News Editor Scott Bass is back from U.S. District Court, where Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride have announced details of the plea deal with developer Justin French.
French faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, restitution, a fine up to $500,000 and three years of supervised release, according to the attorneys' offices. Sentencing is scheduled for May 3.
Style will have details to follow online and in this week's issue. Here are more details released by Cuccinelli and MacBride:
Updated 6 p.m.
Media General has eliminated at least one of the nine staff positions listed in the masthead of the online information and entertainment site Richmond.com.
The downsizing comes about three months after the site's former boss, Rick Thornton, left to lead the company's Richmond Media Group, which publishes the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
It was not immediately clear whether any other layoffs had happened or were planned; Style was waiting on messages left with Thornton. Richmond.com site manager Christie Newman referred questions to him.
Style Weekly launched Richmond.com, eventually selling it to The Whitlock Group. After purchasing Richmond.com from Whitlock in October 2008, Media General re-launched the site in April 2009. In the process Richmond.com underwent a staff reduction, through layoffs and absorptions into Media General.
A Richmond Times-Dispatch story in October about Thornton's promotion to vice president of audience and content development for the Richmond Media Group reports that Thornton's job is “to develop growth-focused initiatives with the goal of increasing audience using an expanding portfolio of products, services and solutions.”
Media General Responds: Thornton e-mails: “There are no other reductions planned for the site. At the same time, it is becoming more the norm in businesses everywhere to allocate staff in the best way possible.” He also notes that under his watch Richmond.com added four positions and eliminated one, resulting in a net increase of three. Also, he writes: “We are positioning our resources to yield audience and revenue growth. As noted above, our reallocation of resources is consistent with this goal.”
Just when Mr. Jefferson's University thought it could get a respite from a spate of bad news, the Cooch comes back.
Revolution is in the air.
In the Richmond suburb of Brandermill, they are painting their mailboxes yellow.
James J. Kilpatrick, the pro-segregation editorial page editor of the defunct Richmond News Leader and 1970s "60 Minutes" news celebrity, is being celebrated nationwide after his death this week.
But let's not forget who he was.
During his years as editorial page editor of the News Leader, up to 1966, Kilpatrick, an Oklahoman, thundered away at court-ordered integration, supported the "massive resistance" program created by Virginia's white ruling elite, and later revised his views as he was on popular national television shows that have been cleverly lampooned by "Saturday Night Live."
This morning's Richmond Times-Dispatch treats the death of Kilpatrick as the passing of a brilliant man or head of state. Using a black-and-white motif to reflect the iconic black-and-white-era photos of Kilpatrick wearing his iconic black-and-white plastic eyeglasses, the TD waxes eloquent about how he was a bright, good guy who mistakenly went down the wrong ideological (at least in today's view) path and after washing away his sins in the creek waters of modernity and tolerance, emerged as a gentleman farmer in Rappahannock County.
As the TD's lead editorial writes: "James J. Kilpatrick's pen blazed. He wrote with style and power; his prose stoked social and political fires.
If he had not employed his considerable talents on a malevolent cause, he would have won a Pulitzer Prize."
No matter how much the TD wants to reinvent history, the fact is that Kilpatrick was an out-and-out racist who did much to damage this country during a period of critically important and inevitable change.
He gave this campaign a supposedly intellectual flair by coming up with such arguments as "interposition," a states' rights ploy that would let state officials ignore federal laws they don't like.
For a modern-day comparison, look what hard-right Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli is attempting with health-care reform. He's saying that Congress doesn't have the power to change the current, unworkable and unfair system of health care because it tramples on states' rights.
As far as Kilpatrick goes, let's not forget that a late as 1963 he was penning articles for the Saturday Evening Post titled: "The Hell He is Equal." His unpublished diatribe argued that "the Negro race, as a race, is in fact an inferior race."
Somehow the Times Dispatch left that one out of its fawning editorial and obituary. Back in the day, the TD did have a somewhat enlightened editor, Virginius Dabney, who had a great gift of gab. Unfortunately, Dabney, who disapproved of massive resistance, did not have the intestinal fortitude to go against the Bryan family that still owns the newspaper. When the Bryan-in-chief wanted an editorial supporting segregation, Dabney said, "Yessir" and turned the writing job over to one of the TD's advertising hacks, according to the highly acclaimed book "The Race Beat" on the Southern media during the civil rights era.
Now if you want to see a Virginian editor who had the brains and guts to fight massive resistance, look at Lenoir Chambers, editor of The Virginian-Pilot, who won the Pulitzer the TD says that Kilpatrick could have won back in 1960.
One of Chambers' prize-winning editorials stated:
"More intelligent handling of problems of great difficulty will continue and increase only if commonsense and courage continue to direct the course of both political leadership and public opinion. The struggles for reasonable solutions are not over. The state may see setbacks of serious proportions. It is certain to encounter perplexities not easy to resolve.
It may discover demagogues entranced with the thought of exploiting honest doubts and uncertainties as well as old prejudices. It needs sensible cooperation from its Negro citizenship. It needs every ounce of good will it can find from any source."
Now that is about as far away from "The Hell He Is Equal" as one can possibly get. But Chambers, who died in 1970, never got the "60 Minutes"
buzz that Kilpatrick did.
Justin French's problems continue to mount. As federal authorities begin sorting through hundreds of boxes seized during a raid of the developer's offices Thursday, the Bank of Hampton Roads is suing an architect who worked for French, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. The Richmond-based architect, Todd Dykshorn, is accused of overstating bank draws on a $17 million loan to renovate two buildings in Scott's Addition. The Bank of Hampton Roads inherited the loan from Gateway Bank & Trust. Gateway merged with Hampton Roads Bankshares, parent for Bank of Hampton Roads, two years ago. In 2007, Gateway Bank acquired the Bank of Richmond.
The connections are worth keeping track of. Justin French, born in San Diego, grew up in Virginia Beach, graduated from First Colonial High School and later attended Old Dominion University.
When French began applying for real estate loans in the last four or five years, there some who questioned his sources of income, a source tells Style. The state Department of Historic Resources has a “substantial number” of French's historic tax credit projects under review, as well. The state review, says Kathleen Kilpatrick, DHR's director, is related to the final stage in the process. In order to receive historic tax credits from both the state and federal government -- worth 45 percent of the project's total cost -- developers must submit detailed audits confirming how much money was spent renovating the historic property. For renovation projects over $100,000, those expenses must be certified by a CPA.
What started as a public spat with Markel Corp. is turning into something much bigger. The fallout has only just begun. More to come.