Week in Alexandria: 7/23/14

Trial of the Century

Federal prosecutors are about to pull back the curtain on the lives of former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, in a case that could become the trial of the century. Federal prosecutors accuse the couple of being at the center of a sweeping corruption case that involved them selling their power and influence to a wealthy Virginia businessman.

"My guess is that we will know more about the financial aspects of the McDonnells than of any governor and first lady in the history of Virginia," said Toni-Michelle Travis, a professor at George Mason University.

For weeks, prosecutors and defense attorneys have engaged in a flurry of motions to determine what could be admitted into evidence and who could testify. Prosecutors won most of those fights, which means that most of the evidence that prosecutors want to enter will be part of the case. That's not necessarily a good thing for prosecutors, though, because it could mean that the judge wants to close all potential avenues for an appeal.

"We're going to know if they were late on their credit cards. We are going to know if they missed payments on mortgages," said University of Mary Washington professor Stephen Farnsworth. "Every minuscule aspect of their personal and financial life potentially can be fair game in this trial."

The Last Campaign

Financial disclosure documents show the embattled former governor's legal defense is funded by an outfit known as Restoration Fund, a group that has raised a quarter of a million dollars this year. Top donors include coal industry executive Richard Baxter Gilliam, former Secretary of Commerce Jim Cheng and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

"They need money to fight McDonnell's case," said Geoff Skelley, analyst with the University of Virginia Center for Politics. "So they are appealing to the people who have supported the governor and would generally support Republicans."

So far, the Restoration Fund has raised about $250,000 and spent about $162,000 in legal services. Contributions from Northern Virginia include $1,500 from Stephan Quinn Casaday of Great Falls, $1,000 from Douglas Domenech of Arlington, $500 from Gary Baise of Falls Church and $500 from David Norcross of Alexandria.

"There is a campaign element to all this," said Skelley. "During hearings, they tried to make this look like a partisan attack on the governor to perhaps influence the jury along political lines."

New Academic Chief

New School Superintendent Alvin Crawley is slowly building his own team of administrators to take over Alexandria City Public Schools after the controversial reign of former Superintendent Morton Sherman. This week, Crawley announce that he is hiring Terri Mozingo to fill the role of academic advisor, a job previously held by GwenCarol Holmes, who left Alexandria to serve as superintendent for the Blaine County School District in Hailey, Idaho.

Mozingo come to Alexandria from Durham, N.C., where she has worked since 2004. Most recently, she served as assistant superintendent for research and accountability. Before that, she served as the division’s area superintendent for middle school curriculum, instruction, school improvement and academic services. She has worked in Durham since 2004.

“We welcome Dr. Mozingo’s rich leadership skills and proven knowledge regarding so many crucial education topics, from strategic plan design and implementation to school improvement initiatives,” Crawley said in a written statement announcing the hire.

Mozingo has a doctorate in education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master's degree from North Carolina State University and a bachelor's degree from Fayetteville State University.

“I pledge to listen, learn, lead and roll up my sleeves and work so that every student achieves success," Mozingo said.