Assistant business administrator Jennifer Hirschmanner directed a subordinate in the personnel division to adjust her stepson, Dylan Hirschmanner’s sick leave time, according to emails obtained through a records request.
Hirschmanner’s involvement raised ethical questions and prompted members of the City Council to raise the issue at a personnel committee meeting.
The Local Government Ethics Law states, “No local government officer or employee shall act in his official capacity in any matter where he, a member of his immediate family, or a business organization in which he has an interest, has a direct or indirect financial or personal involvement that might reasonably be expected to impair his objectivity or independence of judgment.”
Hirschmanner did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Hirschmanner sent an email to Agaid Henriquez, senior payroll clerk at the Division of Personnel, on May 26, 2021 asking for 58 hours of leave time her stepson expended to be reimbursed because he was placed under quarantine due to Covid-19 symptoms.
Hirschmanner had been put in charge of overseeing the Division of Personnel. She was also working out of an office at the division, according to officials.
Her stepson was hired at the Department of Public Works (DPW) by mayor Andre Sayegh’s administration in 2019. At the time, some officials raised questions about nepotism.
Public works officials told Hirschmanner in emails they had no evidence her son was placed on quarantine.
Hirschmanner responded back stating her son was placed under quarantine by the city’s health officer.
“Not sure where the process fell off but I know that Dylan contacted his Supervisor via text message and phone call alerting him of his Fever and the directive to quarantine. Not sure what happened after that,” wrote Hirschmanner in an email to public works director William Rodriguez’s office manager Wanda Santiago and Henriquez.
Santiago wrote back to the assistant business administrator stating there is no record Hirschmanner was quarantined, and public works did not receive any test results.
Hirschmanner, the assistant business administrator, sent her an image of a test result. The image is not visible in the documents obtained through a records request.
It’s not clear whether Hirschmanner’s stepson was reimbursed the 58 hours of leave time.
Business administrator Kathleen Long ignored questions about the ethics of Hirschmanner’s conduct.
“As you know, we don’t comment on specific personnel matters, but as an Administration we have consistently worked to ensure that we did not charge employee’s own sick time in their Personnel records for COVID public health directives like quarantine and isolation. This city-wide policy helped employees know they could stay out of work and get tested if they had symptoms, which lead to less spread of the virus throughout the pandemic,” said Long.
Council members suggested the administration conduct an internal investigation into Hirschmanner’s actions.
“This is an issue the administration needs to address,” said councilman Flavio Rivera, chairman of the finance committee, which oversees the administration. “You as a public servant have to use better judgment.”
Councilman Luis Velez said Hirschmanner should have recused herself from anything having to do with her stepson.
“That matter needs to be looked into by the administration,” added councilwoman Lilisa Mimms.
“If there’s a finding of improper conduct, I think the issue should be forwarded to the prosecutor’s office,” said Velez.