Despite pleas from supporters to keep him on the job, Kevin Mulligan was released as Long Beach’s commissioner of public works earlier this month, and as questions are raised about his successor, James LaCarrubba, the city remains silent.
When Rick Hoffman, president of the West End Neighbors Civic Association, heard that Mulligan was about to be let go, he vouched for his qualifications as commissioner and praised him on his relationships with numerous infrastructure agencies at the City Council’s March 6 meeting.
“He is a true professional,” Hoffman said of Mulligan, a Manhattan College graduate with a master’s in environmental engineering. “He came highly recommended by former [Nassau County Executive] Tom Suozzi, and he’s got a stellar resume, including experience with the Township of Hempstead, which is much larger in scope and population.”
At the time of his release Mulligan was working on a deal with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a new boardwalk, Hoffman said. “This was going to be the cheapest way of getting a boardwalk,” he added.
When Hoffman sought an explanation for Mulligan’s then pending dismissal, Corporation Counsel Corey Klein advised that the city not discuss the matter publicly. “Personnel matters are not something that the council is willing to recognize because this is about a specific individual,” Klein said.
Hoffman received the same answer when he asked if LaCarrubba, the newly appointed commissioner from Brookhaven, had a public engineering degree.
LaCarrubba was a union representative for the Communication Workers of America and served three years on the Board of Education in the Sachem Central School District, according to Sachem Patch. He had served as commissioner of Parks and Deputy Supervisor in Brookhaven; left to work as chief of staff for Senator Brian Foley, but later returned as deputy highway superintendent, the position he held before leaving for Long Beach.
City Manager Jack Schnirman did not return several phone calls requesting comment on his appointment of LeCarrubba, but the city provided Patch with LeCarrubba's resume that features only his positions at Brookhaven and is devoid of engineer work.
James Hennessy, a former Republican city council president, has questioned whether LeCarruba is the right person for the job: “They got rid of a guy who is a certified public engineer and replaced him with a guy with no experience in engineering. I know college is just not for everybody, but we’re talking about hiring a guy to be the head of public works.”
Hennessy noted that LaCarrubba and Schnirman had worked under the same administration in Brookhaven, a township where Schnirman served as chief deputy supervisor from 2006 to 2008. LaCarrubba’s resume reveals that his first position at Brookhaven was as aviation and transportation commissioner, at least in 2007. The hire, Hennessy believes, breaks the new Democrat administration’s “promise not to hire friends or family,” he said.
Additionally, Hennessy claimed the Long Beach Civil Service Commission changed job qualifications just weeks prior to hiring LaCarrubba, removing the clause requiring public engineering certifications.
“The city changed those specifications in the past couple of weeks so they could hire their friend from Brookhaven,” he said. “This is the first time Long Beach has ever had a commissioner of public works who does not have experience in engineering whatsoever, and that’s not good for a town that has so many infrastructure problems.”
Hennessy said CSC Commissioner William Miller told him about the change in the clause. Miller, along with other CSC commissioners, declined to comment.