Portsmouth Crime Index
Budget Cuts in Public Safety
In March 2015, Wright proposed significant budget cuts to public safety departments in a city that is severely crime-ridden. Homicides in Portsmouth were already nearly doubled in 2015 as opposed to 2014. Additionally, his city manager, John Rowe tried to include a 17-cent real estate tax increase. Funds from the budget cuts were going to be used to decrease an $11.7 million deficit.
Former City Manager John Rowe backed the proposed budget cuts because he rationalized that Portsmouth public safety department budgets were overlooked in the past for cuts. However, Wright fired Rowe and City Attorney George Wilson weeks later, and the property tax increase proposal was lowered to 3 cents.
The budget cuts were approved in May 2015, totaling $668 million. Needless to say, these cuts negatively impacted the fire, police and sheriff departments. One million dollars was cut from the Portsmouth Sheriff's Office and $1.6 million worth of empty city positions were frozen. Over half of those seats were in public safety. In other words, more crime, less protection.
To add insult to injury, Wright and the city council members allocated $1.2 million for employee raises that excluded firefighters and police officers. Back in 2008, police officers already were skipped over for a raise, forcing many of them to leave Portsmouth Police Department to seek higher-paying positions elsewhere in order to support their families. However, the 17-cent real estate tax increase proposal was decreased to 3 cent, which still hiked Hampton Roads highest real estate tax to “$1.30 per $100 assessed value,” according to Pilot Online.
Outraged Community Over Budget Cuts
Protest Against Wright
“Maybe you have something against the news media, but sometimes, in your position, you have to step out and do what is right. Why would you want us to vote for you when you are not backing us?”
“I am angry as hell, and I want justice for our kids.”
Wright's Press Conference
Additionally, Mook doesn’t seem to see a problem with the crime rate and even tries to make excuses for it. According to Wavy.com, “He does not believe the numbers from 2015 are not ‘out of the ordinary.’ He says that crime goes in trends and waves.
Tell that to citizens who are afraid to step their foot outside their homes, or to Monica Atkins about her murdered son, Calenthia Golliday, wife of retired police officer whose son Leon “Jay” Golliday was shot to death at his home in 2011. Their loved ones killers are still at large.
Portsmouth Homicide Detectives are taking their time solving these cases. In 2015, it was discovered they had only solved nearly half of the city’s murder cases in a four-year period. Where was Wright when this information was released? He had the authority to stay on the heels of these detectives until more of these murders were solved.
Closing City Jail
Abuse of His City Position
Sheriff Bill Watson and Mayor Wright were leaving City Hall after a City Council meeting in January. Watson saw that his inspection sticker had been expired since June 2015 and tried to tell Wright to get it changed. "He just totally ignored me which he does with all law enforcement,” Watson said. “I got in the car and I proceeded and I stopped him at the traffic circle. He then drove off again.” Wright ignored the Sheriff in the same manner he did the grieving families and fed up citizens that wanted answers, until the media got involved.
Watson pursued trying to pull him over, but Wright arrogantly refused to stop. He led Watson, a law enforcement officer, on a low speed chase fully aware he was behind him. Watson called for back-up. Police officers eventually were able to pull him over and he was issued a ticket for the expired inspection sticker and gained a felony charge for the chase.
The felony charge was dropped and the ticket was ignored, partly because it was turned into a civil rights violation. There was an outpouring public support from black community leaders and Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Steering Committee, who described the incident as an "abuse of power." The expired inspection sticker and the chase immediately became irrelevant.
Seriously? It was an "abuse of power" when Wright decided to not handle his expired inspection sticker for six months because he is a city leader. Anyone who got caught by police with an expired inspection sticker would have been given a ticket. What makes him above the law?
So when does becoming the Mayor make you exempt from following the law? He wasn't having money problems, he could have had his inspection sticker changed. No wonder he isn't concerned with crime because he is too busy trying to find ways to beat the system himself. Wright is a city leader, he should be putting forth a better example than that. It makes you wonder what else does Wright expect to get away with.
Some believe the Sheriff had a personal vendetta against the Mayor because 13 News was anonymously contacted and followed along during the chase. Perhaps, the vendetta springs from Wright taking $1 million from the Sheriff's department. Watson may have called the media, however he did not make Mayor Wright keep a six-month-old expired inspection sticker on his car. He is partly to blame for his own public shame. If Wright didn't give him reason, Watson would have never been able to make a scene. Fact is, Wright didn't show much respect for law enforcement. In every situation it is necessary to pull over when police tell you to pull over.
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Tags: Kenneth I. Wright, Kenny Wright, Mayor Kenny Wright, Portsmouth Mayor, Bill Moody, Sheriff Bill Watson, Portsmouth Mayor Recalled, Petition to Recall Mayor Wright, Danny Meeks, Elizabeth Psimas, Vice Mayor Elizabeth Psimas, Mayor Kenny Wright Felony Charge, Portsmouth Mayor Felony Charge, Portsmouth Mayor Budget Cuts, Kenny Wright Budget Cuts