Last week’s arrest of four members of state Sen. Marty Golden’s family came as good news to at least one person — his longtime rival, Councilman Vince Gentile.
Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) took advantage of Republican’s bad news from the April 10 brawl at the Kettle Black by putting out a press release claiming that he “has teamed up with the NYPD to ramp up police efforts at late-night hot spots over the weekend.”
And, in an obvious swipe at the law-and-order Golden, Gentile called such bar fights “unacceptable.”
“The precinct and I want to address the violence immediately and effectively,” Gentile said.
But there’s only one problem: There has been no ramped-up enforcement.
The NYPD said it’s doing nothing new when it comes to preventing violence at neighborhood nightspots, despite the councilman’s press release.
Area cops did host a multi-agency sweep of local bars on Friday, but that enforcement effort was scheduled two months ago — well in advance of the bloodshed at the Kettle Black.
“[The multi-agency initiative] wasn’t some knee-jerk reaction,” explained an NYPD spokesman, adding that the officers of the 68th Precinct will continue to monitor local bars — as they always have. “[Gentile} came to us and asked us what we were doing about bars. We told him, but then he concocted this press release.”
An NYPD source said he and others were surprised to see the release, which smacked of political opportunism.
“It boils down to this,” the source said. “After a Republican is connected to an attack, who comes out acting like a hero? A Democrat.”
This kind of political game-playing is par for the course in Bay Ridge. After all, Gentile lost his Senate seat to Golden, a retired cop, in 2002 only to win the Council seat that Golden vacated. Since then, the two have been in an extended Cold War.
Gentile fired the latest salvo days after the Kettle Black fight, where Daniel Golden, the senator’s nephew; cousins John DeCarlo, Kevin and Michael Crowley; and family friend Peter Jung were all arrested following a bloody melee outside the bar on Third Avenue between 86th and 87th streets.
Both Golden and DeCarlo were charged with assault for beating down a Port Authority cop, breaking his jaw. A second victim — a firefighter — was also seriously injured after someone slashed his arm open, police said.
An attorney for Golden’s family said that the off-duty first responders instigated the fisticuffs by trying to stop them from leaving the area after one of the cousins had a bottle cracked over his head.
The Kettle Black brawl took place two months after two off-duty firefighters were arrested in a similar clash at the Salty Dog Restaurant, which is also on Third Avenue between 75th and 76th streets.
In that attack, a crew of off-duty firefighters pounded on four patrons after one of them accidentally bumped into a drunken smoke-eater, spilling his drink.
One of the victims was dragged to a bathroom and viciously beaten during the fracas, police said.
Police said that these headline-grabbing attacks prompted nothing more than some additional outreach to bar owners, informing them of complaints they’ve recently received about overcrowded bars and underage drinking.
Yet Gentile’s release tells a different story, making it appear that last weekend’s sweep was done at his request. In the future, the 68th Precinct will “put additional officers on the streets at night, targeting large crowds around bars, particularly around the bars’ closing time,” he alleged.
“The 68th Precinct is really willing to help me take the initiative when it comes to disputes at bars turning ugly really quickly,” Gentile said. “We’re taking the assaults and the chaos those fights cause seriously. Bay Ridge was recently ranked one of the best places to live in the city, and we want to keep it that way.”
Gentile’s spokeswoman Dena Libner denied that the councilman was playing politics with the Kettle Black incident, saying that Friday’s sweep came out of “discussions the NYPD and the councilman had earlier this year about the increased violence in Bay Ridge.”
“It was something they had planned,” she said. “After the Salty Dog attack they talked about the need for more police late at night.”
Libner said that Gentile’s press release was not about politics.
“Local violence and assaults have nothing to do with politics, and to whom those involved are related is utterly irrelevant,” Libner said.