‘No one was fired’: 2 Petersburg leaders to exit amid chaos

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PETERSBURG, Va. – Petersburg City Council is working on negotiations to reach separation agreements with the both city manager and city attorney after hundreds of resident packed a special meeting packed at the historic Union Train Station Thursday evening.

In fact, so many people showed up that some were left standing outside because the fire marshal said the building was at capacity.

“They knew this was going to be a big event and it should have been held at a place that could accommodate a lot more people,” one woman said.

Packed city council meeting

Packed city council meeting

Tempers then flared when council members announced they were entering a closed session to discuss personnel matters.

“What's wrong with y'all,” someone in the audience yelled.

Some women sitting in the front row even brought popcorn for what they call "the show" as city manager William Johnson sat alone in front of the massive crowd. 

The city attorney was nowhere to be found.

“I think they should all just quit and go home,” another person said.

Council members made two motions

Council members made two motions

More than an hour and a half after the meeting began, council members made two motions that prompted the crowd to applaud. 

Leaders authorized the city to enter into negotiations for separation agreements with Brian Telfair, the city attorney, and William Johnson, city manager.

Both motions passed and Johnson quickly exited without commenting.

Residents at the meeting agreed with the decision to say goodbye.

“It's been a long time coming,” one man said.


Treska Wilson-Smith

Treska Wilson-Smith

However, council member Treska Wilson-Smith said the pair was not fired.

“No one was fired,” Wilson-Smith said. “Separation means them leaving. It doesn't tell how or why and we will enter into an agreement about the terms.”

In fact, she said this means they will likely still be on the job Friday.

When asked if the city would have to shell out thousands of dollars to force the pair out, she said she hoped it wouldn’t come to that.

The city attorney, who did not attend the meeting, posted the following message on his personal Facebook page:

“To be crystal clear, I have not been fired. Any such statement is false, defamatory and will be dealt with by my attorneys.”

Minute-By-Minute Account of Thursday's Meeting

CBS 6  senior reporter Wayne Covil and reporter Melissa Hipolit were at the meeting where dozens of people were forced to wait outside as the city's historic Union Station was filled to capacity. 

It is estimated that 300 people were inside the station.

Here are Melissa Hipolit's tweets from the meeting.

Melissa Hipolit also broadcast portions of the meeting live on her Facebook page.

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