Newport News councilwoman Vick defends city car and money use

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by Nick Ochsner, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on May 13, 2014 at 5:56 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 13 at 6:26 PM

NEWPORT NEWS- Newport News city councilwoman Tina Vick is finally answering questions surrounding her use of a city car and the hundreds of taxpayer dollars spent between March 2013 and March 2014 to attend social events, including high-priced cotillions and sorority events.

Vick spent weeks dodging calls, text messages and staff requests asking for comment about what our investigation uncovered. At one point, Vick scheduled an interview for 10:00 AM on a Monday, but didn't show up. Repeated calls and text messages to Vick hoping to re-schedule before the story aired went unanswered.

Vick said she blew off the interview that she scheduled days in advance because it was Easter Monday. She did not explain why she never returned repeated calls or text messages.

In April, 13News Now reported Vick used a city-owned car for 86 days between March 2013 and March 2014.

CLICK HERE FOR THE APRIL 2014 INVESTIGATION

The only other council member who used a city-owned car was Pat Woodbury, who used a car for a total of 72 days in the same period.

When we were finally able to catch up with her, Vick said she used the cars to visit constituents who called her for help.

"I go and work in the city, that's what we do as city city council people, we go and work in the city," Vick said. "I get a lot of calls, flooded with calls with issues in our community."

According to city records, Vick's use of a city-owned car include 21 straight days in October, when Vick racked up more than 1,000 miles.

"The work that I'm doing and using the city car is paying off for our south district," Vick said.

Vick also defended the $595 dollars of taxpayer money she spent to attend social events, including a debutante cotillion and two events with the Zeta Phi Beta sorority.

"The good thing about that, the part that you're not reporting is we use that money but look at the organizations we support: Habitat for Humanity, food bank," Vick said. "Back in the day, we used to buy tables to everything and this is more cost effective."

Mayor McKinley Price said the council will re-examine its policies surrounding council members' use of city-owned cars after our records request.

Councilwoman Pat Woodbury, the only other council member to have used a car during the time period included in our story, has said she will stop using a city-owned car and submit mileage instead.

But Tina Vick is undeterred.

"I got it last week, as a matter of fact," she said. "I'm not a criminal. I'm not doing anything wrong. We actually can use the car and I'm using it to be a good councilwoman."

 

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