September 8, 2000

City Police Union Endorses Lazio

by Elizabeth Moore and Stephanie Saul Staff Writers

New York City's police union endorsed Rick Lazio for Senate on the steps of City Hall yesterday, saying he's a former prosecutor who opposes a federal monitor for the department while his adversary, Hillary Rodham Clinton, offended officers when she referred to the police shooting of Amadou Diallo as a "murder" in a statement she later called a mistake.

"She went so far, although apologizing, to call us murderers," said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, in a news conference. Flanked by a dozen PBA members, Lynch said, "The New York City police officer takes offense to that." A borough away, Clinton unveiled a series of new education proposals before 600 students at Queens College even as her campaign was launching a new television ad on the same topic, which has been one of her dominant themes. New elements yesterday included grants to reduce class sizes, a "principal corps" and school violence report cards.

At the end of Clinton's presentation a demonstrator in the audience shouted "Hillary hates Jews," but then left after audience members expressed their annoyance.

Those announcements paved the way for a busy day of e-mail from each campaign sparring over the candidates' records on education and law enforcement, even as they continued meeting with voters. After a quick trip to Washington to vote for a failed override of the veto on the estate tax, Lazio flew back to shake hands with railroad commuters in Brewster, while Clinton headed to Lake Success to join national Teamsters President James P. Hoffa at a rally with hundreds of members of that union.

Teamsters officials described the rally as the culmination of a series of endorsements of her by both the national executive board and "the vast majority" of the New York locals.

"The full force and strength of the 150,000 [New York] members is behind you," Hoffa said. "The force is with you." Taking aim at Clinton's education proposals, the Lazio campaign said yesterday that she has no credibility on that issue because of the "disastrous" results of the education-reform effort she led as Arkansas first lady. An e-mail from the campaign cited a series of education statistics that they said show student performance dropped after the Clinton experiments there.

Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson countered that those statistics actually showed the opposite and said Lazio opposed gun licensing, which police favor, and consistently voted against the federal COPS program to put more police on the streets. Clinton is a "strong supporter of law enforcement," Wolfson said. "She apologized for her one misstatement."

In another exchange yesterday, Lazio blasted Clinton for failing to intervene to help New York get federal aid to help fight West Nile virus. The attack followed an announcement from Gov. George Pataki's office that a $20-million aid request had been turned down by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"Mrs. Clinton could have used her so-called influence in Washington to help New York, but she has been AWOL," Lazio said.

Wolfson responded, "We hope that Rick Lazio continues to make this race a referendum on whether the Clinton administration has been good for New York."