Headhunter hire is unnecessary, wasteful

It’s discouraging to read how Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration quietly hired a Rochester-area headhunter this spring to lure the “best and brightest” for state government. The deal, exposed by the New York Daily News, could give the Datrose company a whopping $20.6 million over five years, nearly $166,000 of which has already been spent.

That’s a ton of tax money for recruitment, especially when state jobs are already so attractive – something the governor apparently doesn’t get.

“It’s hard to get talent in state government, especially with the salaries we offer,” he said on WCNY’s “Capitol Pressroom” Tuesday.

Maybe that’s true for a few state jobs, but not, we think, for most. Of course, even if Gov. Cuomo is right, that $20.6 million could go a long way toward increasing salaries for positions that are important but underpaid, thus achieving the same purpose – with the added bonus of happier employees. While many state workers get plenty of compensation, others have gone without raises they deserve.

Under Govs. Cuomo and Paterson, the state has steadily leaned on its workforce with layoffs and wage freezes. Some of that was necessary, and we appreciate that the governor is on the taxpayers’ side of the union negotiating table. But if you have $20 million for personnel, why not spend it on working people instead of an outside firm – if for no other reason than to avoid giving cause for suspicion – or else don’t spend it at all?

This isn’t the first time recruitment in the Cuomo administration has prompted doubt. A fair number of Empire State Development Corporation hires have been the children of high-dollar Cuomo campaign donors, the New York Times reported earlier this year. Even if these recruits were qualified, as the governor’s office contended, it still indicates a cozy, secretive relationship between our governor and the elite who are showering him with money so he can run for president – and expecting favors in return.

We need our governor to work first for the working people.