2/4/2017, 3:17 p.m.
Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right.
That’s the conclusion we’ve reached on the payout of more than $323,000 in city taxpayer funds to four people who served on the staff of former Mayor Dwight C. Jones and three others who were aides to former Richmond City Council members.
The seven left city employment on Dec. 31, when the terms of office for their former bosses expired.
But with them went nearly a quarter of a million dollars in severance pay that robs new Mayor Levar M. Stoney and the new Richmond City Council of the ability to appropriate it for more critical — and worthy — purposes.
Even while some members of the council scolded the former mayor for giving his four top aides a total of $166,000 in severance pay and another $60,000 for unused vacation time and other pay, they stealthily approved $77,365 in severance for three departing aides to former City Council members Jonathan T. Baliles, Kathy C. Graziano and Michelle R. Mosby, along with $19,700 in unused vacation time.
That fact was uncovered by Richmond Free Press reporter Jeremy M. Lazarus after he requested the information from city officials.
While we can’t quibble about workers being paid for unused vacation time, we have serious problems with the severance payout.
City Attorney Allen L. Jackson has opined that all the payouts were legal and done in accordance with City Charter guidelines governing severence payments, the city’s pay plan and a 2004 ordinance.
Again, we say just because something is legal doesn’t make it right.
We call on Mayor Stoney and members of City Council to stop the legal looting of city coffers by taking immediate steps to eliminate any laws on the books that permit severance.
The needs in the city are too great, including those of our public schools, to continue to dole out dollars to people who have been paid — and paid handsomely — to do their work. When they leave city employment, they should not take a golden egg with them.