Hempstead Town spokesman Michael Deery on Friday stressed the need “to put public service ahead of personal profit” in defending an ethics proposal from Supervisor Anthony Santino that would effectively limit each elected town board member’s total income to $196,000 a year.
Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, a Republican from Wantagh who has been feuding with Republican Santino over ethics reforms and other issues, has called Santino’s proposal a “political hit job” to prevent her from running again. As an aviation attorney, she earns more than Santino’s plan would allow: Up to $125,000 in outside income in addition to the $71,000 town board salary.
Santino’s income limits would bar many successful business people from running for the Hempstead Town board. For example, President Donald Trump, a real estate developer, could not be elected to the Hempstead Town Board if Santino’s proposal becomes law.
King Sweeney posted a chart from Newsday on her Facebook page Friday labeled, “ILLUSTRATING ABSURDITY.” It lists more than 30 different jobs and professions carrying salaries that would push them over the proposed $196,000 total salary limit.
They range from architects, engineers and CEOs to dentists, lawyers, pediatricians and podiatrists.
“I believe that we need more citizen-legislators with private sector experience and common sense,” King Sweeney wrote. “We should be seeking the best and brightest to serve, with the highest qualifications and professional backgrounds working for Hempstead Town taxpayers!”
Even Deery’s income exceeds the $196,000 limit.
Town records show that in 2016, Deery had a base annual salary of $203,405 and earned a total $205,022 — more than $9,000 higher than the proposed income cap on council members who set town policy.
Deery was the only town employee in 2016 to have a base pay higher than the proposed $196,000 elected official income limit.
However, Santino did not suggest capping public employee salaries in his ethics plan.
Deery declined to comment.
King Sweeney said Deery’s salary “perfectly illustrates the hypocrisy of the Santino administration.”
She added, “Since it appears that Mike Deery couldn’t abide by this income cap, I hear Sean Spicer is looking for a job as press secretary.”
Spicer, who recently resigned as Trump’s press secretary, earned $179,900.