Since the day he was hired in January, has been trying to fool the residents of Long Beach.
First he declared a “fiscal emergency” and implemented a “hiring freeze”, but then went on to hire over 15 political supporters. On Tuesday, he unveiled his “Budget Blueprint” calling for a whopping 16 percent tax increase on our already overtaxed residents. Schnirman is purposefully trying to fool the residents of our city. What he says and what he does simply don’t match up. Do we really know the real Jack Schnirman? Is he the rising Harvard star with necessary experience and skills to lead the city in difficult times, or is he just another run-of-the-mill political hack; another cog in the political machine telling us one thing and doing another.
This past week, Schnirman released the “City’s Budget Blueprint.” What is a Budget Blueprint? The Long Beach City Charter never mentions a “budget blueprint”; it doesn’t exist in our law. Article 6, section 100 of the charter states: “On or before April 10th in each year the city manager shall submit to the city council a budget estimate for the ensuing fiscal year and an accompanying message.”
Why does Schnirman call it a “budget blueprint” instead of what it actually is, which is “the city managers proposed budget." By calling it a budget “blueprint,” Schnirman is attempting to distance himself from his huge 16 percent tax increase. He calls it a “blueprint” so people won’t call it “Schnirman’s 16 percent tax increase," like City Manager John Laffey’s infamous 25 percent tax increase in 2006, which was proposed the last time the Long Beach Democrats controlled city hall.
Another example of Schnirman code words is his formation of a “Citizen Budget Advisory Commission” (CBAC), which he announced with great fanfare few weeks ago. Schnirman announced that he was forming this commission to actively engage the citizens in the budget development process, when in reality it does nothing remotely close to that at all. This was another attempt buy Schnirman to disown his budget proposal and a way for him to give residents the impression that they have a voice in city hall.
A “Commission” is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “a group of persons directed to perform some duty; an authorization to act in a prescribed manner or to perform prescribed acts.” I “applied” to be a member to the commission. I received an email from the City manager stating “that there is no selection process for the CBAC.” It appears the commission will not meet, there are no members, and thus will serve no real practical function. I was under the impression the “commission” would be made up of concerned citizens who will meet, review data, and make appropriate recommendations to the city for adoption. That is not the case.
Apparently, the CBAC simply makes recommendations to the city manager. But how can anyone make appropriate recommendations about spending if we do not have real data and information? The entire process is another Schnirman shell game. It gives one impression, but in reality it means something totally different. The CBAC is another example of how Schnirman is trying to distance himself from his own proposed budget. It will enable him to say that the “budget” was a collaborative process that was made with real citizen input and it reflects the wants and needs of the taxpayers. It does not such thing.
This week, Schnirman was quoted in the Long Beach Herald saying that the city’s budget blueprint includes “significant spending cuts.” In addition, in his “Budget Blueprint Summary,” he also proudly announced that the budget “slashes $1.78 million from departmental requests” and “is saving more than $635,000 in annual salary costs." Yet Schnirman’s budget is $4 million higher than last year’s budget! How can he boast any savings when he is proposing spending $4 million more than last year? Furthermore, over and over again Schnirman criticized the prior administration for “out of control spending” in last year’s budget, and now he has actually proposed spending $4 million more than they did? If the prior administration was “out of control” with there spending, how is his budget proposal is any less out of control?
Another example of Schnirman’s “spin” is his proposed 12 percent “surcharge”. In his “blueprint” he proposes raising property taxes a “modest” 4.1 percent. But he also proposes a three year 12 percent surcharge. Don’t be fooled: it’s a 12 percent tax. So his proposed 4.1 percent tax added to his 12 percent “surcharge is in actuality a 16 percent tax increase.
Why doesn’t Jack Schnirman just talk to the taxpayers in plain language instead of using spin and convoluted euphemisms? Is it his inexperience or is he trying to intentionally mislead or even blatantly fool us? Maybe it’s a little of both? One thing is for sure, Schnirman is not being honest with us, he says one thing and does another; he’s talking in code.
Here’s a translation of Schnirman’s code words:
Schnirman’s "Code-Word" Language
Real World Meaning
City Manager’s Proposed Budget, "but I don’t want to be responsible for proposing a huge tax increase!"
“Citizen’s Budget Advisory Commission”
“Email me some ideas, so it looks like I had real citizen input!”
“Significant spending cuts”
“A $4 million year over year budget increase!”
“A 12% Property Tax increase!”
“A modest 4.1% tax increase.”
“An actual huge 16 percent tax increase”
“Someone who has no college degree, no engineering experience, and/or any certification as an engineer!!”
“Hire as many political supporters as we possibly can!”
“Spending spree on the backs of taxpayers!”
In conclusion, Jack Schnirman says one thing, but then does another. Instead of managing the city, it appears he's busy using political spin, innuendo, and euphemisms that give us impression he is doing one thing, yet it means a something completely different. After more than three months, you'd think we would know Jack Schnirman, but it seems the more we hear, the less we know. In the end, it appears we don't know Jack. But then again, maybe we do. Maybe he isn't the young, shining start who will lead the city into a new era. Maybe he really just is another political hack; another cog in the gears of the Long Beach Political machine - by way of Suffolk County!