April 18, 2002

Comments Rile Unions, Families

By Pete Bowles and Leonard Levitt STAFF WRITERS

Victims' family groups and labor unions slammed Andrew Cuomo yesterday over his comments criticizing Gov. George Pataki's leadership in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks.

Marie Granieri of the Sept. 11 family group Give Your Voice called Cuomo's remarks "ludicrous and unfounded" and criticized the Democratic gubernatorial hopeful for using the disaster for political purposes. "Gov. Pataki has been one of the most understanding, helpful leaders that we the families have had the benefit and blessing of dealing with to help us through these terrible times," Granieri said.

Cuomo came under attack for saying Pataki should have been more of a leader during the weeks after Sept. 11. He said the governor merely "held a leader's coat" when he stood next to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

At a news conference attended by a coalition of police and fire unions, Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, called Cuomo's remarks "outrageous and scurrilous."

"The governor came down at this nation's worst time," Lynch said. "He wasn't holding anyone's coat. He was holding the hands of our family members who went missing in that pile."

Peter Gorman, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, said it was "unfortunate" that Cuomo was using the events of the attack as part of his campaign.

"It is an outrage for someone like Andrew Cuomo, who had no formal role in the World Trade Center aftermath, to criticize Gov. Pataki, who attended dozens of funerals, who was there every time we needed him and who has spent countless hours helping the families."

In a statement, the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers assailed Cuomo's statement as being "inflammatory and ill informed."

The group's president, Daniel De Federicis, said Pataki mobilized 2,500 troopers and dispatched them throughout the city in the weeks and months after the terrorist attacks.