Adelson: “Tommy, that was a cheap shot…” (Fireworks at City Council Meeting)

During October 4th’s City Council Meeting Good and Welfare session things got nasty as City Council President Thomas Sofield Junior verbally berated a resident for sitting near his political opponents.  And that’s just the start of the fireworks that came out of the street fight which was the October 4th City Council meeting.

Ah, transparency.  One intrepid resident has posted the audio from the meeting for all to hear.  Of course, most towns would publicly publish this themselves, or air them on Cablevision, but not in Long Beach, where public info somehow is never released.

This resident captured some truly incredible exchanges.  I’ve heard tales of the bickering and fighting that occur during these sorts of meetings.  I’ve heard that Councilmembers often throw insults at one another.  But, I didn’t think I would  hear the City Council President ever attacking a good-intentioned resident for asking questions or sitting near people he disagrees with.

Well, in this City Council meeting, you get it all, and I warn you, watching (well, listening to) the sausage get made is not pretty.

Sure, more than 50% of the questions are about clogged drains, parking, surfing regulations, and various other gripes – the sort of topics you’d expect in a council meeting.  And then it really gets started off with what seemed to escalate almost to blows between Councilmen Torres and McLaughlin.  44 minutes into the session, a questioner asked about supposed “secret meetings” that took place, which was a notion quickly dismissed by the City Council President.

After the resident was repeatedly interrupted, Mr. Torres said, “let the man speak.”

After an inaudible comment, Torres snaps at Councilman McLaughlin and says,”don’t talk to me like.”

Councilman McLaughlin: “I’ll talk to you anyway I want”

Councilman Torres: “I don’t like that, he’s out of order”

And then an inaudible exchange between the council members.

And here was the first point where a theme develops, City Council President Sofield Junior tells the resident that he’s getting his information from “bad sources.”

The next firestorm started at an hour and ten minutes into the prize fight, with a resident saying to the City Manger, “You’ve told outright lies.”

She then goes on to list a number of points where City Manger Theofan has reportedly “lied” about being in talks with the head of Quiksilver.  She then cites news reports quoting the CEO and marketing director of Quiksilver who explicitly say they are not in talks.

The City Council President interrupts and says “who are you talking with at Quiksilver.”  He’s forced to retreat when she refers not to unnamed nefarious sources, but the newspaper.

Next, she attacked claims of profits from Quiksilver in what she called “this campaign literature” she received in the mail.  She’s talking about the Long Beach City Beat, a bulletin that we too have thought looked more like a  pseudo-campaign flyer and highlighted here.

In what might be one of my favorite resident quotes from the night, she proclaims, “I did the math.”  She crunched the sales tax numbers based off of information she received from Corporate Council Corey Klein.  She worked out that if the Quiksilver tent made $1,000,000 in sales, the City would see only $1,387.50 in tax revenue.

She sartastically finished, “I don’t think that’s going to help you keep the property taxes down”

As the City Manager and City Council President attempted to debunk her math, you can hear City Councilman McLaughlin say: “Tom, let’s go I want to get out of here”

And now, the main event

At around 1:24 into the session, a resident comes to the mic and mirrors a topic many others have brought up – Freedom of Information requests.  We’ve been told here that we have to use these as well a number of times by the City – for public information.

The resident repeatedly challenges the City Manager and City Council President, wanting to know where her info on the Quiksilver Pro is, and when she’d receive it, because it had already been a month since she was promised the info.

She then quotes from the Herald, where Councilman Torres talks about how he himself has had to file FOIL requests of the very city government that he’s been elected to help run!

At this point, Councilman Torres came to say of the questioner,  “You’re absolutely right” and that since August 16, Torres has been trying to get these documents.  After explaining the state of the situation, and City Manger Theofan’s undelivered on promises, he finished by saying, “I’m still waiting too”

This resident continued by asking, “if Mr. Torres can’t get them, how can I get them.”  Laughter and applause broke out through the room.

And then at 1:27 it gets personal and  nasty.

The resident continues by saying “I have faith in this system, maybe that’s naive, but I hear such trash about this administration.”  She goes on to mention the gossip and innuendo that is well documented in this town about the hate-fests that go on between the City Council members publicly.

At this point, the City Council President Thomas Sofield Junior starts talking under his breath and all that’s audible is: “pshh… never mind”

Resident: “No, please go ahead, what was that?”

Through a lot of cross talk, this is basically what comes through:

Mr. Sofield Junior: “You’re sitting with the group of people over there who are anti this administration”

Mr. Sofield Junior: “So i think that would maybe taint your information”

It turns into a bizarre discussion about who is sitting with who and whose crew is whose.

The resident declared: “I’m a big girl and I’m sitting here alone”

Sofield Junior: “My point is you’re getting your information from people who are running against us”

Resident: “You don’t have to tell me who I’m getting my information from”

Councilman Fagen stepped in to to say, “The fact of the matter is that Mr. Torres has not been provided with the information, nor was I.  I asked Mr. Theofan on three separate occasions for information about Quiksilver and he never responded to that.  That’s a simple question.”

I for one sure want to get a look at these promised Quiksilver documents.  If you’re one of the select few that were promised to receive these documents this week, please share.  They are public documents and should be posted online.

As Mr. Fagen and Mr. Theofan went back and forth, and in referring to what is clearly a pattern of needing to use legal demands to receive public information, Councilman Fagen said it was, “an intrinsic problem with that… this is public government.”

In a snarky snap, City Manager Theofan retorted: “Thank you for the lecture Mr Fagen”

After yet another back and forth on the Council with the City Manger, this resident decided to still maintain a civil discourse with the City Council President, imploring him to deliver on the promised transparency.  She finished by saying “I’m pleading with you…”

Fran Adelson, resident and currently running for City Council was the next questioner and you could hear the frustration and anger at what just transpired in her voice.

She admonished the City Counil President saying, “Tommy, that was a cheap shot that was really uncalled for.”

Mr. Sofield Junior initially claimed ignorance, not knowing what was the supposed “cheap shot” but then retorted “that wasn’t a cheap shot, that was pointing out a fact.”

Adelson went on to talk about the need for a recycling program in the City and the animal shelter, and the session soon wrapped. I”m surprised there wasn’t a fight in the parking lot once the session ended.

And this is how your elected City Council operates.  Members bickering with one another.  Obvious hatred between the sitting members.  Requests for public information repeatedly being ignored.  Residents and City Councilmen alike being required to use legal demands to get even basic information.  The City Council President repeatedly harping on this notion of secret “sources” and on these “sources” feeding tainted information to residents, and attacking a questioner for her choice of seating.

I thank Long Beach Matters to You for posting this audio, and think this may really help pull back the curtains on what’s going on in this City.  Anything jump out at you during this session that I didn’t mention?

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comments

18 thoughts on “Adelson: “Tommy, that was a cheap shot…” (Fireworks at City Council Meeting)”

  1. Thanks re: proofreading.

    As for the filming, from my understanding its been explicitly banned.

    Fran Adelson has said, if elected, that she wants all meetings filmed and posted to youtube. That’s the only proposal on the subject I’ve heard.

  2. You certainly can video tape a public meeting. Article 7, Section 103 (d) (1) of the Public Officers law states: “Any meeting of a public body that is open to the public shall be open to being photographed, broadcast, webcast, or otherwise recorded and/or transmitted by audio or video means. As used herein the term “broadcast” shall also include the transmission of signals by cable.”
    http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/LAWSSEAF.cgi?QUERYTYPE=LAWS+&QUERYDATA=$$PBO103$$@TXPBO0103+&LIST=LAW+&BROWSER=EXPLORER+&TOKEN=10920799+&TARGET=VIEW

  3. Sounds like we should all go to the next meeting if only for the entertainment value.

    Did our favorite neighbor Mona Goodman have anything to say?

  4. Besides a few “yes” comments here and there, I didn’t catch anything, though I could be wrong.

    Your favorite topic, Rescue Ink was actually the last question, discussed at 1:31 by Ms. Adelson.

  5. Junior is infamously arrogant and condescending. He also routinely refuses to answer questions, even if his temper tantrums are somewhat humorous. Perhaps the following questions can be directed to him regarding the new fire recruits:
    Is he related to any of the recruits?
    Have any of the recruits “acted” in gay pornography, as is rumored?
    Do any of the recruits have a criminal history?
    Are any of the recruits related to any current or former City employees?
    Are any of the recruits related to anyone in the hierarchy of the Long Beach Republican Party?
    Given the City’s history of violating Cvil Service Law, what assurances can be given the public that these appointments were made properly?

  6. I am the resident whom tommy jr. tried to distract with his defense mechanism of argumentative banter about where I was sitting. The reality is that anywhere one sits in that room will be near residents opposed to this man for a variety of reasons. I still have not received the documents I put in FOIL requests for, nor do I have hope that I will receive them. There’s a chance I may receive a partial list of the docs just so they shut us up which is really what they want, but there’s no way of knowing what, if anything, they’ve left out and kept secret from the Long Beach residents. The fact is they are required by law to provide these documents and not doing so they are breaking the law, all while saying “we’re not corrupt, you heard that from our opposition”….then in the next sentence we remember that even Len Torres (on the council for Pete’s sake) was never provided these documents. So they say what they want, they do what they want. They have puppets in town and that’s unfortunate. Hopefully that changes soon but that means people have to understand they should not dare vote for Sofield et al; vote Torres/Adelson/Mandel – you know they stand for something when they PUSH for openness and filming of city council proceedings while the Sofield administration denies documents to its residents! They OWN US and they know it — they won’t though if we get them OUT.

  7. It that was you up there, way to hold your ground. Isn’t the refusal to honor FOIL requests some type of crime, maybe something the Nassau DA could look at?

  8. Gotta love how junior says to Fran how he was “pointing out a fact” when accusing me of getting my information from candidates- he’s so used to lying and stating all his lies as facts that he says it about anything including his own paranoid beliefs. Pathetic defense. No explanation regarding breaking various laws.

  9. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement and support. I believe the noncompliance is a violation of both state and federal law. And junior’s a lawyer. I even think his little assistant corey klein may be a lawyer. Not very good ones evidently. They should be disbarred.

  10. Adelson is really for filming them. This could happen without any money from the city. I’ll volunteer to record and post up. Camcorder, tripod and internet connection. Done.

    In the meantime, the audio recordings are great. I would like to assist the person who recorded this with adding visuals to the next meetings audio. This could be really fun.

  11. i don’t think ‘gay’ should be included in this list, baghdad bob. pornography, maybe. if it’s like beastiality (sp?) or kiddie stuff. nothing legally wrong with gay.

    otherwise, your questioning is solid and it’s unfortunate that the last question has to be asked.

  12. The audio is done by the city. It’s public record so if you want recordings you can visit the city clerk, fill out a FOIL request (it’s literally just your name, what you’re asking for, etc.) and you bring a blank writable CD. They put the entire meeting (in form of one mp3) onto your CD

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