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.
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