Booze assault case divides council

The City Council is divided over whether to discuss a case of assault involving councilmember Corky Booze. (Photo by: Tawanda Kanhema)

The City Council is divided over whether to discuss a case of assault involving councilmember Corky Booze. (Photo by: Tawanda Kanhema)

City Councilmembers Tuesday night refused to publicly discuss last week’s assault involving Councilmember Corky Booze, saying they would leave the matter to law enforcement.

Booze was involved in a fight  with a member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance last week, and the RPA, the NAACP and members of the public gave statements in public comment condemning political violence.

”The NAACP rises in opposition of any violence used by any person or organizations as a tool to silence conflicting opinions,” the NAACP said in its statement. ”The NAACP will remain steadfast in its committment in protecting the rights of all citizens whether on the dais or city council chambers.”

Councilmember Nat Bates tried to place the assault case on the agenda for discussion, saying an attack on an elected public official in the city was a serious matter that required urgent attention from council.

”An unfortunate situation occurred last Thursday in which a councilman was attacked,” Bates said at the beginning of the meeting. ”I would take the same position if the victim of this attack was myself or the mayor. We would like to hear from the police chief. We still have about four or five candidates who are potential victims of similar attacks.”

While Bates, Booze and vice mayor Jim Rogers voted in favor of the motion, four councilmembers voted to prevent the public discussion, saying such discussion would interfere with the investigations.

”We cannot make a judgement before the investigation is complete,” McLaughlin said. ”We do know that law enforcement is involved in this and we do not intervene.”

Two members of the public, candidate Mark Wassberg and the Reverend Kenneth Davis were ejected from the chambers for refusing to observe house rules during public comments on the assault. Wassberg denounced the RPA and launched a spirited campaign for himself and Bates in violation of council rules of procedure, which prohibit election-related speech inside City Hall. McLaughlin asked that police escort Wassberg from the chamber.

”This is America, I have a right to speak,” Wassberg yelled, flailing as officers escorted him out of the chambers. ”I forgot to take my meds.”

Davis continued to speak after his assigned time had lapsed, accusing the RPA members of victimizing Booze.

In a statement read by RPA steering committee member Tarnell Abbott, the alliance confirmed that RPA member David Moore, who worked with Booze on his last campagin for City Council, had been involved in a physical altercation with the councilmember. The RPA statement said that Booze struck Moore in the face.

”While Mr. Moore pursues his legal options, this incident should not divert any of us from the real issues in Richmond, which are living-wage jobs, improving the city, and protecting Richmond residents,” Abbott said, reading from the statement.

4 Comments

  1. Does anyone else find it amusing that at this meeting the Mayor said: ”We cannot make a judgement before the investigation is complete” while on at least two other occasions at public meetings the MAYOR has said that Chevron is criminal–long before the investigation into their accident is complete?

    This is a part of the problem that many members of the public have been saying for quite some time–that there seems to be a set of double standards being implemented wherein friends and allies of the Mayor have one set of rules applied and the rest of the world has a second set.

    The 72 year old man that lashed out at Councilmember Booze, David Moore, is a friend of mine. Even though he serves on the Steering Committee of the Richmond Progressive Alliance and often has views contrary to mine, we don’t allow it to be personal.

    Councilmember Booze is also a friend of mine. And likewise, there are times when we have differences of opinion and there are many times I’d love to walk up and slap the cr*p out of him but we don’t allow things to become personal.

    That being said, sooner or later the Council needs to open an honest dialogue about the widening chasm here in Richmond wherein those that are on the side of good and those that are on the side of evil–and I’ll let you decide who is on which side–are no longer talking to each other. We’re seeing fights breaking out at the Council meetings with some being on the dais and some in the audience. We have parties on both sides that cannot agree to disagree and would rather become physical.

    And this has to stop.

    Wouldn’t it be better to put a stop to this problem BEFORE another incident rather than wait until something else happens before acting?

    We have members of the Council who frequently show their disdain for speakers–such as myself–by turning away from the speaker, talking to other members of the Council while the public is talking to them, and even making childish faces at the speakers. Some have even written emails saying they refuse to listen because they don’t like the tone of the message.

    How can we expect to establish or maintain civility when we have parties who can’t even talk to each other?

    Since this incident has ties to the Richmond Progressive Alliance, we have the appearance of a conflict of interest amongst those very same members of the Council who refuse to allow this issue to be discussed by the Council.

    I’m not suggesting that the RPA had anything to do with what happened. But the RPA is somewhat cliquish and they often take an “us or them” position wherein an insult to one is an insult to all. With three of the Councilmembers being big muckety mucks within the RPA and with two more frequently siding with the RPA, is it any wonder that the Council voted down a request to open a dialogue?

    Councilmember Bates is correct in that things can easily escalate. We saw a fair amount of violence and vandalism two years ago between the two sides with physical confrontations occurring on several occasions. We’re seeing something like this starting now and if an honest effort isn’t made to cool things down, who knows where things will end up.

    • Jeff Ritterman

      Anyone who is watching City Council knows that the dysfunction on the council stems from the disrespectful behavior of Councilmember Booze and some of his supporters in the audience who come to council meetings to disrupt the proceedings rather than to help the city move forward.
      It’s the disrespectful behavior of Councilmember Booze and several of his supporters that is causing the rise in uncivil behavior. And all the while you Don Gosney have had nothing to say about the name calling, and the disruptions which have ensued. You are at these meetings. You hear what’s going on and you choose to ignore it and say nothing to try and stop it. Then you try to blame those of us who you disagree with politically even though we are not the ones at the root of the disruptive behavior. If Councilmember Bates is concerned that things can easily escalate then he should use his influence on Councilmember Booze and those in the audience who come to disrupt to get them to stop. Otherwise he is just pointing the finger in the wrong direction for his own political reasons.

      • How many times, Councilmember Ritterman, have I risen to point the finger at ALL members of the Council pointing out that there’s plenty of blame to go around?

        Perhaps you missed that because you so often refuse to listen to what OI have to say.

        What you haven’t seen, Mr. Ritterman, are my efforts to work behind the scenes to calm the waters, to bring civility back to the meetings and to find a way where we can work together. These include advising Councilmember Booze on the way he comports himself.

        Once again, Mr. Ritterman, you’re making personal statements against me without really knowing anything about me.

  2. Kennedy Grad

    What concerns me most is council members who sell out to Big Oil.

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