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Was Officer Demoted For Cop-Car Council Meeting?

Street Talk

Was Officer Demoted For Cop-Car Council Meeting?
City Cools Down Firehouse Theatre Sale
John and Norman's Bids the Fan Farewell
Royall Family Has Audience With Liz
Crime Strikes Twice for Visiting Bishop Spong
McEachin, Conrad Eyeing Attorney General Run
Grant will Provide 24-Hour Medical Facility for Homeless

Was Officer Demoted For Cop-Car Council Meeting?

Dan Quinney, the Richmond police officer who was found in December parked behind the Virginia War Memorial at 4:15 a.m. with City Councilwoman Reva Trammell, has been demoted and given a $15,000 salary cut.

Police Department spokesperson Cynthia Price won't say if the demotion was connected to the incident, but confirmed that Quinney was demoted to a support officer on March 17. He was also permanently transferred from his post in Trammell's South Side district to the Third Precinct, which covers the Fan.

Support officers are mostly clerical workers and do not carry guns. Before the city privatized its parking enforcement operation, support officers were largely used to write tickets.

Responding to a state Freedom of Information Act request from Style Weekly, a police department legal staffer stated that Quinney was demoted for one year pending a successful review. His annual salary before the demotion was $39,884. Now, the legal staffer says, it is $25,012.

Quinney could not be reached for comment and Trammell refused comment.

Police Chief Jerry Oliver told The Richmond Times-Dispatch in January that Quinney had been suspended and faced disciplinary action, not for meeting Trammell, but for being off his beat and possibly lying about his whereabouts to dispatchers.

When other officers found Quinney and Trammell in December, Quinney had logged out to investigate a traffic accident at 2 a.m. and never reported back. Trammell has said publicly only that the two were "talking about crime." Oliver said "they were not in a compromising position." — RICHARD FOSTER

City Cools Down Firehouse Theatre Sale

It looks like the city will grant the Firehouse Theatre Project a 90-day reprieve to come up with a way to buy or lease their current home in the old firehouse at 1609 W. Broad St.

At its April 12 meeting, City Council was scheduled to consider selling the building to one of two private buyers who have made offers. The theater company has been using the city-owned building for free for the last five years and is faced with losing the space if it's purchased.

"We're kind of like in suspended animation right now, or maybe suspenseful animation," quips Firehouse Theatre Project President Harry Kollatz Jr.

In discussions with city officials and Mayor Time Kaine last week, the theater company was negotiating a 90-day grace period to come up with a solution to the crisis.

If it's granted, there will be three options, according to Carol Piersol, the theater company's vice president and artistic director. The group could negotiate a long-term lease with the city; it could form a limited partnership of 20 investors who would buy the building and eventually donate it back to the theater company; or a single private investor could buy the building and sell or donate it to the company.

"The city throughout this has been quite good to us," says Kollatz. "They're not going to give us the bum's rush. Not even the people looking at buying the building have said they're going to pick us up by the scruff of our necks and throw us out on the street." — R.F.

John and Norman's Bids the Fan Farewell

It's all over the streets. Even before the deal is done, regulars chew word of the sale of John & Norman's beyond the breakfast table. And it's true.

If all goes according to plan, by April 25 this grandfather of all Fan restaurants will change hands. "It's in the works," says Bob Cox about his purchase of the Robinson Street restaurant — the second for Cox, who also owns Metro Grill.

After 44 years in business as John & Norman's, brothers and co-owners John and Norman Simon decide it's closing time. And from the sound of it, they couldn't be happier.

"To be honest," laughs Norman "it's started to drive me nuts," he confesses. "You find you've done this all your life and there's a lot of time you have to compensate for." For the younger Norman, that's 67 years — and for John, a few more. John and Norman's father opened the corner eatery at Robinson and Hanover streets in 1927. It's been in the family ever since.

Without the duties of scrambling eggs, browning fries and tallying receipts, John and Norman plan to take advantage of the great outdoors. "I'm gonna play golf and have a lot of those honey-do days," boasts Norman. Already the brothers are clearing the docket for tee times at Belmont and fishing trips to Yorktown.

"Missing the people we've done business with is the only regret," admits Norman. "It's been a fast 44 years and it's truly been good to both of us." — BRANDON WALTERS

Royall Family Has Audience With Liz

The days when Virginians could hope to meet Liz Taylor on the campaign trail with ex-hubby John Warner are long gone, but one West End family recently had a memorable encounter with the woman with the most famous violet eyes in the world.

While on vacation in New York March 13, Bill and Sandy Royall and their son Nick, 8, and daughter, Aubyn, 10, were dining at Nello's on Madison Avenue when Elizabeth Taylor entered with an entourage of about 15 people, including several bodyguards.

"I couldn't believe my eyes," recalls Sandy Royall, who works part time for Banana Republic at Regency Square. (Her husband Bill owns a local ad agency, Royall & Co., and their kids attend Collegiate School.)

The restaurant closed its doors to other patrons and dispatched its house photographer to snap Taylor's picture. However, Taylor wasn't interested in getting her photo taken. Undaunted, the enterprising photographer asked to borrow the Royall children to play on Liz's softness for kids.

The photographer asked Taylor for a photo with the Royall kids and "she said, 'Sure, come here, little pumpkins,'" their mother recalls. "She just talked to the kids and gave us her autograph. ... It was a really neat moment."

Neater still, the snapshot of Taylor and the Royall kids ended up in the New York Post two days later. Royall admits her kids didn't know at the time who the "Cleopatra" and "National Velvet" star was, but the Post quoted Nick as saying Taylor "is the most famous woman in the world."

Taylor was in New York for an auction of some of her most famous dresses to benefit the American Foundation for AIDS research. At Liz's suggestion, the Royalls later toured the dress exhibit.

Upon seeing a photo of Taylor in her heyday being escorted to the Academy Awards by Richard Burton, Nick asked, "Is that before she started dyeing her hair white?" — R.F.

Crime Strikes Twice for Visiting Bishop Spong

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus instructs Peter in forgiveness. Hopefully, Newark Bishop John Shelby Spong, the former St. Paul's rector who came back to Richmond last month to speak at his former parish's Lenten lecture series, has read up on that.

Thanks to an enterprising Richmond thief or thieves, Spong's got some forgiving to do.

Spong, who has worked in Newark, N.J., for 23 years without a car break-in, had his car burglarized twice in one week here.

"It was a nuisance more than anything," Spong says.

He arrived in town March 14, and that night someone smashed the window of his car (it was parked at a downtown hotel Spong wouldn't disclose) and stole the headset to his car phone. The hotel sent Spong's car to be fixed, and when it was returned later that week, Spong found that two additional items were missing: a splint he wore on a broken finger and a cassette tape of an Edwin Rutherford novel he was listening to during the drive from Newark. "Not a thing of any value," Spong says.

But Spong refused to let the thefts put a damper on his visit. It was really very wonderful," Spong says of the trip. "I have always enjoyed Richmond." — M.S.

McEachin, Conrad Eyeing Attorney General Run

It's been rumored and expected for a while that Lt. Gov. John Hager will mount a bid for governor in 2001, but you can add two more Richmonders to the list of prospective state-office seekers — state Del. Donald McEachin and City Councilman John Conrad. Both are said to be exploring runs for Attorney General.

McEachin in particular has been stumping at political events around the state, from Martinsville to Northern Neck to Alexandria. "I'm keeping my options open at this point," says the Henrico Democrat. "My first job is to get rehired as a delegate. My hope is if I work real hard, 2001 will take care of itself."

McEachin is widely expected within the state Democratic Party to be on a ticket with Mark Warner for governor and state Sen. Emily Couric for lieutenant governor.

Craig Bieber, executive director of the state Democratic Party, says Democrats see McEachin as "a very credible statewide candidate."

McEachin, a personal injury lawyer, was first elected to the General Assembly in 1996 and is known for being a perennial sponsor of bills making HMOs more accountable. He's also the architect of a recently passed law levying stiffer penalties for marijuana possession.

Conrad, a former vice mayor first elected to City Council in 1994, has been widely rumored to be floating the idea of running for attorney general on the Republican ticket, which could include Hager or current Attorney General Mark Earley for governor.

Privately, some Gilmore administration insiders question whether Conrad has made the inroads necessary for the run.

Conrad says only, "The truth is it's something I may explore that I haven't undertaken at this point because I've been busy with my City Council duties." — R.F.

Grant will Provide 24-Hour Medical Facility for Homeless

Right now, there is one glaring gap in Richmond's homeless care network, says Reggie Gordon, the executive director of Homeward, Richmond's Regional Response to Homelessness.

The hole is in the area of respite care for ailing homeless people who are in need of medical treatment that falls short of an emergency.

But that gap will be closing soon; thanks to a $120,000 grant, Homeward received last week from the Jenkins Foundation.

"We're very excited," Gordon says.

The grant money will pay for a five-bed respite care facility, to be housed in an as yet undetermined adult home and is slated to open in June. It will be staffed around the clock by volunteer members of the Instructive Visiting Nurses Association and medical staff from Crossover Ministries.

The grant is made especially sweet, Gordon says, because, according to studies from as far back as 10 years, a respite care facility is a major need for Richmond's homeless population.

Gordon says the need is acute, a fact that became painfully apparent to him earlier this year. A social worker brought a homeless man from Southwest Virginia to Richmond, a common practice because cities are generally better equipped to deal with the homeless, Gordon says. But the man suffered from congestive heart problems. He was unable to access the proper medical care, and he died. Gordon hopes that that kind of tragedy can be prevented with the new facility.

"This is major for our community," Gordon says. "Hopefully we'll be able to save some lives." —