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Rudy snubs another invite

February 11, 1998

Not content with snubbing the Grammy awards and wishing the entire extravaganza back to Los Angeles, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is staying away from another ceremony he has attended for the past three years.

The ceremony, on Feb. 25 - the same night as the Grammy awards - is the annual Police Foundation dinner at One Police Plaza. The foundation is the city's largest police support organization, whose fat-cat trustees from the business community donate more than $1 million a year to the department.

Foundation officials were told last month that Giuliani refused to attend because it had selected as its honorary "dinner chairman" Daily News publisher Mortimer Zuckerman, sources told Newsday.

The sources said a top foundation official was told, "You picked the wrong chair."

Pam Delaney, the foundation's executive director, confirmed the mayor wasn't attending its dinner and that an official from Giuliani's office had told the foundation of the mayor's decision last month.

Delaney said the official told the foundation the mayor "never gives a reason" whenever he decides not to attend a function.

Mayoral spokeswoman Colleen Roche confirmed the mayor was not attending the dinner but said this was because he was attending a town meeting on Staten Island.

At his news conference yesterday, Giuliani reiterated that he had a town meeting to attend the night of the dinner and denied trying to avoid anyone. He also labeled as "scurrilous" a reporter who asked Roche earlier whether the mayor was boycotting the dinner because of Zuckerman. Roche later identified the reporter as this columnist.

 

Zuckerman did not return phone messages left at his office seeking comment.

The mayor's anger toward Zuckerman stunned Police Foundation officials and surprised many at the News.

Under Zuckerman, the News supported Giuliani for mayor against David Dinkins in 1993. At the time, Zuckerman feared forfeiture of a $33.8 million letter of credit because he'd failed to close a deal on the Columbus Circle site he had purchased a decade before. After becoming mayor, Giuliani allowed Zuckerman to walk away from the property for only $17 million, which many called a sweetheart deal.

What caused their purported rift is unknown, although there have been enough points of friction. The first public disclosure that all was not well between them occurred in May, 1996, after Police Commissioner Howard Safir barred a Daily News reporter from a news conference shortly after Safir was appointed.

On May 21 of that year, Zuckerman told a forum at the Regency Hotel sponsored by the Columbia School of Journalism that Giuliani and Safir had privately assured him that barring the reporter was a mistake and would not occur again. But Giuliani denied such a conversation ever occurred.

Over the past two years, the News has sued the Police Department over its refusal to release public information such as crime statistics and Safir's private telephone logs. During the brouhaha over allegations about an affair between the mayor and his Communications Director Cristyne Lategano, the News began a "Donna Watch," which concerned the mayor's wife, Donna Hanover Giuliani.

Meanwhile, the paper's editorial page has supported Giuliani's favorite topic, the death penalty. Last fall, like all the city's newspapers, it endorsed him for re-election.

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© 1998 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.