RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones responded, in a widely distributed press release, to recent scrutiny over any overlap between his church and city government. He said that city workers are victimized in the process of examining any overlap.
Mayor Dwight Jones serves as senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Chesterfield, off Ironbridge Road church.
Mayor Jones statement read:
“When the voters elected me Mayor seven years ago, I made a conscious effort to make sure there would be a separation between the church and city business. We’ve been successful in doing that for the last seven years."
“I was disappointed when I heard of the allegations concerning our director of Public Works. Nevertheless, we’ve gone to great lengths to take corrective action to avoid even the appearance of any impropriety."
“Where employment is concerned, the City of Richmond looks at qualifications and credentials, not where you go to church. All hires are done using accepted business practices. All city workers are expected to abide by the rules and regulations regardless of where they worship. Also, all city workers are provided the same opportunity for professional job growth and development regardless of where they worship."
“It is unfortunate that city workers are now being victimized and being asked where they go to church. Richmond is the home of religious liberty. Just last year, we dedicated the First Freedom Center commemorating religious freedom. It’s very troubling to find this type of behavior going on here, where a newspaper actually requested a roster of church members, for example. I have to question the motives of people who are asking city employees about their religious affiliation. I hope that none of this is politically motivated and that respect can be shown for the wall of separation between church and state.”
Paper's investigative report finds 10 percent of city executives are affiliated with the mayor's church
A report published recently by the Richmond Times-Dispatch detailed a senior Richmond city official who said he resigned following political pressure to place a member of Mayor Jones’ church into a high-ranking position in the city’s budget office. That report found 10 percent of city executives are affiliated with the mayor's church. It can be read here.
Office of the Inspector General report
A week ago the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in Richmond found Department of Public Works Director Emmanuel O. Adediran spent part of his work day serving as Project Manager for the construction of First Baptist Church in Chesterfield.
The Ironbridge Road church is where Jones serves as senior pastor. His son, Richmond School Board member Derik Jones, is also a pastor at the church.
Investigators said while a lack of records made it impossible to verify whether Adediran actually visited the site or attended meetings during business hours, the investigator did find Adediran took part in church-related conference calls and conducted limited communications using the City’s email system related to the church construction.
The OIG's report said they received a complaint that Interim Director with the Department of Public Works Emmanuel O. Adediran served in the capacity of Project Manager for the construction of First Baptist Church.
"The allegation further stated that the Interim Director spent numerous hours during the City’s workday on activities related to this project," the Inspector General's report stated.
The allegation stated that the DPW Interim Director who has now been permanently assigned to that position, spent numerous hours during the City’s workday on visiting the construction site and attending meetings and phone calls related to the project.
"The investigator estimated that the Director spent at least 38 hours during the one and a half year time period. In addition, the Director conducted limited communications using the City’s email system related to the church construction," the report detailed. "During the interview, the Director stated that he volunteers at the church and serves as an assistant pastor. He also indicated that he provides guidance for the church construction project and that he typically spends well in excess of 40 hours a week conducting City business."
City inspectors recommended Richmond's Chief Administrative Officer take "appropriate action, as deemed necessary."
Last week, the mayor's office released a statement which said Adediran will exchange 38 hours of vacation time to remove any concern.
“This worker has assured the City that he only used personal time for matters unrelated to city business," said CAO Selena Cuffee-Glenn. "However, out of an abundance of caution, the Mayor has instructed me to take appropriate action in an effort to remove any concern. The employee has been directed to relinquish 38 hours of accrued vacation leave. All parties are in agreement with this action.”