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NYC GOP mayoral candidates would gut IG's office

From left, New York City GOP mayoral candidates

From left, New York City GOP mayoral candidates George McDonald, John Catsimatidis, and Joe Lhota get ready about one minute before their first television debate together. (July 10, 2013) Credit: Craig Ruttle

The leading Republican candidates for mayor said Wednesday night they would gut the inspector general's office that the City Council has voted for to oversee the NYPD.

Joe Lhota and John Catsimatidis slammed the legislation creating the position as well as another council bill banning racial profiling in policing, both of which passed last month with veto-proof majorities.

"Don't forget that IG's gonna work for me as mayor," Lhota said during a Republican candidates' debate on the NY1 cable television station. "I'll make sure that IG does what I want the IG to do."

Lhota said he's not troubled by statistics showing that 90 percent of people the police detain under the stop-and-frisk policy are innocent, because officers under the U.S. Constitution "have a right to stop anybody" who is acting suspiciously. He said he would also consider going to court to undo the council's legislation as unconstitutional.

Catsimatidis said of an inspector general: "I'll do everything possible to limit his authority."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who also vehemently opposes the legislation, is trying to chip away at the veto-proof vote count.

Although candidates from both parties have parried at dozens of mayoral forums this election season, Wednesday night's was the first televised debate exclusively for the Republicans.

The debaters were Lhota, a former deputy mayor under Mayor Rudy Giuliani and head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority; Catsimatidis, a supermarket magnate; and George McDonald, an advocate for ex-cons and the homeless.

The debate also touched on education, taxes, public transit and the commuter tax -- which Long Islanders and other suburbanites paid until it was abolished by the State Legislature in 1999. Lhota and Catsimatidis said they support bringing the tax back; McDonald said he doesn't.

Separately Wednesday, one of the men's Democratic rivals, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, received the endorsement of the New York State Laborers Union, which has 25,000 city members. The nod represented further splintering among organized labor: All the major Democratic candidates have picked up union endorsements except Anthony Weiner, who has none.

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