Tom Butt for Richmond City Council The Tom Butt E-Forum About Tom Butt Platform Endorsements of Richmond Councilmember Tom Butt Accomplishments Contribute to Tom Butt for Richmond City Council Contact Tom Butt Tom Butt Archives
E-Mail Forum
Mayor And City Officials Move To Gag Council Members
February 10, 2002
For the entire time since I was first elected to the Richmond City Council in November 1995, it has been the unwritten prerogative of any City Council member to place an item on the City Council Agenda. Once the item is on the agenda, the city Council then can act on it, table it or send it to a committee. If it is an action item and does not receive a second, there will be no vote.

The new administration now apparently has different ideas about who controls the agenda. In response to a recent agenda request, I received the following response from the city clerk’s office: “I presented your request to Mayor Anderson, Malcolm [Hunter, City Attorney] and Leveron [Bryant, assistant City Manager] during the Agenda Setting meeting. The mayor and Malcolm said that the matter should be referred to Committee for review.” This is the third agenda request I have made this month that has not been acted on.

There is nothing in the Charter that gives the mayor, and certainly not any City employee, the right to control the agenda. The mayor’s authority in the charter includes only the following:

  • The mayor shall be a member of the City Council and shall have all of the powers and duties of a member of the city council.
  • The mayor shall be the chief elected officer and ceremonial head of the City, responsible for providing civic leadership and taking issues to the people, and marshalling public interest in and support for municipal activities. The mayor shall be concerned with the general development of the community and the general level of City services and activity programs and may develop and inform City residents of policies and progress which he or she believes are necessary for the welfare of the City.
  • The mayor may make recommendations to the City Council on matters of policy and program which require Council decision and may propose ordinances and resolutions for Council consideration. The mayor shall work with the city manager in preparing an annual budget for submission to the City Council. The mayor shall make an annual report to the City Council as to the conditions and affairs of the City.
  • The mayor shall have the authority at any regularly scheduled meeting of the City Council to make appointments to or removals from all City boards, commissions and committees with the concurrence of at least four other members of the City Council.
  • The mayor shall be a voting member of and preside over meetings of the City Council. The mayor shall annually appoint standing committees of the City Council; provided that the mayor shall not be a member of such committees.
  • The mayor shall have the authority to continue ay item being considered by the City Council at a Council meeting for up to two weeks. The Council may override an action taken by the mayor to continue an item by the affirmative vote of five members of the Council.
  • The mayor shall sign all contracts on behalf of the City which are acted upon and approved by the City Council unless otherwise delegated by the City Council to a City official or employee, and shall exercise such other powers and duties as provided in this charter and ordinances and resolutions of the City.

This new policy represents a dangerous attempt at a power grab that disenfranchises many Richmonders and dramatically reduces the effectiveness of individual City Council members. With your help, I will pursue resolution of this matter in a way that restores the rights of each member of the Richmond city Council.