PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - The Portsmouth City Attorney says repayment of funds to the city could be possible in the hiring and re-hiring of former Fire Chief Don Horton.
A special grand jury is investigating whether laws were violated in the rehiring of Horton by former City Manager Ken Chandler. Both men resigned their positions over the matter which has brought nothing but embarrassment to Portsmouth.
The Portsmouth City Council met in a special session Friday, then immediately decided to adjourn. There was no need to meet because Commonwealth's Attorney Earle Mobley trumped the council's call for a Virginia State Police investigation by calling for his own special grand jury.
"I think the special grand jury will find out what happened, and when, and why leave was given to retired Chief Don Horton," Councilman Steve Heretick told WAVY.com "We need to find out what happened, when and [if it occurred] properly. I think there are lingering questions and we owe it to the public to get to ground
and [ask if] what happened occurred properly."
City Attorney Tim Oksman sent a letter to Mobley requesting a copy of the final grand jury report to see if sufficient facts are in the evidence to determine whether the city has claim for repayment of funds, "if funds were improperly expended."
"I want it to look at the whistle blower," says Councilman Bill Moody.
Moody wants the grand jury to also investigate a so-called 'whistleblower' in the city's payroll department who sent emails questioning why Horton is still on the payroll.
"I want to know why we continued to pay the chief and she returns from vacation... thinking she had processed him out... just to return from vacation to find he's still on the payroll and returning to work in October," Moody said. "When she came back from vacation and questioned it, she was reassigned to another department."
The whistle blower resigned from her position.
"I feel I am being forced to resign due to unfair treatment," she wrote in an email.
Whether the whistleblower situation is investigated by the grand jury is up to Mobley.
Additionally, Mobley has said he will look into Councilman Moody's attempts in 2010 to get cleaning work for his company Jani-King at Willet Hall, owned by the city. This could be considered a conflict of interest.
"I thought it was like N'Telos Pavilion [which is] city-owned, but operated by a private company... when I went back... she mentioned she would have to get approval from the City. I said, 'We can't do business'... it was city-run... that was two years ago and I've never been back."
The issues involving the potential conflict of interest with Moody were discovered in a folder in Chandler's desk after he resigned. Chandler did not think it important to take the matter further.
WAVY.com tried to speak to former Chandler but he had no comment.
A record breaking day at The Ted -- the Old Dominion Lady Monarchs basketball game was the backdrop for Education Day, which set an attendance record of 8,086 Wednesday morning.
Witnesses tell WAVY.com the attack of a shopper was the cause of a heavy police presence at the Ross department store at Military Circle in Norfolk Wednesday night.
Drivers traveling between Hatteras Island and the mainland were forced to use an emergency ferry Wednesday, following the sudden closure of the Bonner Bridge Tuesday.