CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Before the Charlottesville City Council could really get into the policy issues during Monday night’s virtual meeting, the public comment session turned into discussions and arguments over the upcoming departure of City Manager Tarron Richardson.
“You don’t achieve these things as city manager through mismanagement, being willfully ignorant, or being mediocre,” Richardson said.
That was Richardson defending his work in one of his last public comments as city manager. He did so while disputing news reports about past disagreements with former Fire Chief Andrew Baxter.
“So I guess being financially responsible with taxpayer dollars and asking for accountability is mismanagement,” he said.
Richardson will receive a lump sum payment of $205,000.
Then came criticism of Mayor Nikuyah Walker.
“I’m glad you secured the bag,” activist Tanesha Hudson said to Richardson. “You deserved that for all that micromanaging that you had to deal with. You should’ve secured that bag.”
“In terms of micromanaging,” Mayor Walker responded, “if that means that I strongly suggested that we take care of people in this community, then yes, I may have pushed a little harder.”
Walker said the topics that she ‘may have dug a little deeper' with Richardson included issues of supplies, utilities, and employment related to the pandemic.
Then came questions about Richardson’s interim replacement, current City Attorney John Blair.
“Does he have experience as a manager?” asked attorney Jeff Fogel. “Does he have any of the qualities that are necessary to run the city? I like Mr. Blair, but those questions are the ones on the table.”
“No disrespect whatsoever to you, Mr. Blair, but this is not the time to turn over the city and the locality to someone who doesn’t have experience running said city or locality,” said activist Don Gathers.
There were also discussions about rallies, and what is allowed under the city’s COVID ordinance, which the council extended through the end of November.
Blair said that once the COVID emergency was issued, Richardson “stopped the issuance of special event permits.'”
However, the city’s COVID ordinance, which limits the number of people in a gathering to 50, does have exceptions, including “expressive activity on a public street, public sidewalk, spontaneous demonstrations... on city property and on other public property as permitted by a special event permit issued by the city manager.”
The council also announced that it plans to create a mental health response task force, an idea that was pitched by activist Myra Anderson. She expressed gratitude to the council and reminded them that it’s important to have a diverse group of members on the task force.