Portsmouth council votes to keep fines, despite judge’s ruling

Image Courtesy: City of Portsmouth
Image Courtesy: City of Portsmouth

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Portsmouth City Council is hanging on to its policy to fine council members, despite a judge’s recent ruling against it.

Vice Mayor Elizabeth Psimas made a motion at Tuesday night’s council meeting to get rid of the fines. Councilman Bill Moody quickly seconded the motion. Then, in just 20 seconds — with no discussion —  the motion failed by a vote of four to three.

Psimas told WAVY.com she is disappointed, but not surprised.

“It’s certainly the right thing to do. We don’t need to have a measure that fines people, it’s not how adults behave,” Psimas said.

Councilmen Moody and Danny Meeks voted to get rid of the rule. Both men are suing city council after being slapped with fines of $1,500 each for speaking publicly about closed meeting information.

In April, a judge ruled city council violated the Freedom of Information Act when it sent Moody a letter issuing his fine.

“The taxpayers are spending tens of thousands, now it’s almost $60,000 in legal fees,” Psimas said.

Portsmouth spends nearly $55,000 in suit against council member

The Moody case still isn’t over. Meeks has yet to go to court and Psimas isn’t giving up.

“I’ll keep at it, its kind of like getting rid of the auditor, you keep at it and keep at it and eventually people come around.”

Mayor Kenny Wright, Councilmen Paige Cherry, Curtis Edmonds and Mark Whitaker all voted basically to keep the fines.

10 On Your Side reached out to all of them to find out why they voted that way. Only Mr. Cherry responded with: “no comment.”

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