Long Beach city manager appointment sparks heated debate

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LONG BEACH -

There were some contentious moments in Long Beach Wednesday night as the city appointed a new manager.

It was standing room only at the special meeting called by Long Beach City Council, whose members planned to vote to appoint corporation counsel Rob Agostisi as the next acting city manager. But the meeting erupted into a heated debate about the process that brought Agostisti's appointment to a vote.

MORE: Long Beach to appoint new acting city manager

Councilman John Bendo, who objected to Agostisi's appointment, questioned City Council President Anthony Eramo about why some council members were left out of the discussion to call a special meeting to appoint Agostisti.

"Did we individually meet with the other candidates or did we do that together?" Bendo asked.

Eramo said to Bendo: "You made it quite clear -- you negotiated in bad faith, so we moved on."

There were then some boos from the crowd. Someone yelled out, "Back-door deal!"

Long Beach has gone without a permanent city manager for more than a year since Jack Schnirman was elected Nassau County comptroller last January. Police Commissioner Michael Tangney has filled the role as acting city manager.

Residents who have been calling for a permanent leader to guide them through the city's fiscal crisis took the council to task for not finding someone to fill the position.

Some people accused the council of violating open meeting laws by coming to the decision to vote on Agostisi's appointment behind closed doors.

After nearly three hours of debate, City Council voted 3-2 to appoint Agostisi as acting city manager. Bendo and Councilwoman Anissa Moore were the two votes against him.

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