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New Administration Holds First Council Meeting

Members table resolution to declare a fiscal emergency.

 

At their first City Council meeting Tuesday, the new Democrat-majority administration tabled their first and most prominent agenda item, a resolution to declare a fiscal emergency. 

The resolution is thought necessary due to combination of insufficient spending controls, no dependable overtime policy, revenues consistently overestimated and a running tab of unbudgeted expenses that all led to according to City Manager Schnirman. The city presented it's findings in a handout at the meeting.

“Do we absolutely need this or can we do without it,” Schnirman asked. “That is what we have to decide in a fiscal crisis. We either do or do not have it in the budget.”

Since his appointment on Jan. 3, Schnirman immediately started to address Long Beach’s spending practices, and seeks to improve them, in part, by bringing greater accountability to the spending and purchasing approval process, establish an overtime policy and bring consistency to personnel issues like hiring and terminations.

The resolution also includes language that would give city manager greater authority to control and veto spending. Resident Eileen Hesh addressed the resolution where it read: “That the City Manager is hereby authorized by the City Council to make any and all amendments … as deemed necessary.”

Hesh wanted to know if this means the City Council waill relinquish all of its powers on such fiscal matters to the city manager. “If you have total power, we voted for the City Council,” Hesh said. “My vote went to them to make those decisions for us because they are the people that know our town.”

Both Schnirman and Council President Fran Adelson, along with Councilman Michael Fagen, said that the resolution doesn't call for such a transfer of authority.

“We would like to have the citizens be very clear on the fact that Council is directing policy and the manager is carrying out policy,” Fagen explained.

Adelson told Patch on Wednesday that the council wants to add more “helpful language to strengthen the resolution, and we are counting on the new comptroller to help the city manager and council with his approach, to improve the budget. We also will be adding some language as to the authority of the council in relationship to the city manager with regards to the resolution.”

After discussing the resolution at length, Fagen introduced a motion to table it for the next meeting on Feb. 7, and the council voted unanimously to postpone the item.

The council also approved an item to change the city charter to require the city manager to move to Long Beach within 90 days of his appointment.

“I felt the past couple of years that the presence of not having the city manager live here was very detrimental for us,” Adelson said. “The city manager will be spending his money here, eating in our restaurants, shopping and paying taxes here.” 

Another item that was approved called for Good and Welfare sessions to be held at all City Council meetings. The sessions, which allow residents three minutes to present any government-related concerns to the council, previously were held only at the first meeting of each month. 

The council also approved a contract with All-Ways Elevators to service and maintain five passenger elevators. Two elevators are at City Hall, and one each at the Senior Community Center, Ice Arena and Martin Luther King Center.

During Tuesday’s Good and Welfare session, Lucy Centeno, a nurse’s aid who cares for three disabled individuals, passionately told the council: “Under the Americans for Disabilities Act, all places in the city must be accessible to the disabled, and Long Beach is not one of them. It will be a thorn in my side until I see every business handicapped accessible.”

Jane Novorro, a former deputy clerk for the city, took the opportunity during Good and Welfare to look for answers as to why she was let go.

“When I was laid off on January 3rd, I was told that the city was heading a new directon,” Novorro said, as she gave examples of the non-partisan tasks of her position. “… I took the position very seriously, and frankly I have no interest in the back and forth between Democrat and Republican administrations.”

Tuesday's meeting was the first that was live streamed and it drew 209 unique viewers, according to Gordon Tepper, the city's director of online communications. A webcast of the meeting was posted on the city’s website last night, and a podcast will be posted on Wednesday.

* This story was last corrected and updated at 9:56 p.m. on 1.19.12.

CP January 18, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Jane Novorro, a former deputy clerk for the city, took the opportunity at Good and Welfare to make a plea for her former position. “I was laid off on January 3rd and was an asset to this city,” Novorro said. “I have no interest in the back and forth between the Democrat and Republican administration. I always went the extra mile and would like my job back.” (BY FAR ONE OF THE BEST EMPLOYEE'S AT CITY HALL). Anyone that has done business with her office will tell you the same. Friendly, professional and always helpful & could pretty much answer any question you had up a city hall or point you in the right direction. Its a shame that the city would let go of such a good employee, when they half there employee's just count the hours till quitting time from the time they walk through those doors. I'm up at city hall all the time and you got lots of people texting, warming chairs, or taken a hours lunch at there desk, so they can go out for an hour and run errands.
Candygram for Mongo January 18, 2012 at 05:33 PM
anybody raise the friends and family issue?
Muzz January 18, 2012 at 05:37 PM
At 1:16, you can see Jane's actual comment (which is misquoted here.) http://www.ustream.tv/channel/lbny
toolittle January 18, 2012 at 05:45 PM
any decision on the Dog House ?
captain spring January 18, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Friends and family was not brought up. BUT some of their F&F went to the podium to gush about how great the new council is!!! Now why did they answer so many audience questions but no comment to Jane???
CP January 18, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Captain Spring if you see the video, Mrs. Adelson and Mr. Fagin did have a comment! To each other behind the new City Managers chair. It was just not for us to hear. (1:19:19) http://www.ustream.tv/channel/lbny. I would love to know what Mr. Fagin would have to say, since he likes to abuse the system and take from the taxpayers, while Jane is a hard working employee who like to give back to give back to the taxpayers. Maybe Mrs. Adelson was telling him to keep his stealing more than $7,000 in unemployment compensation by concealing his employment as an elected city official from the state labor department mouth shut.
Candygram for Mongo January 18, 2012 at 07:45 PM
did they ever find him guilty?
Margaret January 18, 2012 at 11:06 PM
MeAgain, Ms. Kathleen Rice is a democrat and is making the process very slow and prolonged, but be rested assured--even she is on board saying he has stole from the tax payers-- he will be found guilty and we, the tax payers will be left at ease knowing that our government representatives won't get away with stealing from us.
captain spring January 19, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Would someone listen to the meeting again and count how many times Fagen said "previous administration." Get over it! He talks so much and says so little.
V. P. R. January 19, 2012 at 01:37 AM
We can see where this is going !!!! another 25% tax increase !!!!!!! The Best thing this town can do is get rid of them all and bring back a MAYOR! Because this current CORRUPT BS system just don't work !
Candygram for Mongo January 19, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Ok - thanks for the inside scoop. Just wasn't sure the status, what with all the financial shenanigans going on. And for the DA to stall the investigation due to politics - now that is a story! I wonder if she will take it a step further and take a deep look into what went down with the city's finances that got us to this point. We taxpayers will no longer stand for our dollars to be mismanaged and/or stolen!
Lucy Centeno January 19, 2012 at 04:51 PM
I was at the meeting. I was also very pleased to see so many other residents there as well. Great turn out and should be like this all the time. Comments on here are somewhat puzzling. The NEW city manager gave a hand out of written rules to every person there. He explained where money has gone, what department did what and what will NOT be happening anymore. He stated how monies were thrown away without being logged and the ignorance of a former administration. I suspect that it goes back as far as the Braddish administration but I really don't know. I do know many of the things that have been complained about in recent years, were also complained about back then. However, a new administration, a new day. I made a public apology to Mr. Sofield (council president) to correct a wrong I made. Now, some of the comments on here need to be addressed by the posters. You can't say this group is corrupt just because you didn't vote for them. Give them a chance. I also find them to be courtious to the public and willing to listen to suggestions. I believe they may have a softer way of dealing with the public, Mr. Sofield was a little rough, but Theofan was a pompus UMPALOOMPA and just outright RUDE ALL THE TIME! Keep coming and asking questions. The dialog was great and very needed. See you on February 7th.
Wanttoknow January 19, 2012 at 07:35 PM
When's the WENCA meetings?
Billy Boy January 19, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Captain Spring- I don't think he said it more than the Coalition stating that the city was in wonderful financial condition. Doesn't it make you angry that they lied right to our faces- lie after lie- knowing they were operating our city like a ponzi scheme. The coalition should be very happy the council meeting are streamed so they don't have to show their faces in public. To think people actually come on these blogs and are appalled at who got hired? Go over to the beach and stick your heads back in the sand. After election day they promoted and hired their friends- knowing they didn't have money to pay them.
Margaret January 20, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Billy Boy-- stop living in the past-- yes, we agree the past administration put a huge financial strain on us-- there is no dispute. We, however, cannot change the past but we can do something about now. There's nothing you can do to change the past, but it's our job as citizens to question our current government and hold them accountable for all of their promises. Hopefully they will stop talking about the past, do what they promised and make LB a better place-- but not upholding campaign promises doesnt instill much faith in us but it will only do us all good if they prove us wrong
True Colors Shining Through January 20, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Put the past aside? What past? By the past do you mean the past that was a mere three months ago when a certain someone and his coalition friends were singing the false praises of the Moody's rating, knowingly shielding the public from the truth that the City's finances were crumbling after their years of mismanagement? And now that certain someone preaches on the Patch that we should place that oh so ancient past aside and concentrate on the future? Such convenient, magnanimous, self satisfying, gutless and patronizing pablum you are now serving. Every note you sing from atop your high horse has a false ring to it. Beat it already!
Candygram for Mongo January 20, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Pablum - an excellent word
Happy Daze January 20, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Wait, when was the last tax increase? LB has lower taxes than the surrounding communities.

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