Drama came during this Tuesday evening’s Election 2011 debate, not from the candidates’ responses, but when Long Beach resident Jay Gusler hand-delivered this letter to City Council President Thomas Sofield Junior, and Council Members Goodman and Torres.
In his letter (given to this blog, Newsday, the Long Beach Herald, and Long Beach Patch), Mr. Gusler makes a demand of the City Council for the suspension and subsequent removal of City Manger Charles Theofan, by arguing Mr. Theofan has violated his oath of office.
What’s at issue here is something SBC began discussing on Monday; Mr. Theofan’s violation of a provision of the Taylor Law. Mr. Gusler explains that violation in his letter, and also documents that Mr. Theofan has been found guilty of violating a provision of the NYS Civil Service Law in addition. That decision was posted here.
Mr. Gusler goes on to say that,“Mr. Theofan’s guilt in connection with these violations is not in dispute. Though it was their right to do so, the City has not appealed either ruling, thus conferring upon these decisions “final” status.”
Then, Mr. Gusler reminds the City Council of the oath of office and quotes a specific section related to general powers and duties of city officers. (Note: The City Code is available here)
It shall be his duty to see that the laws of his state and the local laws, ordinances and by-laws passed by the council are faithfully executed within the city.
Throughout this letter, Mr. Gusler makes the comparison between Mr. Theofan’s situation and that of former Civil Service Commissioner Leary Wade. Wade’s case is a complicated one, and I’ll leave it to the Long Beach Herald to get you up to speed here and here. From my reading of Mr. Wade’s situation, he was removed from office because of an oath of office violation related to pleading guilty to illegally renting two basement apartments. The amended allegations are available here.
Mr. Gusler’s argues, “the violations that Mr. Theofan has been found guilty of are of a far more substantial character than those relied upon to justify the Civil Service Commissioner’s removal.”
His argument continues that because of Mr. Theofan’s “guilt,” the City Council is “compelled to agree that these violations of the law require Mr. Theofan’s removal from office.”
Finally, he concludes by again quoting the City Code, and asking “that the Council place on the agenda for the November 1, 2011, City Council meeting a resolution immediately suspending Mr. Theofan from the performance of the duties of the position of City Manager pending the required steps to effectuate his permanent removal from office.”
The City Manager is an appointed position that serves at the pleasure of the City Council, with a majority vote being required (3 out 5) for his appointment or removal. It will be interesting to see what steps the City Council’s members take – if any – on this matter. Residents are of course free to make any sort of demand they want as is was well documented during the last City Council Meeting’s Good and Welfare Session. The question is really what the members of the City Council make of Mr. Gusler’s telling of the tale. If there are any developments related to this in the coming days we will be sure to update.
Mr. Gusler’s full 3-page letter is available here.
Jay Gusler is a Lieutenant in Long Beach’s Professional Fire Department and a member of the Long Beach Professional Fire Fighters Local 287. He is writing in his capacity as a private citizen and is in no way speaking for the Long Beach Fire Department or the union of which he is a part of.