Newly-elected Suffolk County Legislator Monica Martinez, of the 9th Legislative...

Newly-elected Suffolk County Legislator Monica Martinez, of the 9th Legislative District, greets a constituent at the General Consulate of El Salvador in Brentwood, N.Y. (Nov. 7, 2013) Credit: Andy Jacobsohn

Newly elected Monica Martinez shouldn't try to serve as both a school assistant principal and a Suffolk County legislator, and that's not because of all the public money the two jobs would bring her.

It's about students at East Middle School in Brentwood, where she earns $117,000 a year, deserving a committed professional who can devote all of her energies to the job. Constituents in her district, whom she'll earn $98,260 to represent, deserve the same.

What's more, Martinez likely can't have both jobs at the same time, thanks to a Suffolk law passed in 2011 that says elected county officials -- with the exception of teachers in public schools or colleges -- can't collect a salary from any other level of government. But Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone, who enticed Martinez to run in the Democratic primary against his nemesis on the legislature, Ricardo Montano, wants to widen the county's double-dipping exemption to include all public school, library district and fire district employees, so Martinez can keep both roles.

Actually, the legislature ought to be narrowing the exemption. It's reasonable to argue that a legislator also could teach a course or two as an adjunct at a public college, and perhaps other part-time, highly specialized positions can co-exist with representing a district, but that's about it. No one should be pulling down a paycheck from any full-time public job and getting another taxpayer check of $98,260 to be a county legislator, even if the job is considered part time.

Team Bellone argues voters knew Martinez planned to keep both jobs when they elected her. But if voters should be allowed to decide, why have a double-dipping law for elective offices at all? Other legislators do work in other jobs, but not public ones. Martinez should pick one set of constituents and one well-paid position to serve with all her effort and ability.

DON'T MISS THIS LIMITED-TIME OFFER1 5 months for only $1Save on Unlimited Digital Access