Four Richmond police officers who were assigned to former Mayor Dwight C. Jones’ security detail are suing the city for back wages, alleging they were required to work unpaid overtime as city officials tried to contain public scrutiny of the unit’s expense.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration confirmed Thursday that four city officials who worked under his predecessor, Mayor Dwight C. Jones, are no longer employed with the city.
“We’re moving in a new direction,” said Stoney, who took office at the beginning of the year.
Richmond administrators privately expressed befuddlement after City Attorney Allen Jackson issued an opinion late last year saying then-Mayor Dwight C. Jones lacked the authority to unilaterally pay $1.9 million in bonuses to city employees as an “end of term thank you.”
“He had two days to share his concerns about policy and nothing was ever done!” wrote Chief Administrative Officer Selena Cuffee-Glenn in an email to Councilwoman Ellen Robertson.
The Richmond City Council recently authorized severance payments totaling $77,000 to three aides appointed by former council members who did not run for re-election.
The payments were made as similar severances authorized by former Mayor Dwight C. Jones drew scrutiny, including from some council members.
Then-Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones authorized $166,000 in severance payments to four high-level members of his staff before he left office at the end of December.
The payments will come out of the budget of new Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration, and represent about 10 percent of budgeted expenditures for the mayor’s office and the office of the press secretary.
Outgoing Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones lacked the authority to unilaterally authorize $1.9 million worth of bonuses for city employees as an “end of term thank you,” according to City Attorney Allen Jackson.
“Only the City Council may authorize bonuses,” Jackson wrote in a memo to council members Tuesday, citing a state law that requires a locality’s governing body — in Richmond’s case the council — to pass an ordinance authorizing any such payments.
Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones came into office eight years ago riding a wave of enthusiasm.
His term was to be one of collaboration and progress — a distinct departure from former Gov. and Mayor L. Douglas Wilder’s combative four years at City Hall.
It is with deep satisfaction that I write to city residents one last time as the mayor of Richmond. Having served this community as an elected official in various capacities for 37 years, it has been an honor and privilege to be a public servant working to move Richmond forward.
As a parting gift to city employees, outgoing Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones padded their paychecks with across-the-board bonuses totaling $1.9 million.
The decision has raised concerns among the incoming mayor and some current and future City Council members, who recall how during budget deliberations six months ago Jones’ administration resisted calls to increase funding for city schools while pushing through several tax and fee increases.
Six candidates for mayor in Richmond spent a combined $2.2 million on the race.
The biggest spender was not the winner: Former Venture Richmond Director Jack Berry's expenditures on the race through Dec. 1 topped $1 million. He came in second place with 34 percent of the vote.