The Democrat-majority City Council named Jack Schnirman the new Long Beach city manager on Tuesday. Schnirman, 34, served as chief deputy supervisor for the Town of Brookhaven from 2006 to 2008. He will depart his current position as vice president of management consulting at Bowne Management Systems, an information technology company, to join the new council when it takes control on Jan. 1, 2010. While travelling home Tuesday evening, Schnirman spoke with Patch about this new position.
Patch: What are your thoughts on having been selected Long Beach's new city manager, especially considering the new council received nearly 200 resumes for that office?
Schnirman: I’m very honored to have the confidence of all five City Council members. And I’m very confident that together we can do what needs to be done in order to keep the city moving in the right direction.
Where do you live and will you move to Long Beach?
I will be moving to Long Beach in short order. Right now I live in Brooklyn. I’m from Long Island and lived on Long Island for a long time. I was chief deputy supervisor for the Town of Brookhaven, so I lived out in Port Jefferson for a lot of years. I split my time between Brooklyn and Kings Park, where I am from originally.
What are some of the main issues you discussed with the new council that you think must be addressed immediately?
Well, I think at this point the first priority is getting a handle on the depth of the financial crisis that the city faces. I see that Moody’s downgraded Long Beach. Obviously, we’re going to have to get a handle on how deep the crisis is and what needs to be done and take immediate and aggressive action to address it. That really is the first priority above all others.
Beyond that, I see it as my job to implement the reform agenda that the council members pledged to voters that they would implement. I’ll be implementing the priorities of all five council members. I’ll be looking forward to doing that.
Can you explain the financial situation in Brookhaven when the administration you worked for took over there and how it was managed?
The situation in many ways was similar to what we face in Long Beach. Wall Street was looking at us with a very skeptical eye after some financial shenanigans. We inherited $15.3 million in deficits that were hidden, unfortunately. We had a structurally imbalanced budget. And so we had to make a variety of decisions, and really controlling costs and spending and managing for performance, in order to put Brookhaven’s finances on the road to recovery. And that’s what we did. And as a result, I’ll be prepared to do a lot of the same things here in Long Beach.
I guess the simple way to say it is: we’re going to look over the finances … in a very professional manner and figure out what the situation is and alert the City Council and the public, and then together make the necessary decisions to address the situation and to put the city’s finances back on sound footing.