Bloomberg's Golden Republican

The mayor's best—and only—GOP pal is a pork- and patronage-loving conservative

Quaglione—who is likely to run for city council this year—declined to respond to Voice inquiries for this story, as did his boss.

Smoking

Golden also managed to be on the opposite side of one of Mike Bloomberg's proudest moments: the tough no-smoking bill that the mayor bulldozed through the City Council in 2002. Bloomberg had less than a year in office, and was pioneering new territory. The stringent new anti-tobacco legislation he sought was, at that time, considered the toughest anywhere. Still, Bloomberg spent his limited political capital to win it. He did so, it was clear, because he understood the devastating effects that smoking has on the public's health and purse in a way no mayor ever had.

The "Smoke-Free Act of 2002" basically banned all indoor smoking in restaurants, bars, and places of employment. It passed the council 42-7. Jimmy Oddo, the Staten Island leader of the council's tiny Republican minority caucus, voted for the bill. But one of the most outspoken "no" votes came from the mayor's fellow Republican, Marty Golden, who railed against the legislation at such length at the December hearing that then–Health Committee chairwoman Christine Quinn had to repeatedly tell him that he'd exceeded his time limit.

Golden had already been elected to the state Senate at that point, and that was his last session as a member of the City Council. But he said he took the bill personally because he was then the owner of a major restaurant and Brooklyn catering hall, the Bay Ridge Manor. The new law, he insisted, would kill his business.

He didn't change his mind, either. Almost as soon as he got to the Senate, Golden introduced a bill to roll back the state's own no-smoking legislation, arguing again that the ban was hurting business.

Guns

This is the other issue that Bloomberg has successfully made his own more than any prior mayor. Golden boasts of having helped the mayor win new legislation in 2006 that imposed mandatory prison terms for those caught with a loaded illegal firearm. But that was the easy lift. The pro-gun lobby made no effort to block that one.

Last year, Golden simply walked away from a much more controversial bill that's opposed by the state's version of the NRA—the New York Rifle and Pistol Association. That bill would require guns sold in New York to carry new micro-stamping technology that would leave an imprint on bullet casings in order to help police identify weapons used in crimes.

Jackie Hilly, a former prosecutor who heads New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, says micro-stamping will do to traditional ballistics tests what DNA did to fingerprinting, making an art into a science. "We can get it done for just $3 a weapon or less," she said.

Bloomberg singled out the effort in his State of the City speech this year and called on the legislature to pass the bill. "It's just common sense," said the mayor. Golden was for the bill too. Until he wasn't.

"He backed out under pressure, we believe," said Hilly. "First he appeared at a press conference with us and said he would sign on as a sponsor. He said it was a natural for him as a former police officer. Then he backed out."

Instead of calling for the new technology, Golden pulled a politician's time-honored dodge: He introduced a new bill calling for state officials to "study" micro-stamping. "It's pure delay," said Hilly.

Hilly's group gave Golden a "D" grade for his performance on gun-related legislation last year. Even then, they cut him some slack. "He never even returned our questionnaire," she said.

Pension deals

For a mayor hammering away at what he insists are the legislature's outrageous pension giveaways to city workers, Golden here too makes a somewhat embarrassing ally. Bloomberg has been arguing long and hard that hefty pension benefits, if left unchecked, could bankrupt the city. Legislative approval for the hikes, Bloomberg argues, has essentially been bought and paid for by big union contributions. But this is another policy discussion that Bloomberg and his top GOP ally don't seem to have had.

Golden has served as chief Senate sponsor for numerous pension-enhancement bills, including one that quickly became notorious after it was revealed that the bill's financial calculations had been done by a union consultant who later admitted to the Times that his estimates were akin to "voodoo." The consultant's calculation, cited in Golden's legislative submission, was that the bill to give city workers a new opportunity to buy into an enhanced pension system would cost the city nothing. It turned out he was off—by some $200 million.

This time, Golden was clearly chagrined, quickly introducing new legislation to mandate that such bills state who exactly is doing the estimating. "He called it voodoo, and that's wrong," said Golden.

He can only hope the topic doesn't come up on the campaign trail with Bloomberg this fall.

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