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NY State Froze Hiring, Then Hired 51,464

From the Syracuse Post-Standard:

State put freeze on hiring, then added 51,464 people

By Delen Goldberg / The Post-Standard
March 28, 2010

Gov. David Paterson ordered a “hard” hiring freeze in state government nearly two years ago, declaring that only “absolutely essential” positions be filled.

But state officials hired 51,464 people at a cost to taxpayers of more than $1 billion in salaries, plus fringe benefits, since that decree on July 30, 2008.

The hires include sons of elected officials, a close friend of the governor’s and a slew of highly paid political appointees.

Former Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll, for example, makes $155,000 a year in an environmental job the governor created for him. Paterson hired an executive assistant at $178,000 a year, a special assistant at $135,000 a year and a scheduler at $105,000 a year. A man responsible for blogging and tweeting for the Senate was hired by the Democratic majority at $120,000 a year.

Other state agencies hired photography assistants, tree pruners and ski school instructors, often with approval from Paterson’s Division of Budget.

Two summers ago, Paterson announced a “hard” hiring freeze as the nation’s economy soured and the state’s budget gap grew.

“You must rethink your hiring practices,” Paterson told agency heads April 21, 2008, in a memo. “Only job openings absolutely essential to your agency’s operations and protecting the health and safety of New Yorkers are to be filled. Positions that do not fit this criterion must be left vacant.”

In his State of the State address Jan. 7, 2009 — six months after the hiring freeze took effect — Paterson again warned that New York was in peril.

“We must sacrifice what we want today so that we can pay for what we need tomorrow,” Paterson said.

And, he said, “Now is our moment for leadership.”

That day, the state hired 51 people, including 20 secretaries and executive assistants. The next day: 1,266 people, mostly at public colleges. The day after: 40 people

Paterson spokesman Morgan Hook pointed out that Paterson cut 26 workers from his executive office since the freeze took effect, for a savings of $130,000 a year.

Budget spokesman Matt Anderson said jobs at agencies such as the tax department pay for themselves because workers collect revenue. Labor Department salaries and benefits are paid mostly with federal revenue, he said…

Matt Driscoll, Syracuse’s former mayor, landed a plum job last year as president and CEO of the state Environmental Facilities Corp., which helps businesses and municipalities finance “green” projects.

Driscoll, who like the governor is a Democrat, was chosen for the $155,000-a-year position over Matthew Millea, who had served as the agency’s acting president since January 2008. Millea remains at the authority under Driscoll as executive vice president, making $143,582 a year, the same amount he made in past years.

When Millea was acting president, he had no executive vice president.

Driscoll’s campaign committee contributed $8,500 to Paterson’s campaign since June 2008 — $1,500 of which was donated the day Driscoll was confirmed to his new position and six days after Paterson announced the appointment. Driscoll’s committee also gave $13,654 to the Spitzer-Paterson campaign committee in recent years.

Although he spearheaded several green projects in Syracuse, Driscoll has no environmental science background and no college degree…

Paterson also hired Gabrielle Turner, an ex-girlfriend, to a top position in the state’s Washington office, at an annual salary of $88,000.

Turner hadn’t worked in politics or government for 15 years, except for a two-week period in which she volunteered for Barack Obama, according to The New York Times. Her hiring caused divisions in the Washington office. Within weeks of Turner arriving, several staffers quit, The Times reported.

Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, one of the people behind the Senate coup that brought state government to a halt for five weeks in the summer, hired more than a dozen people immediately after the coup, including his son, employees of his nonprofit health care center and several political aides.

Steve Pigeon, for instance, was hired as Espada’s general counsel, at $140,000 a year. Pigeon worked with billionaire Tom Golisano to engineer Espada’s defection and to help him land the job of Senate majority leader.

Espada also hired his son, Pedro G. Espada, to a new Senate deputy director job, making $120,000 a year, only to see him resign days later as the state attorney general investigated the legality of the appointment.

At a time when many of the state’s private businesses were laying off workers, slashing wages and cutting benefits, New York hired 699 people to jobs that pay $100,000 a year or more.

Christopher Sealey, a DJ and marketing maven who graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, was hired in February 2009 as director of special projects for the state Senate. Sealey is responsible for new-media operations, such as blogging and developing the Senate Web site, and for designing marketing materials for town hall meetings and presentations. Taxpayers pay him $120,000 a year.

Three months after he was hired, Sealey told New York Magazine: “I’m a little shocked that the government would want someone like me. … I’d never been interested in politics.” …

Sealey’s tweets have since been made private, after he irked people with several comments. Among the offending posts:

“Accidentally hung up on an entire conference call the moment he finished speaking. NYSenate, meet Chris Sealey, the newest ‘team playa,’ hah” and “Hey Senate bosses … Two words: ‘Company Car’”

Senate officials would not allow Sealey to be interviewed. But Austin Shafran, spokesman for the Senate Democrats, said Sealey’s job is necessary…

Our outrage button is getting worn out.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Sunday, March 28th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

7 Responses to “NY State Froze Hiring, Then Hired 51,464”

  1. proreason

    business as usual.

    As I’ve always said, you don’t need to worry about using all your helium for a baloon. The baloon will pop first.

    Of course, if baloon represents your life, family and future, then you might want to worrry about it.

  2. bousquem

    I’ve gone to pharmacy school in NY state and am just about to graduate and people keep asking me if I want to practice and live in NYS. I don’t partially because I don’t want to see my taxes keep shooting up to pay for loony toons running the goverment and spending money like it’s water. The response to being in debt and having even harder times trying to raise money to sustain basic goverment functions seems to be to floor the gas pedal in on the goverment pork express and add even more useless positions at completly overblown salaries. I can’t believe they believe hiring for assistants and schedulers, let alone someone to sit on their duff to tweet and blog all day deserves 100K+ at a minimum but usually more plus all these benefits. Its absolutely insane.

    • proreason

      Not to defend the bloated bureaucracy, but the “blog and tweet” job is a propaganda position. Once you decide to enter the propaganda business, you can’t have an idiot do it (except of course, Gates. But even he relentlessly memorizes and repeats the party line).

  3. MinnesotaRush

    GBJ said it well the other day. “THAT’S OUR MONEY”, dammit!!!

    These dummies will be lost when the monies dried up and there’s no more to give. Even the one’s with their fat little jobs.

    We the people REALLY need to turn the money spigot off!!!

  4. GetBackJack

    Sweet Babbling Buddha!

    I’m with Gilbert. I hardly know what to say to figures so mind-bogglingly off the reservation.

    (thanks, MR … big grin)

  5. JohnMG

    ….”Paterson cut 26 workers from his executive office since the freeze took effect, for a savings of $130,000 a year…..”

    Whaaa….A whole $130K savings for a 26-person reduction in personnel? That’s a whopping $5000 per year income per laid off worker. Obviously these over-paid hangers-on need to go. The folks in the state legislature will just have to suck it up and start shining their own shoes.

  6. Mithrandir

    That is why I always say, “Don’t listen to ANYTHING these people say….NOTHING.”

    It is designed to get at least some percentage of the people to let their guard down, so they can do exactly what they told everyone they wouldn’t.

    Pelosi, “We aren’t here just to perpetuate our own existence.” (opposite: Yes you are)

    Obama, “Let’s get a question from someone else, I don’t want you to think we have plants in here.” (opposite: You do have plants in there that have pre-designed questions)

    Politicians will ALWAYS tell you the truth, but you have to listen for it the right way.




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