A former state lawmaker running for city council is under fire for portraying himself as a champion of policing — despite supporting legislation to handcuff cops to prevent them from cracking down on public drug use.
Democrat Tony Avella — who will face Republican Councilwoman Vickie Paladino for his old seat in northeast Queens in November — wrote on his campaign website that he would “support the police and oppose any defunding of our police force”.
Yet during his eight-year tenure as a state senator, the law enforcement veteran co-sponsored legislation in 2015-2016 and 2017-2018 aimed at decriminalizing the possession and sale of hypodermic needles, giving giving drug addicts carte blanche to commit suicide in broad daylight.
“It was another tool on the belt that he tried to take away – and was ultimately taken away – from the officers,” said retired Sgt. Pete Panuccio, 63 years old.
Albany ultimately passed a version of the pro-drug bill, sponsored by state Sen. Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), in 2021, after Avella was removed from office.
After Governor Kathy Hochul signed the law, the NYPD ordered officers to refrain from arresting anyone shooting on city streets.
“Avella shamelessly tried to appease the left to save his Senate seat in 2018, and failed spectacularly. Now it looks like he’s veering in the other direction,” one Democratic strategist said.
Paladino, who defeated Avella in the 2021 Council race, also ripped Avella’s support for law enforcement as window dressing.
“I really don’t think anyone is surprised that a career politician like Tony Avella is completely out of touch with what the voters of this district really want, or the impact of what his policies enable,” the councilor said. municipal.
Avella said he has long defended and supported the police and asserted that law enforcement unions have not expressed any concerns about the legislation.
He also criticized Paladino for voting in favor of the fiscal 2023 budget that included $600,000 for St. Ann’s Corner of Harm Reduction, which hosts a needle exchange.
“She says one thing in her rhetoric and votes in the opposite direction by making backroom deals,” he said.
Paladino’s campaign brushed off the criticism, saying she did not personally push for any funding for St. Ann’s in the budget.
“Tony is very familiar with the difference between what is funded in the general budget and what is funded at a member’s discretion,” a Paladino campaign spokesperson said.
New York Post