A Brooklyn Heights cyclist accused a Bay Ridge state senator of impersonating a police officer and trying to pull him over as he pedaled down a Third Avenue bike lane on Monday night.
Two-wheeler Brian Howald, a member of Community Board 2, claimed on Twitter that state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) first lied to him about his job before hiding his face when the pedal pusher pushed back, and started taking pictures.
“A man stuck his head out the window waving a non-NYPD placard, telling me to pull over, claiming to be a police officer,” Howald wrote on Twitter, which later went viral. “When challenged, he hid the placard and his face.”
Howald, an advocate for bicyclists who is on CB2’s Transportation Committee, claimed Golden’s driver also sped through two red lights in the black Cadillac with government plates, then drove into oncoming traffic while headed to a police labor union’s holiday party, according to the cyclist, who once successfully petitioned the city for a new stop sign Downtown.
Howald refused to budge and started snapping photographs of the two suited men in the car, as Golden, who was riding shotgun, hid his face with the car’s sun visor, he said.
Golden, who is a retired police officer, refused to respond to requests for comments because his office said he was speaking exclusively to cable news station NY1. On Tuesday’s episode of “Road to City Hall,” he again denied that he pretended to be one of New York’s Finest, and said Howald needs to do something better with his time.
“I think he’s gotta get a life, I think he’s gotta move on and if he’s doing it to other drivers and other vehicles, he is leading to a cyclist road rage,” Golden said on camera.
Golden has a record of driving mishaps — he accidently plowed into an elderly woman back in 2005. His car has three driving violations since 2016, including two for speed camera violations, and one muni-meter parking violation, according to the city Department of Finance, which confirmed the car Howald spotted was Golden’s. He’s also racked up more than 30 traffic violations over the last four years, according to the New York Post.
And this isn’t the first time this month Golden has come under fire — critics accused him of breaking ethical codes for funneling his campaign cash into his family-owned neighborhood venue, the Bay Ridge Manor, even though it doesn’t technically break any laws.
The long-time state legislator, who previously served in the Council, is not new to such controversy, and it’s about time he steps down, said one of his Democratic challengers, Bay Ridge journalist Ross Barkan, who referenced Golden’s previous blunders, like a homophobic joke he made in 2015 and a later-cancelled class to teach ladies how to “sit, stand, and walk like a model.”
“I think Marty Golden is unfit to be a state senator — his recent actions and menacing a cyclist and pretending to be a police officer, these are things that are disgraceful,” said Barkan.
Golden’s second Democratic challenger, Andrew Gounardes, said the Albany lawmaker’s actions — such as allegedly trying to impersonate a cop — are not only classless, but they could be illegal, and is calling on the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics to open an investigation.
“The events described and corroborated by photo evidence last night about Marty Golden’s reckless and dangerous driving are deeply troubling,” said Gounardes, who challenged the Senator back in 2012. “JCOPE must investigate whether Senator Golden violated his public trust by abusing his power and committing a crime. His constituents deserve no less.”
But the commission can’t comment on whether it is investigating, said agency spokesman Walt McClure.
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Political outsider Omar Vaid, who comes from the movie industry but threw his hat into the ring as a Democrat to oust Rep. Dan Donovan (R–Bay Ridge), is taking on the convicted felon who used to hold the seat, claiming that former rep who has a pattern of blocking people on social media who speak out against him.
Vaid, who could become New York’s first Muslim-American representative, says he has been retweeting nearly every Twitter user who the once-arrested rep blocks as a way to give them a voice — and he’s even come up with a fitting hashtag, #MGBlockParty, he said.
“When people approach [him] with questions, he blocks them, I’ll amplify your voice because he shouldn’t be blocking people,” said Vaid.
“That’s my way of writing it right back to him every time.”
Vaid said he too gets his fair share of hate speech on social media, but doesn’t block them because freedom of speech is what the country is all about — and neither should the rep who lost his job when he admitted to felony tax fraud.
“People write on my Twitter all sorts of horrible things about Muslim people, they write on my Twitter the most disgusting and vile things — I may not agree, but they have every right to put that stuff there,” he said.
Vaid, who lives in Williamsburg but said he’d move to the Rock if elected in 2018, said Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D–Red Hook) inspired him to run for office as someone who has been an outspoken critic of President Trump. He joined thousands of Muslim-ban protesters at JFK Airport last January, and spoke up for the people of Puerto Rico.
“I have to say that after Trump won, many of us had a lot of feelings regarding that, and in January I was inspired by Representative Nydia Velázquez as an example that she was willing to stand up the against the unconstitutional Muslim ban and immediately went to the airport offered. She called Trump shameful,” he said.
“I was so inspired by that, I saw that’s what a congress person can be — to see the power beyond just voting for bills.”
And Vaid said as a former Bay Ridgite, he also saw similar attacks on minority groups echoing from the White House down to Staten Island and Bay Ridge and knew that was the community he wanted to represent.
“I saw myself in a unique position to offer real representation to people who are often blocked or ignored, Muslims, the black community, LGBT community, everyone that I feel the White House and Trump have unfairly targeted; it’s my way of pushing back on that,” he said.
Vaid joins Army veteran Max Rose, Bay Ridge resident Mike Decillis, Staten Islander Zach Emig, and Staten Islander Michael DeVito in vying for the Democratic nomination in a notoriously conservative district to replace Donovan, the former Staten Island District Attorney.