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City Bills Top $76,000 in Animal Shelter Case

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City Bills Top $76,000 in Animal Shelter CaseHomeless Paper Tries To Escape Its Own Hard TimesUkrop Likeness Pitches The KickersSign A Pledge, Save Your Murderer's LifeMayo Island Gets Jilted By Jillian'sCity Bills Top $76,000 in Animal Shelter Case

The City of Richmond has racked up legal bills in excess of $76,000 in lawsuits involving the Richmond Animal Shelter, Style Weekly has learned.

Style reported June 8 that the city had hired two private law firms — Shuford, Rubin & Gibney and McGuire Woods Battle & Boothe — to defend the shelter's program manager, Selina Deale, and Anthony J. Romanello, a former health department official, in suits filed by Eileen McAfee, a member of the group Save Our Shelter, which has been highly critical of the shelter's management and treatment of animals.

So far, the bills total $76,420.24. The cases are ongoing.

Shuford, Rubin & Gibney, which is defending Deale, has billed the city for $57,241.54. The firm is charging the city $125 per hour for its services.

McGuire Woods Battle & Boothe, which is defending Romanello, has billed the city for $19,178.70. The firm is charging the city from $90 to $320 for its services.

The city attorney's office has also worked on the suits, but according to a response by City Attorney John A. Rupp to Style's Freedom of Information Act request for the information, no records exist regarding the number of manhours spent by the office on the cases.

McAfee filed an $800,000 defamation suit in Henrico County against the city, Deale and Romanello in February 1998. She alleged that internal memos between Deale and Romanello and a letter sent by Romanello to the Richmond Times-Dispatch branded her a racist. Last fall, McAfee filed a suit in federal court against Deale and Romanello alleging that her First Amendment rights to criticize the shelter were violated when she was banned from the shelter.

— Janet Giampietro

Homeless Paper Tries To Escape Its Own Hard Times

Are you looking for an aggressive salesperson who won't take no for an answer? How about one who's really drunk and shows up on people's doorsteps at odd hours?

The Virginia Coalition for the Homeless isn't, either. That's why it's decided to suspend publishing its local newspaper, Hard Times, during July and August, while it reorganizes the way it distributes the papers to its homeless vendors.

Hard Times is distributed twice a week to area homeless people, who sell it on the streets, asking for one dollar donations. They pay nothing for the papers and keep all profits, but to be an approved vendor, they have to wear photo badges and adhere to a code of conduct that includes refraining from door-to-door selling or drug and alcohol use while they sell.

However, not everyone is sticking to the rules, says Melanie Costello, the coalition's state director. "We have had several people we have had to dismiss from being vendors," she says. "The guys who are out there being aggressive, assertive and drunk, the few that are out there, are making bad names for the ones who are doing a good job."

Now, Costello says, the coalition is in discussions with the outreach program at St. Paul's Episcopal Church as well as some area shelters to find partners who would be willing to set up a program to check up on homeless vendors to make sure they obey the conduct code.

They may look at instituting other changes as well, Costello says, such as requiring vendors to bring back a portion of their profits in order to pick up more papers to sell. The nonprofit coalition prints 20,000 copies a month of the newspaper, which is largely written by area homeless folks. It costs about $1,500 a month, a cost that Costello is hoping to find new partners to share.

"We feel like the product is good, the process needs work," says Costello. "We've got a good paper that people want to read. Having drunk and disorderly vendors out there is counterproductive to everybody."

— Richard Foster

Ukrop Likeness Pitches The Kickers

Rob Ukrop has been decapitated and has had his arms broken. He's been scrawled on and he's even been abducted.

"I've been defaced and defamed," Ukrop says.

Sort of.

The real Rob Ukrop, a Richmond Kickers forward for parts of six seasons and all of the last three, hasn't actually been the victim of those torments. But his almost-life-size cardboard likeness has.

If you've been in a Ukrop's supermarket or an Arby's lately, chances are you've seen the cutouts of Ukrop wearing a Kickers jersey and holding a Coca-cola and a Ukrop's valued customer card.

The cutouts are a Kickers promotion that began in mid-April, Ukrop says. They're out of the Ukrop's stores now , but still can be found in local Arby's stores. Coca-Cola, which owns the Ukrop's cutouts, about 10 in all, is planning to give them away at a July 31 Kickers home game.

Ukrop, who was the subject of a similar cutout two years ago, has mixed feelings about the promotion. "It's weird," he says. "Everybody likes to make a comment when they see me near it."

But he'll take the comments, and occasional damage, for the good of the team.

"To me, if it helps the club, I'm willing," Ukrop explains. "But at the same time, I'd be much happier if they weren't up."

— Mark Stroh

Sign A Pledge, Save Your Murderer's Life

Kathleen Kenney is a card-carrying opponent of the death penalty.

The card reads "I hereby declare that should I die as a result of a violent crime, I request that the person or persons found guilty for my killing not be subject to or put in jeopardy of the death penalty under any circumstances, no matter how heinous their crime or how much I have suffered."

The card is part of the Declaration of Life campaign, an anti-capital punishment initiative started by an order of Roman Catholic nuns in New York. Kenney, an associate director in the Office of Justice and Peace for the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, found out about the pledge about a year ago, and has since been spreading it throughout Virginia.

"It's a very positive way for people to work for an alternative to the death penalty," Kenney says.

The declaration includes the wallet-size card and a document that can be notarized and placed with personal papers such as living wills and a petition opposing capital punishment. Kenney says she has distributed about 1,000 declarations, and hopes to have 2,000 signatures on a petition seeking an end to capital punishment in Virginia by 2000. Then Kenney plans to send the petition to the governor and state legislators.

Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney David M. Hicks hasn't come across the declaration yet, but he says that it's definitely something he would take into consideration.

"Would it be a factor? Absolutely," Hicks says. But only one factor among several, he says, like the heinous nature of the crime, the record of the criminal and the overall threat the criminal poses to society.

Kenney realizes this, but she's committed to the campaign.

"The Declaration of Life is one small thing that I as an individual can do to say, 'Not in my name,'" Kenney says.

— M.S.

Mayo Island Gets Jilted By Jillian's

Like a pitcher of beer in the middle of a championship game, the deal to bring a major sports entertainment restaurant to Mayo Island has evaporated, but without so much as a belch to mark its passing.

Jillian's, a Louisville, Ky.-based nationwide chain of sports restaurants, has pulled out of plans to lease two vacant warehouses at 501 and 503 S. 14th St. on Mayo Island. "We just couldn't make things work right now on the landlord level," says Dan Smith, president of Jillian's Entertainment Corp.

However, Smith says, "We'd [still] like to be in Richmond. ... We're in the midst of looking at other locations now."

Mark Brown, president of Mayo Island Entertainment, which owns the warehouses, says Jillian's, which was supposed to open the riverfront restaurant earlier this year, "pretty much outgrew the space."

Known for its sports-video cafes, virtual-sports playgrounds, and hibachi grills manned by rock 'n'roll entertainers, Jillian's wanted to double its restaurant on Mayo Island from 30,000 square feet to 60,000 square feet with the inclusion of a retro bowling alley.

It just wasn't feasible, Brown says, for Mayo Island to fund the construction of the extra space. Brown will announce another use for the warehouses sometime soon.

As for Jillian's, he says, "I wouldn't be surprised if they show up somewhere, possibly in the West End."

— R.F.

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