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Rudy and Bill: Run Silent, Run Deep

June 18, 2007

Twice in the past three months, Rudy Giuliani has visited Bill Bratton at his office in Los Angeles where he is police chief. Twice, Mohammed has come to the mountain.

One doesn’t need to be a scholar to figure out what that portends. As mayor of New York a decade ago, Rudy forced Bratton out as police commissioner despite record-breaking success in slashing the city’s crime rate. Now Rudy wants to ensure Bratton’s silence about those days.

Let’s start with Rudy’s firing, in February 1995, of Bratton’s spokesman and confidante John Miller and you’ll see why. Remember how Rudy ordered Miller to fire all 36 police officers in the Public Information office that Miller ran?

Remember how Rudy had his counsel Dennison Young order Miller to fire them within 24 hours because Rudy questioned their loyalty — not to the department but to him? Remember Miller’s response? He refused, saying, “Now loyalty is important. Loyalty runs up. I’m loyal to the mayor. I’m loyal to the police commissioner. But there were loyal Nazis too." Then he called a news conference to announce he was quitting.

Remember what happened two weeks after that? Rudy went after Bratton. This time he didn’t use Denny Young to do his dirty work. He used his 30-year-old press secretary Cristyne Lategano. Yes, that Cristyne Lategano. She and Rudy were spending so much time together that Rudy’s wife, Donna Hanover, refused to appear in public with her because Donna believed she was having an affair with her husband.

Remember what Cristyne told reporters about Bratton after he was glowingly profiled in the New Yorker magazine while Giuliani received scant notice? “Public relations was put before any kind of substance,” she began. “When you put glamour over fighting crime, it leads to serious problems…. We’re here to fight crime, not to be Hollywood stars. This is real life cops, not NYPD Blue.”

Then, apparently referring to Bratton, she added: “This job is not a stepping stone to something later in life. If police officers would rather be on TV or on the covers of magazines instead of fighting crime, then their priorities need to be straightened out.”

Yes, that was quite a mouthful from a 30-year-old with virtually no prior experience in government. Remember what former Mayor Ed Koch said of her? “You cannot have people around the mayor embarrass your police commissioner in public. His [Giuliani’s] press secretary does not have the right or responsibility to publicly chastise the police commissioner. To humble, to seek to humiliate the police commissioner is to me incredible.”

That was the beginning of the end for Bratton as police commissioner. He lasted another year, when Rudy went after him for signing a book contract with Random House to write his autobiography. Rudy suggested Bratton had a possible conflict of interest and had the city’s Conflict of Interest Board investigate him. Today, 11 years later, the board has yet to issue a finding.

But the Rudy-Bratton contretemps wasn’t over. Oh no. Remember what happened next? Remember how Rudy allowed Bratton’s successor, Howard Safir, to jaunt out to Hollywood a couple of times — at least once on Ronald Perelman’s corporate jet and on RP’s dime? Well, the Conflict of Interest Board [with encouragement from Your Humble Servant] investigated that — and forced Safir to reimburse the city $8,000. Rudy had no comment.

Remember another Hollywood trip when Safir played himself on television? Remember the name of that television program? It was NYPD Blue. Rudy had no comment on that either.

Or remember when Safir was seen on television in Hollywood at the Oscars, having told the City Council he had a “scheduling conflict” and could not attend a hearing on the Amadou Diallo shooting the following morning? Rudy made Safir take the red-eye to ensure he returned on time.

Then remember how, with Rudy at his side at City Hall, Safir referred to Bratton as “some airport cop from Boston.” Safir couldn’t even get that right. [In New York Bratton had been head subway cop. He never worked at an airport in Boston or anywhere else.]

Finally, remember how Rudy ignored Bratton’s role and that of his aide Jack Maple in turning around the city’s crime? Instead, he called Safir “the greatest police commissioner in New York City’s history.”

Now let’s move on to Safir’s successor, Bernie Kerik. He also wrote a book, which made the best-seller list. Rudy said nothing about that.

Kerik also had two detectives research the book on department time. The Conflict of Interest Board forced him to reimburse the city. Rudy said nothing about that either.

O.K., so what’s been the result of Rudy’s second meeting with Bratton?

According to The Times, which reported it last week, Rudy held a news conference the following day and credited Bratton and Maple for the city’s unprecedented crime drop.

For the first time in ten years, with regard to reducing the city’s crime, Mohammed is saying “We”— not “I.”

Joke of the Week.
From the same Times story: “People who know Mr. Giuliani say that three events — his battle with cancer, his third marriage to Judith Nathan, and the attacks on 9/11 — all of which occurred in a short period, helped mellow him.…”

Memo to Times reporter from Your Humble Servant:

Rudy, mellow? Hahahaha.

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Copyright © 2007 Leonard Levitt