Long Beach City Council members voted Wednesday to appoint Corporation Counsel Rob Agostisi as acting city manager, but remained divided on whether the search for a leader is over.
Agostisi, 43, of Dix Hills, will assume the post this coming Wednesday and work without a contract while the city considers making him permanent or searches for a replacement. A permanent city manager must maintain residence in Long Beach within 90 days of being appointed.
Agostisi thanked his critics and supporters as he leads the city through the next budget and busy beach season.
“I promise I will be the best steward for my community and yours,” he said. “I understand the opportunity I was given and the responsibility that goes with it.”
Agostisi will be paid $176,000, accounting for a $20,000 raise as acting city manager and will remain corporation counsel. He will remain active in handling certain cases filed against himself and the city. He will hand over conflicts to city attorney staff and not collect an additional salary.
“This is probably the most important thing that will happen this year,” Long Beach Council President Anthony Eramo said. “Rob’s most important trait is his knack of shepherding the city through crisis.”
Council members voted 3-2 for the appointment during a packed meeting, divided by city union supporters and some residents who decried the process as a “train wreck.”
Councilwoman Anissa Moore, who initially supported Agostisi’s appointment, said she voted against it because the job was left open ended.
Councilman John Bendo voted no and said he was not aware of the discussions or Agostisi’s possible appointment until the meeting was announced Monday.
Bendo has called on the city to hire a municipal search firm to recruit candidates and hire a permanent city manager.
City council members voted 3-2 Wednesday to hire an executive search team, but a contract was not selected. Councilwoman Chumi Diamond and Eramo voted against the search because they said it would undercut Agostisi and stability for the city.
Eramo said the search is over, and Agostisi’s performance will be re-evaluated after nine months.
In a Facebook post before the meeting Wednesday night, Bendo called Agostisi's appointment a “back room deal.”
“If the search is over, you’re effectively appointing a permanent city manager,” Bendo said during the meeting. “This is really a vote to appoint a permanent city manager.”
He questioned why he was excluded from the process to appoint Agostisi and why information was withheld from council members.
"Just you, John. If you want to be opposition, you will be opposition," Eramo said. "You made it clear he did not have your support so we moved on.”
Eramo, Moore, Diamond and Councilman Scott Mandel said they began discussions in December to hire Agostisi as acting city manager.
Moore said the city needed to move forward and address issues like overtime, tainted water and heating issues in public housing.
“Are we going to stop playing games? We've got to move forward tonight” Moore said. “Where is the apology to the public for this failed search? We failed them.”
Agostisi replaces Police Commissioner Michael Tangney, who has filled in as acting city manager since Jan. 1, 2018. Tangney will return to his duties at the police department.