond. The current charges hurt low income and elderly folks while subsidizing corporations and businesses water usage. Its bad for our low income residents and bad for the environment. From Scott Burger:

Hey everybody,

I hope you all had a great summer.

We will be ramping up the Richmond, VA water rate reform campaign again this October.

For one thing today (Sept. 30) is the day that the City utility should be presenting some options to City Council. Also, the new format for utility bills should be rolling out. You may have seen that DPU is also working on their efforts with a “Citizens’ Academy”.

Here is the “311” on that:

“The city of Richmond Department of Public Utilities introduces a four- session course to give participants a working knowledge of their public utilities provider. Each course consists of a classroom portion and ends with a tour of the utility functions discussed. Participants are encouraged to register for all four courses. Class size is limited to 20 students. Each class is scheduled on a Tuesday afternoon from 4–6 p.m. in October at various locations throughout the utility.

“Our goal is to create a better understanding of how the utility manages the important resources entrusted to us and provide our customers with an educational, interesting and engaging experience,” said Utilities Director Bob Steidel.

· SESSION 1: Oct. 1, 2013 – DPU Operations Center Atrium
400 Jefferson Davis Highway, Richmond, VA 23224
· SESSION 2: Oct. 8, 2013 – Wastewater Treatment Plant
1400 Brander Street, Richmond, VA 23224
· SESSION 3: Oct. 15, 2013 – Water Treatment Plant
3920 Douglasdale Road, Richmond, VA 23221
· SESSION 4: Oct. 22, 2013 – DPU Operations Center Atrium
400 Jefferson Davis Highway, Richmond, VA 23224
All sessions take place from 4-6 p.m.

For questions or to register, call or email DPU Public Relations and

Here is an update from Scott Burger and the Better Government Richmond organization. While us Wingnuts think a better government would be no government, we can definitely get behind this issue of the water utility rate in Richmond, as it directly effects low income folks, the elderly, and the environment.


We are running out of time. Richmond City Council appears to be using email discussions and phone calls to hash out most of the disputes over the budget amendments that will be considered at the noon meeting Monday, May 6, and approved after an essentially Potemkin-village public hearing at a special meeting set for 5 p.m. Wednesday May 15. (Council must approve its school budget by May 15 and has decided to do all of the budget papers at that meeting so nothing the public says will have any influence on the proceedings.) If you have not yet done so, now is the time to question City Council members about the water rate situation, especially the PILOT.

Also, look in the Richmond Free Press issue that comes out today. We are hoping for an article on the utility rate situation.

Also, as I have always said that the water rates campaign is also a campaign for open government and transparency, please check out Better Government’s new video:

Better Government Richmond Releases Water Utility Video


Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Contact: Rick Tatnall, (804) 325-3674,

Better Government Richmond, a citizen advocacy organization, is pleased to announce the release of a new video about the City of Richmond Water Utility Charges and Rates. Better Government members produced this video in order to inform the public about the Mayor’s proposed plan that is under review by City Council. Better Government mentioned a study of the water utility by paid consultants as one of its top issues in its first press release in February.

The 9-minute video includes information regarding the consultants’ study as well as an explanation of charges on a sample City of Richmond utility bill. It has been made available online at as well as on Better Government Richmond’s website and Facebook page. Supporters are asked to share with their neighbors and contacts.

The url is

See also:

Supporters of better government for the city are encouraged to visit the website and register on the “Join” page. Also “like” us on Facebook.

The next Better Government meeting is Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 1 PM and will be held in the café of the Library of Virginia, 800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA. There will be a question and comment period open to the public.

Scott Burger

For Immediate Release:

The Wingnut Anarchist Collective House is located at 2005 Barton Avenue. We have now become victim of one of the symptoms of a failing infrastructure in the City of Richmond.

Many folks are familiar with the numerous problems with the City of Richmond’s public utilities like water- from the flooding that occurred in Battery Park several years ago to the fact that we have the highest minimum water rate in the world and yet most of that money does not go into repairing our ailing sewers.

Last weekend we noticed the water in our downstairs toilet was bubbling up with air bubbles from sewer gas- clearly not supposed to happen. Then on Saturday March 30th, we were doing yard work and discovered, much to our dismay, that on the side of our house the sewer had backed up/built up pressure so much it blew about 10 inches of our clean out pipe clear off and spewed raw sewage in the yard. I immediately called 311 to get folks from the City of Richmond out to deal with the problem.

When the City workers showed up they made me sign paperwork saying I would have to pay them at such and such a rate if the problem were found on my property. I had to take down a section of our fence to give them access to our 2nd clean out that is located in our back yard near the alleyway. They said they were first going to run a plumbing snake through the sewage lines on our property to make sure the problem wasn’t there, because if it was they wouldn’t fix it. They ran the snake from the alley to our house and found no problem. Then our next door neighbor came out and said that the sewer had backed up in his yard as well. Clearly this was a problem outside of any individual property.

Finally the City utility folks got a big truck and ran  a big snake through the sewer pipes in the alley, found some massive clog, and dealt with it. I thought it was all taken care of.

Unfortunately I later realized that the City of Richmond had not fixed my broken clean out pipe, or the pile of raw sewage in my yard (both of which were clearly caused by their sewer backup). I was planning to call them on Monday since it was now Easter Sunday and the problem was in a section of yard us and our dogs do not regularly access. I went downstairs and used the toilet in the half bath. None of us had used that toilet since the fiasco the day before, as we tend to use the upstairs toilet more frequently. Rather shockingly, upon flushing, water dumped from the toilet onto the floor. I assumed it was coming from the base of the toilet, like the wax ring had failed. I called 311, and told them I really did need them to come fix the clean out pipe, raw sewage, and look at the damage they had caused to my toilet. I went in the bathroom to move some things around so the City workers would be able to have better access to the toilet. That is when I discovered that a piece of the porcelain from the toilet had been blown off, and was on the bathroom floor. Water leaked when I flushed the toilet because the toilet was missing part of its side! Somehow enough pressure had built up to just blow that part of the toilet clean off.

When the City workers showed up that afternoon, I showed them the toilet and the blown up clean out. They then informed me that they couldn’t do anything about those issues. They got me to put a some dye in the toilet water and flush it so they could look at the clean out near the alley to see how long the water took to get there. Which is when we discovered that the water from the drains in our house is no longer even getting to the alley. Something that either got shoved into our sewer pipes by the back up or their snake  or some break along those pipes from the incredible pressure caused by the failing sewer is now preventing our sewage from going where it is supposed to go. So now we can’t use our drains, toilets, or shower for fear of causing a secondary or tertiary problem if our water use ends up backing up somewhere else or leaking somewhere along the way.

We have called a plumber who is supposed to come today, and also begun the process of filing a claim with our insurance company.

Unfortunately for the rest of our community, this is not an isolated issue. We talked to a 3rd neighbor last night who is also having problems with the sewer backing up and not functioning properly. There are many condemned and/or abandoned houses in our neighborhood, so it is hard to get a grasp on how large this problem is, as there is no one in those houses to issue a complaint. A lot of folks who don’t maybe realize that the problems they are experiencing are the City’s fault or who just don’t know to call 311 to get emergency water/sewage help might not be filing complaints.

Human waste is incredibly toxic and full of total coliforms and e. coli. This is a huge public health issue – you can get sick and die! Not only does the city need to pay for the damage to the property, they also need to pay for temporary shelter (like a hotel) for folks who experience these major sewage problems.

We don’t have a quote from a licensed plumber yet, but are hoping to get one day. I renovate houses and can say with confidence that this has easily caused hundreds of dollars of damage. We will have to replace the toilet, possibly some flooring and subflooring around it, get the raw sewage cleaned up, get the cleanout replaced, and figure out where and break/clog is now which could be simple or could involve replacing buried lines.

Our neighborhood, Southern Barton Heights, is largely comprised of working class people of color and low income folks. We have many elderly members of our community as well. Unfortunately, this neighborhood receives more attention by means of the Richmond Police harassing young black men on the street than we do with groceries, jobs, transit, or city utility. Folks in this neighborhood are underserved by the City of Richmond, though we all pay the same minimum 49.40 a month just to have our water/sewer cut on.  Scott Burger has been a driving force with a campaign to reduce the monthly minimum rate to encourage conservation and help out low income folks. This point hits home even harder now. If we are paying the same 49.40 a month as everyone else, then we demand that our neighborhood receive the same respect and services as Windsor Farms and all other sections of Richmond. The systematic neglect of certain areas of the city reeks of environmental racism and neglect (and in this case raw human sewage).

On one level, we just want to be able to go to the bathroom and do our dishes. But this issue IS larger than that, and we hope this aspect is not lost to anyone reading this. If folks want to have further conversations around these issues, drop us a line or 804 303 5449 or come on by 2005 Barton Avenue (go to the bathroom before you head over).

Pictures below:

The hole in our toilet

The hole in our toilet

Broken clean out pipe and raw sewage in our yard

Broken clean out pipe and raw sewage in our yard


An important demonstration to be held at Richmond City Hall at 5:00 p.m on Monday Sept. 24th to protest the city of Richmond’s outrageous minimum water/sewer service charge of $49.40, which is the highest in the nation.

There is a facebook event at:

This is a real burden for every social security grandma and other low income residents to have to pay $592 annually just to be connected to the water supply.

The city utility raises over $30 million annually from this residential water/sewer service charge, and almost half of this, $12 million is, paid directly into the city’s general fund. This is the most regressive means possible to raise general funds for the city– putting an outrageous service charge on the most basic necessity — water. Furthermore, Richmond’s water rate does not promote conservation because the city utility gets more than half of its revenue from the minimum service charge instead of the volume charge.

The All the Saints Theater troop has committed to having music and puppets at this demonstration. At the event Sierra Club will present to City Council a petition with 1300 names protesting this regressive water/sewer service charge.

We would encourage you to make some posters with such slogans as: SERVICE CHARGE is TOO LARGE; ABATE THE RATE; LORDY $49.40 ; Drowning in Base Rate; Sewer rate STINKS. (I’m sure that you can come up with some better slogans!) Also please bring empty plastic gallon water jugs with $49.40 written on them to signify how much residents must pay for the first gallon of water — put a few pieces of gravel on the jug for a good sound effect.

This is not organized by the Wingnut, but is supported as a significant social justice issue affecting people in Richmond.