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Nassau: Schmitt trades slams with cop union

Legis. Peter J. Schmitt of Massapequa, the Republican

Legis. Peter J. Schmitt of Massapequa, the Republican presiding officer of the legislature, is "somewhat unhappy," according to an aide, about county officials' refusal to testify at a Budget Review Committee hearing on Nassau County's budget. (Dec. 15, 2010) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

War is escalating between Nassau PBA President James Carver and Legis. Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa), presiding officer of the Nassau legislature.

It started when Schmitt said in January he would hold hearings on a law proposed by County Executive Edward Mangano that purportedly would allow Mangano to open up existing union contracts and reduce salaries with legislative approval.

Schmitt said then he wasn’t playing chicken with the politically powerful police unions. “Name one of my legislators who needed police union support to win election,” he declared. “Who runs this county, the elected officials or the unions?"

So when Schmitt this month sent Carver a solicitation to purchase $500 tickets through him for the Nassau Republican committee’s annual “Inaugural Ball” , Carver returned the letter, attaching a copy of the news article reporting Schmitt’s comments.

“Dear Mr. Schmitt,” Carver wrote. “Your strong message in Newsday ...about not needing police union support was loudly received by the PBA and its membership. Enclosed I have returned your request for support.”

Carver cc’d Legis. John Ciotti of North Valley Stream, a Republican who has counted on PBA support in the past to win in his Democratic district.

Schmitt then replied: “Dear Jimmy, Do as you will — I do believe you supported Mejias over Belesi, Toback over Kopel, as well as Weitzman over Maragos. Hence my comment that they did not need your support to win.”

He was referring to Republicans Joseph Belesi and Howard Kopel beating incumbent Democratic legislators David Mejias and Jeff Toback in 2009 while Republican George Maragos ousted incumbent Democratic county comptroller Howard Weitzman.

“It is regrettable that you are not mature enough to talk face to face, man to man, about something I say or do that disturbs you. Did I ever close the door or refuse a call? So be it.” Schmitt wrote.

He also cc’d Ciotti.

In reaction, Carver told Newsday, “He blindsides us in the paper with inappropriate comments about not needing union support. Then he has the nerve to send us a request to purchase tickets through him....He could have called me afterward and said, ‘What’s bothering you, Jim?’ Peter has the habit of going to the press without out ever speaking to anyone. He’s now being treated the same way he treats everyone else.”

Carver added, “There is no police officer in Nassau County that needs Peter Schmitt.”

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