Richmond mayor calls for resignation of 2 city officials, alleges illegal ethics investigation

Bay Area

Entry to Highway 4 eastbound from Morello Avenue located in Martinez, Calif. on January 13, 2020. (Samantha Laurey/Bay City News)

RICHMOND, Calif. (BCN) – Richmond Mayor Tom Butt called on two city officials Wednesday to resign, alleging that they improperly used public funds to investigate whether Butt helped steer zoning decisions both as mayor and a city councilman to the benefit of his architectural firm. 

In his email newsletter, Butt accused City Manager Laura Snideman and City Attorney Teresa Stricker of violating the city charter by exceeding the spending limit Snideman can legally approve without consultation with the City Council.

“I have lost all trust and all faith in both the city manager and the city attorney,” Butt said, adding that he has moved to place an item on the council’s June 29 meeting agenda to fire both Snideman and Stricker. “If that is not effective, I will consider other resources.”

Neither the city manager’s office nor Stricker returned requests for comment.

Butt’s call for their resignation stems from accusations by at least one city employee that Butt, while on the council for more than 20 years and since becoming mayor in 2015, has shepherded various zoning and development plans in ways that benefit Butt’s architecture firm Interactive Resources Inc. 

Butt claimed that Snideman has spent some $45,000 on an investigation into whether he violated ethics laws, an amount well over the $10,000 limit the city manager has the authority to spend under the city charter. 

Butt added assertions that Snideman had no legal right under state law to use public funding in an investigation of a mayor or council member and that the charter requires the mayor to sign contracts between the city and third-party entities, which Butt said he did not do.

“The secret investigation directed by the city manager and condoned by the city attorney is ongoing, and the violations and illegal expenditures of public funds continues,” Butt said. 

The Richmond City Council meets on the first, third and fourth Tuesdays of each month. Streaming video of council meetings and council agenda information can be found on the Richmond city website.

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