Rush Job? Planned City Manager review ahead of August 12 investigation causes concern
By David McNair
According to Charlottesville City Councilor Bob Fenwick, a decision on whether or not to extend Charlottesville City Manager Maurice Jones’ contract is “underway now” and “might be done by the next Council meeting.”
That news has apparently caused some concern in the community, as Tim Heaphy, the former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia hired to evaluate the City’s handling of events leading up to the Ku Klux Klan and white nationalist rallies over the summer —which left three people dead — isn’t expected to finish his investigation until Thanksgiving.
“There have been many calls for Mr. Jones’ resignation (along with that of Mayor Mike Signer and Police Chief Al Thomas) from across our community — this was very much in evidence during the Community Town Hall that was held after said community effectively shut the Council’s post-August 12th meeting down,” writes a local business owner in an email circulated among colleagues today. “ Whether or not these calls for resignations are justified remains to be seen. But that’s just the point. There have been undeniable failures in terms of the City’s preparations and its response to the events on August 12th, which is why it absolutely necessary that the processes that we’ve put in place, including Heaphy’s review, be allowed to happen before council rushes to renew Jones’ contract.”
According to City spokesperson Miriam Dickler, Jones’ contract doesn’t expire until the end of 2018. “If council were to choose to take action now, it would be an extension,” she says. “ I am not sure of the status of any such discussions.”
Fenwick also made it clear how he feels about Heaphy’s investigation.
“Heaphy’s report will have no impact on any judgement I have about Maurice Jones,” said Fenwick. “ I was in the middle of the riot, Heaphy wasn’t. I was intricately involved in the run up to the riot, Heaphy wasn’t. I have commanded men in combat, Heaphy hasn’t. At a time when it mattered most, in the middle of an invasion the likes of which this country hasn’t seen since the Civil War, Maurice Jones was making split second decisions in the heat of battle, Heaphy wasn’t. Heaphy will be reconstructing the events of that day in the comfort of a board room surrounded by men and women who have no idea of being in the eye of the storm and being advised by men and women who were not close to the action. Maurice didn’t have that luxury.”
City Council's next meeting is on Monday, November 6 at 7:00pm.