City council reconsiders jail proposal

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -There was a lot of drama at City Hall Monday night as council members pulled a surprise move and reconsidered their original passage of the new jail proposal. It was a close call for the mayor's office, but the plan will go forward. NBC12 had the only television crew inside council chambers.

There were some very tense moments as the administration confronted allegations and tried to convince council members to pass even more changes to the proposal.

Councilman Charles Samuels said still, six weeks after council's original passage of the $116 million proposal, there are questions

"I really feel like because this is such a big deal and because this is the first time we have done the PPEA process, because there are so many unanswered questions, I would not be a man of my word if I did not make this motion," he said.

The council's main complaint is the lack of transparency in the bidding process when it comes to the choice of Tompkins Ballard, the number of beds in the facility and minority business participation. During its term, the Jones administration has been highly criticized for issues with transparency.

"We are the governing body, not Mr. Marshall, not the mayor; we have the responsibility. Nobody else," said Councilman Marty Jewell.

But the five council members who voted to push the plan through say the city needs progress.

"We would be cutting off our nose off despite your face," said Councilman Chris Hilbert.

This motion was suggested after the administration brought forward more changes in two amendments it said council needs to pass before the state board of corrections will sign off.

"Whenever you have a project of this magnitude there is going to be some bumps in the road, we started off the day saying there were mistakes," said Mayor Dwight Jones.

The mayor's administration is scheduled to present the amended plan to the State Board of Corrections for its final approval next month.

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