Pick up a copy of C-VILLE each Wednesday for the latest stories and news briefs—this week’s are below.
Creigh Deeds: “It’s clear the system failed”
State Senator Creigh Deeds spoke in detail of his son Gus’ November 19 attack on him and subsequent suicide in an interview on CBS’ 60 minutes earlier this week, offering more details on the tragedy that has brought new attention to failures in Virginia’s mental health care system.
Deeds requested an emergency custody order for his son the day before the attack, but officials claimed they couldn’t find a psychiatric bed for the 24-year-old before the legally mandated time limit on the order ran out. He said he was concerned that if Gus came home, “there was going to be a crisis.”
Father and son sat across from each other at the dining room table at their Bath County home that night, Deeds said, as Gus scribbled furiously in a notebook. The next morning, when Deeds went out to feed the horses, Gus attacked his father with a knife, slashing his face and stabbing him multiple times before going back in the house and shooting himself.
Deeds said he later went back and read the journal.
“He had determined that I had to die,” he said. “That I was an evil man. That he was going to execute me and go straight to heaven.”
Deeds has introduced a mental health reform bill in the current legislative session that would, among other changes, extend the state’s time limit on emergency custody limit to 24 hours.
“I really don’t want Gus to be defined by his illness,” Deeds said. “I don’t want Gus to be defined by what happened on the 19th. Gus was a great kid, he was a perfect son. You know, it’s clear the system failed. It’s clear that it failed Gus. It killed Gus.”
Company responsible for local red-light cameras battles bribery allegations
The company responsible for installing red-light cameras in Albemarle County is facing allegations from a former top executive that it regularly bribed officials in municipalities across the country where it was looking to do business, according to news reports.
The Daily Progress reported this week that a $2 million Chicago bribery scheme Redflex uncovered in an internal investigation last year has ballooned thanks to testimony from a fired exec now suing the company.
Former executive vice president Aaron Rosenberg claims Redflex showered gifts on officials in “dozens of municipalities” in states across the U.S., including Virginia. Besides Albemarle, the company has contracts in Richmond, Newport News, Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach.
A county spokeswoman told the Progress that Albemarle has examined its contract with Redflex, and that the county officials responsible for negotiating with the company have not benefitted. For its part, Redflex denies Rosenberg’s claims of widespread bribery, saying it will continue to defend itself and prosecute its claims against the alleged whistleblower.
Charlottesville City Council to weigh in on Landmark
City officials’ efforts to force the owner of the unfinished Landmark Hotel to secure and improve the 9-story Downtown Mall building moves to the Charlottesville City Council next week.
Earlier this month, the city planning commission recommended declaring the structure blighted and giving owner John Dewberry, an Atlanta-based developer, 30 days to secure the building or be billed for the work, and 90 days to complete a structural report, with quarterly updates to follow.
The body also recommended the city consider demolishing the structure should Dewberry do nothing.
Council may accept some or all of the commissioners’ recommendations at its February 3 meeting. Mayor Satyendra Huja indicated then that he’s ready to take a firm stance. “[Dewberry] needs to improve protections, and if he doesn’t want to do it, we’ll do it for him,” Huja said.