Skip to content


Richmond city manager gets big payout to move on, agreement shows

on November 17, 2021

Less than two years after being named Richmond city manager, Laura Snideman will leave the position with more than $300,000 in severance and other payments, according to a separation agreement that Mayor Tom Butt shared publicly on Tuesday night. 

The City Council approved Snideman’s termination during a closed session earlier this month. Snideman’s last day as city manager is Dec. 1. A caveat of the agreement is that she has seven days from the time it was signed to withdraw from it — which according to Butt, would be next Tuesday. Until her exit date, she will be on paid administrative leave. 

In accordance with Snideman’s employment contract, the package includes $212,5000 in severance pay, which is the equivalent of 10 months’ salary. The city also agreed to pay her about $62,000 in unclaimed leave and $25,000 for attorney fees. It also will pick up the premiums for her medical benefits for 10 months, unless she gets a new job in the meantime. 

Butt published the document in his e-forum newsletter. He said Snideman signed it on Nov. 11 and it became official when Vice Mayor Demnlus Johnson III signed it Tuesday. 

Notably, the separation agreement was signed by Johnson instead of Butt, who said in his newsletter that “it was illegally approved by the City Council majority as a Brown Act violation, and … it erroneously characterized statements made by me as false.”

The agreement was not supposed to be shared publicly until seven days after it was signed, said Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin.

Butt’s disclosure of information that council members believe is  private adds fuel to their  accusations of him repeatedly sharing confidential material. In a previous meeting, the council voted to refer another disclosure to the district attorney and a grand jury.

The severance agreement also establishes a “covenant” that neither party will sue the other.

“Let’s just say the majority of the Council and the City Manager were amenable to parting ways with this agreement,” McLaughlin wrote in an email.

A provision of the agreement instructs Snideman and elected officials not to make disparaging remarks about each other. And Snideman demanded in the agreement that Butt remove remarks about her that he made on social media that she called disparaging.

Earlier this month, the City Council passed a resolution condemning Butt’s remarks. The agreement shows that Snideman asked the council to consider such a resolution. Butt cited the resolution as the reason he voted against the separation agreement, despite calling for Snideman’s ouster for months.

Butt unsuccessfully called on the council in July to fire Snideman and City Attorney Teresa Stricker for what he claimed was a misuse of city funds for an investigation into allegations of conflict of interest and misuse of power that a city employee made against the mayor. In an earlier Tuesday newsletter, Butt released a letter from Stricker, showing that the investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing. 

A week before the council moved to terminate Snideman, Stricker resigned without providing an explanation to the public. Her last day in office is Jan. 3. 

Neither Snideman nor Stricker has responded to requests for comment.


  1. Don Gosney on November 19, 2021 at 11:38 am

    The City of Richmond–along with the WCCUSD–is becoming famous for making unwise personnel decisions and then paying dearly when they separate them from community service. Aside from nearly a year’s worth of salary, unused personal time, health care benefits and pension benefits, it all adds up. Then we add on the cost for a headhunter and the search process to find and select a replacement. A half million dollars for the process is not an unreasonable amount that we will be saddled with.

    And then we have the real possibility that the new City Manager or City Attorney may not work out (as these two did not).

    With the WCCUSD they’ve had three Superintendents in five years, four Chief Business Officers in five years. There are only a couple of Cabinet members in the school district that were here 18 months ago.

    Between the City and the School District, how are any of us to know who to work with when their names and faces seem to change so frequently?

    With no disrespect intended, we need more responsible persons in positions of authority to select the people that run our cities and school districts.

Richmond Confidential welcomes comments from our readers, but we ask users to keep all discussion civil and on-topic. Comments post automatically without review from our staff, but we reserve the right to delete material that is libelous, a personal attack, or spam. We request that commenters consistently use the same login name. Comments from the same user posted under multiple aliases may be deleted. Richmond Confidential assumes no liability for comments posted to the site and no endorsement is implied; commenters are solely responsible for their own content.

Card image cap
Richmond Confidential

Richmond Confidential is an online news service produced by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism for, and about, the people of Richmond, California. Our goal is to produce professional and engaging journalism that is useful for the citizens of the city.

Please send news tips to

Latest Posts

Scroll To Top