FOIA FIGHT with City of Richmond Rages On ...

The latest salvo:  Graham Moomaw, of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, posted this today, 2/19/15


The city of Richmond paid an outside law firm $16,150 for legal work in September related to the abrupt departure of former chief administrative officer Byron C. Marshall, according to city records.

The city paid labor and employment law firm Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak and Stewart at a rate of $250 per hour for 64.6 hours of legal work related to "Executive Employment Advice," according to records obtained by a former Richmond School Board member who sued the city last year over its refusal to release documents related to Marshall's exit.


"We have city attorneys on staff," said Carol A.O. Wolf, whose lawsuit led to a judge issuing an opinion this month that said the city should release some additional documentation tied to the Marshall case. "It's a waste of time and it's a waste of resources."


Marshall resigned Sept. 12. The outside legal work, spearheaded by attorney Jimmy F. Robinson Jr.,  began on Sept. 3 and ended on Sept. 26, according to the documents. The city issued a check for the work in early December.
The administration of Mayor Dwight C. Jones has done little to explain what led to Marshall's departure last September after five years running the city government's daily operations. Officials have repeatedly called it a personnel matter.
Before briefing City Council members on the situation, the mayor's office asked the members of the legislative body to sign sweeping confidentiality agreements that prohibited council members from even acknowledging that the confidentiality agreement exists. Five council members signed the agreements. Four did not.
The city agreed to pay Marshall $163,617 in severance pay.
There has never been a full explanation of why the city needed to hire outside legal help. Marshall was said to have resigned, but city attorneys have argued in court that there was an unspecified dispute that required confidentiality.