Mr. Fenwick failed to hold the Mayor of Charlottesville to his obligations under the city Charter. When the Mayor unilaterally acted to impugn the reputations of the City Manager and Police Chief, or issued official pronouncements and statements on behalf of the City as a whole, Mr. Fenwick took no action to uphold the City Charter against these violations of law and Mr. Signer’s decision to far overstep his lawful authority.
Instead of taking appropriate action against the Mayor, Ms. Galvin reported to the Daily Progress that she and the other members of City Council, including Ms. Szakos, had agreed with him to follow “four protocols” governing his future behavior. These protocols, including a requirement that the Mayor “meet with senior city staff only when another councilor is present” and “be more mindful of the time of the council clerk and assistant clerk” serve to check the Mayor’s unlawful assumption of power, but also diminish the effective governance of the City as a whole. Because of Mr. Fenwick’s inaction, the City of Charlottesville is now headed by an elected official who needs to be accompanied by minders in order to prevent unlawful activity, but the Mayor remains in office and remains the higher-ranking elected official representing Charlottesville to the world.
Mr. Fenwick has disregarded Va. Code § 15.2-1812, by expressing support for the removal of Charlottesville’s war memorials, and unlawfully voting to both remove them from the City and cover them with tarpaulins. Further, Mr. Fenwick has made a mockery of Virginia’s Open Meetings Law, by engaging in closed sessions of City Council at which favored members of the public (not merely legal counsel) have been admitted, but from which the majority of the public has been excluded and unable to voice criticism.