High-ranking Richmond administrators linked to a City Hall nepotism scandal kept their jobs Thursday, a day after a scathing inspector general report prompted Mayor Levar Stoney to fire his chief administrative officer.
The investigation revealed that five of top administrator Selena Cuffee-Glenn’s relatives got jobs at city departments she oversaw between January and March without competitive searches. Helping facilitate some of the hires were the heads of the departments of Public Works, Public Utilities and Human Resources, all of whom remained employed with the city as of Thursday afternoon, according to a Stoney spokesman.
As the extent of the fallout remained unclear, one thing was certain: The report was a blow to an administration that began with Stoney promising to restore public confidence in City Hall.
“This is exactly what we need to get away from,” said Kristen Larson, the 4th District councilwoman. “We need to have as many safeguards as possible to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Stoney fired Cuffee-Glenn on Wednesday. She denied wrongdoing afterward, saying the report was based on “mere conjecture without foundation or basis.” She will not be paid severance, a Stoney spokesman said.
The mayor named Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Lenora Reid, who was recruited to Richmond by Cuffee-Glenn, as interim CAO. Reid oversaw the Department of Human Resources during the period the five hires took place. Additionally, she renewed the provisional employment of three of Cuffee-Glenn’s relatives in July.
Investigators also found Reid had spoken with one of Cuffee-Glenn’s second cousins about a position with the Department of Finance and “wanted to make sure [he] worked hard.” In an interview Thursday, she said she did not discuss the hire with Cuffee-Glenn, with whom she worked closely. Reid said she hadn’t read the full report but believed the hires it centered on complied with all city regulations.
Reid hesitated when asked whether she agreed with Stoney’s decision to fire her former boss.
“I think that was the mayor’s decision to make.”
Reva Trammell, the 8th District councilwoman, questioned the decision to appoint Reid to the interim CAO role.
“You put the fox in charge of the henhouse — that’s what the employees are saying to me,” Trammell said.
Members of the Richmond City Council grappled with the report’s findings Thursday. Larson and Councilwoman Kimberly Gray, who represents the 2nd District, each questioned why Stoney hadn’t acted to address the issues sooner.
He fired Cuffee-Glenn on Wednesday — six months after he said he first learned that her daughter had gotten a job with the Department of Public Utilities that paid more than virtually every city employee with the same title, roughly 130 people. The Richmond Times-Dispatch had reported in May about the hiring of Cuffee-Glenn’s daughter.
“Personally, I think he could have addressed it before it got this far,” said Gray, who added that the findings in the inspector general report issued Wednesday were “disappointing, but not shocking.”
Others said they would not question whether Stoney handled the situation appropriately.
“I think the mayor did what the mayor felt he needed to do,” said Councilman Michael Jones, the 9th District representative. “I will not tell him what’s in his best interest or the best interest of the administration.”
Stoney said he fully cooperated with the investigation, set in motion in April by a whistleblower’s complaint. Other high-ranking city administrators who reported to Cuffee-Glenn helped facilitate her daughter’s hire, according to the report. Among them were Public Works Director Bobby Vincent Jr., Public Utilities Director Calvin Farr Jr. and interim Human Resources Director Karen Garland.
Vincent referred questions about the matter to a Stoney spokesman Thursday. Neither Farr nor Garland returned a call seeking comment.
Reid said she hadn’t discussed with Stoney what, if any, personnel decisions related to the report will follow. All five relatives of Cuffee-Glenn remained city employees as of Thursday afternoon, said Stoney spokesman Jim Nolan.
This article has been updated to correct the nature of the relationship between Selena Cuffee-Glenn and the prospective finance department employee with whom now acting CAO Lenora Reid spoke.