Richmond City Council: Circus-like Meetings with a Cast of Clowns

Richmond City Council: Circus-like Meetings with a Cast of Clowns

In what might be considered a city council gone wild, the “circuslike” shenanigans of the Richmond City Council befit a group of “pandering fools and a laughing stock” according to… the members of the Richmond City Council. 

Robert Rogers reports in his column in the Contra Costa Times that the city council, led by Green Party Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, allows meetings to go on until the wee hours of the morning and are characterized by constant bickering among the members, who insult each other, snooze during the sessions, and drop the occasional F-bomb.

Things have gotten so bad that City Councilman Nat Bates declared in a mass e-mail to constituents, “This has to be the very worst and most dysfunctional council I have witnessed during my 35 years as a council member.” Moreover, the Times reports that the incompetence of the elected leaders is taking a toll on staff and employees at every level of government. “City Council went till almost 1 a.m. on Tuesday,” police Chief Chris Magnus claimed on Facebook. “They like to keep staff around so we can be as tired, ineffective, and crabby as possible the next work day!”

Because the meetings were interminable, the council set out to establish a 5-minute rule for council members to state their positions and eliminate tiresome rants and shouting matches with their colleagues. The council voted 6-1 on April 22 to install the new rule, with only one dissenting vote by Councilman Corky Boozé. The mayor and Boozé then got into a skirmish over how many 5-minute terms each member was allowed in any given council session. The recalcitrant councilman asserted himself by saying, “no one tells Corky how to vote,” which the Times referred to as a “baffling non sequitur.”

According to City Manager Bill Lindsay, just installing a restroom in a Marina Bay park is beyond the capability of the city council. “The atmosphere makes it challenging to get work done,” he said. “It tends to suck energy out of the organization. It can be demoralizing to a staff person who goes to a meeting to give a presentation on an item and waits hours, only for the item to be held over to a later meeting.”

In-fighting is the norm and not the exception in the meetings, according to the Times. Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles claims that Boozé threatened her, and she responded by calling him a profanity and requested that she not have to sit next to him at the meetings. At one time, Beckles publicly called Boozé “delusional” and “a liar.”