A Step-by-Step guide…
1) Daily Progress gets a scoop with Chief Brackney’s emails
Daily Progress - In a Dec. 4 email, Police Chief RaShall Brackney said her interview with one of the consultants was an “unsettling and unprofessional interaction” and she pledged moving forward to “not interact with this consultant.”
2) It’s 10PM, and Charlottesville City Councilor Lloyd Snook has had enough:
This article is going to leave an incorrect impression -- that the City reacted to Chief Brackney's accusations by terminating the contract with Ralph Andersen. That is not at all the truth. I don't know about other Councilors, but Nolan Stout sent me an e-mail to my City e-mail address at 3:56 (according to his computer) which I received at 4:11 PM (according to my computer), asking that I call him back before his 6 PM deadline. I didn't see the message until after 8 PM, and it was too late for me to set the record straight.
When the City Council interviewed 5 different recruiting firms in October, we chose Ralph Andersen and Associates, a recruiting firm with a national clientele and good reputation, for one primary reason -- their principal, Robert Burg, was the most candid of the people we talked with about the challenges that we were going to have in hiring a City Manager with the leadership of the City in disarray. Burg told us, "If we handle it right, we can get good applicants, but it is going to take a special kind of person to want to come to Charlottesville at the moment."
Four of us agreed that that candor was something that we needed to hear, rather than the "who wouldn't want to come to a great place like Charlottesville" stuff that was the dominant theme from some of the other recruiters. Mayor Walker disagreed with the other four of us.
After working out the details of the contract, Mr. Burg started to get to work. During the week that ended on December 4, he arranged to talk with some senior City management staff, including Chief Brackney. On December 4, he met (virtually, of course) with Chief Brackney and two department heads. Chief Brackney then sent Council an e-mail that evening, that Nolan Stout refers to.
The e-mail concerned me, and I called the other two managers who had been on the Zoom call. One was a black man, one was a white woman. Both described Mr. Burg as "direct" and someone who wanted to get to the point without a lot of vague language. Neither of them described him as being unprofessional, and neither found his behavior objectionable.
On December 10, Mayor Walker sent other Councilors the following e-mail:
"Based on the fact that you all completely ignored my concerns regarding Mr. Burg during our evaluation process and that I’ve received feedback that every councilor with the exception of Councilor Payne feels as if I’m sabotaging progress within the city if things don’t go my way, I’ve decided to only meet with Mr. Burg when we meet as an entire council. If things don’t work out with this firm, I don’t want to be blamed for it. I also don’t feel that he would be particularly interested in hearing my point of view and would be simply checking off a box by meeting with me. I explained to you all in the summer that I believed that it would be extremely challenging to select a city manager with this current council and that I had hoped that things would have worked out with the previous city manager.
"I plan to participate in group meetings and will evaluate and provide feedback on any candidates presented to us – I want to be clear so that Lloyd doesn’t have to make faulty inferences again. I understand that this may be perceived as sabotaging the process and I’ve weighed that consideration; however, I’m not going to be lied on, I don’t trust Heather and Lloyd at this moment and I’m not going to allow for another situation to be manipulated the way the strategic planning process conversation was manipulated on Monday."
This remarkable e-mail essentially meant that the Mayor was going to not fully engage on the most important decision that we have as a Council -- the selection of the City Manager. And it was apparently due to the fact that I had "inferred" from her e-mail of November 20 that when she said she wanted to work with Heather Hill on the Strategic Plan so that she wouldn't have to "bring up to speed" those without Heather's experience, she meant that she was not willing to work with any of the newer Councilors. Because I had made such an inference from her own words, she decided to stop participating in the most important decision that we have to make. This is an abdication of her duty, and for no comprehensible reason.
During the week of December 14, Mr. Burg scheduled one-on-one Zoom calls with the other counselors. I talked with him on December 14, and he told me that he had seen a copy of Chief Brackney's e-mail, and he told me his version of it -- not substantially different in many respects from Chief Brackney's version, though he professed to be mystified about what had triggered her response. He went on to say that he had been able to schedule meetings with all of the other Councilors except for Mayor Walker. I then read him Mayor Walker's e-mail, to explain to him why he had not been able to schedule a meeting with her.
In my meeting with him, he told me that he had a lot of experience working with City Councils where there was a division on Council over what they were looking for, etc., and he had been able to successfully find a good candidate who was satisfactory to the Council as a whole. When he had interviewed with us in October, that was what he thought he was walking into. After he heard Mayor Walker's e-mail, he expressed the thought that perhaps the division on Council was so deep that we could NOT proceed to hire someone. He said that in his many years of doing executive searches, he had never seen a level of dysfunction as profound as what he was seeing here. Later in the week, after he talked with the four Councilors who would speak with him, he suggested that it would not be possible to hire a permanent City Manager at this time.
So -- his bowing out was not in fact due to the actions of Chief Brackney, and were directly attributable to the dysfunction on Council, starting with the Mayor and her e-mail of December 10.
In my opinion, we will not be able to hire a permanent City Manager until after the next election, in November, 2021, and we should not try.
3) Mayor Nikuyah J Walker goes after fragile white people and the Black Community
There’s nothing new under the sun!
White people in this community have used the division within the Black community to move their own personal agenda forward, label our efforts since 2017 as a failure and use our fractured state to plead for Mike Murphy to return as the “interim” City Manager. I am tired of my white colleagues placing the blame for everything that goes wrong at my feet and using their fragility to excuse their cunning behavior and the cunning behavior of some staff and community members. It’s also pathetic that the Black community is either warring on behalf of white people or quietly standing on the sidelines with the hopes that they are are allowed to maintain their positions in the community. This is the same story that has plagued us throughout history. We rise together or we’ll fall together. I hope there’s a century in our future where we stop repeating the lessons of the past and destroying ourselves for them. Some of you are out here assassinating our potential progress. The title of the piece that I need to write - Charlottesville: The Mountaintop of White Supremacy. [Link: https://www.facebook.com/nikuyahwalker.cvillecouncil.5/posts/943664472836523]
4) Daily Progress repackages its original ‘City Council suspends search for City Manager’ story following social media feud between councilors, reveals Council will hold an emergency meeting
Daily Progress - A consulting firm has determined that Charlottesville’s government lacks the stability to effectively recruit a new city manager, leading to a call to wait until the next election to hire for the position, a sharp war of words and an emergency meeting.
The City Council will hold an emergency meeting at 11 a.m. Wednesday for a closed session to discuss prospective candidates for the city manager position, the contract for finding a city manager and consultation with legal counsel.
5) City Council Notice of Emergency Meeting