RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Richmond City Council is expected to vote on a controversial plan for a new jail tonight. This follows a turbulent week filled with back room meetings, questions, even pleas for a vote.
If city council had taken a vote, like they planned on Monday night, sources say the 116-million dollar contract with Thompkins/Ballard would have been rejected. Tonight's vote tally looks much different for the mayor.
There's no argument about whether Richmond needs a new jail. The 50 year old building with no heat or air conditioning is considered inhumane by most.
"This is a civilized world we need to have a jail that does not look like a third world jail," said Richmond City Council President Kathy Graziano.
But this plan to build a new one at the current location has been taking heat since the mayor announced it last month.
"Let's move forward, let's stop playing games. Let's eliminate the politics," said Sheriff C.T. Woody.
Impassioned pleas from Sheriff C.T. Woody and Mayor Dwight Jones were ignored Monday when council held off on a vote.
RACHEL: "Will we have a proposal moving forward after tonight."
KATHY: "I would say we have to wait to tonight and see what happens."
KATHY: "50/50's a good guess."
Sources tell me the probable "no's" are Bruce Tyler, Marty Jewel and possibly Reva Trammel. Saying "yes"...Kathy Graziano, Ellen Robertson, Cynthia Newbille and Doug Conner.
All week long there have been two sides and two clear swing votes: Chris Hilbert and Charles Samuels. Tonight sources tell me at least one of them will fall with the yeses giving the proposal the votes its needs to pass.
"I want the time to give the citizens what they deserve, which is deliberate and conscious thought about what we're looking at and not just rubber stamp something," Samuels said.
Charles Samuels is keeping mum on his decision, until tonight.
CHARLES: "I don't think it's going to be a close vote. I think there will be some 'no's'. But I don't think it's going to be as close as it could have been on Monday night."
RACHEL: "Monday night it was in jeopardy?"
CHARLES: "Monday night I don't think it had the votes to pass."
The negotiated contract for this jail is good through September 15th. The mayor says after that, the project would be in jeopardy.