Tom Butt: TellTheMayor.com?


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blogimage.jpgEarlier this week, in what seemed like a flashback to the November 2014 campaign and left people shaking their heads and wondering what is going on, Richmond residents received a large fold-out, full color mailer entitled “Call the Mayor,” which can also be partially viewed at www.tellthemayor.com.

The gist of the mailer purports that Richmond is ridden with corruption and mismanagement and that an overpaid City Manager Bill Lindsay’s contract should not be renewed when it expires in 2016. 

First of all, the source of the mailer is Richard Poe, whose family was the master developer of Marina Bay and who continues to own several properties there, including the land and building that houses Salute restaurant and the buildings and land at the south end of Marina Way, including the building that was the temporary City Hall for several years and a vacant parcel for which an application is pending to build a housing project called the “Richmond Riviera.” Assisting Mr. Poe is Dan Lee, a political consultant.

There is no “Richmond Small Business Association.”

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Earlier, Poe bankrolled a successful media challenge to Measure C in May of 2014 that was intended to keep Doctors Medical Center in operation.

After the 2014 election, Poe paid for a survey that among other things, purported to show overwhelming support for appointing a member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance to fill the empty City Council seat.

The question and reported response was:

"Three members of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, Gayle McLaughlin, Jovanka Beckles and Eduardo Martinez, were elected to the City Council this
past Election. The City Council will soon be selecting a seventh member to replace Tom Butt city council seat , who will be moving to the mayor’s position. For the new seventh member, would you prefer another member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, or someone more moderate. 

62% Appoint a member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance

38% Appoint someone more moderate"

The RPA ran with Poe’s survey results, touting them as proof for public preference for another RPA member to be appointed.  The following is from the RPA newsletter

Poll of Richmond Voters Shows Strong Support for RPA - RPA Favored for City Council Vacancy

Eduardo Martinez just received the results of a poll conducted soon after the November election, designed to be representative of Richmond's voters. It was done by Voter Technology for the Richmond Small Business Association.

When asked whom they favored to fill the council seat that will become vacant when Tom Butt becomes mayor, Richmond voters supported another RPA member over "someone more moderate" (in the poll's loaded phrasing) by 62% to 38%.

This confirms that the Team Richmond sweep was not only a rejection of Chevron's candidates and negative campaigning, but also a genuine victory for the values and positions of the Richmond Progressive Alliance.

There are other interesting questions in the full poll results, ranging from shoreline development to medical marijuana manufacturing, with a breakdown of findings by geographical zones as well as composite data.

Another question in the Poe survey had to do with density of shoreline projects, which Poe continues to cite as support for his low density proposal for the “Richmond Riviera” project that does not fit the higher density, mixed-use vision of the General Plan 2013:

Housing Density Along Shoreline. Do you prefer lower density lower impact development along our shoreline or higher density major impact development along the shoreline? 

67% Lower Density Housing

33% Higher Density Housing 

The latest mailer also includes excerpts from the “Latest poll conducted by the Richmond Small Business Association” that purports to show results that indicate respondents feel the city manager’s salary is too high, the city manager’s contract should not be renewed and that a national search for a new city manager should be launched. 

It is not exactly clear why Poe is attacking Bill Lindsay at this time, but a good guess is that it relates to his often professed frustration with the processing of his application for approval of the Richmond Riviera project. Along with Lindsay, he has listed that compensation of Planning Director Richard Mitchell along with Housing Authority Director Tim Jones and long-gone Leslie Knight.

Regarding the substance of the TelltheMayor.com campaign, it is important to understand that most of it is old news or features writings by biased or sensationalist quasi-journalists such as Amy Julia Harris who has made a cottage industry from her yellow press covering of the Hacienda. Former Human Resources Director and Assistant City Manager Leslie Knight is long gone following an investigation instituted by Lindsay that found no criminal acts but a lot of bad judgment. The allegations about pension fund mismanagement come from a 2013 posting of “Halfway to Concord,” a prolific conservative on-line blog hosted by Bill Gram-Reefer. 

Regarding compensation of Lindsay and others, these numbers have always been public record and available at web sites such as the one cited by Poe, http://transparentcalifornia.com, and the  Media News Group (http://www.mercurynews.com/salaries/bay-area/2013). The latest data in both is from 2013, and they differ their information. The former, which was cited by Poe, shows Lindsay’s total compensation, including all benefits as $411,972 but the latter as $382,138.  

In any event, all of these compensation levels were set and voted on unanimously by the City Council, not by the city manager. What the Poe piece did not include are comparable compensation figures for other Bay Area cities and how the compensation schedules were prepared.

Finally, in response to the mailer, the Mayor’s Office received an overwhelming response of two phone calls and four emails, all of which are copied below:

"I'm replying to this piece of propaganda... I just want to say that City Manager Bill Lindsay is worth every penny of his salary. And Mayor Tom Butt is doing a great job and should know that

I am mystified by today's mailer from some group named Richmond Small Business Association attacking Bill Lindsay. This household's impression of Mr. Lindsay has always been positive and we think he's been a good spokesman and City Manager. Who are these guys in the Richmond Small Business Association and what's the motive for going after Mr. Lindsay? I didn't learn anything by googling their name. After the Chevron siege during the last election, I am suspicious of all such groups, including their “surveys."

Regarding the flyer I received from tellthemayor.com <http://tellthemayor.com> , Bill Lindsay is great. He is competent, sensible and has been an anchor of sanity in the administration of Richmond for the last several years. City managers have extremely challenging often thankless jobs.  He deserves every penny he gets

This mailer leads me to believe that Richmond is starting to become like the City of Bell, Ca. How many millions were defrauded from that town? It is obvious to everyone that the City Manager is way overpaid, his salary should be cut in half. The Housing Authority Director should be fired, he is inept, allows corruption, hey, word is the RHA can't even get a stove into inventory before it is stolen. His replacement should be paid no more than half existing salary & benefits. No Planning Director is worth more than $150k a year, for a city the size and population of Richmond. There shouldn't even be an "Assistant City Manager" position. Just another overpaid manager, when more operational staff is needed. You are in a position similar to Jerry Brown when he was Mayor in Oakland. He insisted on more authority to hire and fire city staff. He got it, because everyone knew the fraud and waste, and anyone could get money and jobs with the city---if you were a family member or related to staff in city government. Most citizens would support more authority for the Mayor, particularly if we felt infrastructure upgrades would actually happen instead of "endless deferred maintenance" and city 'management' staff got salary cuts and credit card limits, so that more operational staff could be hired.

I received a flyer from a group "Richmond Small Business Association" PO 70920 Pt Richmond 94807 and TellTheMayor.com. You may be aware of it. This group has some vaguely defined beef with the City Manager, and you, apparently. I support Richmond progressives like you and Gayle McLaughlin and do not like shady outside money groups messing with our town. I hope you can expose these folks and their agenda.

The good news is that he used a City Hall phone no. It would have been very nasty to have used your cell, office or home phone. Here’s what I’d put on the phone answering machine: "If you’re phoning in response to the Call The Mayor hit piece mailing, my response is you get what you pay for. Richmond has one of the finest City Managers in the nation, and I think that our city needs and deserves the best."

He is a good city manager.  The attack mailer is outrageous.

WAY WAY to much-twice what the governor makes-ARE YOU TONE DEAF-straighten this out ASAP!

Incidentally, Poe did not comment on the highest paid City of Richmond employees, who are firefighters collecting overtime.

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  • commented 2015-02-09 16:10:12 -0800
    In his blog dated February 8, 2015, Richmond Mayor Tom Butt responded to allegations made in a recent mailer titled “Call the Mayor.”

    “Regarding the substance of the TelltheMayor.com campaign, it is important to understand that most of it is old news or features writings by biased or sensationalist quasi-journalists such as Amy Julia Harris who has made a cottage industry from her yellow press covering of the Hacienda. Former Human Resources Director and Assistant City Manager Leslie Knight is long gone following an investigation instituted by Lindsay that found no criminal acts but a lot of bad judgment. The allegations about pension fund mismanagement come from a 2013 posting of “Halfway to Concord,” a prolific conservative on-line blog hosted by Bill Gram-Reefer.”

    In this brief statement he shrugs off allegations of criminal behavior on the part of former Director of Richmond Human Relations Leslie Knight. It was City Manager Bill Lindsay who covered for her so that she was spared criminal prosecution. There is ample evidence that Ms. Knight ran a private business out of City Hall, using City employees under duress to assemble party favors sold by her business. She used her City phone number on her private business card. Knight also double dipped for years, claiming reimbursement for her private car while having a City car assigned to her. She harassed and intimidated employees who refused to work for her. Currently, Stacie Plummer, a City accountant who blew the whistle on Ms. Knight, is suing the City.

    Butt disparages investigative reporter Amy Harris for her expose of the Richmond Public Housing debacle. The story was carried by most Bay Area media outlets which all documented the appalling conditions at the Hacienda public housing complex. Since the story broke more than 11 months ago little has changed. Ms. Harris also exposed Housing Director Tim Jones as being an incompetent civil servant. While investigating the Director of Public Housing Maintenance Debra Holter and her husband, Ms. Harris discovered $340,000 of housing maintenance funds unaccounted for. The case was investigated by the police and referred to the County Grand Jury and nothing has been heard about it since.
    Butt also negates charges of City pension mismanagement not on their merits but because they originated with someone he calls a “conservative blogger.”

    Please take a few minutes to examine the issues that Butt dismisses. These are very serious cases of corruption at City Hall. His blatant disregard of this egregious corruption does not bode well for the future of our City government over the coming four years of his mayoral term. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NzEhvp4Sz4

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ye6jkqsnCU

    http://www.radiofreerichmond.com/ktvu_police_investigate

    http://richmondstandard.com/2014/12/vanishing-refrigerators-stoves-subject-latest-cir-investigation-richmond-housing-authority
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