Tom Butt
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  RPA City Council Members Shut Down Appointments
November 16, 2022

Remember when Mitch McConnell blocked the nomination by President Obama of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court so that the next president, who happened to be Donald Trump, could make the appointment?

A similar scenario played out in last night‘s City Council meeting when the RPA Four blocked the appointments of three highly qualified applicants to the Design Review Board and Planning Commission. Richmond’s Charter gives the mayor the sole authority to appoint persons to boards and commissions, but three votes of City Council members, in addition to the mayor, must approve.

The reason given by the four dissenting City Council members was that the new mayor should be making the appointments, not the current mayor. With a little less than two months left in my term, the RPA Four are already shutting me down.

The three applicants that the City Council rejected included:

  • For Planning Commission: Bhavin Khatri, 18-year Richmond resident, zero-emission program manager for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Hilltop District Neighborhood Council President, former Design Review Board member with a master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and licensed professional engineer.
  • For Design Review Board: Umoja S. Akbar, a 21-year Resident of Richmond, a graduate of Howard University with a degree in Architecture and Planning, a LEED Accredited Professional with extensive sustainable design experience working for Tom Wilson Architects. He worked for the City of Richmond in 2009-2010 as an assistant employment specialist.
  • For Design Review Board: David Plotkin, an 8-year resident of Richmond with a degree in architecture from University of Cincinnati, working for William Duff Architects and a former chair of the Building and Site Committee for Habitat for Humanity.

It would be hard to find more qualified people to serve, but the petty RPA Four rejected them for only one reason – they were my appointments.