From the looks of it, and IANAL, it appears that because Ms. Lucas has sued members of the counsel individually, they would actually have a conflict if they even vote on the project. Had she made suit collectively, perhaps they could vote, but not the way she's proceediing.
Writes Meghan Hoyer in today's Virginian Pilot: Lawsuit muddles new vote on Sen. Lucas' hotel project.
The lawsuit claims that the City Council rejected the financing because it wanted to protect its financial investment in the Portsmouth Renaissance Hotel and Waterfront Conference Center. It also argues that the council denied the money because the proposed project was led mostly by blacks.This takes the pain out of voting for this still-poorly conceived project. Just don't take it to a vote.
State conflict-of-interest laws deem that a legislator has a personal interest in an official transaction when their financial gain or liability is over $10,000.
Normally, lawsuits that name legislators in their official capacity aren't taken into consideration, said Dan Siegel, chair of the local government practice for Sands Anderson Marks & Miller, a Richmond law firm.
"Being sued generally wouldn't come under that Conflict of Interests Act, but there are exceptions," he said.
Lucas' lawsuit names the council members in their official capacity, but it also is against them personally. It asks a jury to reward more than $12 million from Smith and asks for an additional $36 million in damages from Smith, Psimas and Moody.
I'd say they can't, if they want to abide by the law, until the federal law suit is resolved.
This project is the wrong project at the wrong time. Now is not the time to be building anything in the City of Portsmouth. Let's bulldoze the old Holiday Inn site and create a park. And let's just keep the development at Victory going slowly... without an un-needed hotel and convention center.
Let Ms. Lucas' Victory Crossing project die on the vine. Like it ought to.
As to the claims that the vote was race based, the project just doesn't cut the mustard, no matter the race or color of those involved. The only color that is driving things here is the color green, not black or white. Ms. Lucas wants to stuff her own pockets with green from investors and tax payers; the City wants to ensure that any green doled out creates more green... for the city and the tax payers.
Stuff it, Ms. Lucas. Just stuff it.