PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Portsmouth City Manager Tonya Chapman claims that a series of alleged disparaging behavior from Portsmouth Mayor Shannon Glover and Councilmember Bill Moody constitutes a breach of her contract.

Chapman, who said she was forced to resign as the city’s police chief in 2019 after a controversial tenure, was appointed to the city manager position back in June in a 4-3 vote after a tumultuous process, with both Glover and Moody voting no.

She outlined her grievances to the mayor and city council in a four-page letter obtained by WAVY, dated October 7. In the letter, Chapman says she’s been subject to “incidents of continued insolent behavior, disparate treatment, apparent bias, and disparaging comments” from Glover and Moody, as well as citizens in public comment sessions whose comments are allowed through despite a screening process.

“Although citizens should be allowed to voice their opinion on matters of public concerns, I deserve the same deference as every other council member of staff … and should not have to endure personal attacks.”

Chapman says that Glover told her during her first meeting with him as city manager on July 5 that “he did not trust me … and he never will.” She goes on to document multiple alleged disrespectful incidents involving Glover, including one in his office on September 20 that led to a heated exchange in which Glover allegedly said Chapman was appointed through a back door process.

Chapman emphasized that Glover had indicated some support before her appointment, even writing her a letter of recommendation when she applied for another chief of police job in 2021.

Moody meanwhile “continues to spew rhetoric in public that I am not qualified for the position,” Chapman says.

Chapman also details an incident in which she denied a person’s access to a city boat ramp. Afterward, Moody allegedly sent an email telling the person to “check back next year when we might be more receptive.”

“I can certainly infer the meaning of his statement,” Chapman says in the letter.

The city has since hired an outside attorney to look into Chapman’s breach of contract assertion.

WAVY reached out to Chapman, Glover and Moody for comment and to clarify the alleged statements.

Glover said that he had no comment, and Chapman had yet to respond at the time of publication.

Moody responded and said that the assertion there was a breach of contract is “without merit,” and said it is standard for the city to hire outside council when it comes to a personnel matter.

The city manager’s contract agreement shows that if a potential breach of contract is not cured by the city within the specified cure time period (30 days from the delivery of written notice of a breach, but potentially extendable another 60 days) then “the employee shall have the right to submit her resignation … in which event Employee shall be entitled to severance pay.”

“Until these actions are corrected, I am no longer comfortable meeting with Mayor Glover or Councilman Moody without an independent witness present,” Chapman added.

WAVY reported that Chapman’s severance would be $400,000 if she’s fired without cause before June 2023, and $200,000 after that first year. 10 On Your Side obtained an email that shows Chapman didn’t ask for the severance but did ask for $200,000 if she was dismissed with or without cause. 

Glover said he believes Councilman Mark Whitaker and Vice Mayor De’Andre Barnes wanted the large severance to discourage a firing without cause in the event the makeup of council changes.

On that note, Chapman also alleged that staff was warned by a “member of a commission” that employees who aligned with Chapman would be fired “upon the return of the former city officials.”

After her appointment this summer, Chapman also held a press conference in which she pushed back on what she called false rumors, and defended her qualifications for the position.

Meanwhile, in recent major news involving city hall, just two weeks ago former city manager Angel Jones, Chapman’s predecessor, filed a $5.35 million lawsuit for wrongful termination, alleging a “pay-to-play atmosphere.” Jones was fired back in May.