Monday, May 10, 2010

Update: City Confirms Gray Suspended with Pay

Update: Sources, who have declined to be named, are alleging that Gray made a derogatory remark of a racial nature in front of his racially mixed staff, which led to his suspension last week.
However, officer Steven Ramseur of APPD's Bias Unit told Asbury Radio he could not comment to confirm or deny the charge. When Asbury Radio visited Gray's offices in February, Gray discussed with us a bias complaint from a property owner, a Haitian immigrant, who had numerous code violations recorded. Gray was insistant that he had not uttered the racial remark the man accused him of making and that he would not make such remarks to anyone.
Earlier story...
Bill Gray, head of Asbury Park's code enforcement, is out for 30 days.
"I can confirm that Bill Gray has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of an administrative hearing," City Manager Terry Reidy stated in an email to Asbury Radio today. Reidy declined to explain the reason for the suspension or the hearing. The Asbury Park Press posted that Reidy said the suspension would fit the category of "conduct unbecoming".

In the past Gray has drawn criticism for issuing fines to some property owners while other properties, some dangerous eyesores such as the former Metropolitan Hotel, which demonstrated obvious code violations, went unfined or had some fines forgiven. In the case of city historian, Werner Baumgartner, Gray issued dozens of summonses for violations ranging from having a cracked driveway to not removing leaves. Eventually Baumgartner unable to satisfy all the mounting complaints landed in county jail several times, altogether totaling nine weeks. In February, the court waived $19,000 in fines and sentenced him to 30-days in a jail cell. Baumgartner, who is self-employed, has protested that jailing him has only impeded his ability to buy materials to make the repairs and to hire the requisite contractors.

Gray has denied allegations that he administered the summonses in a caprious manner. He told Asbury Radio in February that he received complaints for not being tougher on Baumgartner.
In January the city council asked Gray, who is also a code official in Bradley Beach, to explain the process his department follows in determining which properties his employees will visit, how they decide whether to issue warnings rather than fines, and other basic procedures. That meeting was postponed until a February worksession, in which the council, including Sue Henderson who complimented Gray for his actions against a building owner in her neighborhood, appeared satisfied with Gray's presentation and responses.

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