Sacked Portsmouth city manager asks for full severance pay, says sacking ‘false and misleading’

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVE) — Former Portsmouth City Manager Tonya Chapman is now asking for her full $400,000 in severance pay after being fired.

The Portsmouth City Council approved Chapman’s termination by a 5-2 vote, with Councilmen De’Andre Barnes and Mark Whittaker voting against. Councilman Bill Moody said Chapman “willfully engages in conduct that is demonstrably detrimental to the city, monetarily or otherwise.”

In a response to City Council members on Tuesday, Chapman said her firing was false and “grossly misleading and not supported by evidence.”

In a letter to current Vice Mayor Lisa Lucas-Burke and the City Council, Chapman alleges that Mayor Shannon Glover falsified and/or embellished information to garner votes for her termination.

“There are witnesses and evidence that will invalidate his claims,” ​​Chapman said.

Read the full letter from former Portsmouth City Manager Tony Chapman here

“During my tenure as city manager, I have worked diligently to ensure that the city acts in the best interests of its citizens, upholding fiscal responsibility and ensuring accountability. I can assure you that I have been a good steward of the city’s finances. As the mayor pointed out, I have never distorted information or neglected the truth. The dismissal of the workers was justified and properly formalized. I was informed that the city prosecutor’s office has the results of the inspection.”

At the end of the letter, Chapman said the citizens of Portsmouth “deserve better” and deserve to know the truth about where “the public’s money” is being spent.

“As a board member, you have a responsibility to ensure transparency and accountability.”

It was stated in her contract at the time of her swearing in she will receive a $400,000 severance package if she is fired without cause before her first year as city manager.

Severance pay will be halved if it is terminated after this date. 10 On Your Side obtained an email that shows Chapman did not ask for severance pay, but instead asked for $200,000 if fired with or without cause. The $400,000 severance package is more than the package included for the last four city managers combined.

At the center of Chapman’s stoppage were allegations of missing $80,000 in gift cards. However, this was revealed during a city council meeting on Tuesday following a city audit.

“There were no missing cards. Zero,” Mayor Glover said, insisting the matter should be shelved. During the audit, city officials said they checked packing slips, invoices, signed confirmation forms and other items, and the finance committee said the cards were missing. .

In December, the City Council voted 6-1 in favor of a $300,000 forensic examination, with Mayor Glover in opposition.

Gift cards were issued to eligible Portsmouth seniors, low-income families and students as early as May 2022 with proof of vaccination.

The gift card giveaway drew a big turnout, with hundreds of people lining up outside the Portsmouth Sportsplex to receive a $100 or $500 card.

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