It’s no secret that I have been critical of the actions of the new Democratic City Council and City Manager Jack Schnirman. But what occurred this past week is simply inexcusable. Jack Schnirman has demonstrated that he is not being truthful. He was caught in a bold faced lie.
It appears Schnirman is on a personal campaign to paint himself in a positive light while ruining the reputation of our city.
This week, Newsday, the Herald, and other media outlets ran stories about Schnirman’s decision to reverse the promotions of 14 city workers. Newsday stated that Schnirman said, “The unbudgeted pay raises given to 14 CSEA employees were issued just before the prior administration left office at the end of December and would have cost the city more than $52,000 per year.”
Schnirman called the December promotions “political” because the outgoing administration was “handing out selected rewards at the 11th hour” just before the Democrats took control of city hall. Ironically, it appears the only one being “political” is Schnirman.
Schnirman is lying. He told three separate newspapers that these promotions were given this past December when in fact the promotions occurred on Aug. 17, 2011 -- three months before the election and four months before the coalition left office!
Jack Schnirman lied to Newsday, Patch, the Herald, the residents of our city and the city council. He took money out of the pockets of hard working, deserving city workers.
Why would Schnirman lie in such a public manner? A closer look at Schnirman’s actions provides insight. In three short months, he has demonstrated that he distorts the truth in an effort to make the city look bad so that he can be the knight in shining armor -- riding in from Brookhaven to save the city from what he claims is a financial disaster.
First, Schnirman declared a "fiscal emergency," but an audit revealed that the city actually ended the last budget year with a $107,000 surplus.
Then Schnirman declared a "hiring freeze," but thereafter hired numerous political supporters of council members Adelson, Torres, Mandel and Fagen.
Then, at a recent meeting in the West End, Schnirman stated that the current budget shortfall could be around $2 million, yet he knew (and is keeping secret) that the city is receiving $2 million from the federal government (FEMA) who is reimbursing the city for unexpected expenses incurred as a result of Hurricane Irene.
Last but not least, Schnirman recently touted that he cut overtime by 72 percent during January and February. However, he is comparing this year’s spending to the same period last year, the snowiest January and February on record! He hasn’t reduced overtime -- Mother Nature did -- yet Schnirman is taking the credit.
Schnirman constantly references a “fiscal emergency” and criticizes unbudgeted expenses of the prior administration. Yet since he declared a “fiscal emergency,” he has gone on a spending spree with numerous unbudgeted, unneeded expense. For example, he has done the following:
- Hired the Democrat leader’s secretary
- Created a deputy city clerk position at an cost of $23,000
- Hired a political supporter to a newly created $30,000 a year part-time position (who is also collecting a $36,000/year state
- Waived his and his new assistant’s (Schnirman’s friend from Brookhaven) own health insurance waiting period at a cost of nearly $9,000
- Hired a politically connected law firm for $15,000.
Then, just yesterday, Schnirman settled a five-month-old frivolous lawsuit with the PBA president (who openly supported and endorsed the Democrats in the campaign) for $24,999.00 -- exactly $1 short of the amount needed for public city council approval.
Adding insult to injury, Schnirman then gave the PBA president not one, but two promotions -- to Detective Lieutenant! These and other recent unbudgeted expenses total more than $135,000! How can Schnirman claim a fiscal emergency exists then go out and spend an additional unbudgeted $135,000 in three short months to hire and promote city council members Adelson, Torres, Mandel and Fagen supporters, friends and family?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Schnirman and the city council can’t have it both ways. Either there is a “fiscal emergency” and spending must be cut or the so-called “fiscal emergency” is a gross exaggeration designed to make Schnirman look good and the city look bad.
During the city council campaign there was a lot of talk regarding how the Democrats would bring transparency to government. This is not transparency. This is smoke, mirrors, distortion and bold-faced lying. As a result of Schnirman’s actions the city’s reputation has been seriously harmed while Jack Schnirman has boosted his own image and marketability.
Mr. Schnirman often references accountability. As the chief executive officer of the city, if an employee lied to Schnirman he would hold them accountable. Schnirman needs to be held to that same standard. He lied to us, he lied to the city council and he lied in a very public way.
Schnirman should publicly apologize to the residents of the city and the city council. Furthermore, he should immediately reinstate the 14 people he demoted. If his rationale for the demotions was because they were “last minute, politically motivated promotions," and that is proven to be untrue, then these hard-working employees deserve their money and their dignity back, now!
Mr. Schnirman, this may be the way people conduct themselves in Brookhaven, but it is not the way we conduct ourselves in Long Beach!