State Assembly Democrats on Tuesday held what was supposed to be a routine committee meeting to consider final pieces of legislation before adjourning next month. Instead, it went off the rails, with fellow Democrats losing their tempers and insulting each other.
According to a video of the Codes Committee meeting viewed by NY1, things got heated when Committee Chair Jeffrey Dinowitz called for a vote on Westchester Democrat Amy Paulin’s bill, which requires police officers to take temporary custody of firearms when responding to reports of domestic violence.
This was not the first time the bill had come before the committee and failed to gather enough votes to pass. Dinowitz, a Bronx Democrat, was challenged on that point by Manhattan Democrat Daniel O’Donnell. Part of the exchange went like this:
O’Donnell: “Is this not the bill we voted down last week?”
Dinowitz: “This is the bill that did not have enough votes, and we removed it last week. Yes, it’s the same exact bill.”
O’Donnell: “So we now allow do-overs on some bills?”
Dinowitz: “I believe it is within my discretion to put bills on the agenda.”
O’Donnell: “The videotape said something different, Jeffrey. I would recommend you look at it.”
Dinowitz: “The point being, Daniel. The bill had neither enough votes to be reported last time. Nor did it have enough votes to be defeated or held.”
O’Donnell went on to say that it was unfair to the 149 other members of the House who can’t get their bills reconsidered. A short time later, a vote was held and once again, it didn’t have enough support to pass.
After the vote, O’Donnell proceeded to walk out of the hearing room. As he passed Queens Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, a Democrat who voted in favor of the bill, he audibly whispered to her: “Grow a pair, honey.”
Cruz became visibly upset, and immediately responded: “That was so disrespectful.” A few seconds later, Cruz stood up and declared: “I have something. I don’t care who is in here. I am a woman of color. I am an attorney. And to be spoken to like that, by a man. By a white man. In front of people. It is not ok.”
Dinowitz then said: “I didn’t hear what he said. I’m sorry. What did he say?”
As Cruz gets up to leave, she turns to Dinowitz and says: “He told me to grow a pair.”
NY1 reached out to O’Donnell and Cruz for comment, but did not immediately hear back.