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How doors fit grand scheme

July 30, 2004

While the Police Department investigates the purchase of four $50,000 high-tech security doors under former Commissioner Bernard Kerik, Newsday has obtained two schematic diagrams showing how the mystery doors might to have been installed.

The black-and-white diagrams show photos of Police Plaza's lobby and street level entrance. The first diagram, of the lobby, includes the words "GIL-2001," the model of the doors, and labels the various entrances to Police Plaza on the schematic.

The second shows a diagram of the street entrance, with the marking, "Day Care Center," a reference to the Finest Day Care Center for building employees, and across from it the words "Property Master," an apparent reference to the Property Clerk's office. Police sources say the department was concerned about security involving arrestees returning to the property clerk's office to obtain their confiscated belongings.

What the schematics reveal is open to interpretation. An aide to Kerik, under whom the doors were purchased in 2002, says they represent "a plan, the fact that people were spoken to, that a project had been started and thought out."

Paul Browne, a spokesman for current Commissioner Ray Kelly, said earlier this month the department had no purchase order for the doors and denied knowledge of what had become of them. Newsday discovered them at Rikers Island, where they had been for the past two years, together with other high-tech doors. Thirteen are in use; 19 are not in use and three are being installed.

Both Kerik and his top aide, John Picciano, have denied knowing about the doors at One Police Plaza.

But a person with knowledge of the door situation said: "How can Kerik say he doesn't know anything about the doors? Where is the accountability in management? He and Picciano owe the public an explanation. And if there were other unused doors at Rikers Island, why couldn't two of those doors simply be taken and given to the PD through an inter-agency transfer, which is routinely done in government?"

Another explanation was offered by a police official who also has knowledge of the door situation. The official says the doors were ordered by then-Deputy Commissioner for Management and Budget Felix Lam, who was brought to the department by Kerik after he fired Joe Wuensch. Lam, now the deputy general manager of finance for the Housing Authority, did not return a phone call.

"Kerik became frustrated with Wuensch," the official said. "Kerik got a lot done fixing up old station houses that Wuensch said couldn't be done." Referring to the doors, the official said, "Kerik finally announced, 'I want this done now, no questions asked.' And the bureaucracy responded."

Wuensch, who did not return a call from Newsday, was subsequently hired by Kelly as chief of staff, an apparent slap at Kerik, whom Kelly has privately sniped at.

Browne's announcement about the doors followed Kerik's indirect criticism of Kelly for allowing ABC television unfettered access to the department for its series 24/7, which exacerbated tensions between the NYPD and the Fire Department.

Just think, it was only three years ago that Mayor Michael Bloomberg ran for mayor and designated Kelly to persuade Kerik to remain as commissioner while Kelly denied any interest in the job himself.

The Morg and Leslie show (cont). Ex-Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder, who is mounting an exploratory campaign against Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, held a fund-raiser at Elaine's restaurant on the Upper East Side a couple of weeks ago.

In the midst of it, some 20 homeless people showed up outside to picket, accusing Snyder and fund-raiser host Richard Emery of "age-ism." The Morg, who has been DA since 1975, will be 86 when the election is held next year.

"The issue," Emery said, "is the right of Manhattanites to vote for the DA, not to have him appointed by the governor if someone between 86 to 90-years-old dies in office."

Morgenthau campaign spokesman George Arzt says the Morgenthau campaign had nothing to do with the picketing. "I just wonder what will happen when we hold our fund-raiser at Elaine's," he said.

Staff writer Sean Gardiner contributed to this column.

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© 2004 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.