Transparency News, 3/11/21


 March 11, 2021
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state & local news stories

A national group revoked its accreditation of the Hampton Roads Regional Jail, citing “continuous deaths” and a U.S. Department of Justice consent decree among its reasons. In a letter this week, a copy of which was obtained by The Virginian-Pilot, the American Correctional Association said its accreditation commission met earlier this month and decided to revoke its backing of the jail. In its letter, the nonprofit also lists its own audit and monitoring visit of the regional jail and “various actions” by the state as reasons for the revocation.
The Virginian-Pilot

A federal appeals court will reconsider Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax’s libel lawsuit against CBS on Thursday.  Fairfax accuses the television network of airing sexual assault allegations that were levied against him in 2019. The network broadcast exclusive interviews with the accusers, Meredith Watson and Vanessa Tyson, to a national audience. Both accuse Fairfax of assaulting them separately more than 15 years ago. Fairfax alleges CBS failed to thoroughly investigate the women’s claims and was motivated by its “desire to respond publicly and aggressively to the #MeToo movement…”, according to the complaint. A U.S. District court judge dismissed the lawsuit early last year, saying the network’s failure to investigate didn’t amount to malice.

In a lawsuit filed electronically on March 4 by former Town of Pound attorney and current town police officer Tim McAfee and his law partner Kristen McAfee, current town council members Danny Stanley and Glenn Cantrell and resident Sharon Dean are suing Mayor Stacey Carson, new council member Susan Downs-Freeman and the town. Dean is the spouse of Carson’s predecessor, former mayor George Dean. The suit claims that Carson as mayor could not vote during the council’s March 2 special called meeting to appoint an interim replacement for Phil Cantrell Jr., who resigned from council in February. The suit centers on two provisions: the town charter’s definition of the mayor’s role and duties and Virginia Code section 24.22-228. Carson is also the subject of an ongoing removal petition filed in November by Stanley, Glenn Cantrell, Phil Cantrell Jr. and other town residents. McAfee, in a statement filed with Wise County Circuit Court, has said that he did not file that petition but did offer legal advice to residents asking about legal options to deal with alleged misconduct by Carson.
Kingsport Times News

If you've spent any time in Chatham since the ice storms of mid-February, chances are you've seen massive piles of dead foliage cluttering the roads. At Chatham's monthly town council meeting Monday night, Inframark, the town's public works contractor, was unreservedly admonished by council members for what they called complacency of the highest order. "You just don't want to bring anybody here to work," Council Member Robert B. Thompson said. "You ought to hire people who know what the hell they're doing. Everybody is a damn trainee. It's not helping the Town of Chatham one damn bit." Other council members echoed Thompson's ashamedness over not only the quality of work output by Inframark, but intrinsic shame for having voted in favor of the contract last year.

Pamplin City Town Council had to cancel its regular March meeting Tuesday because it did not have a quorum of members present. Mayor Sarah Blackwell said that between illness and other reasons, not enough members could make it to the March 9 meeting, so they would not have been able to vote on matters.
Times Virginian