Bacon Bits: Reality Sucks Edition

Bye, Bye, Brackney. The City of Charlottesville will not renew the employment contract of Police Chief RaShall Brackney, who took on the job in June 2018, the City announced on its website yesterday. No explanation was given. However, the announcement follows less than two weeks after publication of a survey of Charlottesville police officers showing the morale was in the dumps, that toxic city politics had prompted many to scale back on traffic stops, arrests and community policing, and that few officers felt that Brackney had their back. Among other actions as the city’s first Black female police chief, who came on shortly after the tumultuous Unite the Right Rally, Brackney had dissolved the SWAT Team after allegations of misogynistic and other inappropriate behavior.

Speaking of employment contracts… University of Virginia President Jim Ryan was awarded a $200,000 bonus during a closed session of the June 3 Board of Visitors meeting, The Cavalier Daily student newspaper has revealed. The university froze salaries for all employees during the early months of the COVID-19 epidemic, and Ryan and other senior officials took a 10% pay cut. Said Rector Whittington Clement: “When the situation this year became clearer and we had a highly successful handling of COVID-19, we think the University did as well as, if not better, than any institution of higher learning in making the adjustments necessary to COVID-19, we thought that it was appropriate to give him a bonus.”

According to the terms of his 2018 employment contract, Ryan was entitled to a performance bonus of up to $100,000 based upon “achievement of mutually agreed upon performance objectives determined by the Board of Visitors and Mr. Ryan.” When Bacon’s Rebellion used the Freedom of Information Act in November 2021 to obtain those performance criteria, the university denied the request.

Speaking of the lack of transparency… Voices of Fairfax, an activist group opposed to school redistricting on the basis of race, has uncovered documentation that Fairfax County Public School officials are using social-justice criteria to set policy for redrawing of school-attendance boundary lines. The MCT Consulting firm interviewed school board members to gather input on a new boundary policy. Aside from factors such as overcrowding, operational efficiency, bus times, and walk zones, board members were asked about “socioeconomic factors,” “caring culture such as social/emotional,” and “equity.” Voices of Fairfax asked school board members how they responded to the survey but has yet to receive any answers.

Speaking of school buses… You’d think that the shortage of school bus drivers would loom large in any school-boundary discussion. A survey of school transportation organizations of 1,500 respondents across the country found that 65% say the bus driver shortage is their number one problem. Fifty-one percent say the shortage is severe or desperate. Chesterfield County Public Schools is asking parents to drive their own kids to work, but that’s creating congestion outside the schools. Meanwhile, one former bus driver is charging $180 per month to drive kids to and from school in a minivan, reports The Virginia Star.

And speaking of charging for bus service… The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission has just published a white paper exploring the pros and cons of providing free bus service. The switch to free fares partially pays for itself by eliminating the cost of collecting the fares. What’s more, eliminating fares can grow ridership, which has declined precipitously since the COVID-19 epidemic. However, long-term funding to replace the lost fare revenue may be an issue. Coincidentally, the white paper mentions the fact that Fairfax County offers a Student Bus Pass Program. Perhaps someone should tell the School Board!