In response to accusations and comments regarding the appointment of Jim LaCarrubba to commissioner of public works, the City of Long Beach made it clear that they fully support their decision on the recent hire.
City Manager Jack Schnirman explained the new commissioner was chosen for his past work and managerial skills, versus previous commissioners, including his predecessor, who were chosen for their background in engineering.
“Here in Long Beach we have a variety of outside departments whose projects need to be driven aggressively and under budget, and we need to cut our costs,” he said. “As a former labor guy and expert manager, this is the work he has done before and were looking for him to do it here in long beach.”
To back up his position, Schnirman highlighted several points in LaCarrubba’s resume that includes his background as deputy highway superintendent, parks commissioner and deputy supervisor in Brookhaven:
- Implemented $16 million paving program, and coordinated with contractors and staff on resurfacing projects.
- Completed over one mile of boardwalk replacement across five different communities in 2011, the largest replacement program undertaken on Fire Island by the highway department in decades.
- Coordinated entire town cleanup effort following Tropical Storm Irene – was in charge of town highway workforce, contractors and other town departments to clear debris from over 1,760 miles of roadway and deal with hundreds of safety issues regarding dangerous tree situations.
- Worked with Suffolk County and FEMA representatives on additional assistance to town. Developed written storm cleanup plan and executed successfully, having 95 percent of all town roadways passable within first 24 hours of storm ending.
- Reduced road/drainage maintenance contracting costs by over one million dollars in 2011, and have put in place measures to save another one million dollars in 2012.
- Cut contracting by using in-house labor, saving over $750,000 in tax-payer dollars.
- Instituted cost-cutting measures which lowered operating spending by $2.8 million.
- Completed construction of a three million dollar senior and wellness center in Mount Sinai on time and under budget.
- Rebuilt docks and marina facilities at Mount Sinai and Davis Park, completing these projects under budget by over $100,000.
- Rebuilt locker room and restroom facilities at Holtsville pool with in-house labor, saving over $75,000 when compared to estimates received from outside contractors.
According to Schnirman, his request to have the Long Beach Civil Service Commission change specifications for public works commissioner, removing previous requirements for a background in public engineering, was submitted so that the city could focus on the managerial aspects of the job.
“In Long Island, most of the towns and the cities do not require the professional engineering degree for their public works commissioner,” Schirman said. “This position had been previously gerrymandered and narrowly tailored for the previous administrations specific purpose.”
Although some people have criticized Schnirman, the former chief deputy supervisor in Brookhaven, for hiring a former colleague from the township, Long Beach’s new city manager is confident that he has chosen the right guy for the job.
“He’s done all the work and more in the largest physical township in the state,” he said.
While in just his second week as public works commissioner, LaCarrubba said he has completed work on the sewage treatment plant and has begun to work with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to rebuild roadways and the boardwalk in Long Beach.
“Public works is not just an engineering department; it’s also an infrastructure department,” LaCarrubba explained. “There’s a lot of moving parts here and a lot of people, and I’ve noticed that each department has a superintendent to reign in the oversight to make these divisions more accountable.”