Brown eyeing mayoral race
July 29, 1996
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown dislikes Rudolph Giuliani so much he's listening to friends urging him to run for mayor.
The diminutive Brown (who's just a few inches above five feet) started boiling this spring after Giuliani joined Gov. George Pataki in denouncing Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson for his reluctance in seeking the death penalty for the killer of Police Officer Kevin Gillespie.
Giuliani then attacked as too lenient Johnson's indictment of Anthony Rivers after Rivers allegedly caused the the death of Police Officer Vincent Guidice. Guidice died after Rivers allegedly pushed him into a broken mirror, severing his artery, during a domestic dispute. A Bronx grand jury indicted Rivers for criminally negligent homicide. Giuliani railed that Johnson should have sought to indict him for murder.
When Brown suggested Giuliani lay off Johnson and mind his own business, the city's Office of Management and Budget stripped $2.23 million from Brown's 1996 and 1997 budgets.
Brown responded by reducing the hours of his complaint room, which had been open from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. Four hours later, Giuliani's first deputy at One Police Plaza, Howard Safir, ordered the transfer of 15 detectives from Brown's elite D.A.'s squad back to precinct units. The order was issued at 7 p.m., effective at midnight.
Brown's investigators argued to Giuliani crony Howard Wilson, who is city commissioner of investigations, that many active narcotics and organized-crime cases worked by those detectives would be lost. Safir then telephoned Brown, promising to rescind the cutbacks if Brown promised to reopen his complaint room as before.
Brown promised. At 10 p.m., Safir rescinded the transfers.
So what do Brown's friends think about his running for mayor?
City Council President and fellow Queens official Peter Vallone: "He's been a master of every job he's undertaken. He's been a terrific D.A., and I'm sure if he ever wanted it, he'd make a great mayor."
Queens Democratic Party Chairman and U. S. Rep. Tom Manton: "He certainly would be a player if he decides to make an official announcement. He has a wonderful resume. He's fairly well known and his office has a damn good record."
PBA president Lou Matarazzo, who's also feuding with Giuliani: "I can always support a candidate of Judge Brown's caliber."
A former appellate judge, Brown was appointed D.A. in 1991 by Gov. Mario Cuomo to replace the somnambulant John Santucci. He ran unopposed last year with five-party endorsement. Normally loquacious, last week he offered only political boilerplate: "I'm happy where I am."
No More Machines. Without acknowledging that the office she inherited is a mess, Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Marilyn Mode says she wants to improve it. First, she's removed the damnable answering machines people reached when the lines were busy. Second, she says she's recruiting cops "who know the news business, who know the demands the media is under in terms of providing them with accurate and timely information."
Three cops who knew the news business, however, recently left the office. John Hickey moved to Latent Prints after a run-in with the relentlessly effervescent Mode. Julio Martinez moved to the Intelligence Division. And Debra Kearns, who'd argued with a City Hall speechwriter demanding crime statistics she couldn't provide quickly enough, moved down the hall to Crime Stoppers.
The Forgetful Lover. After a two-week memory lapse, Lenny Alcivar, the NYPD's 24-year-old Director of Press Operations, has remembered the address, 36 W. 89th St.: it was his girlfriend's.
Alcivar registered to vote from that address in 1993, shortly after joining the Giuliani campaign, although he acknowledges he really lived in West New York, N.J. By election day, he was back at Kenyon College in Ohio, strugglng unsuccessfully to maintain his grade-point average (He dropped out the following year and became a Giuliani press aide) and never voted.
Although Board of Elections counsel Kathy King says registering under a false address is a felony, its Director of Communications, Naomi Bernstein, says the Board will not pursue the matter. In dazzling bureaucratic double-talk, Bernstein explained, "We have nothing to go on. We have no way of knowing he wasn't really living there."
Mode, Alcivar's nominal boss, (It's not clear whether he reports to her or to City Hall.) had nothing to say. Neither did the mayor's press secretary Colleen Roche, who didn't return phone calls. Rumor has it the mayor was annoyed only that Alcivar hadn't voted for him.
Email Leonard Levitt at email@example.com
© 1996 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.