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Editorial: Phil Boyle raises patronage jobs to an art form

Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) during the New

Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) during the New York State Republican delegation breakfast at a hotel in Clearwater, Fla during the Republican National Convention in Tampa. (Aug. 27, 2012) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

It looks like Sen. Philip Boyle (R-Islip) is trying to fix the unemployment problem all by himself -- at least when it comes to politically connected pals looking for perches that pay. Since he took office just two months ago, Boyle, who also had the Conservative Party and Independence Party lines in his November race, has hired:

Claudia Tantone, wife of Islip GOP chairman Frank Tantone, to be his district director, at $70,000 per year. She also worked for Boyle in the Assembly.

John MacKay, son of state and Suffolk Independence Party chairman Frank MacKay, as a $10,000 per year intern.

Patricia Walsh, wife of Suffolk Conservative Party chairman Edward Walsh, as a case worker at $50,000 per year.

Tom Connolly, vice chairman of the state Independence Party, as an office manager, at $75,000 per year.

It's also worth noting that Boyle's wife, Victoria Ryan, recently severed a no-bid marketing contract for $5,000 per month she had gotten from the Town of Islip to promote Long Island MacArthur Airport. She gave up that work when she became the chairwoman of the Islip Independence Party.

It is possible that in each case the most qualified applicant happened to be a political heavyweight or closely related to one. It's also possible to be struck by lightning on the day you win the Powerball.

It's more likely, though, that Boyle is desperate to nail down every ballot line he can before he faces the voters again in less than two years' time. He's had a rocky start, voting for a gun restriction bill he now says, in the face of voter backlash, should be repealed. He's enough of a political veteran to know he must cover all his bases.

And if he has to use jobs paid for with public money to do it? That's business as usual, though it's rare for it to seem quite so blatant.