VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Beach Interdenominational Ministers Conference (VBIMC) is calling for the termination of Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen.
10 On Your Side obtained a copy of a letter VBIMC sent Mayor Bobby Dyer and city council asking for Hansen to be fired immediately due to his “behavior, comments, and lack of leadership over the last three years.”
The ministers conference, which helped push for a disparity study among businesses in the city, says after attending listening sessions for the independent investigation into the May 31 Municipal Center shooting, they were “brought to tears” by the stories they heard from employees regarding a toxic work environment.
VMBIC says prayerful consideration led them to conclude that Hansen is responsible for the daily operations of the city and for creating and maintaining a positive work environment.
“The mass shooting at the City’s Municipal Center, Building 2, is widely believed to have been the tragic result of a hostile workplace environment,” said Minister Dr. James Allen, VBIMC President and a leader in the church pastored by the father of one of the victims, R. Keith Cox. “After hearing from many of our congregants and attending the listening sessions of the independent investigation, we know this environment singled out women and African-Americans, and has been facilitated by Mr. Hansen.”
Conference vice president Dr. Veronica Coleman and member Gary McCollum sat down with 10 On Your Side regarding the letter.
Coleman says she was surprised to hear about the work conditions.
“I had one person say to me when this happened ‘this is shocking, but this is not surprising’ and that shocked me,” she said about the shooting.
Coleman and McCollum believe as ministers it’s their organization’s responsibility to speak up for the ‘voiceless’ employees who are afraid to do so.
“If the city workers are being led and managed properly, it affects all our citizens. We can’t walk by. We have to stop and help our citizens,” McCollum said after referencing the biblical story of the good Samaritan.
The two say the city owes it to its employees to change the environment.
“This is the largest city in Virginia. We can do better than this,” McCollum said.
Ministers say they have already met with Hansen regarding previous incidents during his time as city manager, including racially insensitive text messages and public comments.
Dyer indicated that he wouldn’t be inclined to take any action with the independent investigation into the mass shooting still underway.
“We’re in a heightened sense of emotion in this city and its difficult to ask people to be patient,” said Mayor Bobby Dyer, in reference to the letter. “There are a lot of people who are desperate for answers and I understand that 100% but once again, let’s be patient.”
Dyer also added that Hansen should be given an opportunity to rebut any unfavorable findings.
“Toxic workforces are evident throughout the entire country, we need to figure out what we can do, but we have to be patient right now,” Dyer said.