No stranger to controversy, the Carson City Council has yet again left residents both suspect and perplexed.
In June, former City Manager David Biggs was terminated after two years of service into his three-year contract with the city. According to the Daily Breeze, sources indicated that the firing may have been the result of Biggs’ refusal “to fire upper-echelon managers who had refused to carry out the will of the council.”
After a two month search process for a replacement, an unknown outsider by the name of Sam Ghaly was appointed to serve as City Manager on August 7. His contract was set to last three years.
According to the press release announcing his appointment, Ghaly was scheduled to be formally introduced at the September 3 regularly-scheduled city council meeting.
On September 3, it was instead announced that city leadership had decided to terminate their short-lived employment relationship with Mr. Ghaly.
The move puzzled residents of the city, especially in light of several unanswered questions surrounding the council’s original decision to hire Ghaly to manage the city of 91,714 located in the South Bay region of Los Angeles County.
According to the city’s press release, Ghaly holds both a degree in civil engineering and a MBA. The press release also stated that Ghaly worked for the cities of Buena Park, Diamond Bar, Gardena and Montebello prior to his appointment to the Carson’s top post.
“Carson will certainly benefit from Mr. Ghaly’s long tenure of public service and experience in the various aspects of city management.” Carson Mayor Jim Dear remarked, “I’m confident that my colleagues and I have made a great choice in him.”
However, the Daily Breeze research into Ghaly’s background questions the legitimacy of such claims. Buena Park is the only city to have record of Ghaly’s employment. The three other cities have no record of his employment, though Diamond Bar and Gardena had previously hired various contracting firms with ties to Ghaly.
Over the course of several weeks, Ghaly fired four longtime department managers and awarded a contract to a local engineering firm favored by the city council. The council had previously tried to accomplish these aims, but had been met with resistance from city staff.
The Daily Breeze reports that an anonymous city employee believes Ghaly’s actions during his one month tenure with the City of Carson may explain the council’s disregard for his lack of qualifications during the hiring process.
The Carson City Council has a knack for setting off firestorms. In 2011 and in the face of the longstanding municipal tradition of avoiding naming landmarks after living individuals, Mayor Jim Dear proposed that a new boulevard be named after himself.
According to the Daily Breeze, many residents balked at the idea with one remarking: “Jim Dear, the only thing that should be named after you is a plaque at the cemetery.”
When Dear’s colleagues also proved hesitant to the plan, the Mayor responded, “I knew you would be against this because it’s my name and you’re going to do whatever you can to stop something like this, like you do on pretty much any good thing I’m trying to bring forward as a mayor.”
Despite the controversy, Dear overpowered his political rival in a bitterly-fought reelection campaign earlier this year.
Both decisions—to terminate Biggs and the decision to fire Ghaly—were made behind closed doors.
“On behalf of the whole City Council, we thank Mr. Ghaly for his services to the community and extend our best wishes to him in his future professional endeavors,” commented Mayor Dear. Mr. Ghaly also expressed his “appreciation for the opportunity to have been of service in Carson.”