Questionable acts deserve our questions

Phil Boyle got the Independence nod for state Phil Boyle got the Independence nod for state Senate. Photo Credit: Newsday staff

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Joye Brown Newsday columnist Joye Brown

Joye Brown has been a columnist for Newsday since 2006. She joined the newspaper in 1983 and has ...

What a week it was.

Let's start with the Republican-dominated Islip Town Board, which approved a $60,000 public relations contract for a company owned by the wife of state Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore).

The board did so without competitive bids. Officials said they aren't required for professional services -- a category that conveniently covers the "tentative" $5,000-a-month contract to handle PR for town-owned Long Island MacArthur Airport.

Besides, officials noted, Victoria Ryan, president of Beach House Communications Inc., of East Islip, is qualified for the job -- although she told Newsday she's never worked for an airport.

Boyle weighed in, according to a Newsday story, saying: "I think the days are over of women getting a job . . . [that] is somehow attributed to their spouses. It's 2013. I, in no way, think she got the job because she's my wife."

But to the average citizen, it certainly could look like patronage. It would have been easy to squelch that impression: Bid the contract, even if the town has the option not to. It would make for more transparency and fairness.

Then, in Nassau County, three elected officials were strangely mute about an arbitrator's award of 40 percent average raises -- which the cash-strapped county can ill afford -- to investigators in the district attorney's office.

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District Attorney Kathleen Rice and county Comptroller George Maragos declined to comment, according to the story, while County Executive Edward Mangano could not be reached.

This was odd. Such awards -- and this one was sent into arbitration by the investigators' union and former County Executive Thomas Suozzi -- usually engender howls of protest from officials blaming arbitrators for making the county spend so much money.

At minimum, officials could have criticized New York's system of binding arbitration, which desperately needs change. The silence, this time around, seemed deafening.

Could that be because Nassau and some of its other unions are negotiating potential concessions to save money, or that Rice, Maragos and Mangano want union support for re-election?

Hello? Hello? Was anybody out there?

@Newsday

Finally, Legis. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) came out swinging against Looks Great Services of Huntington.

The tree-debris removal firm is threatening to sue the first-term legislator for questioning more than $40 million Nassau expects to pay the company for superstorm Sandy cleanup.

"I'm not going to let them intimidate me in any way," DeRiggi-Whitton said during a county legislative meeting last week.

And she shouldn't. It's her job to ask questions.

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