Wednesday, February 6, 2013

City to Enforce Ordinance Designating Times for Supercan Placement


~$50 per Day Following Violation Warning~

City residents will need to pay strict attention to the times they put out their Supercan, as well as the time they remove it from the City right-of-way.  Beginning March 11, in accordance with a City Ordinance, residents and property owners will be subject to monetary fines for leaving their Supercans out too long. 
City Code Section 86-44 stipulates Supercans and recycling bins should not be placed out earlier than 4 p.m. on the day before collection and must be removed from the right-of-way by 7 a.m. the day after collection.  The City right-of-way includes sidewalks, alleys and median strips between sidewalks and roadways.  
“The right-of-way is part of a natural corridor contributing to the aesthetic quality and value of our neighborhoods. Removal of our refuse and recycling receptacles after service returns this area to its natural state, providing pedestrian, cycling and vehicular passage in our communities,” said James Jackson, Director of the Department of Public Works. 
For the first violation of the ordinance, the property owner or utility account holder (if they are not the same person) will receive a violation notification sticker on their Supercan. The violator will also receive a letter notifying them of the infringement.  Following notification, violators will be penalized $50 per day for each calendar day the can is not removed, starting the day following the last collection.  For example, if trash is collected on Tuesday and the can is still out after 7 a.m. Wednesday, a sticker will be placed on it and a letter will be sent.  If the resident is still non-compliant as of the date of the letter the fine will be retroactive back to the first day of the violation.  For residents who place out more than one Supercan, a separate $50 per day fee will be imposed for each can.  The fines will be added to the monthly utility statement. 
Each residence can have up to four Supercans with the City providing one can free of charge.  Residents who need additional cans may purchase them for $55 each by calling Customer Care at 3-1-1 or 646-7000.  
For more information on city services and schedules, please visit www.RichmondGov.com.  



Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Richmond Social Services File Management System Being Questioned


~State Review cannot find hard copies of records that should accompany automated files~

At the request of the City of Richmond, on January 28, 2013, the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) began on-site reviews of hard copies of case files and staff interviews related to 200 cases in foster care and adoption, child protective services, and family services as part of an in-depth review of policies and procedures. A review of automated records had previously been underway following a number of allegations the City received concerning the management of the department. 

Interim Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Human Services, Stephen Harms, reported today that VDSS advised him on Thursday evening that 37 of 100 requested Child Protective Services (CPS) hard copies of case files could not be found. As of Tuesday, February 5, only 1 of those case files has been located.

“While some information on these cases is available in the automated files and the files requested were closed cases, the department’s poor record keeping practices is a weakness and a flaw that must be immediately corrected,” said Harms. “As I’ve said, we will not wait for the reviews to be completed before we act on any problems. We have taken immediate steps to secure files and have asked for a review to determine if there is criminal liability or legal exposure related to the missing hard records that would require us to bring this matter to the Commonwealth’s Attorney. State retention laws for these types of files have likely been violated in most of the cases.”

Mayor Dwight C. Jones announced plans in December to conduct an in-depth review of policies and procedures of the Richmond Department of Social Services (RDSS) Child Welfare Division. That decision followed an expedited case review, undertaken at the City’s request, by VDSS as a result of a number of allegations the City received about RDSS policies, procedures and management. VDSS later agreed to conduct a broader assessment as well. The City has also engaged a national agency to help with the broad review.

“I’ve asked Mr. Harms to get to the bottom of who is responsible for this operational failure in the Department of Social Services,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “Child Protective Services must operate above reproach. Accurate record-keeping must be in place to ensure confidence in the system. I want everyone who is responsible to be held accountable. I also want all of the information provided to the City Auditor, and I am requesting an internal investigation into this matter.” 

Mr. Harms noted that the matter is still under review with the State and that every effort is being made to reconstruct records where possible. “We are referring this matter to the City Auditor as the Mayor has requested, to determine if state laws or regulations have been violated. In this way, we will therefore have a formal report of findings that can be presented to the Commonwealth’s Attorney, if necessary. The report of findings will also be utilized for our own internal personnel considerations. There are many very capable staffers in the Richmond Department of Social Services. Together we are going to address weaknesses and strengthen the operation of this critical agency,” Harms said.

Mayor Announces New Director for Richmond Animal Care and Control


Mayor Dwight C. Jones today announced that Christie C. Peters has been named the new director of Richmond’s Animal Care and Control (RAC&C). Peters will begin city service effective February 25, 2013. As director of RAC&C, her duties include fiscal oversight and general management of the agency, creation of work programs, policies, goals and standards; and promotion of broad based community support of RAC&C.

“We are pleased to have such experienced and knowledgeable leadership coming to the helm of this critical department for the city.  Richmond is concerned with the well being and care of all of our residents, including the four legged and fur covered among us,” said Mayor C. Dwight Jones.

Peters previously served as executive director of the Portsmouth Humane Society since 2009. Prior to that she worked at the Heritage Humane Society where she oversaw operational programs, financial and human resource management, community and public relations, marketing and fund raising. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio; and her Masters in Non-Profit Management from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

The search for the RAC&C director was an extensive and exhaustive nationwide search that included collaboration from a number of internal and external agencies. Offering input and feedback were representatives from other local and state animal welfare agencies, state and local government representatives, as well as representation from the veterinary medical industry.

SPCA CEO Robin Starr, who sat on the panel and reviewed the applicants, had this to say of Peters, “We are delighted that Christie Peters has been hired to lead Richmond Animal Care and Control. Ms. Peters’ impressive record of progressive approaches in Portsmouth makes us optimistic that, under her leadership, RACC will work pro-actively with us to save the lives of every healthy homeless animal and an increasing number of sick and injured but treatable homeless animals in the City’s shelter.” 

Virginia’s Assistant Attorney General Michelle Welch said, “Christie Peters is a strong leader with a clear vision which will save animals in Richmond. I look forward to working with her in her role as director of Richmond Animal Care and Control and I am sure she will protect animals from abuse and neglect in Richmond.”

Peters takes over from Acting Operations Manager Chuck Marchant, who had been serving in the capacity since the spring of 2011. “Chuck has done an excellent job of keeping the day to day operations running smoothly.  His strong leadership makes for a seamless transition. He is to be commended for the hard work of the agency in increasing adoptions during the 2012 calendar year,” said Mayor Jones.