Four staff members for former Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) have landed jobs in Suffolk County government, prompting Republicans to criticize the county for making political hires. The congressman lost his re-election bid in November.
Three began work in County Executive Steve Bellone’s offices in January, according to county records. Another was hired as an aide to Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai).
Bellone spokesman Justin Meyers said the former Bishop staffers are qualified, and their government experience is a boon to the county.
“Hiring smart, talented individuals with invaluable local government experience is what we look for when filling specific roles, just the same as any government office does,” Myers said.
But Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) criticized Bellone for political hiring in a response to Bellone’s state of the county address on March 26
The hiring of the former Bishop staffers, “is clearly taking care of their own at a time we can’t afford to do that,” McCaffrey said in an interview.
Bellone, a Democrat, says the size of the county workforce has declined by 1,100 positions as part of his effort since taking office in 2012 to reduce county spending.
The county has a nearly $100 million budget deficit, and Bellone in January issued an executive order declaring a fiscal emergency and ordering departments to not spend 10 percent of their budgets.
The total salaries of the former Bishop staffers amounts to $237,377 a year.
Suffolk Republican chairman John Jay LaValle said, “On the one hand, they’re crying fiscal state of emergency. Behind their [the public’s] backs, they’re filling up with political patronage employees.”
The three county executive positions taken by the former Bishop staffers had been unfilled, Meyers said. Anker said her new aide from Bishop’s office filled a position of a staffer who had left county service.
The highest salary for a Bishop staffer went to Adam Santiago, deputy commissioner of economic development and planning, who will make $92,080. Meyers said economic development is a key focus for Bellone.
Erin Deletto, research technician, will make $62,274 as a grant writer for the county. Ryan Maloney will make $38,315 as a secretary in the intergovernmental relations department. Elizabeth Dovell, Anker’s legislative aide, will make $44,709.
The county last year hired 338 people, while 418 people left county positions.
McCaffrey said Suffolk first should fill rank and file positions, rather than hiring appointees who he said often end up also working on political campaigns.
Said Meyers: “I don’t know if they will choose to work on campaigns, but there’s no quid pro quo.” He said the former Bishop employees would not comment.