Category Archives: Breaking News

When it Rains it Pours News

Rachel DePompa – bio | email

Yesterday was not a day to be in a newsroom. Around 2:00, which is already starting to be crunch time in the news business, “breaking news” began.  You probably see those words all the time now. CNN and FOX constantly call things breaking at the bottom of your TV screens. But, in the local news world, “breaking stories” mean, news that happens at the most inopportune time that we MUST cover.

Example:  Around 2:00, dayside reporters like myself are probably back in the office and writing their 5:00 and 6:00 stories. Nightside reporters, or “nightsiders” as we call them, get in around 2:30. That period of time inbetween is limbo.

Yesterday, I was covering the vandalism of two statues on Monument Avenue. It was a story I knew the other stations didn’t have and once I found out they did, I was able to break it. As I was breaking it though, we found out 2 Richmond city teachers were disciplined in a standardized testing scandal. And, while we were deciding what to do with that bit of info, I got a call that a story I’d been working on was about to break as well…. (9 city workers arrested in an over-time scandal)  Soon after we learned a Chesterfield County student was arrested for making an explosive. Geez. Everything happened in a span of 5 minutes! It all got covered (and well I might add) but that gives you a little sense of an “atypical” reporting day. (And what a local news reporter means by “breaking” news)

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City Loses Financial Guru

Rachel DePompa – bio | email

One day after I write about the lack of stability in the city’s “Economic Development Director” position, we lose another one. Marcus Jones, the city’s Chief Administrative Officer for Finance, is leaving for a BIG promotion. He’s been hired to run the day-to-day operations of the city of Norfolk.

In a statement released late this afternoon, Mayor Dwight Jones (no relation to Marcus) called Jones’ new job, “bittersweet”. Mayor Jones went on to say, “When I recruited Marcus to Richmond, I knew what a great talent we were bringing to our city. The work that he has done over the past 16 months has met or surpassed every expectation that I had…. This is clearly an important  move for Marcus’ career, and he deserves this opportunity to ascend to the city manager role.”

Marcus Jones

Mayor Jones tapped Marcus to be his CAO of Finance soon after taking office. Marcus Jones came to Richmond from Norfolk, so it’s not a surprise he’d want to go back.  Marcus is leaving, just as the city is about to embark on its all important budget process. Mayor Jones says Marcus Jones will be missed. No word tonight on how long the city plans to take to fill this new opening.

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Marshall Nominated: Answers Lingering Questions

Rachel DePompaRachel DePompa – bio | email 

Mayor Dwight Jones says he was looking for three things when it came to nominating a CAO. He wanted someone with experience in a larger city. Check (Atlanta, Houston, D.C.)

He wanted someone from a city with accomplishments he’s striving for in Richmond. Check (Waterfront projects, developing the warehouse district)

He wanted someone who could not just build a downtown, but who could build neighborhoods. Check (President of Austin Revitalization Authority)

Byron Marshall appears to have all the qualifications Mayor Jones was looking for in a candidate.  But when news broke he was a finalist, information began surfacing from newspaper articles from his prior cities. Tonight, Marshall addressed all the questions. And he did so, frankly and publicly with the media AND at the City Council meeting.

As for his degree?  Marshall says he was awarded a B.A. in History in 1997. He says he has 24 hours of the 40 hours required for a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Syracuse University.  Marshall says, “Was the paperwork sloppy? Yes. Was I trying to fool anyone? No.” 

As for his reasons for leaving his Atlanta job? It was reported Marshall resigned in Atlanta after it was discovered he was also holding a job with Austin. Marshall says he was consulting for another city at the end of his tenure and it was known by his boss and not hidden in any way. He says an election was approaching and the second job became a campaign issue.

And as for the audit currently underway at his agency? Marshall says it is performance based and not financial. He says, “There’s been no determination of any impropriety nor has there been any suggestion that there has been.”

City Council will hold a special meeting next Wednesday. Five votes are needed to confirm the nomination.

 

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CAO D-Day! Looks like Marshall is the Pick

Rachel DePompaRachel DePompa – bio | email 

It’s D-Day at City Hall for Byron Marshall. (see postings below for his bio and background)He spent the weekend in Richmond meeting with the city’s top brass. This  morning he was introduced to a who’s who of the Richmond business community at the Suntrust Building. City Council meets tonight. I could get my first crack at Marshall this afternoon. Interviews with the media are coming.  And, it appears papers will be introduced tonight naming Marshall as the Mayor’s choice. The new buzz at city hall today is interesting. The Mayor may use a little known tool in the city’s charter called “expedited consideration.” Which basically means Mayor Dwight Jones may call for a vote to confirm Marshall tonight. He needs six council members to vote for an expedited vote. Then he only needs five votes to confirm Marshall as the new Chief Administrative Officer. Which means we could have a new CAO by 11:00 tonight. Stay tuned! 

**UPDATE**  Marshall’s meeting with the business community has concluded. It was convened by Venture Richmond. In attendance?

The company heads of: Suntrust, Richmond Chamber of Commerce, Hunton & Williams, Ukrops, Bon Secours, Altria, Capital One Financial, Federal Reserve, Dominion, Mead West VACO… 39 people in all were there.

**UPDATE #2**: Mayor Jones has named Marcus Jones as Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Finance and Administration. This position reports directly to the CAO. Jones, 41, is a native of Caroline County, VA and spent over a decade in Richmond as Mark Warner’s Deputy Secretary of Finance.  He’s currently an assistant City Manager in Norfolk. He graduated from James Madison University and VCU. 

He begins on August 24th and “will provide key oversight for more than $1.4 billion in annual revenue collection and spending. He’ll be over the departments of Finance, Budget and Strategic Planning, Procurement, Information Technology and the Office of Risk Management.”  

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Union Hill Murder Update

Rachel DePompaRachel DePompa – bio | email 

This is a story one of those stories that strikes a nerve with many viewers. People have sent me countless emails debating whether or not Donald Driver should have been charged with second degree murder. (For those of you who have been in a vacuum, Driver is the Virginia Union student police say caught a man breaking into his girlfriend’s car. He ended up shooting and killing the alleged thief, Jamal Hollman.) Tonight we’ve learned A LOT more about exactly what happened on April 22nd at the intersection of 22nd and Leigh. 

We learned at a preliminary hearing today from one witness that Driver chased Hollman and fired at least six shots. Driver’s attorney says Hollman was hit three times. A witness who was walking his dog in alley saw part of the shooting. He heard two shots then he saw a man running and another man chasing with a gun. That witness told the judge he, “Didn’t see anything in his (Hollman’s) hands. He (Hollman) wasn’t making any threatening gestures or anything.” 

A police officer was a block away and actually heard the shooting. He arrived seconds later and testified that he saw Driver walking up Leigh Street. He says Driver told him, “Dude, just tried to break into my girlfriend’s car and i’ve got a gun.” (Driver then pointed to his waistband) The officer also said Driver told him he thought Hollman had a gun.

We learned today that NO second weapon was ever found. Police even brought in a dog that specializes in smelling firearms and they drained the sewers in Union Hill.  Hollman died wearing a black mask. On the ground was a paper bag allegedly full of stolen items. Police also found a watch and cell phone on the ground. 

Now this was just a preliminary hearing, so Driver has not yet had a chance to put on his defense. His attorney tells me there will be evidence of a brawl. He says Driver will testify that Hollman attacked him. Driver’s attorney says his client feared for his life. AND THAT IS THE KEY! In Virginia, you have no legal right to use deadly force to protect personal property. This is one of those cases that will truly need a jury of peers to decide what happened out there. The case heads to the grand jury on July 6th. That’s when I’ll have my next update.   

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CAO Candidate Under Scrutiny

Rachel DePompa – bio | email 

Rachel DePompaWe’re learning more tonight about the number one candidate for Richmond’s top city job. It appears the Texan up for the city’s Chief Administrative Officer position has a history of controversy in his prior positions. I told you a little about this in my first posting. Today we have some more details and links to news articles.

Marshall is the CEO and president of the Austin Revitalization Authority. We learned today his agency is being audited by the Austin City Auditor. A 2006 internal audit of the agency cited numerous concerns. I looked over a power point presentation which found the agency to be highly leveraged and to have cash flow problems. The report also cited a lack of an accurate, multi-year financial plan to meet debt obligations.  The new audit report is due in August.

According to this Austin-American Statesman article ….

“The authority and Marshall himself have come under fire in the past few years because of the slow pace of the redevelopment, an audit that raised questions about whether the authority is financially stable and complaints from small businesses about the authority charging them big amounts of back rent.”

I requested an interview with Marshall today.. he responded by email. This is what he had to say…

Hi Ms. DePompa,

I think it  best that inquiries be directed to the City of Richmond’s PIO at this time   To my knowledge no final decision has been made regarding appointment of the  CAO and it would be inappropriate for me  to  make comments of any sort at this time. 

Best,

 Byron  Marshall

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The New Richmond CAO?

Rachel DePompaRachel DePompa – bio | email 

Mayor Dwight Jones is close to naming a new Chief Administrative Officer. Multiple sources tell me his top pick on a very short list is Byron C. Marshall.  Sources say Jones even introduced Marshall to the City Council on Monday.

Byron Marshall

Byron Marshall

Marshall (pictured on the left) has 25 years experience in public administration. He’s currently the CEO and President of the Austin Revitalization Authority in Texas. From 1994 to 1997 he was the Chief Operating Officer in Atlanta, Georgia. He’s also worked in Washington, D.C., Houston and Michigan.

The official word out of City Hall tonight is that the Mayor is close to making a decision, but no one has been hired. Sources tell  me Jones wants City Council to be on board before a person is officially employed. You may remember, Sheila Hill Christian held the job for less than a year under Mayor Doug Wilder before abruptly leaving with no explanation. Chris Beschler has been filling in for several months. This is the first word we’ve had of Dwight Jones being close to a hire since he took office.

More About Marshall: Byron Marshall has been with the Austin Revitalization Authority since 1999. The ARA is a private, non-profit community development organization. Its mission is to restore cultural and economic viability to East Austin Neighborhoods. Marshall’s job is not without controversy. This Article in the Austin Chronicle reports on alleged troubles in the ARA agency.

Again, No one is officially hired, but we hear he’s the top pick!

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