The Chief
May 23, 2003

Delegates Back Lynch

Challenger at PBA Faces Uphill Battle

By Mark Daly

Thomas Barnett, the challenger in the race to lead the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, appeared to be facing an uphill battle following a May 13 delegates’ meeting that was dominated by supporters of the incumbent, Patrick J. Lynch.

More than three-quarters of the 400 assembled delegates cheered and applauded when Mr. Lynch’s candidacy was announced, and many said afterward that they would encourage younger officers to vote for the “Team Lynch” slate.

‘He’s on a Roll’

“I think he’s on a roll. I say give them four more years,” said Richard Giordano, a delegate for Brooklyn’s 75th Precinct.

Mr. Barnett downplayed the show of support. “The delegates are always going to support the incumbents. That’s just the way it’s done,” he said. “The election is not won on the delegate body floor.”

Mr. Lynch was elected on a reform platform in 1999 and is running much the same slate this time. Mr. Barnett, the union’s Manhattan North trustee and a self-described “educated street cop” is calling his group of trustees and delegates “The True Rank and File.”

At least three independent candidates are seeking to be nominated for trustee and financial secretary seats in the borough commands. The union’s election committee, called the Board of Tellers, is due to finish a review of nominating petitions this week. Ballots will be mailed to the union’s 23,000 members on May 23.

Mr. Barnett said he was counting on support in the 12 precincts of Manhattan North, his home base, and a “divided” Brooklyn North, where, he said, “the rank and file are with us.”

Since the PBA’s delegates rely on trustees and the union’s top trustees and the union’s top five officers to get jammed-up members out of trouble, it’s perhaps no surprise that many spoke glowingly of the current team.

“I wouldn’t even think of voting for anyone else. I think it’s going to be a landslide,” said Joe Brousseau, a delegate for officers in the Police Department’s Applicant Processing Division.

Mr. Barnett said things were no different in the union’s four-way election for president in 1999, when James “Doc” Savage had the majority of the delegates, they booed Lynch, and he won the election,” he said.

Mr. Lynch’s victory broke a line of succession among a close-knit PBA leadership that reigned for nearly two decades, going back from Mr. Savage and his predecessor. Lou Matarazzo, to Phil Caruso, who headed the union for 15 years.

Cite Access to Lynch

Several delegates who were also veteran cops recalled the aloof style of these past leaders to explain their support for the Lynch team.

“Last week I had an officer who had an issue with the Trial Board,” said Mr. Giordano, the 75th Precinct delegate. “We went down there [to the union’s Manhattan headquarters] and got to see the second vice president. You couldn’t get past the lobby when Matarazzo was president.”

A 17-year transit cop from Midtown Manhattan said Mr. Lynch took action on issues that previous PBA leaders brushed aside following the merger of the Transit Police Department into the NYPD in 1995.

Since the merger, many transit cops have fought to be treated under the more favorable rules for pension credits and pay differentials that existed in their former department. “These are issues I approached previous administrations with, as a delegate, but they said it wasn’t their problem,” the officer said. He said of Mr. Lynch, “He’s passed a lot of bills and filed a lot of lawsuits.”

“I don’t think it’s going to be close,” a fellow transit delegate said of the race.