Hempstead Town Board approves controversial personnel proposal

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HEMPSTEAD -

The Hempstead Town Board approved a controversial proposal to transfer or promote nearly 200 workers.

Hempstead Town residents voiced their opposition to a vote at a meeting Tuesday. Some say the vote was meant to protect outgoing Supervisor Anthony Santino's supporters.

“This is Christmas for the well-connected and a lump of coal for the taxpayers,” says Bruce Blakeman.

The eleventh-hour deal was approved Tuesday afternoon during Santino's final meeting in office.

It will alter the jobs of 192 town employees, less than a month before Supervisor-elect Laura Gillen's administration takes power.

Some of those changes include raises and new jobs for longtime Santino staffers. Town Communications Director Mike Deery, who makes $205,000 a year, will become the confidential assistant to the receiver of taxes – and earn the same salary.

A separate measure assures that union workers cannot be laid off, even during times of fiscal emergency.

This is happening as a Democrat prepares to fill the office of Hempstead town supervisor for the first time in a century.

The supervisor-elect is calling Santino's move a "scorched-earth tactic" and a power grab.

“He's shown a wholesale abandonment and contempt for the taxpayers by doing backroom deals with union bosses,” said Gillen.

Santino was asked to defend his position but mostly kept quiet.

A long line of residents, however, said they want the next supervisor to choose her own staff.

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