Charlottesville is extremely generous when it comes to paying-off employees deemed inept or ill-fitting.
Former Police Chief Al Thomas: The City fired him for incompetence following the debacle of August 12, 2017 and the deadly Unite the Right rally. An investigation by The Schilling Show revealed that Thomas was being paid-off clandestinely long after his “immediate” dismissal.
Former City Manager Maurice Jones: The terminally overpaid and under-qualified Jones took the job in 2010 without meeting City Council’s stated education and experience requirements. The City countered Jones’ lack by “investing” nearly $250,000 taxpayer dollars to shore up his credentials and entice him to accept the position. He was not renewed (i.e. fired) by City Council for his incompetence before, during, and after August 12, 2017. Jones left Charlottesville with a lump-sum payout of $115,000, $137,000 in tuition reimbursement for his taxpayer-funded Master’s degree, and a questionable if not illegal “forgiveness” of $80,000 lent to Jones by the City.
Former assistant (and acting) City Manager Mike Murphy: “Murph,” who very reluctantly stepped into the gap to fill Jones’ empty suit in City Hall, wrote himself a concealed sweetheart deal that allowed him to retire early with full benefits. Murphy who left the job in December 2019, remains on the City payroll through October 31, 2020.
And now, Dr. Tarron Richardson: The combative City Manager whose contract secretly was amended to provide him an unprecedented golden parachute on the way out of town, following his abrupt resignation. The last straw for Dr. Richardson was a political undermining of his August 27 public statement, issued as a warning in order to discourage “protestors” from blocking city streets during ongoing illegal demonstrations. On the day following Richardson’s definitive policy announcement, Charlottesville police defied the City Manager’s order and actually enabled the blocking of streets and intersections during the unlawful protest.
Richardson’s initial contract provided for a “minimum written notice of seventy-five days of his intent to resign.” Unannounced, that number was mutually reduced to nineteen days. In addition, Richardson’s employment agreement also was modified to allow a lump-sum, one-year salary pay-out of $205,000 regardless of whether the City terminated his contract “without cause”—a phrase stricken by the contract modification. Under the final agreement, Richardson also will receive compensation for unused annual leave and he will remain on the City’s health insurance plan for a year from his departure date of September 30, 2020.
Apparently, none of Richardson’s immediate underlings were interested in assuming his duties. City Attorney, John Blair, the second-highest-paid official in City Hall, agreed to man the sinking ship for a reported 10% bump in his $166,670 salary. Deputy City Attorney, Lisa Robertson Kelly will be acting City Attorney during Blair’s stint, herself receiving a 10% salary increase. An undated “resolution” provided to The Schilling Show under an open records request, authorized Mayor Nikuyah Walker to “negotiate and execute contracts” with Blair and Robertson.
Given the present power dynamic inside Charlottesville City Hall, Blair likely will function as a minion—subservient to the whims of City Council—until a permanent replacement for Richardson can be found.