Rudy focused on pettiness
April 28, 1997
Are there no limits to the spite and pettiness of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani?
Are there no limits to the depths of embarrassment his paranoia is causing throughout One Police Plaza?
Let's begin with last week's swearing-in of First Deputy Commissioner Patrick Kelleher, a modest and eminently decent man but already forced to disavow two friends who, perhaps more than any others, were responsible for his rocketing to department stardom.
At his ceremony, Chief of Department Louis Anemone acknowledged some retired chiefs in the audience who'd worked with Kelleher over the years. One was former Chief of Patrol John McCabe. McCabe, like Kelleher, is one of the dozen or so "subway alumni," current and retired police officials who travel together each year to South Bend, Indiana for a Notre Dame football game. He explained his appearance at Kelleher's ceremony, saying, "You don't forget your old friends."
But our mayor demands total fealty from his vassals. This includes disavowing anyone who has offended or detracted from his greater glory.
Those two friends of Kelleher did just that. Neither was invited or apprised of his swearing-in, Kelleher acknowleged.
The first was former commissioner William Bratton. In October, 1994, Bratton promoted Kelleher to assistant chief. Three months later Bratton promoted him to head the Internal Affairs Division. Giuliani has never forgiven Bratton for glomming the media spotlight, including planting his mug on the cover of Time magazine. That so enraged Giuliani, it presaged the end of Bratton's tenure as commissioner.
The second friend was Bratton's First Deputy John Timoney, who after Giuliani passed him over for Howard Safir, called Safir a "lightweight." That so enraged Giuliani he tried to have Timoney demoted. Only the threat of retaliation by the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association prevented that.
Timoney, also one of the "subway alumni" and Kelleher's rabbi to Bratton, said, "I didn't realize he was being sworn in. It's a tough situation. I guess I can't blame him."
Kelleher's Not Alone. Take Det. Ray McGowan, president of the Emerald Society, the NYPD's largest fraternal organization, which before last month's St. Patrick's Day parade named Democratic mayoral candidate Sal Albanese its "Law Enforcement Man of the Year."
After a newspaper article mistakenly suggested that Albanese's award might preclude Giuliani from, marching, the mayor summoned McGowan. First, former First Deputy Tosano Simonetti called McGowan to Police Plaza and suggested it would be in his "best interests" to invite Giuliani to the parade. When McGowan explained that the mayor traditionally marched at the head of the parade - regardless of whom the Emerald Society honored - Simonetti sent him across the street to City Hall.
There, McGowan was seen closeted with mayoral counsel Dennison Young and Chief of Staff Bruce Teitlebaum. In fact, he wasted a full day at the hall, waiting to invite the mayor. McGowan, who termed this column's account "totally false," finally caught up with His Excellency in a corridor where people saw him make the invite and heard the may or respond: "Hey, Ray, thanks a lot. I'll be there."
Back to Bill. Finally, let's return to Bratton, blackballed last week from a Crime Strategy Conference, known as COMPSTAT, which Bratton authored while police commissioner, and supposedly open to the public.
The conference, to be held next month, was described in its literature as funded by a $100,000 Ford Foundation "Innovations in Government" award (the proposal for which had been written by Bratton staffers), and open to anyone who paid $385, which Bratton did.
While Ford Foundation officials ducked, a person involved in the conference said, "The Ford Foundation people are embarrassed. The money was awarded to the police department for a specific goal - to disseminate information about the program so that it can be replicated. Blackballing Bratton violates the spirit of the award. Where is the basis for the exclusion?"
The mayor denies any role in the blackballing and, as usual, left his marionnette at One Police Plaza Howard Safir to play the dolt. The party line now is that the blackballing was "a police decision" and that the conference is only for law enforcement personnel. (Bratton doesn't qualify because he's in the private security business.)
But Safir can't explain why a dozen other private security personnel are scheduled to attend. And both he and Marilyn Mode, who passes for an NYPD spokeswoman, won't say who made the so-called "police decision" to bar Bratton.
Email Leonard Levitt at firstname.lastname@example.org
© 1997 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.