The Long Beach City Council has canceled Tuesday’s meeting, leading to protests from two City Council members.
City officials said the meeting to be held the week before the holidays was canceled because there was no new business. The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 3 when the council can appoint a new member to replace outgoing Councilwoman and Nassau County Judge Eileen Goggin.
Goggin and Councilwoman Anissa Moore wanted to hold the meeting, but are part of a 3-2 minority on the all-Democratic council. The majority is made up of council president Len Torres, Anthony Eramo and Scott Mandel.
Tuesday night’s meeting would have been Goggin’s last council meeting — she was elected in November to serve as a Nassau County District Court judge. Goggin, along with Moore, recently has become a critic of the council majority and the failure to rotate the council presidency.
Goggin said she also wanted to speak at Tuesday’s scheduled meeting in favor of benefits for part-time workers and thank residents for her time in office. She said she had planned to ask for a special election to fill her seat, but now her term has ended.
“Canceling the meeting was a way to deny me an opportunity to speak,” Goggin said. “This was my last time to speak publicly at a council meeting. It denied me that opportunity as a city councilwoman and showed a lack of respect.”
City officials did not respond to Goggin’s specific allegations, but said the majority of the council agreed to not hold the meeting because there was no new business. The council’s agenda is set by the city manager, clerk and council members, who decided to cancel Tuesday’s meeting with Goggin and Moore dissenting.
The City Council held 28 meetings this year, compared with 25 meetings in 2015 and 24 to 25 meetings scheduled in 2017.
Moore and Goggin have also been lobbying the council to change the council presidency. The council turned down Moore’s request to be president when she was first took office in January and has not voted on the issue since then. Moore was elected to a four-year term in 2015 as the top vote-getter while running on a split Democratic campaign from the city’s Independent Democratic Party. Goggin missed five meetings this year, in part due to an injury she suffered, which she said prevented her from attending.
City officials say the ceremonial president’s position generally rotates, but there is no set time to change it. Other council members said the rotation generally occurs at the beginning of the year or every six months.
The council declined to bring the leadership title to an agenda vote during the last several meetings. Mandel cited an investigation into Moore’s claims that she faced discrimination and harassment by Deputy City Manager Michael Robinson as a reason to wait to change the presidency. An $8,000 report commissioned by the city from a Garden City law firm concluded in August that her claims were unfounded.
Mandel said the council still wanted to review the investigation with Moore after the report raised questions about the credibility of her claims before making a vote on council president. Other council members said Goggin did not bring up any business other than the presidency rotation prior to the meeting being canceled.
The special election that Goggin had sought would have to be set by the governor. The new council may appoint Goggin’s replacement during the Jan. 3 meeting to serve the remainder of the year until the November election. Goggin was appointed to the council four years ago and then elected to the position.
Goggin said she’s concerned that a political appointment will not listen to the residents’ concerns.
“The residents should have a say here. The majority of the council will appoint someone in line with their views,” Goggin said. “It’s a dereliction of responsibility to cancel the last meeting. There are always items to put on the agenda.”