Monthly Archives: August 2009

Investigations and Vacations…

Rachel DePompaRachel DePompa – bio | email 
The City launched an investigation today into the Richmond  Department of Social Services. (The agency hasn’t had a permanent director in over a year) Well, turns out it was also over billing the state… to the tune of 3.8 million!

Now, according to new Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall, this was not fraud or corruption but a sheer mismanagement and bad record keeping. (that’s comforting) City Auditor Umesh Dalal told me the city found out about this today and in a matter of hours launched an investigation and audit and began making personnel changes. (the quick response is comforting.) It looks like the state made changes this year to the way it is billed, but the city failed to keep up with those changes resulting in this multi-million dollar error. We’ll follow the audit and update you as soon as we know more.

VACA:

Now, as for vacation…. I’m off to the great state of Florida for my birthday.  I’ll try to update my blog with a picture or two, but I make no promises. I plan to be as far away from the office as possible! 🙂

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Ukrop’s in Negotiations With Potential Buyer

Rachel DePompaRachel DePompa – bio | email 

*Update Wednesday 12:01pm: Thanks to everyone who is sending me tips on this story. They are helpful. Several of you have given me the names of businesses that may be in negotiations with Ukrop’s. I’m checking on them now and I’ll update you as soon as I get any information. For those of you who are telling me Wegmans, here’s an update I posted a few days ago….. (Update: August 6th 11:30am:)  It’s NOT Wegmans. The Rochester based grocery chain says it is NOT buying Ukrops. I received several emails yesterday suggesting Wegmans was the buyer. Wegmans’ spokesperson Jo Natale says “it is not true. It’s a false rumor.”  Wegmans has 73 stores including in five states including one store in Fredericksburg, VA. 

*Fun Update: Tuesday 4:20pm: Ukrop’s twitter page posted this comment, “People sure do like to talk.”  Interesting….  (cue: dark, ominous music) :End of update!

Whew! Breaking News morning. According to a 50 year old food trade magazine called Supermarket News Harris Teeter is no longer the front runner. I spoke to the reporter who uncovered this story by phone this morning. Jon Springer won’t reveal his sources but he says Harris Teeter was outbid for Ukrop’s by an unnamed private equity group, which is in exclusive negotiations to buy Ukrop’s. He says the economy is playing a big role in the sale, along with competition from other grocers. Ukrop’s remains silent again today and Harris Teeter has declined to comment.  When I learn some more… You’ll be the first to know!

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Back in town for Richmond Round-up

Rachel DePompaRachel DePompa – bio | email 

Sorry for the LONG delay in blogs, but I was sent on secret assignment this week. (No, really!) I was gone for two days, but i’m back today and ready for the week in review.

Gene Lepley: I was so happy to see my former co-worker today. Many of you ask about him often, so here is your update. He’s now the public information officer for the Richmond Police and I had the pleasure of interviewing him for the first time today. You’ll see him on the news tonight! (08-13-09)

Big Brother is Watching: I first told you about cameras in Shockoe Bottom last October. Now, Police have officially jumped on the bandwagon. There are now 8 cameras in the bottom around the Farmer’s Market. I’m curious how you feel about this. I talked to several business owners who are ecstatic to have the extra protection. The camera’s do tape footage that is kept for several days. That means police have a chance at catching some crimes on tape.

City Hall is on VACA: I know you’re probably wondering why I haven’t written about City Hall in a while, but that’s because there’s seriously been NO NEWS! Everyone is on vacation or about to head out. I’m trying here. Please send me some inside information!

Baseball: My sources tell me an announcement is coming soon! Stay tuned….

 

 

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#Ukropalypse

Rachel DePompaRachel DePompa – bio | email 

Update: August 6th 11:30am:  It’s NOT Wegmans. The Rochester based grocery chain says it is NOT buying Ukrops. I recieved several emails yesterday suggesting Wegmans was the buyer. Wegmans’ spokesperson Jo Natale says “it is not true. It’s a false rumor.”  Wegmans has 73 stores including in five states including one store in Fredericksburg, VA. 

———————————   

Shout out to my twitter folks today who came up with #Ukropalyse. Here’s the latest on the Ukrop’s sale speculation. Since no one is “officially” talking, it’s time to read between the lines…. I trust all my faithful readers out there!

Harris Teeter:

Harrist Teeter’s parent company, The Ruddick Corporation, released its quarterly report this week. The company says its planned distribution center in King George County will likely be delayed. (That’s huge news for the rumor mill because the center fueled A LOT of the speculation that Harris Teeter was the front runner to buy Ukrop’s. This would be Harris Teeter’s first distribution center IN Virginia… giving rise to the company growing in the Commonwealth) The company also said it was exploring other options.  

The quarterly report also mentions Harris Teeter’s expansion plans include Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland. (No mention of central Virginia or Richmond.) A local expert says this could be mean several things….

1. Harris Teeter doesn’t have to disclose expansion plans in a quarterly report and may be keeping its cards close to the vest.

2. It no longer has an interest in Ukrop’s.

3. There are other suitors for Ukrop’s out there that we don’t know about.

I caught up with the Ukrop family today at an event in Chesterfield County. CEO Bobby Ukrop declined to comment. His son, Rob said candidly “he’s the wrong guy to ask, but that these (rumors) come up every year.” When I pushed about family’s plans if there was a sale he said simply, “We love Richmond. We’ve always been here and we’ll always be here.”

And there’s your latest rumor-mill roundup!

 

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Excuse me… You’re indicted

Rachel DePompaRachel DePompa – bio | email 

So, I was in the awkward and unenviable position today to tell a woman she’s been indicted by a grand jury in the death of a little boy. I found out around 9:10 this morning that a grand jury had indicted the owner of the Yellow Brick Road Day Care on felony child neglect. It also upgraded the charge against the owner’s son to involuntary manslaughter. (The day care is where 13 month old Andrew Johnson was accidentally left in a van for 7 hours in 84 degree weather.) 

Upon learning of the indictments, I immediately set out for the day care. I knew I was the only reporter who had a lead on this story and I quickly realized Valerot Whitlow probably did not know she was now charged with a crime. (I was right) So, I decided to call her cell. She answered and I went for it… “I’m sorry, but I have bad news for you.  Valerot but you’ve been indicted by a grand jury for felony child neglect.” Now, It’s my job to get reaction and I hated having to tell her, but I also knew I had a responsibility to find out what was going on. Valerot was shocked and quickly got off the phone to call her attorney. I found out a few hours later that she’d turned herself into Richmond Police to be processed. This is such a tough story all around. You have a darling little boy that is gone and a tragic accident. Tough day. Tough choices. We’ll be following this case closely in the courts.  

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