By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The top lawyer for the pro-Mayor Bloomberg Independence Party has aimed a $3.3 million lawsuit directly at transit union president Roger Toussaintwho just happens to be one of Democratic mayoral candidate Freddy Ferrer's strongest backers.
Harry Kresky, longtime legal eagle for Fred Newman and Lenora Fulani, the IP's controversial leaders, filed the suit on behalf of a group of dissident officials in Transport Workers Union Local 100 who complain that Toussaint has prevented them from participating in running the union. Kresky told the Voice that the lawsuit "has nothing to do with mayoral politics." But union leaders are dubious. Kresky, who serves as the party's counsel, was picked by Bloomberg three years ago to serve on his charter review panel. The mayor recently donated $250,000 to the Independence Party, and in May it endorsed him for re-election.
That same month, the transit union endorsed Ferrer, just as it had in 2001. In a memo to members, Toussaint said the lawsuit threatens to tie the union up in knots as it is preparing to renegotiate its contract with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority later this year.
Adding fuel to suspicions about the lawsuit, which claims that estranged officials are barred from major meetings, is that a key plaintiff is a union vice president who is also an elected Independence Party official. TWU vice John Mooney said he had urged the union and Toussaint to support Bloomberg. "Yeah, I think Bloomberg is the best candidate," said Mooney. "But that's nothing to do with this suit."