Richmond Mayor Tom Butt

RICHMOND CITY COUNCIL | Give Richmond Mayor Tom Butt credit for not only laying out his opinions, but putting them in writing. His personal “e-forum” is just about the most frank set of opinion you will ever find from an elected official.

This week he used the platform to blast councilmembers belonging to the Richmond Progressive Alliance. The group’s council majority passed a notable rent control ordinance in Richmond to the consternation of Butt and landlords.

Butt takes you right into the decision-making process, at least, from his view, but the level of antipathy might make you wonder how he leads this City Council, which over the years, has become the undisputed champion of Bay Area progressive governance.

I had assumed months ago that rent control was coming to Richmond, and although I have consistently opposed it, I was resigned to it. Vice Mayor Jael Myrick had told me and others more than once that he would not support rent control but wanted some kind of measure to offer an opportunity for relief for renters whose rent had been raised unfairly. We heard what he was saying, but no one really trusted him to hang in there when the pressure was exerted. He has to run again in 2016, and the threat of an opponent from the RPA machine with backing from the Central Labor Council and other organizations was hanging heavily over him.

Later, Butt accused three Richmond City Council members of stifling debate over the issue Tuesday night and called it “payback” for the same perceived slight earlier in the year.

The mayor’s choice to lodge harsh criticism against his colleagues is undoubtedly divisive, but a fascinating insight into something few politicians partake, “Tell me how you really feel.”