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Museum eyes more city funds page 2
City officials are willing to consider additional money for slavery museum, but want more openness about the project.

Date published: 11/18/2005

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The same day, he said Foster was considering asking for more city funding after seeing how the accounting report was received.

"I believe the museum would like to keep the loan open-ended," Smith said.

All council members have expressed support for the museum, both for the story it would tell and its anticipated economic impact.

In interviews this week, council members were receptive to considering additional financial help for the museum. But many were eager for more information and wanted to follow through on a suggested meeting with museum officials.

Councilman Billy Withers Jr. said he would consider "any reasonable request" for money, but first wants to be more thoroughly informed about what the museum is doing.

"I certainly would consider that but I think we need to have some questions answered before we get to that stage," he said. "We all need to be open on this thing."

In July, while four of her colleagues were pressing for more transparency from museum officials, Councilwoman Debby Girvan suggested the council and museum board get together, possibly for a dinner meeting.

That hasn't happened, but in a written reply to questions yesterday, Girvan said she's still interested.

"Recently, I spoke to Mayor Wilder at a conference in Richmond about our mutual interest in a meeting," she wrote. "The museum is busy preparing for a gala in Washington, D.C., and the City Council's own retreat had to be rescheduled to Jan. 28 due to council members' schedule conflicts, but I am optimistic that we will be able to arrange a meeting with museum officials in the new year."

Councilman Matt Kelly, who with fellow members Withers, Tom Fortune and Kerry Devine had pressed for information in July, also remains interested in a meeting.

"Maybe now's the time and I mean not just selected members but the entire council--in an open setting," he said.

Devine hopes Rodenberg and Foster can arrange a meeting.

"I would love to have a work session or a presentation because that's what council has asked for and that hasn't happened," she said.

Yesterday, Smith said Foster is interested in arranging a meeting but he had no details.

He said the Washington fundraising gala is on hold. Details are being finalized for a Feb. 12 gala at New York's Lincoln Center.


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