Monthly Archives: August 2010

City’s Noise Ordinance Challenged

Rachel DePompa – bio | email

The city’s new noise ordinance went into effect February 22nd. Since that time, Richmond Police have handed out 105 citations to homeowners and motorists. Today, the law was supposed to face its first major challenge in court. The members of the band, “Little Master” were ticketed April 4th. Tim Morris, 29, bass player Leah Clancy, 28, and drummer Michael Bourlotos, 24, were playing at a house party on West  Clay Street. The home was rented by Rozalia Janicki, who was also cited. Their attorney, Steven Benjamin, says, “Police essentially forced their way into this home, where they had no permission to enter and without a search warrant.” He goes on to say that the police, “demanded identification, questioned everyone and over the protest of the owner, they searched every room of the that house.”

Benjamin is arguing that the city’s noise ordinance is too vague and violates first amendment rights. In court today, Nicholas Simopoulus with the city attorney’s office, said the ordinance is not unconstitutional and indicated the city plans to fight the challenge.

The ordinance was passed by the City Council under the guidance of the City Attorney. Under the ordinance, any noise after 11pm and before 7 am should only be heard by the person making the noise. Violators face up to a thousand dollar fine and 6 months in jail.

The band was charged five  months ago and the case has been delayed three times. Today, an assistant city attorney showed up and asked for a continuance. Judge Phillip Hairston was upset and said, “the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office could have been more prepared,” but he faulted the City attorney’s office for not being ready. Legal arguments were supposed to have been filed months ago, but the city did not file anything. The judge said he would consider dismissing the charges against the band, but the members asked him not to.  Tim Morris told me outside the courtroom, “It’s important that we get a ruling from the judge, so that we all know in the future as, citizens, musicians and artists, what this ruling means to us as individuals and what it means to our city.”

Judge Hairston rescheduled the case for October 18th. He says he wants arguments from both sides and plans to make a ruling.

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The Jones/Wilder Comparison: Salaries

Rachel DePompa – bio | email

This summer,  Mayor Dwight Jones asked to boost the pay being offered for the vacant Minority Business director position. Council member Bruce Tyler, immediately voiced concerns. He also started looking into the pay of high level city leaders under Jones, versus two years ago under Doug Wilder. Tyler told me, “The salaries in those two departments are 20% higher than what they were when Mayor Wilder walked out the door. We have been in a freeze for almost two years now, and yet these two departments have grown significantly in dollars.”

We took a look and here’s what we found. First I’ll list a few salaries to compare.

      Under Doug Wilder (in 2008)        Under Dwight Jones(2010) 

Chief of Staff: S.Robinson $162,000       S. Denslow-$174,559                            

Mayor:       Doug Wilder- $167,039         Dwight Jones-$174,559

Policy Advisor: Kim Neal $106,380       David Hicks-$146,964

CAO:     Sheila Hill-Christian $198,280   Byron Marshall-$243,664

When to add up everything in the Mayor’s Office and CAO’s office under Dwight Jones the total spent on employees is $2,510,990

When you do the same with the figures from the Wilder Administration in 2008, the total spent on employees is $2,079,798

Under the Jones Administration the salaries in the top-level are 21% higher.

The Mayor’s Press secretary issued this statement today. Tammy Hawley said, “Putting together a talented team takes an investment. We must be competitive with our surrounding counties and be able to attract the necessary talent to Richmond to move us toward becoming a Tier One city. The results and the outcomes speak for themselves. For example, in our first two budgets, we’ve achieved $30 million in reduced spending with  no tax increases and no reduction in essential services. We can only realize these types of accomplishments by having the right team in place for a well-managed government. We intend to operate at full throttle; anything less will not serve the residents of Richmond well or move this city forward.”

We also showed the numbers to a politic professor at the University of Richmond. Tom Sheilds said, “I think someone’s trying to make political hay out of not a lot there.” Shields went on to say, “The best people demand the best salaries. If you do a national search and you try to get the best people in then you  might as well pay them the best you can.” He also points out that the city’s top salaries are still much lower than the counties. Shields said, “If you want to do a comparison, Virgil Hazelett in Henrico County makes $290,000. There’s no one in the city of Richmond that makes $290,000. “

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