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Long Beach, police union head settle suit

Long Beach City Hall is on Park Avenue.

Long Beach City Hall is on Park Avenue. The police station and fire department are attached to the building. (June 21, 2011) Photo Credit: T.C. McCarthy

The Long Beach City Council passed a resolution Tuesday to settle a lawsuit filed by local police department union president Stefan Chernaski for $25,000, the sum of Chernaski’s legal fees.

The Long Beach Police Department 17-year veteran filed suit against the city for $27.5 million in September after he said he was passed over for a promotion by the previous administration because of his political affiliation.

Republican Councilman John McLaughlin voted against settling the lawsuit.

“Technically the civil service rules were followed, and once you start suing over that, then it just opens the door for other petty lawsuits,” McLaughlin said yesterday. “I hate to see it get settled without any kind of court hearing.”

Councilman Michael Fagen abstained, saying he wasn’t given enough information or background about the settlement.

Council members Fran Adelson, Len Torres and Scott Mandel voted yes, saying they feared the lawsuit if continued could grow into a much bigger bill for the city.

“The decisions made by the prior administration to not hire the No. 1 ranked candidate on the civil service list because of his alleged political affiliation brought about a lawsuit that the city did not want to see snowball out of control,” city spokesman Gordon Tepper said.

Earlier this month, city officials said, Chernaski was promoted from sergeant to detective lieutenant — a two-notch promotion that bumped his base salary from $121,000 to about $141,000 per year — because of vacancies in the department.

Above: Long Beach City Hall


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