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  City Council to Commend City Manager
September 13, 2003

On the September 16, 2003, City Council Agenda is an item entitled “Resolution From the City Council in Support of City Manager Isiah Turner’s Performance of Duties.” The item was placed on the agenda at the request of several City Council members who apparently felt that the public needed to be assured that the City Manager’s job is secure. The recent spate of terminations and resignations of senior Richmond officials, coupled with the public request by members of the Andres Soto family for the city manager’s resignation or termination, has fueled speculation that the city manager is in trouble. One recent rumor, about which several people have queried me, is that there are four votes on the City Council to terminate Turner, and that if Darrell Reese were not rehired, the fifth vote would be exercised.

I intend to abstain on the resolution for a number of reasons.  

  1. Since I have been on the City Council, several similar resolutions have been floated for various City officials, and I have not supported any of them. We have a process for performance reviews in the City, and I believe it undermines the system to adopt unequivocal resolutions of support outside the formal review system.
  2. To the best of my knowledge, there is not one City Council member, including myself, who has advocated removal, termination or resignation of Isiah Turner, and I am unaware of any four votes to do so. In fact, I am unaware of any votes. To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Tuner’s job is secure.
  3. I personally have a good working relationship with Isiah Turner. In fact, I really like him. I believe that he handles much of the City’s business in an exemplary manner. I am proud of the way that he has, from time to time, demonstrated leadership and stood fast against special interests in the face of substantial pressure. Most recently, he has demonstrated leadership in dealing with significant challenges relating to the Police Department, the budget deficit and performance of City departments and managers.

The proposed resolution, however, goes too far. It states, unequivocally, that “the City Council supports the performance of City Manager Isiah Tuner as he carries out his duties,” and it resolves that, “The Richmond City Council … commend (sic) the City Manager for implementing policy as directed by the City Council.”

The fact is that there are numerous policy directions of the City Council, including both ordinances and resolutions, that are not being implemented by the city manager.” These include, listing only a few: 

  1. Chapter 2.62 of the RMC, Administrative Citations
  2. Chapter 6.06 of the RMC, Historic Structures Code
  3. Chapter 11.88, Prohibited Fences
  4. Chapter 9.48 of the RMC, Vacant Property
  5. 15.04.810.033 of the RMC Fencing Standards
  6. Resolution 79-01, Transfer of Liquor Licenses
  7. Resolution 17-01, Capital Project Administrative procedures

There are many more. In addition to un-enforced and un-implemented policies adopted by the City Council, I remain very unhappy with the performance of the Planning Department, and I am extremely upset that the City, through “mismanagement” (as described by MTC), lost the $1.9 million grant for the Richmond Greenway. I continue to get resistance and lack of cooperation in requests for information that I need in my role as City Council member.

I have not even considered Isiah Turner’s termination or resignation, but I cannot, in good conscience, join in an affirmative vote of unconditional commendation. As a matter of fact, I cannot imagine that I would be able to do so for any City official or anyone else. What we owe our employees is a fair appraisal of their strengths, weaknesses, failures and successes. We owe them our respect, our cooperation and our support. I can go on record as accepting that.

 But I can’t vote for this resolution as it is written because it is factually inaccurate.