RICHMOND -- A City Council resolution calling on City Manager Bill Lindsay to fire or demote his second-in-command was withdrawn minutes before Tuesday's council meeting.

The sponsors of the resolution, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles, pulled the item because they feared their council colleagues would table it indefinitely, according to Stacie Plummer, the city employee whose complaints prompted the resolution.

"Instead of hearing the item tonight, the full council will get to review the entire report in closed session," Plummer said. "What they see should lead to some action."

An independent investigation revealed last month that Human Resources Director Leslie Knight improperly received at least $400 monthly in car allowance while also using a city vehicle; used paid city staff to make trinkets; and ordered a subordinate to access Plummer's emails after Plummer lodged a complaint against her.

Plummer alleged in her complaint that Knight ran a small trinket business called "Little Luxuries by Leslie Knight," made a profit and used the city's address and phone number for the business.

The investigation found that the trinket making on city time was for free gifts for other employees, not for profit. Plummer and her union allies called for Lindsay to fire Knight at the March 19 City Council meeting. Lindsay has said that Knight will repay the city for the misused funds but has not specified what other disciplinary measures she will face. Lindsay said Knight used "poor judgment."

Plummer and about 20 protesters had planned a rally Tuesday to again call for Knight's dismissal, but the plan changed when Beckles called Plummer about 4:30 p.m. to say she and McLaughlin would withdraw the resolution pending a review of the investigative report.

The investigation, conducted by a Sacramento-based law firm, lasted months and cost the city about $30,000. Within the next two weeks, the full council will review the entire report in closed session for the first time, Plummer said.

Protesters were torn about whether the latest development would help their cause, which is to have Knight terminated for conduct they say would have resulted in a lower-ranked employee's dismissal.

"The pressure over the next two weeks will be to allow Knight to resign rather than be terminated," said Andres Soto, a member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance. "That's unsatisfactory because she would then be able to keep her benefits package."

Knight issued a statement last month through her attorney, Thomas Bertrand of the firm Bertrand, Fox & Elliot in San Francisco. Bertrand said that "the bulk of the numerous allegations made against Ms. Knight have not been sustained."

Days ago, Councilman Nat Bates wrote in an email to constituents that McLaughlin and Beckles were overstepping their bounds in telling Lindsay how to handle personnel matters.

"Before making this serious decision to challenge the city manager and his authority," Bates wrote, "it would have been prudent and wise for the two of them to have conferred and sought advice from some of their friends in the legal profession or contacted one of our attorneys ..."

Knight's base salary in 2011 was $220,000, with total compensation of $281,507, according to this newspaper's public employee salary database.

Contra Costa County deputy District Attorney Steve Moawad has declined to comment on whether his office would conduct an investigation into Knight's actions.

Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726 or rrogers@bayareanewsgroup.com and follow Twitter.com/roberthrogers.