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City Council Demotes Bruce Tyler on Key Committees

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Richmond City Councilman Bruce Tyler, once considered a rising star from the city's influential 1st District, has lost serious ground on council's important standing committees.

Shortly after the new City Council's first meeting Jan. 2, Tyler, in his second term and once considered a strong potential mayoral candidate, lost his chairmanship of the government operations committee and was bumped as vice chair of the all-important finance committee.

He remains a member of finance, but his vice-chair seat is filled by freshman Councilman Charles Samuels. Meanwhile, other second-term council members once relegated to the vocal minority have gained ground.

On governmental operations, Tyler still has a seat, but hands over his gavel to Marty Jewell, a longtime ally of Mayor L. Douglas Wilder.

The lost chairmanship and vice chairmanship comes on the heels of some recent disagreements between Tyler and fellow council members. In mid-October, for example, Tyler unsettled some by attempting to rejigger the city's master plan after months of public input, community meetings and council's passage.

Tyler remains unfazed by what he acknowledges might be perceived as repudiation for some disagreement.

“I basically told Kathy [Graziano] to put me anywhere she wanted to put me,” he says of the council president. “That's where she put me and I'm fine with it. I have a council vote and that's all that matters.”

It wasn't that long ago when Jewell, quick to defend Wilder during frequent bullying sessions against council, was minimized in committee appointments. He was a member of two and an alternate on another. Now he's also vice chair of the health, human services and education committee.

Some of that had to do with Jewell's support of Graziano for the president's post, says one city insider familiar with his promotion: “Marty committed early to Kathy.”

But that's not to say Tyler didn't made his own commitment, albeit late to the game, since he was one of three jockeying for the gavel (Ellen Robertson also was keen on the post, but instead came away as vice president). It was Tyler who moved to elect Graziano as president during the Jan. 2 meeting.

“I was happy to do that,” Tyler says, hoping the move would show council unity. “People try to read more into things than are there. I thought it was important to put [rumors] to rest before they ever got started.”

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