Transparency News 3/7/13

Thursday, March 7, 2013

State and Local Stories

Virginian-Pilot: Former Community Services Board administrator Brenda Wise was indicted Wednesday by a grand jury on a felony charge of misusing public funds for her role in the agency's no-show-worker case. The indictment is the first criminal charge in a case that has vexed the public and embarrassed elected leaders for two years, since it was first reported by The Virginian-Pilot. It may also be the only criminal charge. Wise, 61, served as director of administration while CSB employee Jill McGlone received pay and benefits for 12 years without showing up for work. The grand jury found enough evidence to indict Wise on a charge of embezzlement by a public official.

Daily Press: The City of Hampton is asking a judge to throw out a civil rights activist's request that a special grand jury be appointed to look into Hampton's cigarette sting — saying there is no legal "standing" for the request. Rudy Langford, president of the Hampton-based Coalition for Justice for Civil Rights, wants a Circuit Court judge to impanel a special grand jury and special prosecutor to investigate the Hampton Police Division's Blue Water Tobacco undercover operation for possible criminal misconduct. In his Nov. 6 motion, he contends the Police Division "egregiously misused and misappropriated" public money in the operation "without the expressed permission of the City Council of the City of Hampton, thereby committing a criminal act."

Times-Dispatch: Shortly before Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones introduced his choice to replace Richmond’s police chief, the police department’s public affairs staff was informed that they would report to Jones’ press secretary, not the chief. The move was announced in a Jan. 30 letter from city Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall to former Police Chief Bryan T. Norwood and the heads of other departments. It was intended to improve city communications. The effective date of Marshall’s directive was Feb. 11, a day before Jones held a news conference to announce that he had brokered Norwood’s “mutually agreed” resignation and would replace him with Ray J. Tarasovic, a former Richmond assistant chief. There was just one snag. As a member of a Richmond good government group has pointed out — and the city attorney has confirmed — Marshall needs City Council approval to permanently place the various departments’ public-information functions under Press Secretary Tammy Hawley.

Star-Tribune: Del. Don Merricks announced yesterday he will not seek re-election to a fourth term in November.

News & Advance: Seven residents are running for seven at-large seats on the Bedford Town Council, a newly formed body that will come into leadership this summer. The city of Bedford will become a town in July and join Bedford County. One of the many changes tied to the government transition is the entire makeup of the new town’s governing body will be decided in a special May 7 election.

Register & Bee: Chatham-Blairs Supervisor Brenda Bowman said she didn’t oppose doing away with the Pittsylvania County Economic Development Office just because her husband, Ken Bowman, led it. “I wouldn’t let it happen to anybody as a supervisor,” Bowman said during an interview Wednesday. The board of supervisors voted 4-3 after a closed session Monday night to dismantle the economic development office and shift the director’s duties to the county administrator and the assistant county administrator for planning and development.