Richmond city employee receives Whistleblower Award for exposing assistant city manager

Richmond city employee receives Whistleblower Award for exposing assistant city manager
Staci Plummer speaks about her whistle-blower experience at a March 2013 conference.

Staci Plummer, a Richmond city employee, was one of two recipients of the 2015 James Madison Freedom Of Information Whistleblower Award, announced earlier this month by the Northern California Society of Professional Journalists.

In 2013, Plummer forced Richmond’s former assistant city manager and human resources director Leslie Knight into early retirement after exposing that Knight was running a gift-basket business, Little Luxuries, using city facilities, employees and other resources. The city had claimed Knight was not making money on the baskets but using the gifts as morale boosters at city hall.

But Knight was also found to have improperly received $450 monthly for a car allowance while also using a city vehicle. City employees can’t have both. Plummer said she discovered this when Knight complained to public works that she wanted the city logo removed from her car. At the time, Plummer was the budget analyst responsible for ensuring Knight received her car allowance.

Knight was also accused of retaliating against Plummer for refusing to take part in the Little Luxuries business.

The malfeasance was widely reported by the local media.

Plummer will receive her Whistleblower Award at a dinner March 12 at the San Francisco City Club. She was honored alongside fellow recipient LaVonda Atkinson, the city cost engineer on San Francisco’s $1.58 billion Central Subway project who exposed tens of millions of dollars in serious financial irregularities.

Watch Plummer give a thorough account of her eight-year tenure under Knight in this March 2013 clip: