Best Local Politician: And pain in his colleagues’, uh, necks

Tom Butt, Richmond City Council

If Mama Buzz is cool, politicians generally are not. The thing we love about Butt is that he says things he isn’t supposed to say. In politics, that means he’s honest, if not necessarily cool. He chided his colleagues — who generally consider him a pain in their own collective butt — in his e-mail newsletter earlier this year for trying to decide on massive municipal layoffs behind closed doors. That critique, of course, could be viewed as being politically astute in an election year. But he also tells on himself: In another of Butt’s newsletters, he ‘fessed up to owing the city a $4,000 court judgment from when he unsuccessfully sued to gain access to city financial records. He explained to his subscribers that he felt justified in stiffing the city because he’d been trying to show how its leaders were trying to give Chevron, the city’s biggest employer, special treatment. Which brings up another of his good qualities: He stands up to the Company in the Company Town. Although we may not always agree with him, we at least always know he is being straight with us.

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