Sandra Clarson, who was as Long Beach's comptroller for the past 10 years and warned the prior administration about the cash-flow shortfall that befell the city last year, is considering legal action against the city after she was terminated in January.
Clarson’s husband, Tom, told the City Council at Tuesday’s meeting that his wife was unlawfully fired and denied termination pay that she is owed, but City Manager Jack Schnriman called these and other charges “factually inaccurate,” according to the Long Beach Herald.
Reading from a prepared statement, Tom Clarson said that his wife learned that she would be let go through the media:
“While transitioning to the new administration, my wife was subpoenaed to testify in front of a grand jury against one of the council members. The next day she read in the newspaper that she was being fired.”
Last November, city officials scrambled to come up with cash after Sandra Clarson notified then City Manager Charles Theofan in a memo that the city will face a $1.3 million deficit in December, threatening the year-end payroll, and she suggested emergency measures. “Absent of direction on this matter, City of Long Beach employees will not be paid on December 23, 2011,” Clarson wrote.
Her memo also noted that the city faced unbudgeted payouts to a number of retirees, including high-ranking police officers: “At this time, the city’s budget does not have enough for the termination payouts that it is now responsible for.”
In response, the prior administration called an emergency meeting of the City Council, which approved measures to issue a $1.75 million tax-anticipation note to cover payroll and a budget note to authorize the city to borrow $2.5 million to meet its contractual obligations to retirees.
In January, Schnirman and the new Democratic-controlled council tapped Nassau County Budget Director Jeffrey Nogid to be Long Beach’s new comptroller.