Ex-PD Chief files $10M lawsuit, Twitter don't like Mike, and no CM for awhile...
I sweated writing this one, literally…the AC in my office has been out for a week. Guess summer is here. Dr. B has been making some waves as we head toward the 5th anniversary of Unite the Right without a plan…
Former Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney has filed a $10 million federal lawsuit against the city and individuals involved in a truly puzzling series of events last August/September that resulted in Brackney's removal by then-City Manager Chip Boyles, who himself resigned just a month later.
Here's a re-cap…
Following the release of a survey conducted by the local chapter of the Police Benevolent Association that was critical of CPD leadership, and publicly promoted by Michael Wells (with some help, oddly enough, from the chair of the Police Civilian Review Board), senior vice president of the Police Benevolent Association’s Central Virginia Chapter Board (who, according to recorded comments made by Boyles, was "living 24 hours a day seven days a week to try and get her [Brackney] fired. He can say all he wants to, I think he could care less about the officers. For him, it’s a mission.” ), the city issued a press release (which has since been removed from the city website) adamantly defending Brackney's record and revealing that she had disciplined members of the SWAT Team who, among other things, were caught videoing simulated sex acts, circulating nude videos of females and themselves, videotaping children of SWAT members detonating explosives and firing assault weapons, and making comments about City command staff such as “I say we kill them all and let God sort it out."
However, just 10 days later and after the release of an internal CPD survey, Boyles fired Brackney. Boyles quickly found himself in a communications crisis, one he sought to fix by using the services of a high-powered Washington, DC public relations firm to craft an Op-Ed in the Daily Progress, and a statement to City Council, hoping to explain his reasons for firing Brackney. Boyles said he felt problems within the police department were "growing out of control" and chose to act by firing Brackney before the department was "gripped in chaos." And while he admitted that he wished he had "engaged the City Council more directly" in the decision and "worked in partnership with Chief Brackney to develop an improvement plan," he claimed he did not have "the luxury of time" and believed it was critical to terminate Brackney's employment. Why there was such an urgent need to do this was never fully explained. In the end, Captain Latroy “Tito” Durrette, a former SWAT Team commander, would be promoted to Major and tasked with leading the department until a new police chief could be hired.
At today's press conference, Brackney claimed she was fired because she was trying to reform the police department and sought to discipline officers. In addition to disbanding the SWAT Team, Brackney also suspended and then fired CPD Officer Jeffery Yeager for his actions during an arrest. She also fired CPD Officer Joseph Wood for his decision to detain LaQuinn Gilmore, calling it "unwarranted and unlawful," and released the body-cam footage of the incident. Brackney also removed police officers from schools and disbanded the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement (JADE) Task Force. Brackney said at the press conference that city officials had “halted the work of dismantling white supremacy” by removing her. Brackney also says she has the receipts, in the form of “shocking” audio tapes of conversations with city officials she obtained through FOIA requests.
"For removing the police from our schools, for disbanding JADE, for disbanding SWAT, for those actions, for doing what is right, for doing what is just, my professional reputation has been diminished, harmed, and devalued by this City, the former City Manager, the former Asst Chief, three current Councilors, the PCRB Chairperson, and two other PCRB appointed members, among many others. And for the audacity...for the actions I took, for the attempt to dismantle racism, misogyny, nepotism, and police violence, I was deemed, quote, "not a good fit" for this City." - Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney, November 9, 2021, during a press conference announcing that she’d filed a wrongful termination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Named in the new federal lawsuit: Former CM Chip Boyles, former councilor Heather Hill, current Mayor Lloyd Snook and councilor Sena Magill, former city communications director Brian Wheeler, PBA VP Michael Wells, former Police Civilian Review Board chair Bellamy Brown, Interim Police Chief Tito Durette and former Asst. Police Chief James Mooney, and City of Charlottesville.
Twitter don’t like Mike
Former Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer was interviewed about preventing things like the unite the right rally…it did not go well for him on local Twitter
A surprising reason why hotel occupancy is down
They can't find and keep staff. “If we know that we’re going to be short-staffed for a week or two, we will actually block off some rooms and not be able to be at full occupancy,” said Hollis Cate, general manager at South Street Inn.
Some outstanding work here from @Ginny_Bixby:
DP- Mark Feldstein remembers that his father told him that he had been sitting in a barber's chair getting a haircut. A barber complained to the barber cutting Alan Feldstein’s hair that a Black man had come by earlier in the day asking for a haircut. Barbershops in the city were segregated at that time.
“My dad asked, ‘So if a Black man wanted a haircut, you wouldn't cut his hair? The barber replied, ‘No, I can't cut that kinky stuff,’” Mark Feldstein remembered his father recounting the conversation. Read more…
Cou Cou Rachou featured in Virginia Living
Saying something like a bakery brings the "taste of Paris to Charlottesville" could be presumptuous, but Cou Cou Rachou is the real deal.
UVA tip-toes into affordable housing
The University of Virginia Affordable Housing Initiative (UVAF) has issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) from developers for its affordable housing initiatives at 1000 & 1010 Wertland Street, 129 10th Street NW; and 1105 W. Main Street, and a 12-acre site along Mimosa Drive. While most of these sites are very close to the University, suggesting this is an effort to improve their own workforce and student housing, it’s a start.
Ex-Police Chief says currently employed city employee participated in Jan. 6 insurrection in DC.
Before her press conference today, former Charlottesville Police Chief Rashall Brackney lit up local Twitter when she quote tweeted this:
Someone asked, did anything happen with that employee? Did that person enter the capital to your knowledge? Brackney responded with: “He showed the Asst Chief photos and stated he was “invited in.” The AC believed him & did nothing. I said it was a crime, immediately notified FBI-Richmond, and turned over the investigative file. Prior to my leaving, he was still an employee & not charged.”
Molly Conger speculates that the person is Allen Groat, an IT analyst in the city's public safety department and that many of his public posts reveal his thoughts about Jan. 6th.
Consulting firm will run the city through December…at least
Charlottesville hasn't had a permanent City Manager since October 2020 (as former CM Chip Boyles’ appointment was not designed to be permanent), but now that City Council has extended the contract extended to a consulting firm to run the city, it could be another year before the city has a permanent city manager. Oh, and we still don’t have a permanent Police Chief because the former CM Boyles fired the last one a month before he resigned. Councilors say they want to fill the PC position before they start recruiting for a new CM. They hope to have a new PC by October and start recruiting for a CM then. Of course, back in January, Charlottesville Tomorrow reported that “officials hope to hire a permanent city manager by June.” So don’t hold your breath!
Weigh in on the Regional Transit Vision
As a year-long study nears its close, the TJPDC is asking folks to provide feedback on Phase 2 of the Regional Transit Vision Plan ahead of a planned virtual meeting on June 23 to discuss the future of transit in the region. the goal here is to “establish a single unified, long-term vision for transit service in the Charlottesville area.”