Councilmember McLaughlin: Exacerbating the Divide

Radio Free Richmond


7/1/2015 - As many of you know, over recent months Mayor Tom Butt has gotten into the habit of - hmmm, how should I put this?...well, to put it in the best possible light, he has gotten into the habit of showcasing his disdain for the RPA and those of us on the City Council who affiliate ourselves ...typed with thumbs...

Well, because the vote last night did not go his way, Tom launched this morning into "put RPA down" mode.  The fact is that the RPA, as an organization, did not even discuss this issue.  While it was a priority apparently for the mayor, it was not a priority for the RPA.

To understand more about last night's vote, please see this article. I think it is an accurate portrayal of the situation. The decision that the Council made was a sensible one. I can certainly understand the mayor feeling disappointed, but the "scorched earth" approach he takes whenever he's disappointed only exacerbates division. And at this point, sadly I believe that is his intention.     

It was quite predictable that Tom Butt's E-Forum would feature an anti-RPA message this morning based on this Port issue.   And it was also predictable that he would follow that up with an E-Forum about the budget, criticizing me and others for adding $6,000 last night to the budget for important community-building efforts like festivals, which frankly pales in comparison to the additional $300,000 he was seeking for relocating the Red Oak Victory Ship.   Contradictions abound here.

While I expected the mayor to put out his E-Forums today, I didn't expect another "payback" - explained below:

After deciding to reappoint several of my previous appointees (back when I was mayor) to the Pt Molate Community Advisory Committee, he did an abrupt reversal.   I had to tell these hard-working, dedicated volunteers that they would no longer be reappointed by the mayor.

They, of course, were disappointed and in fact one of them wrote to Mayor Butt asking him to reconsider. Here is his reply as to why he was not reappointing them:

"You need to talk to Gayle. She has strange ideas about collaboration and doesn't understand that her actions and the actions of the RPA have consequences that affect other people, including you."

I can't help but see this as a bit Machiavellian. My "strange ideas about collaboration" are based on honesty and respect for intellectual engagement on the issues.  Does collaboration mean discounting sensible arguments made by other colleagues?   Perhaps Mayor Butt thinks that "collaborating" means bowing to whatever he wants or thinks he needs politically. I'm sorry, but I cannot oblige.  And how uncool is it to be punishing citizen volunteers because councilmembers didn't vote in line with him?

Tom also claimed (via email exchange with a constituent): "Then she turned on me, just like Corky Booze did." What?? The fact of the matter is I have remained pretty quiet in recent months over controversies that have developed, as Tom has continuously, through his E-Forum and social media, flung public insults at me and others on the RPA, who I might add actively supported him throughout his mayoral campaign.  So I ask: Who turned on who?

AND just this evening, Tom put out another E-Forum, this time criticizing Councilmember Beckles for putting an item on the agenda directing staff to further research a Fair Housing Ordinance to include previously incarcerated residents.   Amazingly, as of this afternoon, Tom was a co-sponsor of this item.   I was just in a meeting this afternoon that included David Gray, one of the mayor's staff, who stated Tom's co-sponsorship of this as an example of the mayor's concern for renters. And as of yesterday the Agenda Report had his name on it. Go figure...

Please know that I will continue to serve the people of Richmond with conscientiousness and dedication, voting together with any and all my councilmember colleagues (including the mayor) on issues that I feel are important and reasonable for our community.

Reposted from Councilmember McLaughlin's email newsletter.  Photo courtesy of Gayle McLaughlin.

Showing 2 reactions

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  • Joan Wraxall
    commented 2015-07-03 07:11:14 -0700
    We are fed up with petty and personal political feuds that cripple Richmond’s progress. Work together like grown ups or resign. Grown ups compromise. Tom’s arrogance is not diminished by your own eagerness to engage with him. It smacks of gloating. I posted on his article as well. I don’t like this BS and I expect better from our city government.
  • Charles Smith
    commented 2015-07-02 17:49:50 -0700
    While these council members fight it out we, the residents, have to wonder how any of them even got elected. There is no accountability with at large elections. No matter what they do they always manage to get reelected. That can change in November 2016 when we vote for district elections. Enough is enough.
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