Cville Mayor Says She's Under Investigation for Possible Misuse of City Funds
Charlottesville’s mayor says she’s under investigation by the commonwealth’s attorney for misusing city money – paying people to participate in public hearings. Nikuya Walker admitted doing that and attacked other members of city council for setting her up. Sandy Hausman has that story.
During a two-hour address to her supporters on Facebook, the mayor said she had been giving out gift certificates to people who came to testify at public meetings since 2018.
“Community members come up with solutions that people who are making $90, $100, $200,000 can’t come up with, and I give them $25 gift cards for every hour that they spend helping us heal this community,” she said.
Now, Nikuya Walker reports she is under investigation – something she learned from a memo sent to every member of city council.
“And it was this four-page memo from the city attorney that talked about a councilor who was illegally using city funds – that there was an internal investigation," she recalls. "I don’t know how that investigation went, because nobody interviewed me, and had already involved the prosecutor in deciding whether he would prosecute me.”
She said fellow members of council should have talked to her rather than reporting the matter to the commonwealth’s attorney:
Walker referred to Charlottesville as the plantation and compared affairs at city council with the violent TV series Game of Thrones.
“I was going to put up a few years ago – match the people in city hall with the characters they would represent on Game of Thrones, but I thought that was maybe not professional, so I didn’t do it. Michelle said, ‘Go high,’but I do have a question Mrs.Obama: How long are we supposed to go high, because it’s real hard,” Walker said, her voice trailing off.
She also claimed the decision to delay hiring a permanent city manager was made by other members of city council in this -- an election year -- to prevent her from having input.
"That decision from the four of them to delay the city manager’s search with the hope that I don’t run. They’re trying to get someone in here who can ignore you, who will ignore me, and they are using their positions to influence decisions, and they don’t care how much anyone yells or screams. I think that is one of the most devastating things of all of this is – as liberal and progressive as we call ourselves – the moment that people are not responding the way you think they should respond, you revert back to what white people have done forever and say, ‘You know what? We’ll make this decision that is best for us!’
The commonwealth’s attorney does not comment on possible investigations or penalties unless charges are filed, but council member Lloyd Snook pointed out that it was not city oouncilors who reported the possible misues of public funds. Instead, the Clerk of Council asked the city attorney about it. Snook also argues Walker misunderstood what happened in December as the city searched for a new manager. When a professional recruiter hired to assist learned the mayor was not planning to engage fully with the process, he stopped the search and recommended waiting until after the November election.