After Coup Vote, Cop Union Prez Changes Mind

Paul Bass PhotoAngered by a hand-delivered letter stripping him of his powers, the embattled chief of New Haven’s police union declared Monday that he might not step down, after all.

The declaration by Police Union Local 530 President Arpad Tolnay (pictured in file photo) was the latest twist in an emotional drama that began in April, when he returned home from a honeymoon to learn that a coup was brewing in the ranks over an agreement he’d struck with city officials protecting veteran cops’ pensions and changing rules for firing cadets. Tolnay survived that insurrection. Then a new one erupted over allegations that he had misused a union credit card. (He denied the charge.)

The drama seemed to have come to an end on June 21 when Tolnay announced he will step down mid-way through his term.

But he didn’t give an exact date.

Meanwhile, his executive board already voted in a successor, Lou Cavaliere Jr.

Cavaliere showed up Friday on Dixwell Avenue, where Tolnay was working an extra-duty job. He delivered a letter from the executive board. The letter officially stripped Tolnay of his duties and bars him from negotiating with the city on a new union contract. It put him on a 30-day suspension while the parent union conducts an investigation into the credit-card allegations.

Now, Tolnay said, he has rescinded his offer to the executive board that he step down Aug. 1 after informing the rank and file about the situation at the upcoming July 18 union meeting.

All this is occurring while the police force continues to work under the terms of an expired contract. Negotiations over a new contract have stalled.

“As arrogant as it sounds, I still feel that the membership has a better chance of a contract with me than it does this riff-raff board. I’m going to make an appeal to the membership and I’ll let them decide. And I’ll respectfully go with whatever [the majority’s] decision is,” Tolnay told the Independent Monday.

“I feel I need to fight for this. I had agreed with them to lay down. I was going to walk away quietly, go to patrol and do my job.

“That board is not going to accomplish a goddamned thing for the membership. None of them have any guts. None of them have any knowledge of what needs to be done. They haven’t been around for an entire goddamned year.”

As an example of his point, Tolnay said that Cavaliere told him Friday that he was delivering the letter because none of the other board members “had the balls to do it. That’s a precursor to the entire attitude of that executive board. That’s what they’re going to get when it comes to negotiations, no balls.”

Asked about that Monday, Cavaliere said he’d prefer not to reveal details of a private conversation between him and Tolnay.

He did address the points of contention. He said the executive board had been under the understanding that Tolnay would resign his post effective July 1, not Aug. 1. When that didn’t happen, the board felt a need to act.

Cavaliere called the latest developments the result of “a miscommunication” that has left him feeling “down and out.”

“I wanted this to go smoothly,” Cavaliere said. “We have a lot of other issues that we’re trying to fight. We’re in the middle of contract negotiations. We’re getting sidetracked right now. I wanted to stay focused” on the contract.

He added that he hopes Tolnay steps down on his own and the resulting investigation and hearing over his fate can be avoided.

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posted by: streever on July 9, 2012  10:21pm

What is he going to do for New Haven?

1. End the prohibition on YPD responding?
2. Agitate the department to do “customer service tracking” (the department starts keeping—and publishing—metrics on their interactions with citizens)
3. End the lucrative overtime rules that assign officers to construction work on closed streets, which we directly pay for in the bill the contractors send to us? (FOI the bill for the traffic circle on Edwards at Livingston—that was an incredibly expensive line item, despite the Mayor’s oft-repeated assurance that “we don’t pay” for that.)

If this guy—or anyone in the police department for that matter—could make any of these happen, I’d go to bat for him.

posted by: GeeLow on July 10, 2012  6:18am

Drama drama and more drama.

posted by: stuckinNH on July 10, 2012  7:51am


posted by: Curious on July 10, 2012  10:42am

I’m more ready to believe in this guy than the son fo the guy who’s held the position for years.  That just reeks of cronyism and insider politics.

posted by: Theresa on July 10, 2012  11:02am

Just to address some issues with Mr Streever’s comment.  Yale police do respond to emergency calls.  What they don’t do nor do they want to is take out a pen and handle the paperwork, which can take hours.  Regarding extra duty work. Destefano is right and wrong.  The city may pay indirectly for the officer but without extra work the city would have to raise salarys to make-up the difference. 

NHPD is the lowest paid department in the state.  A top grade officer makes about $63,000 a year.  Sounds like a lot but remember that this means working holidays for straight time, working weekends, evenings and midnight shifts for at least 10 years or until you have enough seniority to get on the day shift.  Once on days you will still be required to work holidays and weekends for straight time. 

The Yale police, whom Mr Streever wants to respond to calls, make $81,000 top grade and get paid double time working holidays.

The six figure salarys you read about are the exception, not the norm.  The average cop works a extra job or 2 just to make the salary the Yale officer makes for 40 hours. 

Of course the Pension issue will be thrown in.  Well that pension will be over soon and the whole quagmire the pd and fd are in now is because the current administration signed these ridiculous pension perks instead of paying a comparable wage to other towns and cities in the state. 

To get back to the issue.  Tolnay needs to go.  He is becoming a dictator rather than a elected president and is ruining the negotiating position of the union.

posted by: Bunker on July 10, 2012  2:24pm

Theresa, I don’t know where you get your info but let me correct a few things for you:

#1 NHPD does not get straight time to work holidays. They also don’t get straight time to work second or third shift, they have what is called a shift differential.
#2 YPD patrol officers do not make anywhere near $81,000 base salary. Unlike NHPD they also can’t pas their retirements by working overtime, their retirements are calculated on their base salaries.

posted by: GeeLow on July 10, 2012  11:11pm

To Bunker,
Your are 100% wrong!

My uncle is a NHPD officer. NH cops get straight time for working their holiday shift. Also, this shift differential yoy talk anout is 1.00 an hour ($40) per week for working midnights for 10 years.

Yale does make $80,000 plus base for grade A officers.

Don’t spread propaganda. NHI can confirm this too.