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A comeback for Bratton?

November 15, 1999

The hourglass is running out on Rudolph Giuliani's mayoralty, and the future is his worst nightmare.

No, not merely the thought of Public Advocate Mark Green's succeeding him, but also the possible return of Bill Bratton and company to run the Police Department.

Note the viciously subtle symbolism of Green's hearing today on police brutality -Rudy's Achilles' heel -with Bratton as key participant while a federal investigation into the department's failure to discipline brutal cops hangs over Rudy's head like the sword of Damocles.

Rich Schrader, a spokesman for Green, says the public advocate and Bratton speak regularly.

"Mark is very impressed with him and his ideas," Schrader says.

Last week, Bratton suggested on the Daily News' op-ed page, that the current spike in homicides resulted from the Police Department's current lack of "commitment, inspirational leadership, innovation strong management." His successor, Howard Safir (who Bratton deigned not to mention by name), retorted on the same page four days later that in Bratton's "best year, 1995," the number of murders was 41 percent higher than today.

Schrader said that Green had also invited Bratton's former first deputy, John Timoney, to testify. In 1996, Giuliani passed Timoney over for Safir, prompting Timoney to call Safir a "lightweight." Giuliani then threatened to bust Timoney back to captain, a threat the mayor backed off from when then-Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Lou Matarazzo threatened a job action. (See One Police Plaza Confidential, April 5, 1996.) Last Tuesday, Timoney, now police commissioner in Philadelphia, spoke at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, prompting a turnout of top NYPD brass, apparently willing to risk discovery by Safir in order to have their faces recognized by their possible future leader.

Asked what would happen if the Safir clique learned of his presence, a top chief answered, "They won't find out unless you tell them." In his speech, Timoney pointed out that after remaining static for the past four years, homicides in Philadelphia are down 17 percent this year.

"How do you turn around an organization?" he asked. "You look at the leadership." So while the city waits for Rudy to go off to Washington and for Safir to simply go away, consider these possibilities: Bratton as deputy mayor for law enforcement or some such title. Timoney as police commissioner. Former police spokesman John Miller as chief of detectives. And Jack Maple, who many feel initiated Bratton's crime strategies, as deputy commissioner for public information.

Mike in Hiding. Chief Mike Scagnelli was holed up in the chief of detectives' office last week after his Yankee-parade dust-up with a cop from the mayor's security detail and the detail's head cop, Lt. Pat Henne, interceded.

The cop had halted Scagnelli as he escorted the widows and children of slain police officers through a restricted area or "frozen zone" to their reserved seats. Scagnelli then told the cop, "You work for us, not for the---mayor." Since in New York City it is now considered blasphemous, if not criminal, to insult Giuliani, his counsel and golfing partner Denny (The Enforcer) Young telephoned First Deputy Pat (The Puppet) Kelleher. Scagnelli toast, transferred to One Police Plaza.

Next, an anonymous "city official" opined to the New York Times that Scagnelli had appeared to be "hobnobbing" with celebrities at the parade.

This, of course, ignored the NYPD's grandest hobnobber, Commissioner Safir, who rode in the parade in a red convertible, sat at Yankee Stadium in the private box of Bronx millionaire Ed Arrigoni and appeared on the pitcher's mound with his spokeswoman, Marilyn Mode, the night the Yankees clinched the World Series.

(If the Conflicts of Interest Board ever settles the Revlon corporation's $7,000 freebie to Safir and his wife for the Oscars, it may want to investigate who paid for Safir's World Series tickets.) In an interesting twist, the PBA called a news conference Thursday to support Scaganelli. It was canceled, however, with PBA officials saying the slain cop Sean Carrington's wife -who was with Scagnelli at the parade and who was to have attended the news conference -was delayed in traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike.

What actually occurred was that minutes before the news conference, Kelleher called the PBA, asking the purpose of the news conference.

Scagnelli then called, pleading with the PBA to cancel it for fear he'd be busted back to captain, a la Timoney.

Your Humble Servant caught up wth Scagnelli leaving the chief of detectives' office. His last words, as a detective pulled him down the hall toward the 13th floor elevators, were, "I can't say anything."

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© 1999 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.