When we said that “everyone and her brother has a patronage job at Town Hall,” little did we realize just how prophetic this would be. Not only patronage, but blatant nepotism - all on the taxpayers' dime!
Sure, everyone knows that the Town of Hempstead is the patronage capital of the world, where positions - and salaries - are doled out, not based on merit, or even on actually showing up for work, but rather, on who you know and what political party you are registered to.
Okay, the Nassau County GOP does not have a monopoly on patronage, by any means. You can find it at the County, the State, and even the Federal level. Still, when 323 people owe their jobs in Town government to their roles as Republican Committeemen, and countless others hold positions based solely on party or familial affiliation - at a cost to the taxpayers of some $36 million per year - there is something terribly awry.
- Of the 2,100 total employees in the Town of Hempstead, 323 persons, or 15.4 percent, are Republican committeemen.
- Together, the 323 committeemen received more than $24.4 million in salary (not including benefits) from the Town of Hempstead, equaling 18 percent of the $136.5 million in total salary budgeted in 2004.
- The average salary of the 323 committeemen was more than $75,000 annually.
- Departments most heavily influenced by this patronage included Parks & Recreation (84 committeemen-employees), the Highway Department (40 committeemen-employees) and Sanitation (34 committeemen-employees).
Add to this list- compiled from Town of Hempstead Resolution #1, 2004 - hundreds of others (from lifeguards at Town pools, to the stealth clean-up crews, to the seasonal employees who work at the Fee Booths at the Town beaches handing out Murray campaign literature), and you’ve got a cottage industry costing Town of Hempstead taxpayers in excess of $36 million per year. Now we know where that phantom "surplus" disappeared to!
And don’t forget the likes of displaced politicos previously voted out of office elsewhere, and the wife of at least one former U.S. Senator who also graces the payroll. Not to mention those who draw a salary from the Town proper while also taking a salary or stipend from one of the Town's Special Districts. Maybe that's what they mean by "Special!" For goodness sake – there's enough pork doled out as patronage at Town Hall to operate at least another couple of Sanitary Districts (whose Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners, General Counsels, and Assistants to the Assistants don't make this list either, the Town having no "control" over their hiring)!
Never mind that Kate Murray’s dad Norman is on the Town Legal Department’s payroll at $115,219, and her brother Terrence, to boot, as a “Physical Conditioning Specialist” for the Parks Department, at a salary $62,000 a year. [What does Terrence do, anyway, offer personal training to the weeds?]. The patronage and cronyism, blossoming for nearly a century at Town Hall, has become a culture unto itself, with an aggregate cost to the taxpayers calculated in the billions of dollars.
Kate Murray, in her capacity as Town Supervisor, has refused to comment on this glaring, almost transparent abuse. [A transparency that snubs its nose at every taxpayer, reflecting upon every one of us because we know this abuse goes on, and yet, we refuse to do a darn thing about it!]
Well, we will comment. We know political patronage and party favoritism exists. We’ve lived with it and have borne its costs. We’ve accepted it as a way of life. Our quality of life in America's largest township has suffered immeasurably because of it. The question is, “How long will we continue to condone the unconscionable practice of employment by patronage and party affiliation rather than by merit and the willingness to work?”
Time for the people to take back Town Hall? We think so. Assuming, of course, that there are any among us who are not on the Town payroll or related to someone who is!