January 21, 2016, 10:20 PM
BY JOSEPH STEPANSKY, REUVEN BLAU, GRAHAM RAYMAN
|The superstar singers performed on June 22, the same day as one of nine hearings that arbitrator Howard Edelman (pictured) presided over that month.|
He was goo-goo for Gaga.
The arbitrator who earned a whopping $115,000 settling a contract dispute between the city and its largest police union ended a hearing early in June to catch Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett at Radio City Music Hall, sources told the Daily News.
The superstar singers performed at the legendary music venue June 22, the same day as one of nine hearings that arbitrator Howard Edelman presided over that month.
The bitter dispute between the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the de Blasio administration was over how much of a retroactive raise police officers should get.Edelman ruled in favor of the city’s offer of two 1% raises over two years, earning the union’s everlasting wrath. The PBA wanted a 4% raise.
Edelman did not return emails or calls seeking comment. A doorman at his building said he may be out of town.
Seth Agata, chairman of the state Public Employees Relations Board, which oversees municipal contract disputes, didn’t return calls either.
The June 22 hearing was initially set to run from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., but Edelman changed the time to 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., and then ended the session an hour early to take his wife to the concert, sources said. He still charged the city and the PBA for his time, which he bills at a flat rate of $2,500 a day.
Edelman earned $20,000 for the month of June. In all, he charged $115,000 for 46 days of work.
The News also learned that Edelman accepted two additional city arbitration contracts while sitting on the PBA case, union officials said. Edelman was selected for work on an arbitration for the Detective-Investigators Association, and Service Employees Union Local 621, an association of city supervisors.
“This guy is sitting right next to (the city’s Labor Commissioner) Bob Linn, who represents a bottomless well of future work, and makes deals with him while judging the police contract,” a source said. “That’s a conflict of interest in anybody’s book.”
Mayoral spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick said the arbitrator in each case was selected by both parties.
“There is no reality in which that can be defined as ‘city work,’ ” she said. “In fact, the PBA made the final selection of Mr. Edelman. Suggesting otherwise is nothing more than sour grapes after the arbitrator awarded the same exact raises every other uniformed union took.”