|City Manager Says
Ouster Bad For Richmond
November 27, 1997
WEST COUNTY TIMES
* COUNCILMAN EVANS, ANGERED BY CRITICISM, SPEAKS OUT AGAINST JOHNSON
Thursday, November 27,
RICHMOND In his longest interview since being voted out as city manager last week, Floyd Johnson said Tuesday that he has consulted with an attorney but has not decided whether to sue the city.
Johnson, however, was not the only person speaking out in detail on the controversy that has plagued the City Council since it voted Nov. 19 to replace its top executive. City Councilman Alex Evans gave the first detailed justification by a council member for Johnson's ouster.
Evans, speaking against the advice of a city lawyer, criticized Johnson's financial recommendations, his management of the police department, his handling of allegations of nepotism by one of his deputies and his ability to meet deadlines.
A bare majority of the council voted twice last week not to renew Johnson's contract, which expires Jan. 9. For months, Johnson has been routinely and publicly criticized by some council members.
Public reaction to the council's decision has been harsh. A recall petition is under way against four council members who voted to remove Johnson.
Johnson declined to comment Tuesday on charges of incompetence, saying he will only respond if the council discusses its reasons directly with him. The council excluded Johnson from his performance evaluation last week when five members voted to end his four-year tenure.
But Johnson, speaking after Tuesday's council meeting, made it clear that he thinks the vote to replace him was bad for Richmond.
"If I were to say this particular action was good for the city, I would be talking against myself and what I have done," he said. "I gave my best efforts for what was best for the city."
Although Johnson appeared frustrated with some of his council opponents during the meeting, he said his emotions have not led him to support the recall effort.
In his office at City Hall, Johnson spoke with characteristic formality as he considered his future.
He said he has not looked for another job and has no firm plans other than enjoying the five-day Hawaiian vacation he began Wednesday.
"What I need to be doing now is taking some time and talking to my wife and deciding what to do next," he said. Negotiations about the remainder of his contract will continue next week.
Johnson said he has consulted with Oakland attorney John Burris, who was a local television commentator on the O.J. Simpson murder trial and defended the children accused of attacking a baby here in 1996.
Johnson said he hired Burris only to protect his rights.
Opponents of the council decision have said the decision should be thrown out because the council did not officially notify the public Johnson's contract would be considered.
Johnson said he has received a telephone call of support from the city's previous manager, Larry Moore, who was fired this year from a similar job in Milpitas.
Evans joined Councilman Tom Butt on Wednesday in rejecting demands by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and others that they resign in the face of protest over Johnson's ouster. Other council members who voted to oust Johnson have also been asked to resign. Nat Bates rejected those demands; Donna Powers and Richard Griffin have not responded.
Evans said he is so angered by the charges leveled against him that he is bucking his lawyers' advice to stay silent. City attorneys fear criticism of Johnson could give him fuel for a lawsuit alleging the council damaged his ability to get another job.
"My reputation has been unfairly attacked," Evans said, alluding to public allegations that he did not involve the public in the decision and that he is racist. Johnson is black. Evans is white.
Evans' primary complaint was that city budgets' were poorly planned. He said Johnson reorganized city government, increasing his own office's budget, but never showed cost savings in other departments. Evans also complained that Johnson recommended budgets with paltry reserves.
"Halfway through the year, you find that the revenue expenditures are not holding up but we are spending above budget," Evans said.
Evans also said he disagreed with Johnson about police budgets. Evans said Johnson advocates proportional cuts across all city departments in a budget crunch. Evans said he favors not reducing the size of the 186-officer force.
Evans accused Johnson of repeatedly not meeting deadlines. He also criticized the executive for not taking harsher action when Henry Tingle, a top city official, was accused of unfairly promoting another city employee his wife.
Evans also criticized Johnson for failing to admit his own mistakes or detail the negative aspects of his own plans.
Johnson was in Hawaii and could not be reached for a response to Evans' crit