Transparency News, 12/1/21


December 1, 2021
follow us on TwitterFacebook & Instagram

state & local news stories
A special grand jury impaneled to investigate the fatal shooting of Donovon Lynch at the Oceanfront earlier this year by a Virginia Beach police officer recommended no criminal charges for the officer, prosecutors announced during a press conference Tuesday. Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney ColinStolle said he chose to have a special grand jury look into the Lynch case because three witnesses who were in the vicinity of the shooting refused to cooperate with state police, who’d been tasked with overseeing the investigation. Grand juries have subpoena power and can require witnesses to testify. Stolle declined to provide demographic information about the panel but said it was a diverse group. Both Lynch and Simmons are Black. While the panel had body camera video from dozens of officers available to view, it didn’t have any from Simmons. That’s because the officer failed to turn on his camera before the shooting. Lang and Stolle spent much of the press conference using the videos to dispel rumors that have been circulating for months, including that another man was shot in the hand by police that night and that he was never interviewed by police. One video showed the man as officers spoke with him and prosecutors pointed out that his hand was not bleeding at the time.
The Virginian-Pilot

Roanoke Councilman Robert Jeffrey Jr. engaged in a prohibited business transaction for $850 with the city earlier this year, according to an opinion of the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council. Jeffrey, who accepted payment from the city for an advertisement in his magazine, has since refunded the city’s money, according to City Attorney Tim Spencer. At this point, Jeffrey faces no other sanction or penalty related to the matter. Virginia law prohibits elected officials from receiving a financial benefit from any contract between their own governmental entity and themselves or their business.
The Roanoke Times

Charlottesville’s new interim city manager has withdrawn from the position shortly before he was set to begin with no explanation as to why.  The city is considering entering into a contract with a firm to provide interim city manager services ahead of a planned spring 2022 search for a permanent manager, Councilor Heather Hill said late Tuesday afternoon. “Our goal is to identify a firm to work with as soon as possible,” Hill said after a more than three hour closed session meeting during which the Council discussed options following Woolley’s withdrawal. Councilors offered no other details about what kind of firm they are seeking or what that firm would do.  Hill said she anticipates more information will be shared within the next two weeks. Woolley gave verbal notification of his withdrawal on Nov. 21 and then sent a letter to Council on Nov. 23. Council members kept the news quiet until Tuesday, when they held a closed session meeting to discuss Woolly’s withdrawal.
Charlottesville Tomorrow

The UVa Board of Visitors is considering raising tuition and fees somewhere between 3.5% and 4.9% for the 2022-2023 school year and another 3.5% to 4.9% for the following 2023-2024 school year. The board is holding a workshop on the proposed undergraduate tuition and fee increases at 3 p.m. on Dec. 2 in the Ern Commons Building, 567 McCormick Road. Members of the public and students are invited to the meeting and will be allowed to comment on the proposals. Comments may also be made by Zoom, but those who wish to participate must sign up by 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Each speaker may speak for a maximum time of three minutes and is asked to limit comments to changes in undergraduate tuition and fees or how the money is to be used. Written comments also may be sent to
The Daily Progress

Nelson County residents can give their direct input on the qualities they would like to see in the next superintendent of the county’s public schools division. The Nelson County School Board formally announced Monday it has begun the process of hiring a new superintendent by seeking public input on qualifications for the post. A survey related to superintendent criteria is available online at and on the Nelson County Public Schools website, Hard copies of the survey also are available at the school board administration offices, at each of the division’s four schools and at the Nelson County Public Library. A public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 13 at Nelson County High School’s auditorium.
The News & Advance

editorials & opinion

My name is Joseph Carter, and I am the 58th wrongfully convicted person in Virginia to be exonerated. I served 27 years in prison for a murder I did not commit. There was no physical evidence connecting me to the crime, and I had an alibi. But a jury still convicted me of first-degree murder, and I was sentenced to life in prison. My conviction was based solely on flawed eyewitness testimony coerced by a police detective, Robert Ford. Police misconduct undermines the truth, and police procedure in the hands of bad cops becomes bad procedure. But we now have a chance to stop bad cops like Ford from causing harm — by passing House Bill 2196 from Del. Mike Mullin, D-Newport News, which would require the release of law enforcement disciplinary records under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act. The public has a right to know the caliber of officers patrolling their communities, and greater public oversight should lead to true accountability for police misconduct.
Joseph Carter, The Roanoke Times
(Note: "HB 2196" was the bill number of similar legislation in the 2021 session. The bill, which has been slightly modified since then, will be given a new number in 2022.)