Gladstone’s city manager fired

GLADSTONE — After nearly a half hour in closed session, the Gladstone City Commission terminated Darcy Long from his role of city manager — effective immediately. The commission held a removal hearing for Long Thursday night.

“I’d like to make a motion that we immediately terminate Mr. Long’s appointment with the city of Gladstone for cause, as outlined in his contract,” said Mayor Joe Thompson. “He was given his opportunity to be heard, and per his contract, we would pay him for accrued vacation.”

The commission voted to begin the process of removing Long from his position at a special meeting on July 16.

Long was provided a notice in writing of the commission’s intent to seek his removal from office for misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance.

Misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance are types of failure to discharge public obligations existing by common law, custom or statute.

No specific reasons behind removing Long from his position were given at Thursday night’s meeting. However, the city commission reached out to its attorney to see what information could be released regarding the cause of termination.

After hearing back from the attorney, Thompson sent the Daily Press a written letter that stated the reasons behind Long’s termination.

These reasons were given for Long’s removal in a written letter Long was presented following his initial notice on July 16.

Long was told he was being removed from office for: violation of the city’s purchasing policy — a city hall vehicle; negotiating directly with a union member leading to a pay increase; failure to communicate with the commission in regards to the Turner report and the 9th Street project; failure to communicate with the public in regards to not returning phone calls; failure to act on Miss Digg requests; failure to respond to the policy makers of the city, meaning the city commissioners; failure to follow the commission rules of procedure regarding meeting information packets; failure to communicate with retirees regarding PA 202 in a timely fashion; moving money from one approved budget to another approved budget without required approval; lack of management of electric and public works director; failure to bring advisory committee policy to the commission for approval in regards to the Parks and Recreation Board; failure to act on the Quiet Crossing in a timely manner; and failure to set open office hours per commission request.

The city commission unanimously voted to terminate Long at Thursday’s meeting.

Long had worked for the city for almost two years of his three-year contract. Long was hired in July 2017, replacing Darla Falcon, who was fired in 2016.

Per Long’s three-year contract, “the city commission after a finding that Long has failed to perform his duties under this agreement, or for the reason of his misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance in office, the city commission may terminate the employment of Long for good cause attributable to the city manager; and, under such circumstances, the city shall pay Long the amounts due him for accumulated and unused vacation days.”

Long’s contract states he accrues 16 vacation days on an annual basis and each subsequent year of his contract he receives one additional day of vacation.

Commissioner Darin Hunter requested city staff look into the amount of days Long had used in vacation time.

Since July 16, Long was suspended, with pay, until his hearing last night.

The hearing was originally scheduled to take place July 22 during a special meeting, however Long requested the hearing to be rescheduled.

Long, with his lawyer, requested the removal hearing take place in closed session. Commissioner Dave Nemacheck motioned to go into closed session, with a second from Commissioner Dave Phalen.

When a roll call vote occurred, commissioners Hunter and Brad Mantela both voted no on moving the hearing to closed sessions, but were outvoted. Nemacheck did inquire though to see if he could vote no despite it being his motion.

Gladstone Public Safety Director Ron Robinson is acting as interim city manager until a more permanent interim city manager is selected.

A new interim city manager will be appointed at the next city commission meeting on Aug. 12 at 6 p.m.