By JOHN HOWELL Although mayor-elect Frank Picozzi hasn't talked with Mayor Joseph J. Solomon since they happened to cross paths in City Hall before Election Day, the lack of personal communication hasn't impaired the transition. Picozzi is grateful for
Although mayor-elect Frank Picozzi hasn’t talked with Mayor Joseph J. Solomon since they happened to cross paths in City Hall before Election Day, the lack of personal communication hasn’t impaired the transition.
Picozzi is grateful for Solomon’s pledge to work with the transition team, and so far, reports transition team leader Mark Carruolo, that is happening. The chief of staff for former mayor Scott Avedisian, Carruolo said he talks with Solomon’s chief of staff, William DePasqualle, almost daily. The data he is looking to amass includes a listing of all city employees, contracts, and department by department accounting of expenditures so that can be compared to budgeted line items.
Meanwhile, Picozzi has conducted interviews for city solicitor and talked to people about the positions of chief of staff, press secretary and finance director. There are others on the list, but rather than focusing on individuals, Picozzi said he is asking all current directors to submit an application for their job if interested in his administration.
According to Carruolo, there are 11 unclassified positions, including department directors, that Picozzi has the ability to fill. While there are more positions the mayor has the power to fill, Carruolo said attention is being directed on directors with a priority on selecting the solicitor, chief of staff and finance director. He is hopeful those personnel will have been selected by the time Picozzi is sworn in.
Some director positions are already vacant or will become vacant shortly. Mathew Solitro, who Solomon drafted from the Sewer Authority to be his director of public works, has returned to his former job. DePasqualle, who serves as planning director and Solomon’s chief of staff, has submitted his letter of retirement.
Picozzi said he intends to remain true to his commitment that his appointments will be free of political cronyism. He points out that he ran as an independent and he made no promises to political parties, unions or other organizations other than bringing transparency to City Hall.
That doesn’t mean Picozzi has been free of inquiries or multiple suggestions. Even as he worked on his digital Christmas display over the weekend, which may have to be delayed from its traditional debut on Black Friday because of shingles, elected officials and those who are politically active stopped by to chat. There were also those who drove by, waved and shouted their congratulations.
At this point, Picozzi said he has no solid information on the city’s financial position.
Carruolo is not concerned. Although the city has yet to issue motor vehicle tax bills, which are projected to yield $20 million between taxpayer payments and state funds, Carruolo is confident the city has sufficient reserves to maintain operations. (See separate story on motor vehicle taxes.)
Picozzi said he was told the Fire Department is scheduled to take delivery of two fire apparatus from Germany that the mayor was able to procure at a discounted price. The mayor’s office confirmed the city has been able to get the surplus fire apparatus from a military base in Germany and that a release would be issued.