Portsmouth mayor attempts to seek charges against councilmen Barnes, Whitaker

criminal complaint
Posted at 1:04 PM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 18:41:56-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – Nearly one month after the Portsmouth City Council majority voted to fire former City Manager Angel Jones, Mayor Shannon Glover went before a magistrate to file misdemeanor charges against Vice Mayor De’Andre Barnes and councilman Dr. Mark Whitaker.

News 3 has obtained a copy of the complaint and the magistrate’s decision.

Glover alleges Whitaker overrode the authority of the city manager, violating city code and charter, by discussing and negotiating a grant with the Portsmouth School Superintendent and employees. He claims Whitaker interfered with negotiations resulting in $1 million of taxpayer money being set aside for the Minority & Women Business Enterprise pilot program.

According to the complaint, Glover said Whitaker asked the superintendent to come up with an additional $500,000 to fund the program.

The complaint goes on to say Whitaker also disclosed information regarding a legal settlement discussed during a closed city council meeting.

Glover also accuses Barnes of negotiating directly with the school superintendent for use of school facilities and receiving payment from parents of children involved in a youth sports program.

In the complaint, Glover also says Barnes had a conversation with the Parks and Recreation director and staff about not paying for using city recreational services.

The magistrate, however, did not find probable cause to move forward with any criminal charges, saying that the councilmen’s actions were not in criminal violation of the city code and charter.

Additionally, Portsmouth Public Schools released a statement denying Glover's allegations.

Both of these accusations are false and based on inaccurate information.

The M/WBE grant program the mayor is referencing is to be funded by a state grant, and there are no local funds (including school division funds) used to support it. This spring, at a scheduled meeting between liaisons of the School Board and City Council, it was discussed whether the school division would be able to independently support the program should the grant not be included in the state’s finalized budget this year. Dr. Bracy shared, at that meeting, that would not be possible.

Secondly, in regards to the youth sports programs, that is managed solely by the City of Portsmouth’s Parks and Recreation Department - not the school division. As in years past, the school division works with Parks and Recreation to allow the use of school facilities to support the program. However, the only payment that the school division receives is for the custodial services provided.

Please note the mayor has not spoken to any school division officials, including the superintendent or our School Board Chairman, about these concerns. Is there a copy of this complaint you can share?

Whitaker provided News 3 the following statement:

Mayor Glover has criminally implicated with false and misleading information the Superintendent of Portsmouth Public Schools, Vice-Mayor De'Andre Barnes and Councilman Dr. Mark Whitaker. Such behavior is reprehensible and is another attempt to use the criminal Justice system to attack Black leadership and progress.
Councilman Dr. Mark Whitaker

Barnes also issued a statement:

I’m happy to see that the truth about our Mayor has come to light, but I’m saddened to see that the lies from him continue to take place. The political games have to stop and it’s time to stop putting ourselves first, and put the citizens first. Mayor Glover doesn’t want to build relationships among council, he wants division so he can play in the hearts and minds of vulnerable citizens. The lies that he continues to spread about certain council members have created a division in our city, forcing both group of supporters to pick a side when we should only be picking Portsmouth. Not only has he created a division among council, but now it has spread to our school board. I would like to personally apologize to our school system, and my only hope is that it doesn’t stop the progress and hurt the relationship that we have built since this council has been in office.
Portsmouth Vice Mayor De'Andre Barnes

The fight might not be over. The mayor told News 3 he sent the same complaint to the State Attorney General’s office to investigate the allegations.

The AG’s office has confirmed a complaint from the city has been filed.

The Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office has confirmed there have been no requests by the mayor for an investigation into criminal offenses.