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Hempstead Village Board votes to eliminate village administrator post

The Hempstead Village board of trustees Tuesday night eliminated the position of village administrator, the official title of David Gates, Mayor Don Ryan's chief of staff, and approved a severance package for Gates worth six months of his salary.

The meeting also featured a public comment from former village police officer Randy Stith, who pleaded guilty to criminal charges earlier this year, praising Ryan and Deputy Mayor Charles Renfroe for showing support for the village's indicted police chiefs.

The board voted 3-2 to eliminate Gates' title and 5-0 to approve his severance package.

Ryan and Renfroe voted against eliminating the title.

"I supported Dr. Gates. I appointed Dr. Gates," Ryan said of his vote after the meeting.

Gates, a Hempstead school board member and pastor at Miracle Christian Center in Hempstead, did not respond to a request for comment.

Trustees Jeffery Daniels and Waylyn Hobbs Jr. said the position of village administrator was not needed, given that the village has a full-time mayor.

"I don't believe that position is necessary," Daniels said.

Trustee LaMont Johnson, who also serves on the school board, voted in favor of eliminating the title. He declined to comment on the vote.

The village hired Gates in April 2017, payroll records show.

Through his spokesman, Ryan said that, by eliminating Gates' position Tuesday, the village was not terminating his employment, as he resigned from the position May 4.

The meeting agenda indicating that Gates' position would be eliminated was posted on the village website on May 3, the website shows.

Ryan said he could not answer a question about whether Gates resigned in anticipation of the village eliminating his position.

Village Attorney Cherice Vanderhall said Gates "worked out" his severance agreement with the board of trustees. The package will be worth six months of his salary, although she did not know the exact amount.

Gates' salary in 2018 was $104,000, payroll records show.

Vanderhall said Gates is also eligible to receive a payout for unused sick and vacation time. She said the amount has not yet been calculated.

Gates was first appointed to his seat on the school board in 2016, and elected to the post later that year.

Stith, who was sentenced last month to probation after pleading guilty to possession of a forged instrument and petit larceny, spoke during public comment to praise Ryan and Renfroe for “taking a stand” on behalf of Hempstead Police Chief Paul Johnson and Deputy Chief Richard Holland, both of whom face corruption charges.

Ryan and Renfroe held a news conference with local religious leaders last week to voice their support for the indicted chiefs, who pleaded not guilty.

“I wish that was done when I was going through my situation, but that time has since came and gone,” Stith said.

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