In Hempstead and Oyster Bay, jobs are a family affair

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Joseph Mondello, chairman of the Nassau County Republican Committee, and Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto have been friends for 35 years, a relationship that comes with career assistance for family members:

Mondello's two daughters are employed by Oyster Bay, a town run by an all-Republican board, which also has given his wife a consulting contract.

After receiving a recommendation from Mondello, Venditto's son got a job with the Town of Hempstead, another GOP stronghold.

In separate interviews, both Venditto and Mondello denied that favoritism had played any role in the hirings.

Venditto insisted that anyone would have the same opportunity to be interviewed and that the hirings are insignificant compared with the thousands of people he has hired.

"We're taking a snapshot of four people," he said.

Mondello said he doles out job recommendations generously and acknowledged that they are often heeded.

"I get the benefit of the doubt," he said of those who receive his recommendations. "I would also think I recommend good people."

He said Venditto made the hires without his knowledge.

The first hiring came in 2001, when Mondello's daughter, Elizabeth, 35, was hired as a lifeguard. After four years, she was hired as a part-time recreational aide. Last year, she made $29,973.75.

At the time, Venditto said, the town was having trouble retaining lifeguards because the pay was too low. He said he hired Elizabeth Mondello - and raised the salary for lifeguards - in the hopes that someone he knew was knowledgeable about recreation would bring stability.

In 2006, after his son, Michael, graduated from law school, Venditto said he asked his longtime friend to help him get a job. Mondello responded by recommending him for a job with the Town of Hempstead.

Michael Venditto, 28, was hired in 2006 as a full-time clerk laborer, at a salary of $30,579. When he passed the bar exam, he was hired as a full-time deputy town attorney at a salary of $65,000.

Michael Venditto said he was qualified for the job and his father's recommendation was in keeping with what he's done for scores of other people.

In 2007, John Venditto said, he reached out to Mondello's other daughter, Lisa Ostuni, 31, when he had an opening for a director of government research.

She was appointed to the full-time job, earning $47,317.98 that year. Last year, she made $40,196.89 before going on maternity leave.

And Joseph Mondello's wife, Linda, a former museum curator, got a consulting contract with Oyster Bay in 2007 to oversee preservation of the 26-acre Littauer Estate in Oyster Bay Cove. She is paid $100 per hour with a maximum of $50,000 a year.

Linda Mondello had served on a committee to generate ideas for use of the property and was one of four people asked to apply for the contract.

"Linda clearly had a passion for Littauer," Venditto said.

Mondello said that by the time he heard about the contract, his wife had taken it.

Elizabeth and Linda Mondello and Lisa Ostuni declined to comment for this story.

Mondello said he had always striven to keep his family out of politics because he felt it was enough to have one person in the family involved.

"It seems like overnight, I had my whole family involved" in Oyster Bay, he said.

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