Amid two criminal investigations into Long Beach’s payout scandal, tax hikes, unbalanced budgets and a dramatic revelation last year that the city’s finances had been mismanaged under a team that had touted a financial turnaround from the previous Republican administration, residents have demanded change and new leadership on the City Council.
We agree. The current, Democratic council, has been dysfunctional and unable to reach a consensus on a slew of important issues required to move the city forward, whether it’s hiring a permanent city manager, developing a strategy to fix the city’s finances, correcting payout practices, advancing a long-term comprehensive plan, agreeing on a budget, and, most recently, responding to a scathing state audit.
Long Beach needs strong leaders and fresh perspectives to bring stability to City Hall, keep its administration in check and address problems that have festered for than two decades.
We believe that candidates Mike Delury — a Democrat running on the Republican line — and Democrats Karen McInnis and Liz Treston — who defeated incumbents Anthony Eramo and Chumi Diamond by a wide margin in the June primary — have the ability to help turn both the city’s finances around and bring more accountability and transparency to City Hall.
Not only are they committed to change at a time when the city desperately needs it, but they were active in the community long before running for council seats. All have pledged to update Long Beach’s charter and code to address payout practices and budget issues.
Delury is the Village of East Williston treasurer, and has more than 15 years of experience managing the operations and finances of New York municipalities. We believe he would work with other council members to get things done.
A fixture at meetings, he often challenges officials about details in the budget, and calls for more accountability on issues like overtime spending. We like his pledge to implement recommendations made in June by the state’s Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments to reduce costs, saying that separation payouts are a major driver of Long Beach’s fiscal stress, which the city and council should have done months ago. He also said that he wants to hold the line on taxes, rein in spending, implement greater overtime controls and find cost-saving efficiencies.
McInnis, a vice president of finance and strategic planning for the Association of American Publishers, has long been active in the community as a member of the West End Neighbors Civic Association and other organizations. We’re impressed with her extensive financial background, and she has pledged to ease the burden on taxpayers and move forward with recommendations by the state comptroller’s office to reform the city’s payout practices, which the council has not done.
We like her plan to reform Long Beach’s archaic payroll system, revive commissions and boards such as the inactive ethics committee, with residents representing different parts of the community, and establishing a whistle-blower hotline. Most important, she has pledged to hire a permanent city manager and re-establish trust with the community at a time when there is a perception of a cover-up at City Hall over payout practices.
Like McInnis, Treston — the Herald’s 2018 Person of the Year — has also pledged to restore credibility at City Hall, increase transparency, improve communication with residents and revisit the city’s comprehensive plan in what should be a resident-led effort, and to pursue funding and policies for environmental and resiliency initiatives, such as greater storm protection measures, infrastructure upgrades and improved water quality.
A few months after Sandy, Treston launched Long Beach Community Organizations Active in Disasters, a group that assists residents after natural disasters have left them reeling. She has been a strong advocate for Sandy victims, and, as someone who struggled to rebuild her own home, fought against NY Rising’s looming deadlines and clawbacks. As an advocate for people with disabilities and those who have struggled with challenges after Sandy, Treston has been instrumental in assisting her fellow neighbors through their hardships, despite facing her own.
We believe Delury, McInnis and Treston have demonstrated a deep commitment to change. Vote for them on Tuesday.