Mayor Tom Bradley today urged the firing of Sylvia Cunliffe, the city's General Services Department chief accused of mismanagement, favoritism and other wrongdoing, after rejecting her written pleas to retain her $90,243-a-year job.
Cunliffe, under suspension with pay since last June, will retain her post unless a majority of the 15-member City Council affirms Bradley's decision. If the council upholds the firing, she would then have the right to challenge her dismissal before the city's Civil Service Commission and, if necessary, the courts.
Bradley told reporters at a crowded news conference that he made the decision after carefully weighing a 54-page rebuttal and 20 documents submitted in Cunliffe's defense last week.
The "only responsible action" was to fire Cunliffe, Bradley said. He added that Cunliffe, 54, has been informed of the development.
Citing "basic fairness," Bradley would not reveal any details of the charges on which he based his decision. He said he will forward to the City Council a full report next week on the charges against Cunliffe complete with supporting documents.
Several council members, informed of Bradley's action, predicted the proposed firing would be fought by Cunliffe supporters.
Bradley's action comes more than a month after he had said he would seek Cunliffe's dismissal unless a series of accusations made by the city attorney were refuted. The mayor, at the same time, invited Cunliffe to defend herself, which she did in the rebuttal submitted last week.
Although details were unavailable, the primary accusation against Cunliffe appeared to involve alleged reprisals against Robert O'Neill, a real estate officer in Cunliffe's department. O'Neill made several anonymous telephone calls on a city hot line in which he accused Cunliffe of several improprieties, including her renting of a city-owned house to an employee of Street Scene, a Cunliffe pet project.
The district attorney is investigating possible criminal charges against Cunliffe in connection with the O'Neill allegations, which include showing his private personnel file to other officials.
Cunliffe, who has held her post since 1979, has also been accused of mismanagement and favoring friends and relatives in the awarding of city contracts.