Sources: Richmond Public Works director placed on leave - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Sources: Richmond Public Works director placed on leave

Source: City of Richmond Source: City of Richmond

Sources tell NBC12 the man in charge of Richmond's Department of Public Works--the leader who oversees snow plowing in neighborhoods, trash pickup and pothole repair--is on leave.

James Jackson was placed on a thirty day suspension without pay and his office has been cleaned out, according to sources.  After several requests and a lot of digging, the reason behind the leave is still unclear.

How this action will affect the people who live in Richmond and use city services is also unclear. Richmonders notice public works benefits in daily life. Whether trash is picked up, potholes and sidewalks are repaired, streets are paved and traffic lights work, all depend on DPW. Now, the man who has led the agency in those tasks for years is currently off the job.

We contacted the mayor's press secretary to find out what's going on. Tammy Hawley emailed us a response, which said: "We cannot comment on any personnel related matter. James Jackson is still an employee with the City of Richmond."

We followed up with a spokesperson for the department itself, asking who is in charge of DPW, in light of another possible storm next week.

Sharon North responded, "The Deputy Director of Operations, Bobby Vincent, who oversees the snow program, is responsible for snow removal.  He will keep us abreast of DPW plans for maintaining roads, etc., in the event of inclement weather." 

Several City Council Members had not been notified of the change in the department's leadership, including Council President Charles Samuels, until told by NBC12.

"HR decisions are a fairly personal matter and I appreciate the need to keep them that way," Samuels explained. "However, as the governing body of the City of Richmond we need to be kept abreast enough of what's going on."

Samuels believes the lack of information is indicative of a larger problem in the way city administration communicates.

"It's something that's happened time and time again it feels like," he added.

Many people expressed surprise over news of Jackson's leave and raved about what a great public servant he has been. 

In advance of next week's storm, Samuels is confident in the man in charge of the city's snow removal program, but says that's only one part of public works.

Late Friday, DPW officials said Mr. M. Khara is currently serving as interim director. A source adds Jackson's leave is set to end February 17th.

Jackson began working for the city on February 28, 2011 and has more than 17 years of experience in the public works field, including serving as director for the cities of Grand Rapids and Detroit, Michigan as well as Wayne County, Michigan.

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