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Long IslandPolitics

Cop unions back Jack Martins; Laura Curran hits Rob Walker deal

Jack Martins, a candidate for county executive,

Jack Martins, a candidate for county executive, chats with Mark Tenenhaus of Oceanside while campaigning at the Oceanside LIRR station Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Nassau’s four major law enforcement unions on Thursday endorsed Republican Jack Martins for county executive.

Also Thursday, Democratic county executive candidate Laura Curran criticized Chief Deputy County Executive Rob Walker for crafting a “backroom deal” that would have restored millions of dollars in payments to members of the county unions. Nassau County Attorney Carnell Foskey sharply questioned the agreement.

Nassau’s Police Benevolent Association, Detectives Association, Superior Officers Association and Correction Officers Benevolent Association, which represent more than 7,000 officers and retired members across the county, screened Martins and Curran last week.

PBA president James McDermott said he was swayed by Martins’ record defending law enforcement while in the State Senate, and by his “aggressive stance” toward ending the Nassau Interim Finance Authority’s control of the county’s finances. NIFA in 2011 imposed a wage freeze, which lasted three years, on all county unions.

“Jack wants to run the county himself without NIFA,” McDermott said. “He’s got the experience. He’s polished and knows how to do this.”

Nassau’s law enforcement unions traditionally have endorsed GOP candidates in countywide races although they are backing many Democratic incumbent legislators seeking re-election in November.

Martins, a former Mineola mayor and three-term state senator, received the endorsement of the Civil Service Employees Association this week.

“The first responsibility of government is protecting our communities, and the brave men and women in law enforcement put their lives on the line each and every day to keep us safe,” Martins said.

Curran issued a statement pledging “to clean up the corruption in our government so we can save taxpayer money and have the proper resources to support,” law enforcement.

Curran, a second-term Nassau County legislator from Baldwin, also held a news conference in Mineola at which she attacked Walker for drafting a “secret” deal with the unions she said would have saddled the next county executive with millions of dollars in new labor costs. “The way this deal was done smells, is inexcusable and is an affront to everyone who works hard, pays their taxes and deserves honest government services in return,” she said.

Newsday reported Thursday that the agreements negotiated by Walker would restore millions of dollars in longevity payments to union members, and guarantee them no layoffs through most of next year. Foskey said the deals need approval by NIFA and the legislature, and that the agreements weren’t “in a proper form” to submit for the approvals.

Curran said the timing of the deal, coming days before the unions endorsed Martins “raises suspicions” but she declined to explicitly tie her Republican opponent to the deal.

Martins said Walker is not associated with his campaign and that he was unaware of the labor agreement.

Walker did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Curran said she has no plans to lay off union employees if elected and would consider restoration of longevity pay as part of a new collective bargaining agreement. The labor contracts of all five county unions expire at year’s end.

Martins said he has made no promises to labor unions about restoring benefits lost during the wage freeze.

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