Political organization

Gianaris calls the NYC PBA an “armed political organization”

NEW YORK — State Senator Michael Gianaris on Tuesday night called the Police Benevolent Association an “armed political organization.”

The comment came amid a Twitter uproar that began in the afternoon after Gianaris needled the union after Nassau County State Senator Kevin Thomas, a Democrat, said the victory on Monday, after trailing his PBA-backed challenger Dennis Dunne into the initial count. . Thousands of mail-in ballots ended up in favor of the Democrats.

“Hey @NYCPBA, here’s @KevinThomasNY’s re-election and the 100% Nassau Senate Democrat delegation! You really should be better at managing your members’ money,” Gianaris tweeted.

The PBA, which spent $1 million to defeat Thomas, responded by telling Gianaris to look over his shoulder.

In an interview on NY1, Gianaris called the tweet a threat.

“It’s certainly not something that a group, which represents more than 30,000 people who are armed and licensed to fire their guns across the city, should be doing. I think the union has really lost its bearings, gone off the rails,” the Democratic senator from Queens said. Inside City Hall anchor Errol Louis.

He said that while the PBA viewed the tweet as a political threat instead of a physical threat, it was threatening coming from a union made up of armed officers.

In response to Gianaris’ comments on NY1, PBA Chairman Patrick Lynch said in a statement, “Senator Gianaris and company feign ignorance. They know they are looking over their shoulders at voters who are fed up with the Senate Democratic conference’s anti-cop, pro-criminal agenda. The PBA will continue to fight politicians who turn their backs on our members and the people we serve.

Critics wondered why the PBA poured so much money into a race that wasn’t even in New York. While the PBA makes money from dues, it also collects union dues from its members, whose salaries are ultimately paid by New York City taxpayers. According to the PBA, approximately 3,000 of its members reside in Thomas’s Long Island district.

Sources told NY1 in October that the police union was angry with Thomas because he promised them he would not vote to repeal the law known as 50-a, which protected police disciplinary records from public view. Lawmakers voted to repeal 50-a following clashes between police and protesters following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. Proponents have been calling for its repeal for decades. Thomas was not the only senator to vote for.

A Democratic supermajority after all?

Like many Democrats in New York, Gianaris is now content with the party’s standing after disappointing in-person ballot results on election night. Initially, it looked like the Democrats would lose some seats in the state legislature or at least be denied the chance to win a supermajority in the state Senate.

Now, with hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots counted — and those ballots crashing mostly for Democrats — Democrats are ahead in many races. Looking at the six state Senate races that are still undecided on Tuesday night, Gianaris, the state’s deputy Senate majority leader, told NY1 there’s a good chance the party will end up increase its majority to at least 42 seats.

If that happens, the party would gain a supermajority that would allow it to override any vetoes issued by the governor. That — assuming no Democrats walk away — could open the door for Democrats to embrace progressive priorities that Cuomo opposes, including a tax on millionaires and billionaires. The Democrats already have a super-majority in the National Assembly.

Asked if Democrats plan to remove some of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s expanded powers that the Legislature gave him to respond quickly at the height of the pandemic, Gianaris said that while the party waits to see how many senators he would have, he expected, he would “reassert himself.”

“As for next year, I think things are very different now. We are still in an emergency situation regarding the pandemic. But we have a little more sense of how to handle it. , and I would expect the legislature to reassert itself — working in tandem with the governor,” Gianaris said. “He did a lot of things right, and we would be happy to partner with him. to continue on these things. And on the points on which we do not agree, we will certainly assert ourselves.

Some experts wonder if a state legislature armed with a supermajority would lose swing seats in the 2022 state election if it passed many items on the progressive wish list, like a wealth tax. When asked if the party would moderate the demands with such a large tent of varied interests, the state senator reiterated that he still thinks the tax is popular across the state.

“I’m a big proponent of taxing the rich to help us get through the fiscal crisis we have,” he said. “It’s incredibly popular. It’s popular in New York, it’s popular upstate, it’s popular in the suburbs. It’s popular with Democrats, Independents and Republicans.

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Watch the full interview above.

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This story includes reporting by Juan Manuel Benitez and Zack Fink.

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