RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Emails obtained by 8News through a Freedom of Information Act request show Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones was copied on more than 100 emails to and from the city’s Department of Public Works Director Emmanual Adediran detailing construction about the mayor’s new church.
The emails show the DPW director’s involvement in the construction of the First Baptist Church’s second facility, located at 6201 Ironbridge Road in Chesterfield County, during city time goes well beyond the 38 hours the city’s auditor first estimated.
“It is clear there is a series of emails more than what we originally expected and there was dialog among all the parties about a private enterprise versus the public good.” — City Council member Charles Samuels.
More than 200 emails dating back to October 2013 sent from and to Adediran conversing about specs, estimates, kitchen fixtures, the church café, and vendors all for the construction of the mayor’s new church on Iron Bridge Road in Chesterfield County.
“OK, I’ll be there shortly,” writes Adediran in an email about an immediate need for digitizing site plans for the church. He goes on to reply, “I will come and pick them up and convert them to electronic copies.” The aforementioned was from an email sent on a Friday just before 9 a.m. from the DPW director’s city account, an email the mayor was copied on.
City Council member Charles Samuels says this could be a violation of city policy.
“It is clear there is a series of emails more than what we originally expected and there was dialog among all the parties about a private enterprise versus the public good,” Samuels said.
Several emails titled “weekly construction meeting” suggest Adediran, who is listed as a project manager, was part of weekly 10 a.m. conference calls regarding the church project.
Again the mayor is cc’ed on these emails.
He often does not respond but in one when the DPW director gets word the church building permit has been approved, Jones replies, “wonderful news. Now we need money.”
The mayor’s office did not respond to 8News’ request for a comment on Thursday, but when 8News asked the mayor in a recent interview if he was aware of the DPW director’s work on the church on city time, he told us this:
“I am pleased to talk to you about it because I think the politics of character assignation are alive and well in Richmond and to me that’s troubling.”
The emails also reveal conversations about progress on the church construction, inspections, parts ordered, and contractor updates.
A few emails also include Angela Yancy, who held a top job in the city’s Department of Social Services. She’s now the Deputy Director in the Office of Minority Business Development.
Samuels worries city policy has been violated and says this needs a closer look.
“Whenever a city employee’s on the job time is being used for something other than the services the taxpayers and the citizens of the city of Richmond expect of their government it is worthy of investigation,” said Samuels.
In one email, a woman with Grainger, a church vendor which the city also happens to use, inquires about a job. She writes, “Hello Emmanuel — moving right on up. I see the city is hiring an occupational safety and health officer. Who could I talk to to learn more about this position?”
“One thing I think that is worth asking is which vendors for the city also did work for the church and whether or not that led to any additional work for the city,” Samuels said.
Samuels confirmed to 8News that the city auditor will continue to investigate this matter and these new emails.
Other members of council are weighing in. Councilman Parker Agelasto tells 8News this absolutely needs to be investigated, he says council could also request or query or assign a committee to investigate.
Back on January 14, the mayor asked the Virginia State Police to investigate church and city connections.