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Editorial: Hiring, Hamburg style

The problem with Hamburg Highway Superintendent Ted Casey hiring his son isn’t so much about the action itself, but of contradicting his own campaign for office. It’s called hypocrisy.

The practice of hiring relatives is not new and, in some cases, perfectly fine. Family businesses are just that and, sometimes, families migrate to private and public spheres and do a great job as people truly invested in doing exceptional work.

Here’s the issue with Casey: He campaigned hard against the practice of nepotism, once using a drawing of the “Best Tree of Nepotism” in an ad to criticize his predecessor, Tom Best Sr., for the number of friends and family on the town payroll. It was a line in the sand.

For his part, Best said several of those mentioned were hired before he took office. Moreover, he did not hire his family members. Instead, they were hired by a former highway superintendent and the Town Board.

But Casey wasn’t hearing that explanation when running for election in 2017. His opinion conveniently changed 14 months later when he hired his son as a laborer in the Highway Department. Ouch. It’s a little close, isn’t it? And what about the 180-degree pivot on the whole nepotism issue?

Casey defended his decision, saying that no one is going to be harder on his son than he will. Well, good. But some recognition of the bad political optics would be appropriate.

Casey said he has hired four laborers in the past year. He has held open interviews for the positions and interviewed more than a dozen people. He also got recommendations from people to hire acquaintances or relatives. He said he never met any of the people he hired before interviewing them. Except, of course, one.

Casey said his son is a good hire. He’s a hard worker and smart: “He is usually the smartest person in the room.” That could be true, of course. It could also be a father talking.

Regardless, how about giving the public some warning before deciding that the very thing you campaigned against is now suddenly deemed wise and appropriate? Just saying.

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