John Mirando, Long Beach’s acting city manager only since September who has been under pressure from the city council amid a major change in the City's Charter, will step down from his post, a spokesman for the city said Tuesday. He is the third acting city manger to step down in the last two years.
Ryan McTiernan, the spokesman, confirmed that Mirando told city council members he will step down March 9. However, Mirando will continue to serve as the city’s commissioner of public works.
The city council will now have to undertake a search for another city manager. Speculation around the city is that a woman from Illinois, Donna Gayden, is in line for the position. According to Linkedin, she is an Interim Finance Director for the City of Country Club Hills in Illinois. Gayden did not immediately respond to phone calls to her office.
City Council President John Bendo said Gayden "is someone we have talked to." He declined further comment, saying, "I don't want to get into details about personnel."
He said of Mirando, "He's decided to wants to go home. We appreciate he stepped up at a time of need." He denied Mirando had been under pressure to step down. "All the city charter is doing is that some key city officials will be appointed by the council. Everything else stays the same."
In a letter to council members Monday, Mirando said “I believe it is in the best interest of the City and myself for me to resume full time efforts as Commissioner of Public Works.”
Mirando’s decision came as little surprise to city hall watchers.
“There is no surprise,” said one, who asked to remain anonymous. “He has been under extreme pressure from the city council.”
The pressure most recently has come from the council’s plan to revise the city’s charter, which was first introduced 81 years ago. The revised charter would strip the city manger of power to appoint such key city officials as the police commissioner, the fire commissioner and the corporation counsel. Mirando said at a public hearing last week that he would go along with the changes.
Additionally, the Nassau County District Attorney’s office and a federal grand jury are investigating some $750,000 in payouts made to about a dozen current and former city officials. One of them was Jack Schnirman, who was city manager and is now Nassau County Comptroller. He was the last permanent city manager. Schnirman returned some $52,000 in payout money.
The council must vote on the proposed changes, but has not yet set a date.
But in his letter, Mirando did not refer to charter revision as a reason for stepping down. Instead, he noted city staff members are already preparing the first draft of the 2020-21 operating budget and that “It would be unfair to the permanent city manager to be in the position to execute a budget which preparation was overseen by an acting city manager they would be replacing.”
“It is absolutely critical to their success, and yours, that the budget be prepared and finalized by the permanent city manager,” Mirando wrote.
Mirando said that several infrastructure projects are underway, including the North Shore Bulkhead, the construction of the Neptune Bathroom and the Lifeguard headquarters. He said these projects will “require a lot of my attention, and there are multiple other projects in various stages as laid out in the weekly public works update.”
He said also the five-year Capitol Budget “needs my full attention…”
Mirando declined to be interviewed.
Mirando was appointed acting manger in September, shortly after former acting city manager Rob Agostisi resigned. Agostisi was preceded by Michael Tangney who was also, and remains, Long Beach’s police commissioner.