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So, who’s the winner here?

August 2, 1999

Who are we to believe about the agreement last week between the local press and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani purporting to make crime scenes, fires, parades and demonstrations more accessible to the media?

The Daily News owner, real estate mogul and defender of freedom of the press Mort Zuckerman, who blindsided his fellow media execs by secretly informing Giuliani he was abandoning plans to file a federal lawsuit against the city? Or the sometimes wacky, often-arrested and always infuriating artist Robert Lederman?

Zuckerman (as quoted in his newspaper): "This is a major step forward in press access to events that the citizens of New York City should know about. The News is pleased to have played a lead role on the issue, as it has on other First Amendment matters."

Lederman (in a fax to One Police Plaza): "Despite the glowing report in the Daily News, whose publisher was instrumental in avoiding what would have been an extremely embarrassing lawsuit for the mayor, this agreement is . . . a joke. Aside from admitting no wrongdoing . . . the NYPD is simply agreeing to obey the long-established rules in their own patrol guide: the same rules they have routinely been ordered to ignore . . .

"In short, this agreement is a great public relations victory for Mayor Giuliani and is at the same time an insult to both the people of New York City and the reporters they depend on for the news. That a real estate developer and major supporter of the mayor brokered the deal is no surprise in the city, which is increasingly becoming known as the First Amendment violation capital of the world."

The buzz.
So what was Howard Safir doing at JFK Jr. s memorial mass two Fridays ago? He wasn't invited, sources say, though neither were the mayor or governor.

Safir parked himself on 89th Street off Madison next to St. Thomas More church, where everyone could see him. With him was Deputy Commissioner for Public Information, Marilyn Mode, and two of her people, Inspector Mike Collins and a Lt. Sean Crowley.

Also on the scene because President Bill Clinton was coming were Danny Oates of the Intelligence Division, Bill Morange of Special Operations, Nick Estavillo of Manhattan North and Safir's personal coat-holder Richie Scheirer.

The commissioner didn't attend the pre-meet, plan the so-called frozen zones or go to any planning briefings. Not invited inside the church, he had to stick around outside for the entire service, so people would think there was a purpose to his being there.

Still, top-ranking police officials are saying he was only there to get his picture in the paper and appear on television.

Former Bronx Justice Burt Roberts is taking some early lumps since beginning a new career at age 77 and becoming an attorney in the Amadou Diallo case.

Roberts was hired last month to replace Marvyn Kornberg and represent Sean Carroll, one of the four cops who fired 41 shots, killing the unarmed African immigrant. His first legal move was to request a postponement of the trial date, scheduled for January.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Patricia Williams, whom Roberts supervised as Bronx administrative judge until his retirement last year, denied it. State court spokesman David Bookstaver said of her decision: "Her paramount concern is that the trial not be run by lawyers."

Roberts - who when he left the bench was also hired as "of counsel" to the politically connected law firm of Fischbein, Badillo - was also informed that when the Diallo trial begins he'll have to take a leave of absence from the firm.

Happy hunting.
Due to popular demand, we return now to Anne Arundel County and Maryland District Court to bring you an excerpt from Howard Safir's 1991 interview with "60 Minutes" that Safir hoped would lead to a book contract. It didn't.

Interviewer Steve Kroft begins by saying that Safir, as associate director for operations of the U.S. Marshals Service, "put the lawmen back in the business that originally made them famous: manhunting, an occupation that can move Howard Safir to quote Hemingway."

Safir then intones: "There is no hunting like the hunting of armed men and those who have hunted armed men long enough and like it never wish to do anything else thereafter."

Kroft: "And Howard Safir liked it?"

Safir: "I liked it."

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© 1999 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.