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Koch For Kelly

August 6, 2007

Former Mayor Ed Koch says he wants the city’s next mayor to be a man who says he’s not running for the job — Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

“I am going to support him,” Koch said in a telephone interview. “If he runs — and I think he will — I am for him.”

Koch issued what could be a public nudge to Kelly, apparently withdrawing, or at least suspending, his prior support for the expected candidacy of city comptroller William Thompson.

Although Mayor Mike Bloomberg has hinted that Kelly would be a worthy successor, Koch is the first unequivocal blue chip endorsement the police commissioner has received.

For what it is worth, his endorsement was offered without consulting Kelly, said Koch’s former press secretary, George Arzt. Arzt added that Koch hasn’t spoken to Kelly in some time and has never discussed politics with him.

“Most ex-mayors are for a strong mayor and Koch thinks Kelly would be a strong mayor,” says Arzt.

Should Kelly run, it is unknown what his party affiliation will be, but Koch, a Democrat, has crossed party lines in the past.

Should Kelly run, a key question will be who succeeds him as police commissioner. Koch says Kelly will have to resign within nine months to a year before the election.

His successor, Koch says, “will probably be someone within the department, and Bloomberg would probably rely on Kelly’s judgment.”

If that’s the case, Kelly’s successor will probably not be a strong commissioner. That will be underscored if Kelly is elected mayor. Like his nemesis Rudy Giuliani, Kelly wouldn’t want his police commissioner to outshine him.

Kelly’s micromanaging and hog-the-spotlight behavior have characterized his tenure as P.C. With the possible exception of former CIA operative David Cohen, Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence, Kelly has emasculated his top brass. He makes all decisions and takes sole credit for all successes.

Those successes have been major. First, there is the continuing fall in the crime rate. Equally important, there has been no terrorist attack.

Whether the credit belongs to his counter-terrorism initiatives is unknown and irrelevant. The fact remains: you can’t beat those results.

Judith, Née Judi. Rudy Giuliani may talk tough to terrorists and even frighten Russia’s Vladimir Putin. But a recent Vanity Fair magazine article presents the leading Republican presidential candidate as putty in the hands of his wife.

The article skewers Judi Nathan, saying she now insists on being called “Judith.” The magazine also suggests Rudy is already distancing himself from her. Remember his boast that Judi, oops, Judith, a former nurse, would contribute insights at cabinet meetings about health matters? Reaction was so negative, Rudy hasn’t mentioned it since. The Vanity Fair article also suggests that Rudy has physically begun to distance himself from her when she becomes too pushy and demanding.

On the other hand, Rudy’s supporters point out it was Judi/Judith who back in the day helped nurse Rudy through his prostate cancer after his then wife Donna Hanover allegedly made life so miserable for him at Gracie Mansion that he turned up at his friend Howard Koeppel’s apartment, suitcase in hand and with no money in the bank.

Dead Board Stupid.
A couple of years ago, this column referred to the CCRB as “Dead Board Walking” after Mayor Bloomberg allowed Kelly to flaunt the city charter amendment that mandates the NYPD cooperate with the CCRB in its investigations.

Now we’ll call the CCRB “Dead Board Stupid.” Last week it criticized the actions of two cops who responded to a Brooklyn laundromat where two female employees had locked themselves inside and called 911, saying they saw a menacing man outside. When the cops arrived, they spotted a homeless man running away, caught up to him, patted him down and released him.

Memo to the CCRB: What would you expect the cops to do?

The Board also criticized Chief of Department Joe Esposito for cursing at Hasidic Jews while attempting to quell a mini-riot.

Memo to CCRB: Four-letter words are part of police officers’ DNA. Even chiefs’.

For the second time in four years, a former top NYPD official is in contention to head the Chicago police department. Once again, it appears he won’t get the job.

This time, it’s ex-NYPD Chief Thomas Belfiore, who now heads Westchester County’s police department. He was one of three finalists until Chicago Mayor Richard Daley announced last week that he wants to expand the search.

Four years ago, former Deputy Commissioner Garry McCarthy made Chicago’s short list but got no further. He now heads Newark’s police department, where by all accounts he’s making the best of an impossible situation.

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Copyright © 2007 Leonard Levitt