Looks like Ferguson continues to clean house. In the latest fallout from the Department of Justice report that shone a blinding light on racially biased justice system that is Ferguson, Mo, the Ferguson City Council announced tonight that City Manager John Shaw and the city had reached a “mutual separation agreement.”
Shaw, 39, had been the City Manager for the last eight years. It was Shaw who hired Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson in 2010, the man whose police force brought the city millions in municipal court revenue.
And although Mayor James Knowles has been the public face of the governement since all eyes have been on Ferguson, he is apparently no more than a figurehead—and a part time office holder—who earns less than $5,000 per year for the job.
The real power resides with Shaw, who interestingly has not spoken out publicly since Mike Brown died at the hands of a Ferguson police officer in July 2014, and since his city has been rocked by unrest and scrutiny.
As City Manager, Shaw had the legal authority to hire, and fire city workers, including the police chief and officers. The mayor and City Council have no legal standing to do so, according to the city charter.
The City Council can, however, fire the City Manager, and apparently chose to exercise that right tonight.
The Associated Press notes that the Justice Department report repeatedly cited Shaw’s role in encouraging his police force to aggressively ticket motorists as a means to generate revenue:
In one instance, he responded to a Jackson email about a record-setting month for court revenue — nearly $180,000 in February 2011 alone — with the exclamation, “Wonderful!”
And when Jackson told Shaw in January 2013 that municipal court revenue had exceeded $2 million the previous year, the city manager was similarly excited.
“Awesome!” he said, according to the federal inquiry.
Shaw denies these claims of instucting the police to target African Americans, “nor falsify charges to administer fines, nor heap abuses on the backs of the poor.” He says those inferences from the report are false, according to the AP.