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Let the 1998 games begin

January 6, 1998

Here are some predictions of what might occur around One Police Plaza in 1998.

January: Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announces a mammoth ceremony for Howard Safir in April to celebrate his second anniversary as police commissioner. City Hall sources say the ceremony will focus national attention on the city's historic crime reductions. And it will be aimed at upstaging former commissioner Bill Bratton - whose book saying that Giuliani thwarted Bratton's attempts to reduce crime even further is expected to be released about the same time.

February: The fourth trial on misdemeanor charges of ex-48th Precinct cop John Lowe begins in the Bronx. Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson says he is committed to rooting out police corruption, even if it means trying Lowe two dozen times.

March: The jury trying Lowe is dismissed after pronouncing itself hopelessly deadlocked. Johnson says he will soon decide whether to try Lowe a fifth time.

Mayor Giuliani is spotted walking down Fifth Avenue with his wife, Donna Hanover. Passersby say the mayor and his wife were actually speaking to each other.

City Hall reporters, noting that Hanover had refused to appear at mayoral events at which Communications Director Cristyne Lategano was present, begin a "Lategano Watch," recording the frequency with which she appears with the mayor.

April: The mammoth Safir inaugural opens at City Hall, where Chief of Department Louis Anemone, Queens car dealer Howard Koeppel and the mayor, in a floor-length red gown, perform the macarena. The show-stopper, however, is a little white dog that jumps onto the podium, rolls over on her back and begins yipping to the music. The dog, who answers to the name "Lil," is identified as that of Safir's spokeswoman, Marilyn Mode.

May: Random House, Bratton's publisher, complains that police are blocking distribution of Bratton's book to city bookstores. A group of writers and editors who hang out at Elaine's Upper East Side restaurant demonstrate outside City Hall for "free speech." The demonstration ends when Safir appears and passes around an outline of his own revised autobiography, which had been rejected by two dozen publishers.

June: Crime figures for the first six months show fewer than 100 homicides, a figure not seen since World War II. Polls show New Yorkers no longer view crime as a problem, placing it 11th on their list of "serious concerns," just above "the decline of moral values."

When, the following week, the police catch the Upper East Side serial rapist, the mayor announces a Fox 5 television special that concludes with a "perp walk" of the suspect outside One Police Plaza. The special's impact is lessened, however, when Mode's dog, Lil, runs through the police lines, jumps up on the perp and begins licking his face.

July: Giuliani announces he is taking a Fourth of July vacation with his family. He is spotted exiting a Howard Johnson's restaurant in North Carolina in a miniskirt and pumps. City Hall denies the report, saying the mayor never left New York City.

Rumors that Lategano has blockaded herself in her basement office at City Hall to get more work done prove false.

August: Safir cancels his weekly news conferences, saying that in the six months he has held them, not one newspaper or television station has reported anything he has said.

Bronx D.A. Johnson announces he will try Lowe for a fifth time.

September: Former First Deputy Commissioner John Timoney, who once referred to Safir as a "lightweight," is offered the police chief's job in Washington, D.C. Giuliani announces he will travel to Washington to fight it.

Safir signs a book deal about his experiences as police commissioner. He says his book will be far more interesting than Bratton's.

October: Lowe goes on trial for the fifth time. Again, the jury is hung. Johnson says he will decide by year's end whether to try him yet again.

November: Timoney is offered the top police jobs in Chicago and in Phoenix. Giuliani announces he plans to travel to both cities to fight it but is dissuaded after Mayor Lee Brown of Houston threatens to travel there and fight him.

December: While Giuliani announces he will spend Christmas with his family, a committee of feminists demonstrates outside City Hall, chanting "Fair Play for Cristyne!"

Reporters track her to her basement office where she appears, as one report describes her, "fatigued and disoriented."

"The unfairness of it all," she sighs, "the unfairness."

The city's murder rate plummets to levels not seen since the Dutch first arrived.

Johnson announces he will try Lowe a sixth time.

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© 1998 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.