A new blue line
Nassau PBA election empowers fresh faces
The second Nassau County PBA election in two months is in the books, and new president Tommy Shevlin and his slate will be the third set of managers in four months when they take the reins on Jan. 1.
And this regime will truly usher in a new era: It represents a break from the dynastic continuation of leadership that James McDermott, who retired on Sept. 1, represented. But it also defeated the upstarts, led by special election-winning president Mike Spadaccini and backed by McDermott’s previous ally and eventual nemesis, Dean Losquadro.
Losquadro, 2nd vice president under McDermott and Spadaccini but now expected to retire, led the opposition to passage of a new PBA contract negotiated by outgoing County Executive Laura Curran and McDermott that was defeated by 143 votes last December.
McDermott’s ascension was made easy by his predecessor, James Carver, in 2017, just as Carver’s was by longtime president Gary DelaRaba in 2008.
Now, the union has been without a contract for almost four years, while the detectives and superior officers have inked new deals, and an entirely new cast of players has come to lead the PBA.
And while even the most seasoned observers of the union say it’s too early to tell exactly how Shevlin and his allies will run the shop, John Paterson’s inclusion in the slate and his election as corresponding secretary is considered a pointed tell: Paterson is the brother of longtime 1st vice president Pete Paterson, known as a level-headed voice of reason at ease with both cops and politicians.
Shevlin, who beat Spadaccini 55% to 45%, is very much a modern officer, having worked as a peer support officer and employee assistance counselor, as well as a union delegate. He appeared on the "Dr. Phil" show last year to talk about the problem of officer suicides and the "code of silence" among cops about mental illness.
Shevlin, 45, lives in Massapequa, grew up in Valley Stream, and has been a cop for 23 years. Speaking to The Point Wednesday, he said he ran because his interaction with other officers in both union and policing roles convinced him that there was too much division within the PBA, and between the PBA and other unions. He also says that PBA leadership has at times put other issues before the needs of members.
"I love helping cops, and I bleed blue," Shevlin said. "I wanted to see us come back together as a family."
Asked how he’d approach the new contract, Shevlin said, "I’ve been campaigning for three months straight and while that’s grueling, it means you actually get to talk to the members. Having done so much of that now, I have a much stronger sense of what they really want and care about, and I think that’s a huge advantage in negotiations, and maybe something past leadership could have done a bit more of."
Besides Shevlin, the new leadership includes recording secretary Sean Mulligan, who had held office under McDermott and ran as an independent. All other offices were won by Shevlin’s team, including: 1st vice president Kevin Mullick, 2nd vice president David Re, financial secretary James Shanahan, treasurer Edward Ellenberger and sergeant-at-arms Frank Arcuri.
The crew faces plenty of challenges in working toward a new contract both the county and the members can approve, but the negotiations will at least see fresh sets of faces on both sides of the table as Republican Bruce Blakeman takes Curran’s spot.
It also means a potential reset of the union’s increasing involvement in politics as a GOP partisan group … or not. That movement had been orchestrated by Losquadro and his cousin, PBA attorney Steven Losquadro, and flew in the face of the traditional PBA nonpartisan policy.
But with the GOP in solo control of Nassau once again, the PBA will likely be looking to be friendly, out of pragmatism if not dogma.
— Lane Filler @lanefiller
Can Hochul help Third Track?
As the Long Island Rail Road’s Third Track project remains stalled over a single village’s refusal to provide a work permit, several Long Island advocacy groups are taking the dispute to the next level.
In a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul and the leaders of the State Senate and Assembly, the heads of the Long Island Association, Long Island Builders Institute, Long Island Contractors’ Association and Association for a Better Long Island asked state officials to "step in and implore the Village of Garden City to issue the permits necessary for this project and examine legislative avenues to move this project forward."
Garden City officials have refused to issue a work permit for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to reconstruct the Denton Avenue bridge, which is a small but critical piece of the $2.6 billion Third Track effort.
But their objections have little to do with the bridge itself. Instead, they’re unhappy about the large utility poles along the LIRR tracks which, they say, were placed on the wrong side of the tracks. When the village’s lawsuit protesting the poles was dismissed, the village seemed to use the bridge as a bit of a bargaining chip, withholding the work permit unless certain demands were met.
The MTA has sued the village to get the permit but no decision has come from the courts, yet.
But LIBI chief executive Mitch Pally, a former MTA board member who has been an active Third Track supporter, told The Point that the project can’t wait for a court decision.
"Every day that goes by, the schedule gets impacted and the cost gets impacted, on the Third Track," Pally said. "We can’t allow that. It’s time for the State of New York … to stand up in some fashion and say, ‘This project is too important.’ "
The Third Track’s timetable — it’s scheduled to be completed by the end of next year — remains uncertain as long as the permit remains unissued.
"We ask that you use your statewide platform to bring attention to this issue and examine other avenues for moving it forward," said the letter, which calls the village’s actions "obstructionist."
The letter notes that besides the notion of state leaders using their bully pulpit to resolve the dispute, there are potential legislative solutions. The letter suggests that the State Legislature could exempt MTA and LIRR projects "of regional significance" from local permitting, noting that a similar exemption exists in New York City under its Uniform Land Review process. Alternatively, the advocates suggest a site-specific effort by the legislature that would impact only this project in this context.
During a news conference Wednesday, MTA chief executive Janno Lieber said the authority is "going to work our tails off" to keep to the Third Track schedule and, if necessary, would look for "a new way to try to circumvent the dramas" in Garden City.
"We’re still hoping that one community is not permitted to delay a project that benefits so many different Long Islanders and the Island at large," Lieber said.
This isn’t the first time the Third Track project has needed a push from the state. Four years ago, former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had to make deals with several villages along the Main Line, while pushing lawmakers to support the project, just to get it approved. Garden City got its own set of negotiated perks, including $2.5 million in community benefits, as part of that effort.
Whether or not Hochul and local lawmakers will make their own push now, especially heading into an election year, remains to be seen.
— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
A bridge too far
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With Jumaane Williams dropping his gubernatorial launch video on Tuesday and Tish James releasing hers in October, we now have opening statements from two major NYC progressives in their statewide bids.
While James, the state attorney general, highlighted her legal work and big enforcement cases against opioid companies, the National Rifle Association and Donald Trump, Williams focused even more directly on his outsider activist and protester background.
The current NYC public advocate riffed on the need to "move towards justice" and have "courageous progressive leadership," and identified himself as part of the "progressive movement" in New York.
The first big nod to the wider state beyond NYC comes around a minute and a half in, with the Brooklyn Democrat saying, "As I move around our state I can see that we all want similar things, face similar obstacles, struggle against the same entrenched systems." James, on the other hand, included a series of shots with Long Island officials, as The Point noted at the time.
The Williams video articulates a particularly unabashed left-leaning or progressive vision. He has already started traveling the state from Syracuse to Long Island to spread it, but that message has recently had its best luck in NYC. When Williams ran a statewide primary against then-Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul in 2018, he came within 100,000 votes of the incumbent on the strength of significant leads in Brooklyn and Manhattan. But the vote-rich Long Island suburbs went to Hochul: 50,022 to 26,981 in Nassau, and 37,353 to 27,944 in Suffolk.
James ran statewide for attorney general in the same primary, and also won big in NYC everywhere but Manhattan.
Her race was not quite as uphill as Williams’, given her boost from former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and having more opponents in the open-seat race to split the vote. But she still won both Nassau and Suffolk counties despite the presence of Hudson Valley Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a longtime veteran of suburban turf wars.
Whether that means she adopts more moderate messaging at least in some settings to keep harvesting suburban votes is anyone’s guess.
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano