Mayor Dyer: Hansen’s resignation had nothing to do with May 31 tragedy

Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer addresses City Manager Dave Hansen's resignation saying it's unrelated to the May 31 shooting tragedy. (Southside Daily/Lucretia Cunningham)
Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer addresses City Manager Dave Hansen’s resignation saying it’s unrelated to the May 31 shooting tragedy. (Southside Daily/Lucretia Cunningham)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Mayor Bobby Dyer hoped to “set the record straight” when he spoke on City Manager Dave Hansen’s recent resignation at City Hall Friday.

“It is untrue that his resignation was related to his handling of May 31,” Dyer said. “I’m not aware of any member of City Council criticizing his performance in the aftermath of the tragedy or it being a factor of his resignation.” 

“And yes, he was controversial but he got things done,” Dyer said as he took the opportunity to point out some of the major projects Hansen has accomplished as city manager, including the city’s first Something in the Water music festival in April.

“That was something that built that feeling of positivity in the city and that is something that we’re going to have to rekindle,” he said. 

The mayor declined to take questions on the matter and said it was of “personnel nature.”

Calls for Hansen’s termination have been mounting as talks the “toxic work environment” in city departments served as prime for the workplace violence that occurred on May 31 are becoming more pervasive throughout the community.

After attending listening community sessions with Hillard Heintze, the firm hired to independently investigate the tragedy, members from the Virginia Beach Interdenominational Ministers Conference sent a public letter to the mayor demanding Hansen be terminated “swiftly and immediately.”

City residents’ disdain for Hansen’s performance couldn’t be ignored any longer when it came time for City Council to vote on an annual pay raise for Hansen in their Aug. 20 meeting — nine residents stood to speak out against the raise.

Reid Greenmun stood in front of council that day wearing a “Fire Dave Hansen” button on his shirt and said “In my job, if I had done the things Mr. Hansen had done I would be terminated.”

RELATED STORY: VB City Council meeting draws attention over pay raise for the city manager

Council deferred their vote and resulted in Dyer asking for a closed session Tuesday to discuss “council appointee evaluations.”

The morning after the closed session, Hansen announced his resignation and retirement in their monthly Department Leadership Meeting with city employees and sent out an email to all other personnel.

RELATED STORY: City Manager Dave Hansen resigns

Councilman John Moss, Councilwoman Jessica Abbott, and Councilman Aaron Rouse have been public in their criticism of Hansen’s crass leadership style and questioned his performance in the position.

“I find no glorification in anyone submitting their resignation after a lengthy tenure with the city, yet I understand this is a necessary step in the right direction,” Rouse said Wednesday in a social media post.

RELATED STORY: May 31 shooting aftermath: Surviving victims have spoken

Hansen appointed Deputy City Manager Tom Leahy as acting city manager pending City Council’s decision on naming an interim at their next formal meeting Sept. 3.

Virginia Beach is going through a very tough time, we’re going through a tough transition,” Dyer said Friday. “We have a lot of healing to do, a lot going forward, a lot of unanswered questions right now.” 

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Lucretia Cunningham is a multimedia journalist at Southside Daily covering hyper-local stories in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Her stories focus on public safety, tourism, and city government. She is a Virginia transplant and military spouse originally from Chicago. Lucretia also served on active duty from 2006 to 2016 and started her journalism career as a broadcaster in the Virginia Air National Guard. When she’s not covering stories on the Southside, she’s covering stories with her Air National Guard unit.