31st St. hotel project gets approval - again 

Can the VBEDA's approval of the 31st Street hotel project get more convoluted, confusing?  You judge

Guess how new member Page Lea voted on the 31st Street hotel project 


  • The city's partners in the 5-year ongoing controversial deal are convicts
  • The main proponent, Councilman William (Billy) Harrison paid $28,000 to settle a sexual assault complaint
  • After a vote by the same agency failed to approve the project on Friday of last week, Elizabeth (Betsy) Duke, a banker who said it would have been a conflict for her to vote on the deal because the two convicts are depositors in her bank, abruptly resigned after one conversation with Harrison.
  • Tuesday Harrison proposed Lea, a crony, for the position, guaranteeing a yes vote for the project
  • Lea was formally nominated by Vice Mayor Will Sessoms, another crony
  • At his appointment, Lea had not even submitted his name, to the city clerk's data bank of potential interested applicants
  • During his council campaign Lea ran a misleading ad saying when the people approve a referendum (31st project was rejected by 58% of the voters in a referendum in 2000), their desires should be listened to 
  • Lea also joined a conspiracy to funnel tens of thousands of dollars into a pseudo conservation group used to run vicious attack ads against one of his campaign opponents.  By doing so, he tried to hide his involvement and pledge of integrity (an oxymoron?)
  • VBEDA member Teresa Carrington, who works at Wachovia Bank in the same World Trade Center office as Vice Mayor Sessoms, voted favorably for the project last week and again Thursday
  • She said she did not know who nominated her for the VBEDA position on 9/1/01.  City Clerk Ruth Smith said Carrington's nomination is 'secret' under the law and would not say who nominated her.  Carrington didn't know if it was Sessoms or not, she said
  • Sessoms would normally have nominated her, but Carrington did not see that as a conflict of interest by having him as her mentor, working in the same office, and supporting his advocacy of the 31st Street project
  • And because Robert Fentress and Carrington made the motion and second, respectively, their votes were not polled by the clerk.  The polled votes showed the project failing again by a 3-2 vote since Carrington and Fentress were not polled.  City Attorney Les Lilley ruled that was ok since it was assumed those making the motion and seconding it voted for it
  • Darl Anderson and EDA member Robert F. Hagans Jr. (who voted against) question the validity of that ruling

See also:  Oceanfront project back on track ...The Pilot