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 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
- 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
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