NYPD Confidential - An Inside Look at the New York Police Department
Home Page
All Columns
Contact Leonard Levitt
Search this site
Printable versionSend to a friendEmail Leonard Levitt

Now, Kelly’s More Important Than Kissinger

April 27, 2009

New York City’s most prominent group of toadies and sycophants, the Manhattan Institute, is hosting its annual Alexander Hamilton award dinner Wednesday.

Its Number One honoree is none other than Police Commissioner Ray Kelly — the same Ray Kelly who three years ago embarrassed the same group big-time, ruining one of its most prestigious public events with an 11th hour sulk.

This Major League “diss” occurred in 2006 when the Manhattan Institute co- sponsored an international anti-terrorism conference with Kelly and the NYPD at the Roosevelt Hotel.

It was supposed to be a big deal, commemorating the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, with invitations accepted by academics, law enforcement and government officials from around the country – and the most important participant was NYPD Commissioner Kelly.

However, at literally the last moment, Kelly bailed out, taking the NYPD with him. Not only did Kelly bolt, he turned around and threw together his own rival terrorism conference at Police Plaza on —you guessed it — the very day the Manhattan Institute held theirs.

No one ever officially explained what had gone wrong but the best guess is that Kelly welshed on his commitment to the Manhattan Institute after realizing that its terrorism conference also featured arch-rival Bill Bratton, who had succeeded him as police commissioner in 1994 and in 2002 became the head of the Los Angeles police department.

In fact, the Manhattan Institute and Bratton have been cozy over the years, even after Bratton left for L.A. In New York under Kelly, however, there is room for only one police commissioner, past or present.

O.K, so how did the Manhattan Institute get back in Kelly’s good graces?

Well, in awarding him its Alexander Hamilton award, the Institute bundled him with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Then, its invitations for the dinner placed Kelly’s name above Kissinger’s.


In fact, a letter from the Institute’s president Lawrence Mone to Kelly’s colleagues and so-called friends sounds like the nation’s former Secretary of State is playing second fiddle to the NYPD police commissioner.

“As you know, no one is more deserving of our Hamilton Award than Ray Kelly,” Mone wrote. “Over the years, he has worked tirelessly to keep New Yorkers safe from both crime and terrorism.”

After going on in this vein for a few more sentences, Mone added: “And the Commissioner is in good company: this year, a Hamilton Award will also be given to Henry Kissinger.”

Meanwhile the Institute sought to whitewash the past by saying that Kelly’s bailout from the anti-terrorism conference three years before never happened.

Said Lindsay Craig, Vice President of Communications: “It wasn’t a bailout. He was unable to participate. We were fine that he held his own conference. It wasn’t a problem. We never asked him his reasons. Whatever his reasons were, it was valid at that moment.”

Craig explained that the Manhattan Institute has had what she termed “an ongoing relationship with the NYPD for many years.”

Indeed it has. A revealing example was the Institute’s sponsorship, at the Harvard Club, of former NYPD police commissioner-turned-solider-statesman and political philosopher turned alleged tax cheat Bernard B. Kerik, following his three-month tour in Iraq in 2004.

For 30 minutes Kerik parroted President George Bush’s Iraq war policy before the Institute’s great thinkers. Here is some of what he said.

Bullet“I don’t care if they find [weapons of mass destruction] or not. Saddam tortured and killed one million people. Somebody had to go there.”

Bullet“It is better to fight terrorists in Iraq than in New York or Washington.”

Bullet“On Sept. 10, 2001, would anyone say there was an imminent threat? At what point does it become an imminent threat?”

Bullet“Saddam didn’t do 9/11. But did Saddam fund, and train Al Qaeda? The answer is yes. Then ask yourself, who hit the towers?”

To critics of the war, Kerik said, “Political criticism is our enemies’ best friend.”

For this, the Manhattan Institute audience gave him a standing ovation.

My, how times have changed.

One more point: According to the dinner invitations, prices for tables of ten range from $5,000 for a “Sponsor” table, to $75,000 for a “Dinner Patron,” which features “Premier Seating.”

We don’t know who will be seated next to Kelly. But has anyone forgotten The Finest Foundation dinner of 2002, out of which Kelly also bailed at the last minute, complaining that a $50,000 “Commissioner’s table” implied that access to him could be purchased?

Times’ reporter Mike Wilson’s amusing historical reflection on the soon-to-be dismantled “Shack” at police headquarters, where reporters have hung their fedoras for the past 36 years, sparked an unexpected drama over the weighty issue of The Shack’s first female bureau chief. Wilson, whose article ran on April 19, credited the Daily News’ Mary Ann Giordano, who became bureau chief in 1985. This prompted Jennifer Preston to point out that she had served as New York Newsday’s Bureau Chief in 1984.

Days of anguish followed for the newspaper of record because New York Newsday is now defunct and there apparently exists no written record to support Preston’s contention. In addition, Newsday was not big on titles and no one — not even Your Humble Servant, who worked in The Shack for New York Newsday in 1984 and to whom Preston sent an email reminder on April 20 — could remember.

To discover the answer, this reporter turned to Yahoo, typing in “First female police bureau chief in New York.” Surprisingly, another name came up: Michele McPhee, a former Daily News reporter who worked in The Shack and whose current bio describes her as the first female to run the News’ police bureau. Alas, for accuracy’s sake, McPhee worked in The Shack more than a decade after Giordano and Preston.

Meanwhile over at The Times, the paper yesterday made its call. “An article last Sunday about offices at 1 Police Plaza known as “The Shack,” where reporters work, attributed an erroneous distinction to a reporter who once headed a news bureau there. The reporter, Mary Ann Giordano, was the first female police bureau chief for the Daily News, starting in 1985; she was not the first female police bureau chief in the city. At least one other woman, Jennifer Preston, was a police bureau chief before Giordano, having started at “The Shack” in 1984 for New York Newsday.”

The Times concluded by pointing out that both Giordano and Preston currently work at the Times. That could prove interesting.

« Back to top