Mayor Dwight Jones’ office apparently wasn’t eager for the public to know that it was requiring City Council members to sign confidentiality agreements related to former Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall’s sudden departure.
The contract, released by Jones’ office on Wednesday, said council members weren’t allowed to acknowledge that the confidentiality agreement they were signing exists.
The agreement also describes Marshall’s departure twice as a “highly sensitive” and “complex personnel matter.” Otherwise, the document contains no details or information about Marshall, making it unclear why the city fought its release for months.
The Official agrees that he/she shall not disclose to anyone, except as required by court order, subpoena, or law: (a) the contents, subject matter, or existence of any conversation between the Official and the Mayor’s office regarding the highly sensitive information related to the complex personnel matter; (b) to the fact that this Agreement exists; (c) the terms of this Agreement; and (d) the facts and circumstances giving rise to this agreement.
Five council members signed the agreement: Kathy Graziano, Michelle Mosby, Charles Samuels, Ellen Robertson and Cynthia Newbille. Grant Neely, the mayor’s chief of staff, signed all the agreements on behalf of Jones’ office.
Jones’ press secretary, Tammy Hawley, denied FOIA requests from Style in September requesting copies of the agreement. Former School Board Member Carol Wolf filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s denial of her own FOIA request for the agreement and other documents.
A Richmond Circuit Court judge threw out the suit last week, saying Wolf had improperly requested the documents. But the judge also wrote in her order that she had reviewed the confidentiality agreement, and had it been properly requested, she doubted it would be exempt under state FOIA laws.