8News Daily Poll: Do you think Petersburg’s mayor overstepped his boundaries?

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Did Petersburg Mayor Howard Myers break the law in stripping away duties from one of the city’s top officials? One city council member told 8News she thinks so.

8News obtained emails showing Myers expressing disappointment with how Acting City Manager Dironna Belton and Operations Manager Tangela Innis were handling negotiations with the Robert Bobb group, a consulting firm that council members hoped to hire to solve the city’s financial problems.

One city council member told 8News they believe they mayor’s actions were against the law.

In an email to Mayor Myers, Innis wrote, “your directive was not to enter into negotiations with the firms for council until you receive a copy of the proposal I am to negotiate.”

The emails were in reference to the city’s negotiations with the Robert Bobb Group. The mayor responded, directing “that the actions adopted to be carried out IMMEDIATELY and without question.” He goes on to say any further delay will have consequences.

Belton responded, saying the negotiating documents have not been shared with her per the mayor’s request, and says her understanding is that the document is not ready. That is when the mayor responded saying a majority of council and the city attorney have decided to take away all personnel authority from the city manager.

Myers wrote, “the rescission is effective IMMEDIATELY!!!”

Council Woman Treska Wilson-Smith believes the mayor does not have that authority.


“I thought that it was not his position to even address that or to even send that email out,” Wilson-Smith told 8News Reporter Parker Slaybaugh.

Petersburg’s city manager is hired by and reports to city council. Their duties cannot be stripped or removed without a majority nod from council members, according to several legal sources  who told 8News that vote would have to be done at an open meeting or during an approved closed session.

Councilwoman Wilson-Smith said she never cast a vote.

When 8News asked, “do you believe Mayor Myers overstepped his authority?” Wilson-Smith responded, “I do, I do.”

When 8News asked, “do you believe it could be illegal?” Wilson-Smith replied. “I believe it is illegal.”

When 8News asked, “do you believe it could be illegal?” Wilson-Smith replied. “I believe it is illegal.”

Petersburg city code also states that any disciplinary action of a city official must be “determined by city council.”

“In the mayor’s defense, he might have talked to other council members,” Wilson-Smith added. “I was not included in such a conversation, so as far as I know it did not happen.”

8News’ Parker Slaybaugh reports that there was never a publicly called meeting for that subject matter. Furthermore, Virginia code reads “no public body shall vote by secret and no public body shall vote by telephone or other electronic communication means.”

8News has also confirmed with council members Darrin Hill and John Hart that they never cast a vote on this matter.

Parker Slaybaugh called Mayor Howard Myers, who confirmed the emails authenticity but said he had no comment.

Slaybaugh also called the city manager. After he introduced himself, she said ‘no comment’ and hung up on him.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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