VIRGINIA BEACH - - It ain't gonna to be Mayor Will Sessoms:
Who ya gonna call when you want somebody to save your tax dollars? Why Vice Mayor Louis Jones and Councilman Bill DeSteph - that's who.
Jones & DeSteph went head to head Monday with HRT chief Phil Shucet over HRT's attempt to get Virginia Beach citizens to help fund Norfolk's light rail study costs. They saved the taxpayers of Virginia Beach almost $250,000 in 1-brief meeting Monday morning. They're the heroes of the day.
Shucet withdrew the request deciding to take the funds out of HRT's own pockets after Jones told him he needed to find the money 'in house' instead of looking for it from resort city taxpayers.
While Jones and DeSteph were fighting to prohibit Virginia Beach tax dollars from going to Norfolk's grossly and criminally mismanaged light rail project, what was Mayor Sessoms doing?
He was trying to break the arms of other members of council to get them to vote to give the money away. Never once did Sessoms challenge the legality and integrity of the HRT request.
Instead Sessoms was working feverishly trying to force his colleagues to vote approval of the request. Of Shucet's turn around after meeting DeSteph & Jones, Sessoms said, "That to me is HRT building credibility pretty quick." The resort city's stupidest mayor, who had been rallying council members to approve the money doesn't have the ability to be a leader!
DeSteph on the other hand, went after the alleged documents City Manager Jim Spore's staff said required approval of the payment to Norfolk.
All DeSteph and Jones found was a 15-page document, negotiated and signed by Spore in 1999, but never approved by city council. And even if it had been legally executed, it did not require the beach to pay for any Norfolk study.
It limited participating funding to capital 'acquisitions' such as …"vehicles, administration and maintenance facilities, bus stop signs, bus shelters, computer systems."
The project is now sitting on almost $108 MILLION in cost overruns in 1-year. The original document - HRT's grant application for light rail - states that any costs over $50 MILLION in federal grants have to be paid by NORFOLK - not Virginia Beach and the other cities.
It cries out for a federal investigation to determine where $108 MILLION - Plus went, where, when, to whom, why, and did it disappear legally or illegally. Only then can the corrupt, mismanaged agency restore its credibility. Not from more shenanigans like this in conspiracy with an incompetent mayor who can't see past his nose.
This has caused some to wonder, whether the project may not force Norfolk into bankruptcy or at least trash its credit rating.
No member of the Virginia Beach city council except Jim Wood, HRT's chairman, and DeSteph have seen or read the governing documents.
Sessoms was ready, willing and able to give away his city's tax dollars to a project - way over cost and behind schedule - without EVER SEEING THE DOCUMENTS GOVERNING VIRGINIA BEACH'S RESPONSIBILITIES AND OBLIGATIONS, That should constitute malfeasance and be prosecuted by the Commonwealth's attorney.
[Just in case: Did any of you read the preceding paragraph? Read it again.]
In fact, Wood had been unable to obtain a copy of the original grant document himself, even as chairman, because the X-dirtbag HRT administrator REFUSED to give it to him, until it was requested by Virginia News Source.
It is hard to believe that as chairman of the board, you have no control over your employees - except for the fact that X-chief Michael Townes screams "racism" every time he is questioned about something he wants to hide or fails to perform to normal, acceptable, responsible standards.
He had the board scared to death to challenge him one board member told VNS. But now he's gone. A new day has dawned, but not without lingering storm clouds that only a federal investigation can drive away.