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Taxpayers May Be Billed for Attorney Fees... 

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Taxpayers May Be Billed for Attorney FeesHollywood Closes Circle to CarsTV's Weather Ads Face Cold RealityMayor Hires Campaign Manager Taxpayers May Be Billed for Attorney Fees Richmond taxpayers may end up footing the legal bills for several peripheral players in the trial of City Councilwoman Reva M. Trammell. Three council members who were subpoenaed to testify by Trammell's defense lawyer Michael Morchower plan to ask the city to reimburse them for the attorney they hired to represent them, State Sen. Henry L. Marsh III. Morchower had planned to ask the council members whether they had ever given an order to a city employee, the same charge that has been brought against Trammell by the office of the commonwealth's attorney. Giving an order would be a violation of the Richmond City Charter and is considered a misdemeanor. At last week's pretrial hearing, Marsh argued that three council members - Delores McQuinn, Vice Mayor Rudolph C. McCollum Jr. and the Rev. Gwen C. Hedgepeth - should not be compelled to testify because they had a right to not incriminate themselves. They were excused. "Why do those City Council members need a lawyer," Morchower asks, "if they're not guilty of anything?" The council members say they needed legal guidance. "This is a sensitive issue here," McQuinn says. "And it's an issue where you're looking at a council person who possibly may be removed from a seat. I personally wouldn't have wanted to go alone." McQuinn received her subpoena the day after Christmas and phoned City Attorney John Rupp, who represents council members in civil matters. "They just basically said that they couldn't represent us," she says. "The city attorney typically is our attorney," McCollum explains, "but because of the nature of the situation, because it is another councilwoman, he can't represent me." So the three council members hired Marsh. "He clearly knows the system and knows the law in terms of the City Council issues," McQuinn says. But they don't intend to pay Marsh out of their own pockets. "This is a city issue," McQuinn says. "This is not my issue. … So why should I have to pay an attorney when I am subpoenaed to court in my official capacity?" Trammell must pay for her own defense. But there is a big difference, says McCollum: "Nobody's brought any charges against me." City Manager Calvin D. Jamison, who was also subpoenaed to testify, has also hired an attorney: federal-judge appointee Roger Gregory. "Why would the city manager need a lawyer?" Morchower asks. "I don't get it." Calls to Jamison's office requesting comment weren't returned. Morchower, naturally, says the case against Trammell is just one huge waste of money: "You've got the taxpayer footing the commonwealth's attorney's bill, and you've got the taxpayer footing the city manager's attorney, along with City Council [members' attorney]." There may be one more taxpayer expense. If Trammell is acquitted, the city must reimburse her attorney's fees. — Jason Roop Hollywood Closes Circle to Cars Visitors to one of Richmond's most touted tourist attractions may want to wear comfortable shoes. The road that leads to the Presidents' Circle at Hollywood Cemetery in Oregon Hill has been partitioned off with granite markers joined by cordons to prohibit cars from cruising there. The gates to Hollywood Cemetery still are open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and vehicles are permitted to drive along the main road. But guests who want to visit the gravesites of famous Virginians like former presidents James Monroe and John Tyler or Confederate President Jefferson Davis must park and walk when they get to the top. The honored sites of dozens of graves in the Presidents' Circle located on a promontory overlooking the James River to the south now are off limits to vehicles. Cemetery manager David Gilliam did not return Style's calls for comment. It's no problem for some. "We just step over the ropes," says Stephanie Martin, visitors services coordinator for Historic Richmond Tours at the Valentine Museum/Richmond History Center. The walking tour goes through the cemetery every second Sunday of the month from April through October. Last summer the Historic Richmond Foundation halted its van tours through Hollywood Cemetery, and that has meant an increase in foot traffic. The hosted walking tours fetch between 30 and 60 curious pedestrians each month. "It's definitely one of our most popular and requested tours," says Martin. But until the tours resume this spring, the dead of winter - if not the closed-off drive-through around the famous Presidents' Circle - keeps many away. Brandon Walters TV's Weather Ads Face Cold Reality You'd think that with all these TV promotions about "pinpoint accuracy," Storm Team this and Doppler that, the weather forecasters would be right about snowstorms at least half the time. Oh, well. Take Christmas: All week, the forecasters were saying a big storm was going to hit that Friday, then Saturday. Then they said it wouldn't hit at all. Come Wednesday, two days after Christmas, Richmonders woke up to a surprise — nearly a 2-inch accumulation. Whoops. Who's responsible? "I was in Miami!" protests Chesley "Mr. Outside" McNeil, who does weekend weather on WRIC Channel 8. "I'm not the best person to talk to," echoes Brent Struense, marketing manager for News Channel 6. "I was out of town during the Christmas holidays." Local news is in an all-out weather war, with all the stations fighting for prominence on a subject viewers care a lot about. But it seems that, despite what the on-air promotions say, even after spending about $1.2 million on the Triple Doppler Radar and other weather equipment, not even Storm Team 6 can predict exactly what the weather will do. "Weather changes with a drop of a hat" and "with the best technology," Struense concedes. Jim Duncan, NBC 12's perennial favorite weatherman, defends the promotions touting him and his fellow meteorologists. "Our forecasts are fairly accurate," so the ads are appropriate, he says. "Folks have to remember, forecasting weather can sometimes be a fine line in dramatic weather - for example, snow," Duncan adds. "Mother Nature has the final word." Some of the blame for the forecasts - though not for touting them - goes to the National Weather Service. The Richmond area receives forecasts from the weather service station in Wakefield, which uses computer models from the central office in Washington, D.C., to predict what the local weather will do. The weather data is passed along to TV and radio stations. But "the computer models have not provided us with as accurate guidance as we would've liked," says Bill Sammler, a meteorologist at the Wakefield station. Sammler says he doesn't know what could be wrong with the models—it could be anything from receiving inaccurate data to not seeing the correct relationship between the land and the ocean. "The winter season is the most difficult of seasons to forecast," Sammler says. "People need to be alert." — Melissa Jones and Jacob Parcell Mayor Hires Campaign Manager When Mayor Timothy M. Kaine announced last summer his bid for lieutenant governor, few Richmonders were surprised. Elected to two two-year terms by his peers on City Council, the popular mayor appears to have made quite a name for himself in town. But this is where the going gets tough: catapulting local popularity into a statewide election. And since Del. Alan Diamonstein, D-Newport News, last week officially threw his hat into the race - along with that of Del. Jerrauld Jones, D-Norfolk — it appears the race will be tougher still. So Kaine has hired political consultant Lisa McMurray, 32, to head his campaign for the state's second-highest executive office. "She's a veteran of many campaigns," says Kaine. "She seemed head and shoulders above the rest." Kaine says he waited until after the November elections to find a campaign manager because "before that it was hard to get anyone's attention." But even as McMurray led the successful congressional campaign for Virginia Beach Democrat Jody Wagner, McMurray says, Kaine already had her attention. "I heard he was looking for someone and I knew he was doing good work," McMurray says. So McMurray put a victory feather in her cap for Wagner, moved from Virginia Beach to Richmond and started the New Year pushing Kaine for lieutenant governor. "Every election is hectic," says McMurray, who has worked on the campaigns of North Carolina Congressman David Price and North Carolina U.S. Sen. John Edwards. McMurray says her specialty is promoting people, not politics. It's a strategy she says Kaine's affable personality makes easy. "Everybody loves Tim," she adds. "We're going to build on that across the state." Virginia Democrats will chose their lieutenant governor candidate in a June primary. B.W.
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