City council could soon take action against the mayor's office

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Council members say the mayor's office appears to be violating city law, by moving spokespeople from their departments to the press secretary's office. Some say this could hinder the public's ability to get details from Richmond government.

It all has to do with the city charter - and a section, which says any move of personnel by the mayor's administration, has to be temporary. Only city council has the authority to reorganize government.

Two weeks ago, city council president Charles Samuels answered questions about a move to have spokespeople for the police department, Public Works, Public Utilities and Parks and Rec answer to the mayor's press secretary.

Laura: "In your perspective, how long do you think this can go on?"

Samuels: "I think this needs to come quickly to a resolution in the next two weeks."

That time has come and gone. Samuels said he is considering submitting a paper, which puts a definition on the word "temporary," in the city charter. It will be shorter than the amount of time that's already passed since Byron Marshall sent out this directive ordering the change.

Samuels also said he's going to let the chief administrative officer know his intentions Friday. The question is, will it force administration officials to decide if they want to ask council's permission to make the change permanent or tweak things so that they don't need consent?

Laura: "If they don't put a paper in front of you, what happens?"

Samuels: "Well, they can't keep it like this forever, without council approval. Realistically, they have to move it back to the way it was."

When asked if there is any update on the situation, Press Secretary Tammy Hawley said there is not, and she "will certainly let you know when I know of any changes."

City council members have already told NBC12 they do not support the change - they don't think it's good for the public.

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