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Report clears Long Beach official of discrimination charges

Long Beach City Councilmember Anissa Moore, shown at

Long Beach City Councilmember Anissa Moore, shown at a public meeting Tuesday, March 29, 2016. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

A report commissioned by the City of Long Beach has cleared the deputy city manager of charges that he targeted the City Council’s only African-American member based on her race and gender.

City Councilwoman Anissa Moore had called for Deputy City Manager Michael Robinson to be fired during a City Council meeting in March, alleging he had been mocking her. Moore is the first black councilwoman in the city’s history.

Robinson said there was no racism or sexism involved, and characterized the dispute as stemming from city politics.

Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman contracted the Garden City law firm Bond Schoeneck and King to conduct an investigation into the allegations at a cost of about $8,500.

The firm’s report, which was completed in July and relied on video surveillance and interviews with Moore, Robinson, witnesses and city employees, found that Robinson “did not engage in racist or sexist conduct” related to his distribution of Moore’s text messages in which she agreed to take part in a dinner held by the city’s Independent Democratic Party.

Moore, who is part of a separate, split Democratic faction, maintains that she never agreed to the use of her name on the invitation to the dinner.

Moore had said at the March city council meeting that she overheard Robinson mocking her over the issue and said he was part of a system of racism, sexism and discrimination.

The report by attorney Jessica Moller concluded, “I do not believe that Mr. Robinson said anything about Ms. Moore, or mocked her in any way, because of either her race or sex.”

Robinson, who said he was informed of the report’s contents in August, released it publicly Wednesday — one day after Moore, Councilwoman Eileen Goggin and some residents pressured the City Council to vote for the city council’s president. Moore has sought the title since January, when she first took office.

Robinson said the investigation was necessary to clear his name, but added he thought it was a waste of city money.

“This wasn’t racism,” Robinson said. “It was 100 percent political.”

Moore said the report by the law firm was flawed and should not have been made public. She said she did not request an investigation, although she filed a formal complaint with the city in March, seeking a letter of reprimand in Robinson’s personnel file and asking for a six-month evaluation of his performance.

“I never called him racist, I called on a system of racism. Who’s going to admit there’s racism and sexism in City Hall? No one who works there,” Moore said.

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