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  1. Norfolk finds no easy answers in police shootings

    December 15, 2014 by Christy

    In May 2013, a police officer shot and

    killed Joshua Johnson at the Wells Fargo in Ghent. Police said Johnson tried to back his car into an officer.

    This June, a Norfolk police officer shot and killed David Latham, who was

    armed with a knife. Latham’s family says he was retreating into his house when he was shot.

    Norfolk’s Commonwealth’s Attorney, Greg Underwood, said the use of fatal force against Johnson was justified. The use of viagra sildenafil citrate force against Latham remains under review.

    Councilman Andy Protogyrou has suggested creating

    a citizens’ panel to review allegations of police misconduct as a way to bolster public confidence. A review panel

    would consider whether officers had followed their department’s policies and procedures, Protogyrou said. Questions of criminal conduct in use-of-force cases would still be reviewed by a grand jury.

    Still, a review panel could help give residents confidence that their appeals are being heard, Protogyrou said.

    “I’m not saying that because I’m not satisfied with the system,” comprar viagra de forma segura he said. “I want citizens to understand people are doing the best humanly possible.”

    Nationwide, more than 200 civilian oversight groups with various structures and authority act as a check on the criminal justice system.

    “Most major cities have some form of oversight,” Brian Buchner cheap levitra canada (President of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement and a special investigator with the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners) said. “It’s a way of reassuring the community… so they can regain trust where there isn’t any.”

    Read the full article here.

  2. Council members grouse about Norfolk management

    July 24, 2014 by Christy

    City Manager Marcus Jones often enjoys the good graces of his bosses on the City Council. But Tuesday night was different.

    “The manager’s taken a couple hits tonight,” Mayor Paul Fraim noted during the informal session, where four council members expressed displeasure with various aspects of city management.

    Councilman Andy Protogyrou led the charge. Protogyrou had called for an investigation of a city-contracted plumber sentenced to 15 months in prison following an FBI investigation. The contractor bribed city employees and overbilled the city for years.

    In a three-sentence memo delivered to the council on Friday, Jones said a city investigation found no wrongdoing beyond two city employees who took bribes from the city-contracted plumber. The brief memo didn’t sit well with Protogyrou, who said he expected a full report.

    “It’s ironic that of all the nights, tonight we have a discussion on fraud, managing fraud and risk, tone, culture, control and policies,” Protogyrou said. “And what bothers me is, we as a council know nothing as to what went on. “For us to receive our information from the newspaper is not right.”

    Protogyrou, a lawyer, questioned Jones about exactly what police, who handled the investigation, had reviewed. “I tell you, I deal with Norfolk PD, and sometimes they don’t take notes. Sometimes they take notes and for some reason they destroy those notes. I know how the system works. I don’t know what happened here, and neither do our taxpayers,” Protogyrou said. “I want to know how it happened, why it happened, what controls were not there, what culture in City Hall didn’t exist, what policies did we not follow.”

    Protogyrou suggested the possibility of a review by the city auditor. Jones then said he wanted Alice Kelly, the city’s finance director, to brief the council at the meeting about changes that had been made.

    “You cannot answer this for me tonight,” Protogyrou said. “I want to know, what is your new culture, and if you can do it in 30 seconds, I’ll be surprised.”

    “Can we try 120 seconds?” Jones asked.

    “No,” Protogyrou replied sharply. “I want it written down.”

    Protogyrou said he could not ask the right questions without preparation from a written report.

    Under state law, police reports from such an investigation could be released to the public, a decision left to the discretion of the affected governments. Because it’s optional, Norfolk and most other local governments in Hampton Roads rarely do so.

    Fraim said police would avoid disclosing investigative techniques in writing. But, he told Jones, “there’s a good, healthy discipline about putting things down in writing.”

    “This plan that’s been put in place after this incident ought to be reduced to writing for this council, just like Andy has said, and presented to us, so then we can ask you questions

    about it. OK? I just think that’s a healthy give-and-take,” Fraim said.

    Councilman Paul Riddick, in a critique of how police treat blacks, took on Jones and Goldsmith over two fatal police shootings and said the city was acting like an ostrich that “buries his head in the sand.”

    “The lack of investigation by the city manager, who also serves as our public safety director for the city, and the police chief… who can only say now that the investigation is in the hands of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, is not giving the citizens of Norfolk the level of comfort that I think is expected of our top public safety officials,” Riddick said.

    Finally, Councilman Tommy Smigiel said

    that developer Ronnie Boone Sr. appeared to be getting a “free pass” for years of putting up buildings that lack proper permits and inspections.

    Gesturing toward both Jones and City Attorney Bernard A. Pishko, Smigiel said, “These two offices here have to, at some point, put their foot down and say, ‘Enough is enough.’

    “We have citizens who could be living in structures that haven’t been approved by law, and I worry about their safety,” he said. “If we can’t handle this as

    a city to the fullest extent, then maybe it needs to be turned over to another division to look into. Another city, another commonwealth’s attorney, somebody else, to make sure we don’t continue to be embarrassed.”

    Read the full article here.


  3. Maury High prom king faces four felony charges

    July 23, 2014 by Christy

    Four felony charges including a charge of malicious wounding will proceed against the Maury High School student who was crowned prom king a week after being arrested in connection with a drive-by shooting.

    During a preliminary hearing Thursday a Norfolk General District Judge decided a grand jury should also consider charges of child endangerment, use of a firearm and conspiracy. The judge dismissed 15 other charges.

    Evidence included the student’s statement to police, in which he said he told his passenger not to shoot, pushed the weapon down and had the gun pointed at him.

    A teenage

    girl testified she was walking from a store in the 2400 block of Lafayette Blvd. when shots were fired from the front passenger side of a car that drove by. She said she was hit in the leg but did not go to the hospital.

    A police officer testified that he stopped a Buick matching the description of the car. He said the student, who was driving the car, was cooperative. The student told police he had a scholarship at Norfolk State University, the officer testified, and said he gave someone a ride for gas money. The officer testified a gun slipped down the leg of one of the passengers as police patted him down. He said there was also a rifle on the floor of the backseat where a toddler was sitting.

    The judge silently read the statement the student made to police.

    Defense attorney Andy Protogyrou cited portions of his client’s statement, including that his client repeatedly told the shooter not to fire from his car. The student also told police he tried to stop the shooter by pushing down the weapon.

    Protogyrou said after the hearing that his client had his passenger for only about a week. News of the student’s return to school after being released on bond raised safety concerns and questions about school policy.

    Read the full article here.

  4. No other Norfolk employees involved in fraud

    by Christy

    A police investigation of a plumber convicted of bribing city workers found no wrongdoing beyond an FBI probe that led to charges against three men, a city spokeswoman said this week.

    The owner of Zoby Mechanical, was charged in March 2013 with bribing city workers and submitting fraudulent invoices to the city. His company had been the city’s plumbing contractor since 2001.

    Zoby is serving a 15-month prison sentence. Two former city employees, a plumbing supervisor  and a maintenance supervisor also plead guilty following an FBI investigation.  A Virginian-Pilot investigation last year showed how Zoby overbilled the city for a decade.

    The city investigation – completed last week – examined whether any other city workers were involved in fraud and found there were none according to a Norfolk City Official.

    In a

    memo to City Council members Friday, City Manager Marcus Jones wrote: “At the conclusion of the investigation, there is no evidence that any other city employees are involved in this criminal act.”

    The report by city police won’t be made public. A Norfolk City Official stated under the FOIA statute the City is allowed to withhold it.

    Sitting next to Jones at Tuesday’s informal session of the City Council, Councilman Andy Protogyrou said the city manager’s three-sentence report to the council was “not right.”

    “I’m thinking I’m going to get a memorandum and instead I get three sentences,” said

    Protogyrou, who initially asked for a city investigation.

    “We as a council know nothing as to what went on. If PD did

    an investigation, then I want to know what happened.”

    Vice Mayor Angelia Williams said she agreed with Protogyrou. “These are things that just don’t make our city look good.”

    Read the full article here.

  5. Maury student charged in shooting, named prom king

    June 9, 2014 by Christy

    On May 23, a Maury High School senior partied with his classmates at the Half Moon Cruise and Celebration Center and was thrilled when they voted him prom king.

    The day before, he had been confined in the City Jail. The senior spent a week in jail after being arrested in connection with a shooting of a teenager that police believe was gang-related. Police charged the student, who is 18, and three others with more than two dozen felonies. His attorney says he is innocent.

    The high school student’s future football career is now in jeopardy. Norfolk State University says a football scholarship they gave him is on hold.

    But it’s likely that the student will get to attend at least one more special high school event: his graduation.

    That’s because Norfolk’s conduct policy says that students with felony charges may be allowed to return to school and attend activities such as prom. Students also can graduate as long as they are eligible.

    Maury’s PTA president, said the policy needs to be reviewed. She was shocked to learn that the student was allowed to return to school, given the allegations of gang activity.

    Norfolk School Board Chairman said on Friday he understands parents’ concerns about safety and

    plans to recommend that the board review the division’s conduct policy.

    A school spokeswoman, said safety is a top priority when administrators review cases in which students are charged or convicted of felonies. Four school security officers and four off-duty, uniformed Norfolk police officers attended the prom, she said.

    According to court documents, the student was arrested May 15 in connection with a drive-by shooting of a teenager in the 2400 block of Lafayette Blvd.

    On May 14, the student was allegedly driving a Buick Century with three other teens and a 3-year-old child when a man inside fired toward a house about 6 p.m. A teenager who was not the intended target was hospitalized, according to police and court records.

    Police stopped

    the Buick, seized weapons and arrested four suspects from the vehicle.

    The Maury high school student was charged with two counts of malicious wounding, six counts of attempted malicious wounding, six counts of felonious use of a firearm, gang participation, child endangerment and conspiracy to commit malicious wounding, according to buy levitra london court records.

    Chief Judge of Norfolk General District Court granted the student a $25,000 bond May 22.

    Andy Protogyrou, the student’s attorney and also a Norfolk City Council member, said he asked Norfolk School Board Chairman, as the student’s pastor, as well as the teenager’s mother, brother and two of his Maury coaches to attend the hearing.

    Protogyrou said he has “very favorable evidence in defense of the charges.” His client never had a weapon, and although he was driving the car, “when he saw a weapon, he tried to get it from the shooter’s hand,” Protogyrou said Friday. “And there’s also evidence that he may have been threatened himself.”

    Court documents state that a co-defendant is a enrolled as a student at Granby High. A magistrate noted that, “Rivalry still exists between the 2 gangs, also the target of the shooting wasn’t shot.”

    Protogyrou said the student attended his prom with an adult male family member.

    Maury’s PTA president said school officials should consider alternative school placements until students with criminal charges have had their cases resolved in court.

    A preliminary hearing is scheduled forJune 30.

    A former Norfolk teacher and president of the Middle Towne Arch at Broad Creek civic league, said he has known Protogyrou’s client and his mother for years. “He’s a very kindhearted person,” he said. “He’s always willing to do favors and stuff. I think he just made a mistake. He was doing a favor for the wrong folks.”

    An assistant athletic director at Norfolk State, said the Maury student’s scholarship offer “is on hold pending the judicial process.” NSU plans to “wait and see how it plays out,” he said.

    Read the full article here.

  6. Norfolk council to School Board: Save Maury High

    June 2, 2014 by Christy

    Norfolk School

    Board backed off a vote to replace the aging Maury High School. A majority of Norfolk City Council members say they were surprised by the plans to replace the school and believe it should be preserved.

    Mayor Paul Fraim said when he first learned about the plans, he was dismayed that they were considering anything but renovating Maury.

    Councilwoman Theresa Whibley, a former School Board member, said the plans caught her off guard and that she supports renovation.

    Councilman Barclay Winn said he was “totally blindsided” by the attempted vote.

    Council members Andy Protogyrou, Tommy Smigiel and Paul Riddick also support renovation.

    The City Council appoints School Board members and provides funding for school construction, ultimately the council would have to sign off on any replacement or major renovation. Maury, which opened in 1910, is the oldest high school still in use in South Hampton Roads.

    The school division said it spends up to $80,000 a year to inspect and stabilize the school. Fixing the crumbling exterior walls would cost more than $6 million. A consultant told the board on May 14 that it would cost $52 million to renovate and that a new school, priced at $73 million, would likely last longer. Board members favored replacement, citing the longer life span, and they almost voted on the matter during that meeting but agreed to put off the vote until their regular meeting May 21. On May 21, the board removed the Maury vote from the agenda.

    Maury alumnus Evans Poston, who is also the city’s commissioner of revenue, said he was shocked to hear about the plans. “I’m hearing lots of outrage about the perceived lack of transparency,” he said. “I’ve seen firsthand how much people love that building, love that school, love the tradition of being from Maury High.”

    Read the full article here.

  7. Norfolk council election could endanger voting bloc

    April 1, 2014 by Christy

    In the six-person race to fill Anthony Burfoot’s Ward 3 seat on the City Council, the candidate with the most to lose may be Mayor Paul Fraim.

    Burfoot, an ally of the mayor, was elected treasurer in November. His departure from the council puts Fraim’s majority voting bloc on the line.

    After years of solid control of council actions, Fraim’s coalition today is “somewhat fragile,” said former Ocean View Councilman W. Randy Wright.

    “You’ve got a loose-knit majority coalition that is in jeopardy with someone else being elected in Ward 3 that is not of the same ilk,” he said. “It’s a big seat.”

    Wright was unseated four years ago by Councilman Tommy Smigiel, now known as an independent vote on the council and often the sole dissenter.

    But Smigiel is sometimes joined in opposition to the mayor by Councilman Andy Protogyrou

    and Vice Mayor Angelia Williams, creating 5-3 votes.

    One of the most high-profile examples of a 5-3 split was the approval in 2011 of the ill-fated plan by Tivest Development for an office building at Tidewater Drive and Virginia Beach Boulevard. The plan fell apart days after the vote when it became public that the anchor tenant, a nonprofit called STOP, was having major financial problems and wouldn’t be able to afford the rent.

    Were Burfoot’s seat to be won by someone less inclined to agree with Fraim, 4-4 votes could result, killing some proposals.

    Fraim said he has not endorsed a candidate in Ward 3 and hasn’t decided whether he’ll do so publicly.

    The Ward 3 candidates are salesman and political consultant William H. Collins Jr., 59; Glen L. Jones Sr., 52, a minister and school volunteer; Mamie Johnson, 48, president of the Broad Creek civic league and a retired teacher; Rodney A. Jordan, 48, a School Board member; Marcus J. Powell, 48, a retired Marine and Barraud Park activist; and Lionell Spruill Jr., 46, a veterans affairs coordinator at Norfolk State University.

    The ward includes Norview, Ballentine Place and other neighborhoods in the heart of the city.

    Fraim said Johnson is the only candidate who has asked to meet with him. “I think she would do well on the council, but there are other candidates as well,” he said.

    Of Fraim, Johnson said, “Mayor Fraim has a really good vision as far as the direction of our schools as well as for our city.”

    Powell said that while he likes the longtime mayor and thinks Fraim has the best interests of the city at heart, he believes all of Norfolk’s elected officials should be limited in how long they can serve because some communities get passed over. Fraim has been mayor for 20 years.

    “I think Smigiel and Protogyrou work very well together,” he said. “They have the best interests of the people first – and then politics – and that’s how council should be run.”

    Read the full article from here.

  8. Norfolk council names ex-con to volunteer post

    January 17, 2014 by Christy

    Alphonso Albert generated controversy in 2007 when he was appointed to lead a new anti-crime agency in city government. Years earlier, he was convicted of manslaughter and drug violations and was charged and acquitted in another killing.

    After a 6-2 council vote on Tuesday evening, Albert is back in city government. But this time he’s in a volunteer position – he was appointed to the board of the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

    The appointment was pushed by Councilman Paul Riddick and generated some

    division on the council. But Mayor Paul Fraim says the situation is different than in 2007.

    “This is an unpaid volunteer position,” he said. “I have known Alphonso for years and know how committed he is to public service, and that’s why I was one of six council members to support his appointment.”

    However, council members Andrew Protogyrou and Tommy Smigiel objected. Smigiel said he was concerned with Albert’s involvement in an anti-poverty agency that nearly went broke. He also said if there is a concern about diversity on the board, there are potentially hundreds of more qualified African American leaders who could have been appointed.

    “This is status quo to me,” he said. “We keep on cycling the same names.”

    Protogyrou said he opposed the appointment because he said since Albert probably didn’t qualify to live in public housing because of his criminal record, he shouldn’t sit on the board. Still, Protogyrou called Albert on Wednesday morning to wish him luck.

    “He said thank you. And he said that he would give his all,” Protogyrou said.

    Read the full article here.

  9. Norfolk council wants fewer animals euthanized

    December 4, 2013 by Christy

    The City Council is eager to see a reduction in the number of animals euthanized at the city’s shelter.

    After nearly two years of discussion, council members say they want to see an improvement in the city’s save rate, the percentage of animals not euthanized at the city’s shelter. The rate has been about the same the past two years: 54 percent in 2011 and 53 percent in 2012.

    Norfolk City Manager told the council last year that city staff would work toward gradually increasing the save rate. Councilman Andy Protogyrou said at a Tuesday council meeting that he expects the administration to make real on that promise.

    “To say that it’s close isn’t good enough,” he said. “Tell me it’s close and you failed.”

    The council delayed further discussion on the issue until the first of the year, when the updated save rate will be available.

    The city prix viagra pharmacie formed the Animal Advisory Board earlier this year to identify ways to improve animal care in Norfolk. That board has passed along several proposals, including a recommendation that the city adopt a “trap,

    neuter, release” (TNR) program.

    The director of general services, tried to give a presentation on those proposals Tuesday, but some council members took issue with the staff’s position on the legality of TNR.

    City staff referenced an attorney general opinion that it said determined TNR is not authorized under state law. Protogyrou, an attorney, said he read that opinion differently.

    Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, also an attorney, said he relies on the City Attorney’s Office to draw legal conclusions. Fraim added that Protogyrou is overlooking another hurdle: He might not have the five votes needed to pass TNR.

    Norfolk City Manager said his office has made no decision on the board’s recommendations. The staff report issued in October said there was not enough funding or information available to justify the city’s support for several of the proposals.

    “I don’t want to

    know how we can’t,” Protogyrou said. “I want to know how we can.”

    Read the full article here.

  10. Norfolk Mayor’s Commission on Poverty Reduction Ramps Up

    October 16, 2013 by Christy

    The Mayor’s Commission on

    Poverty Reduction is holding a series cialis generique of town hall meetings to gather input from citizens regarding poverty in Norfolk on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at the Southside Aquatic Center located at 1750 Campostella Road 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and on Thursday, November 7, 2013 at the Pretlow Library located at 111 W. Ocean View Avenue, 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.