Richmond’s former chief administrative officer said Tuesday evening that he is “relieved” to have resigned and described his departure as a mutual agreement between him and the mayor.
In an interview from his Oregon Hill home, Byron C. Marshall said it was “time for me to do something different” and time for Mayor Dwight C. Jones “to go in another direction.”
“When it’s time to go, it’s time to go,” he said, adding, “These jobs serve at the pleasure of the mayor ... so any day in a strong-mayor form of government, the mayor can say, you know, ‘I no longer need your services.’”
The Jones administration hired outside legal help at a rate of $330 per hour to oversee Marshall’s exit from City Hall.
The city hired Jimmy F. Robinson Jr., an employment and labor attorney with Richmond-based Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart PC.
Tammy D. Hawley, press secretary to the mayor, said Robinson has handled “all aspects” of Marshall’s abrupt departure from the Jones administration.
It’s not clear why the matter could not have been handled by City Attorney Allen L. Jackson. Hawley said there were “legal considerations that necessitated” outside counsel.
The mayor’s office revealed little new information about the matter Tuesday.
Marshall, when asked Tuesday evening why his departure was so abrupt, said, “That was the agreement.”
He added this his departure was not spurred by any one thing.
“I was here five years, and that’s probably 1,200 workdays,” he said. “I would suspect I made 50 to 100 decisions every day. You’re talking tens of thousands of decisions. It could have been any number of things ... but there’s no one particular thing we clashed about. We agreed most of the time; sometimes, we disagreed.”
Hawley said the terms of Marshall’s separation had been agreed upon, but for the second day, she said she could not provide a dollar amount for how much he will receive. Marshall, whose base salary was $181,560, could be entitled to seven months of severance pay under his employment agreement, which equates to about $105,000.
Jones faced a media scrum after an economic development announcement Tuesday morning in Scott’s Addition, where he repeatedly told reporters the departure of the man who oversaw City Hall’s daily operations is a “personnel issue.”
“And I’m really sorry,” he added. “I wish I could give you more information, but that’s all I can give you.”
After joining Gov. Terry McAuliffe to announce an expansion by online grocer Relay Foods, the mayor took a tour of the company’s facility and then approached print and TV reporters waiting outside. He made it clear from the onset that he would not be discussing the Marshall situation at length.
When asked about the outside legal help, Jones said it’s “always good to have more than one set of eyes on issues.” He added that he did not have a figure for how much the outside legal services could cost.
He was asked why members of the Richmond City Council are being asked to sign a confidentiality agreement before hearing details of Marshall’s departure.
“I think that City Council deserves to have full disclosure and whatever they decide to do is up to them,” Jones said.
The mayor’s office has not released copies of the document council members are being asked to sign, a process apparently orchestrated by the outside legal counsel.
Several council members — 8th District Councilwoman Reva M. Trammell, 5th District Councilman Parker C. Agelasto and 1st District Councilman Jonathan T. Baliles — have said they did not sign the agreement.
Jones declined to answer when asked if Marshall had submitted a resignation letter. His office has said such a letter would be a personnel record exempt from public disclosure, but there’s never been a direct acknowledgement that a letter exists.
“As time goes on, we will try to give you everything that we can give you,” Jones said.