Haber campaign airs radio attack on Suozzi

Adam Haber, a Democratic candidate for Nassau county Adam Haber, a Democratic candidate for Nassau county executive (April 17, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

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Democratic County Executive candidate Adam Haber launched the first radio advertisement of the campaign Friday, attacking opponent Thomas Suozzi for representing catering hall owners who are embroiled in lawsuits with their servers over the nonpayment of fees.

The 60-second ad, "Tom the Tip Taker," began running Friday on WCBS/880 AM during the morning rush hour. The campaign declined to identify the cost of the advertisement or how long it will run.

Haber, a Roslyn school board member, has been harshly critical of Suozzi and his law firm, Harris Beach, for defending caterers against employees who contend they are entitled to service fees charged to customers. Haber also has a website devoted to the complaint.

"The tips should go to the employees, not pad the boss' profits," the ad states.

The advertisement also claims some catering hall owners violated child labor laws, referencing a 2011 federal court judgment that found that minors were working at some locations longer than the permissible daily and weekly hours.

Suozzi, a two-term county executive, declined to comment on the ad but in the past has defended the catering hall owners, arguing they had not taken advantage of their staff.

At Tuesday's Democratic nominating convention, Haber had jabbed at party leaders -- who endorsed Suozzi -- for hosting the event at Chateau Briand, a Carle Place catering hall also embroiled in the lawsuits.

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But Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs returned fire, attacking Haber for scheduling a fundraiser next week at the Inn at New Hyde Park, another catering hall involved in the suits.

Haber said he canceled the fundraiser and rescheduled it for a different location after learning of the lawsuit involving the Inn at New Hyde Park.

A 2008 State Court of Appeals ruling found catering staff are entitled to service fees if customers had a reasonable expectation that it would be used as a gratuity. Legislation has been introduced in the Senate and Assembly that would give caterers immunity unless they told customers in writing that service charges were gratuities.

Meanwhile Friday, Reps. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) announced their endorsement of Suozzi, becoming the first members of Congress to endorse a candidate in the race.

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