The city has a new director of operations — but Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett is still doing part of the job.
Bennett is now the “senior adviser to the mayor,” while Democratic insider David Fronk has been hired as the director of operations.
Fronk was a Schenectady County Legislature employee, as well as McCarthy’s campaign manager. He was also an organizer in the Young Democrats and has been an active member of the party.
His and Bennett’s titles are confusing, since the director of operations has traditionally been the second-in-command. Despite that, Bennett outranks Fronk.
Bennett said he didn’t mind losing the title “director of operations.”
“I wasn’t too concerned about the title,” he said. “I’d rather do the additional duties and do them well.”
He will not receive any additional pay for his work. The director of operation’s budgeted salary is $66,520.
Councilman Vince Riggi isn’t happy with the arrangement.
“We didn’t fund the guy to be the public safety commissioner and director of operations,” he said.
Riggi is worried that Bennett won’t be able to focus on police and fire matters.
“I hope he can juggle things around,” he said. “I was fine with him as public safety commissioner. He’s been very responsive with public safety concerns.”
Bennett said his new role includes public safety issues. He’s responsible for the Oak Street bridge project, where he’s making sure city officials stay on schedule so the bridge can be repaired and reopened as soon as possible.
“It’s an inconvenience to people, but the most serious issue is emergency response,” he said.
The bridge is the fastest way to get to one small neighborhood. The only other way is a congested, one-mile route.
But Bennett is also taking on issues far removed from public safety. He will be working to improve the city’s HOMES program, which combines many private and public efforts to market and sell houses in the city.
“To me, it’s a brand-new project. There is never anything wrong with taking a fresh look,” he said. “I’m here to see if everybody is really on the same page.”