On Long Island, government and politics are often two sides of the same family enterprise, and too often what results is funny business.
This week in the Town of Hempstead, Councilman Anthony D’Esposito voted to give a raise to his mother, Carmen D’Esposito, a highway department secretary who will earn $88,939 a year. That’s nice work, and the D’Espositos get lots of it. Anthony’s brother, Timothy D’Esposito, got a salary of $92,411 in 2016 as a captain in the town Department of Conservation and Waterways. Anthony’s sister-in-law, Danielle D’Esposito, had a 2016 salary of $52,468 as a tax clerk. And Timothy and Anthony’s dad, Stephen D’Esposito, is chief of staff for Supervisor Anthony Santino, earning $169,000 a year.
At Suffolk County’s offices, Elaine Barraga, a county attorney and daughter of Legis. Thomas Barraga (R-West Islip), received increases in pay and benefits worth $195,000 since 2011 thanks to raises not authorized by county lawmakers. Legislative approval of the increases is required by law because of her father’s elected position. The law says that money should be clawed back, but the county legislature voted late last year to approve Elaine Barraga’s raises retroactively, a laughable workaround. She now earns $156,666 as a county attorney.
Councilman Anthony D’Esposito shouldn’t be voting on his mother’s raises. Suffolk County shouldn’t let laws slide to give a raise to a legislator’s daughter. Even if they are the best choices, close family members of elected officials should be employed by the municipalities their relatives serve only when ironclad civil service procedures are followed. As long as politics and municipal employment are two sides of a family enterprise, taxpayers are the ones getting the business. — The editorial board