suffolk-pd-150x150-7052370Better late than never, Governor Andrew Cuomo has exercised a pocket veto of legislation that would have allowed unions representing police and other civil service employees to insist on collective bargaining of disciplinary procedures.

The bill was passed at the end of session in June, but wasn’t even sent to Cuomo’s desk by the Senate until December. That effectively re-started the clock for gubernatorial consideration, making this a measure the governor could kill by not signing it within 30-day period, which just ended.

A pocket veto means there is no written no veto message explaining Cuomo’s (in)action.  **See Update at bottom of post.**

As noted here last summer, this was a classic case in which the broad public interest took a back seat to the special interests of police unions seeking to nullify a unanimous 2006 state Court of Appeals decision affirming the New York City police commissioner’s ultimate power over disciplinary matters in his department.

The bill would also overturn county charter provisions in Nassau, Rockland and Westchester counties, and in many municipalities with laws or charter provisions designed to ensure that police discipline remains a managerial prerogative. Under a subsequent Court of Appeals ruling stemming from the city PBA case, virtually all towns and villages currently have the right to pass local laws superseding collectively bargained police disciplinary provisions.

As I argued last month in this op-ed piece:

Many New Yorkers sympathetic to police may be inclined to side with the PBA’s agenda. But responsibility for police discipline transcends issues such as [Mayor] de Blasio’s policy changes on stop-question-and-frisk, or the strong feelings aroused by the [Eric] Garner case.

It’s not just that resisting the union’s push is consistent with democratic accountability. Preserving this fundamental managerial prerogative for the police commissioner is in the best interest of the police department. As police historian Thomas Reppetto says, “The NYPD has always run best when the police commissioner clearly was in charge.”

Cuomo will now have his own chance to weigh in. On top of vetoing this clear usurpation of local control, he should send the Legislature a stronger message: From this point on, he won’t sign any bill covering an important statewide public policy issue that is whisked to passage with virtually no notice, deliberation or public hearing.

The governor did not, in the end, send that broader message. But his action–or veto-by-inaction–nonetheless is something for taxpayers to celebrate. The last thing union-dominated New York needed was an expansion of the list of mandatory subjects for negotiation under the Taylor Law.

For more on the origins of the bill, see this blog post.

[UPDATE — Several Capitol news services reported that a Cuomo press spokesman had issued the following statement: “Versions of this legislation have been passed by the Legislature fours times over four different administrations. Each previous administration believed this issue is best left in the purview of publicly accountable elected officials and thus, the bills were not signed into law. At this time, this administration does not see a compelling reason to disagree.”  Which, unfortunately, does not discourage from taking another shot in the future.]

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

You may also like

Remembering the scandal that brought down Health Commissioner Howard Zucker

The resignation of Dr. Howard Zucker as state health commissioner marks the end of a term marred by scandal over his role in managing the coronavirus pandemic. The much-debated compelling nursing homes to admit COVID-positive patients, though it origi Read More

After 10 weeks, all but five of the Empire Center’s 63 requests for pandemic data remain unfulfilled

Over the 10 days that Hochul has been in office, there has been no further progress on the Empire Center's record requests. Read More

New York’s health benefits remain the second-costliest in the U.S.

New York's health benefit costs increased faster than the national average in 2020, leaving it with the second-least affordable coverage in the U.S. The state's average total cost f Read More

Another Hochul To-Do: Timely Financial Reporting

The state will spend a record $212 billion in the current 2022 Fiscal Year, under the budget its elected leaders adopted in April. Read More

Can Cuomo still be impeached?

Andrew Cuomo and Donald Trump have more in common than boyhood homes in Queens. Like Trump, Cuomo could still face impeachment and an impeachment trial despite a promise to resign as Governor later this month. Read More

The Gov’s pension

There are several (dozens? hundreds?) of unanswered questions as the fallout from Andrew Cuomo's resignation earlier today continues. Among those are questions related to his pension, some of which can be answered, sort of. Read More

The Health Department’s FOIL Responses Signal an Indefinite Wait for Pandemic Data

The quest for comprehensive data on New York's coronavirus pandemic hit a bureaucratic roadblock this week Read More

A Study of COVID-19 in Nursing Homes Raises Doubt About New York’s Minimum Staffing Law

A newly published study of COVID-19 in nursing homes links larger numbers of employees to higher rates of infection and death for residents – raising fresh doubts about New York's recently enacted "safe staffing" law. Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!