GOP-linked village clerk paid $33.5G as Nassau golf attendant
Former GOP Assemb. Robert Barra, the full-time Valley Stream village clerk, also earned $33,586 from Nassau County last year as a part-time golf course attendant 1 -- $10,000 more than the salary of a full-time attendant 1 whose pay has been frozen for three years, records show.
Barra, 54, who also earned $114,600 from the village last year and received a raise to $129,000 Monday, said he didn't set the salary for his $45-an-hour part-time position with Nassau. "I was hired on to do a job which I do completely to the best of my ability," Barra said.
But Civil Service Employees Association president Jerry Laricchiuta, whose members have been under a pay freeze imposed by Nassau's financial control board since 2011, said, "It's obviously not fair . . . They found a loophole around the wage freeze that somehow pays this guy more than my guy who is stuck for three years at $23,000."
Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick), a frequent critic of Republican County Executive Edward Mangano, said, "On paper, this is cronyism at its worst."
He added: "To pay more for part-time work than for a full-time union employee makes no sense."Deputy County Executive Ed Ward responded, "Golfing is one of the most important revenue sources for the county. You need people who have golf course experience to manage and maintain the county's golf courses. Bob Barra serves an important function in this area."
Ward said Nassau saves thousands by having Barra work part-time because the county does not have to pay some benefits including health insurance. Laricchiuta said the Barra example points up why the union is seeking ways to lift the wage freeze imposed by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority.
NIFA members expressed concern about salaries and requested more budget data after Newsday reported last month that county elected officials gave out raises to 57 non-unionnonunion appointees last year despite the wage freeze. NIFA chairman Jon Kaiman said the freeze was intended to cover all employees.
Valley Stream Deputy Mayor Dermond Thomas, a NIFA member who voted for the freeze, said he was not familiar with the details of Barra's county job and salary, but, "I think the wage freeze should apply to everyone. If there's some sort of loophole that we're talking about, we just have to fix it."
County comptroller records show that a full-time golf course attendant 1 was hired in February 2011 at a trainee salary of $23,540. The wage freeze was imposed a month later and the employee, who could not be reached, never moved to the first step pay of $34,600.
Records show Barra, who chose not to seek re-election to the Assembly in 2010, was hired in August 2012 for the part-time job. "I do whatever they want me to do," he said. Mostly, he said, he works at Grant Park in Hewlett. "I oversee the whole park. When I work, I usually work alone at night in the summer."
He said he works until 4 p.m. in the village and then goes to work at Grant Park at 4:30 p.m. "I'll open and close the place if I have to. I'll do whatever I have to do," he said.
Although Grant Park does not have a golf course, Ward said Barra can be stationed at any park. Valley Stream Mayor Ed Fare said he sees no conflict with Barra's county job. "They were looking for somebody experienced who could run basically the skating rink. Bob happens to be an ex-hockey player and excellent skater so he's able to go over there on a part-time basis."Asked if it was fair that he earns more than a full- time golf attendant 1, Barra said to ask Mangano's chief deputy, Rob Walker. "I don't figure out anybody's salary."