Portsmouth City Manager Lydia Pettis Patton resigns, council votes to fire city attorney

Portsmouth

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Portsmouth City Manager Dr. Lydia Pettis Patton has chosen to immediately resign ahead of her planned retirement at the end of the year.

“Through prayer and reflection, I have decided that in the best interest of the city of Portsmouth, to step aside immediately as City Manager conditioned upon the city meeting it’s obligations owed to me under my contract. I have served this city with honor and dedication and I want to leave the city as I came in 1986 with honor,” Pettis Patton wrote in an email to city leaders obtained by 10 On Your Side.

The details surrounding her resignation are unclear, but the move comes just a month after Pettis Patton announced her retirement after more than 35 years with the city. Pettis Patton has held the position of city manager since September 2015.

Sources told 10 On Your Side that Portsmouth City Council had planned to meet Tuesday to discuss whether to fire both Pettis Patton and City Attorney Solomon H. Ashby, Jr., but not in connection to the situation surrounding Police Chief Angela Greene. Greene was placed on administrative leave with pay last week pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

The council did meet Tuesday, and voted 4-3 to fire City Attorney Solomon Ashby.

Hours after the vote, Mayor John Rowe met with 10 On Your Side for a brief interview. Recent controversial events have roiled politics in Portsmouth this year.

Rowe had this response to a question about whether the decisive action represents an effort to make corrections in how the city is managed: “We have interims [interim manager and interim city attorney] and we need to get the ship back on course and get it stabilized.”

Vice Mayor Lisa Lucas-Burke told 10 On Your Side she is distraught about the city manager’s resignation and termination of the city attorney following a hastily-called special session of City Council. When asked whether there is a “shadow government” in Portsmouth, Lucas-Burke told 10 On Your Side she believes there’s an effort to put a thumb on Black leadership in Portsmouth.

“I think there is some backbone of a network of higher leadership that is guiding this whole force, said Lucas-Burke.

Last month, Lucas-Burke was charged with two misdemeanors for allegedly calling for the termination of Greene. Burke told 10 On Your Side she will recruit a citizen to file similar charges against one or two colleagues on the City Council under allegations they called for the termination of an employee who was hired by the city manager or the manger’s staff.

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