Shockoe stadium critics say taxpayers are indirectly funding a no-bid contract to build an apartment complex, which is central to the Mayor’s Shockoe Bottom development plan. Paul Goldman, former advisor to Governor and later Mayor Douglas Wilder, says the Jones administration is using the Economic Development Authority in order to bypass city and state laws requiring public projects be open to competitive bidding. He calls the deal a back room scheme that stems from an administrative culture of corruption.
Mayor Dwight Jones has filled two key administrative positions appointing in what he describes as the troubled agencies of Finance & Administration and Human Services. Norman Butts, Director of Finance for the town of Leesburg, will take over June 23rd as Deputy Chief Adminstrative Officer for Finance & Administration. Butts replaces Sharon Judkins, who left the position last week and was granted a $400,000 increase to her retirement fund, drawn from 800 hours of unused sick leave. Commonwealths Attorney Michael Herring is investigating the matter.
U.S. District Judge James Spencer denied a motion by defense attorneys for former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen to dismiss the corruption charges against them as well as another motion to try them separately. In his ruling, Judge Spencer wrote that a jury must decide whether the former governor and his wife misused their official positions to trade influence in governmental decision making for the $165,000 in gifts and travel the McDonnell’s accepted from former Star Scientific CEO Johnnie Williams.
The House Appropriations Committee heard testimony yesterday from lawyers representing the General Assembly that the state will not have a mechanism to pay state employees should the General Assembly fail to pass a budget by July 1st. The lawyers told committee members that the Governor does not have the authority, as he has previously suggested, to spend state dollars in the absence of a budget.
Virginia Secretary of Finance Ric Brown reveled yesterday that state revenue collections are down significantly for the month of May. If the downward trend continues over the next 40 days, the state could close this fiscal year with 300 million fewer dollars than expected. The news puts additional pressure on lawmakers to reach a compromise on the state budget, which must be passed by June 30th to avoid a government shutdown. Governor McAuliffe told House and Senate budget negotiators it was time to get back to work.
Advocates for “smart growth” and local archaeological experts are expressing concerns with Mayor Jones' plan to relocate the Richmond Squirrels to a new stadium in Shockoe Bottom. The Partnership for Smarter Growth has sent a letter to the Jones administration asking them to restart the debate on Shockoe Stadium. They want to see greater transparency and public input on the project.
Jeff Schapiro analyzes Virginia political news for 88.9 WCVE.
Republican Delegate Bob Marshall of Prince William has introduced two resolutions of inquiry into the impeachment of Attorney General Mark Herring. Marshall says Herring had no authority to offer in state tuition to children of illegal immigrants with defferred action status and is thwarting the will of the people by arguing against Virginia’s same sex marriage ban and pushing to change the tax code to allow joint filing for same sex couples married in other states.
The Richmond City Council has approved Mayor Jones’ $262 million public schools budget with the additional $3.8 million requested for operations by the School Board. Mayor Jones' budget also included $5 million for school maintenance. Council added an additional $2 million on top of that.
Governor Terry McAuliffe has taken executive action on several women’s health issues, including instructing the State Board of Health to review controversial new regulations of clinics who provide abortions. The regulations require that such clinics meet the same structural standards as hospitals.