Divided Portsmouth City Council meets to discuss Tonya Chapman's city manager appointment

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Posted at 5:04 PM, Jun 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 23:18:42-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va - Portsmouth City Council members have not been seeing eye-to-eye lately.

City council met at 5 p.m. in a closed session to discuss former Portsmouth Police Chief Tonya Chapman's contract as city manager. Afterwards, council held a special meeting, which was open to the public.

This comes after city council voted to fire then-city manager Angel Jones and voted to hire Chapman as the new city manager.

Council members unanimously voted for Chapman to have a start date on June 28, pending a criminal background check.

In the special meeting, Councilman Mark Whitaker read a statement on why he voted to fire Jones. Whitaker stated Jones allegedly reached out to only one city council member when former Deputy City Manager LeVoris Pace announced he was leaving his role. Whitaker also stated Jones allegedly never told the entire city council about the “Portsmouth Speaks” press conference.

"Ms. Jones shared how the mayor tried to persuade her to transfer the land located at 700 Crawford Street to a certain develop through the Economic Development Authority. This raised more concern because she had not shared this with the council," Whitaker said.

The council is still divided.

"This is a coward ass group of men. I think we have a coward group of people that would choose to attack our former city manager when she cannot be here to defend herself," Councilwoman Lisa Lucas-Burke said.

Vice Mayor De’Andre Barnes called for an investigation to see if any members have been bribed. This comes after Lucas-Burke alleged a council member was offered $2,000 to be paid for a vote.

"Councilwoman Lisa Lucas-Burke mentioned accusations of bribery. She owes that to the citizens to provide that information. I'm asking with the consent of council that she do an investigation and she submit that information to our city attorney," Vice Mayor Barnes said.

Lucas-Burke responded, "Someone came to my office and stated that in order for certain council members to speak to them that the price had to be right. I didn’t use the word, 'bribery' - you did."

Portsmouth's next city council meeting is on June 28.