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The Police Foundation: Captured by the Kellys

December 14, 2009

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and his wife Veronica must be feeling pretty smug. They have forced out the Police Foundation’s longtime and conscientious executive director Pamela Delaney.

Kelly had groused that Delaney was earning too much money, smarting that her $214,680 salary topped his by almost $2,000.

Veronica Kelly told Delaney she could do her job, no doubt emboldened after volunteering for the foundation’s last fundraiser and helping to select the dinner menu, entertainment and table floral arrangements.

In forcing Delaney to resign after 26 years, during which time she vastly expanded the foundation’s resources and donor base, the Kellys have taken control of an organization that is supposed to be independent of the police department. A legacy of the 1970s Knapp Commission, the foundation was established as an anti-corruption measure to provide funds for the department as the police commissioner saw fit.

Instead, at times, the foundation has metamorphosed into a legal slush fund for misguided vanity projects of the commissioners.

In 1994, Bill Bratton wheedled $137,000 from the foundation for his image consultant John Linder, to prepare what Linder called a “cultural diagnostic.” Linder defined this as an “analytic tool that determines the cultural factors impeding performance and the corrective values that must be employed as principles for organizational change.”

Perhaps, like Linder, one needs a degree from Columbia University to understand such gibberish.

Seven years later, the foundation paid several thousand dollars for 30 plaster-of-Paris busts of then commissioner Bernie Kerik that he could give to friends when he left office. Delaney was so embarrassed when Newsday uncovered this that she hid the remainder of the busts that Kerik hadn’t given away.

In perhaps her finest hour, Delaney refused to fund Howard Safir’s brainstorm that it pay for a newspaper advertisement to counter a no-confidence vote by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

More than any other commissioner, Kelly has inserted himself into the foundation’s daily affairs.

Last year, the foundation began funding his vanity project — “The Raymond W. Kelly Graduate Scholarship,” which grants a $15,000 stipend and a 10 ½ month leave of absence to obtain a graduate degree in governmental administration or a police-related program at Harvard, Yale, Princeton or Columbia. [It is not specified that the degree requirement includes an understanding of Linder’s cultural diagnostic.]

The foundation also paid for an image consultant to promote Kelly as the face of the foundation for its fundraising among potential high-end contributors.

The hiring of the consultant — a former Ralph Lauren PR guy, Hamilton South — coincided with Kelly’s interest in running for mayor.

Since 9/11, the foundation has raised double the amount of money it had in the past, collecting $6 million last year.

Much of that money has paid the $75,000 in annual expenses for each NYPD detective that Kelly has stationed in about a dozen terrorism hotspots overseas.

Since the department has no legal authority outside New York City, and since the detectives’ deployment is beyond the city charter, the money to run these overseas efforts cannot come from the city budget.

Except for exacerbating tensions with the FBI, as occurred after the Madrid train bombing in 2004 when both agencies rushed to be the first to interview the Spanish National police, it is not clear what those postings have accomplished.

More than one police official has questioned whether Kelly’s stationing detectives overseas is another vanity project.

Foundation house-mouse Gregg Roberts, who did not return a phone call last week, is Delaney’s temporary replacement.

A person who answered the phone at the foundation on Friday refused to provide a phone number for its current chairwoman, Valerie Salembier.

The most interesting post-Delaney question is this: With Kelly in control of the foundation, will wife Veronica have an expanded role?

Will Kelly act like Safir who, a decade ago, installed his wife Carol as chairwoman of the Police Museum? She and Howard then attempted, unsuccessfully, to fund the museum by strong-arming Wall Street executives.

PROFILE IN COWARDICE. What kind of newspaper can have the respect of New Yorkers if it doesn’t support its own reporters, as the Daily News has failed to do with police reporter Wil Cruz?

Last month, a police sergeant threatened and cursed Cruz in front of half a dozen witnesses inside the NYPD’s Office of Public Information.

Leonard Levitt's new book, NYPD Confidential: Power and Corruption in the Country's Greatest Police Force, will be out in stores July 21. Preorder it today by clicking on the book at right.

The blow-up occurred simply because Cruz was trying to do his job. Sgt. Kevin Hayes flipped out when Cruz suggested he might have to call Hayes’ boss, Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Paul Browne, for information about a subway slashing — information Hayes was not providing.

According to witnesses, Hayes then shouted at Cruz: “I don’t care what you do. Get the f… out. I’ll kick your f…ing ass.”

Hayes’ supervisor, Lieu. Eugene Gene Whyte, who saw the commotion, remained in his office. According to police sources, Whyte later supported Hayes.

Hayes had a similar dust-up a few years before with another sergeant in the Public Information Office, sources say. That sergeant transferred out and remains in another command.

Granted, Hayes’ actions are hardly a fireable offense. Nonetheless, he has not apologized. Nor has he been reprimanded.

Meanwhile, the News has made no public statement about the attack on one of its own. One wonders whether any of its news executives have even bothered to contact Cruz.

So why is the News condoning Hayes’ behavior towards its own reporter?

Police bureau chief Rocco Parascandola called Browne about the incident, who assured him that Hayes’ actions would not be repeated.

But the News has taken no further action to ensure that this is indeed the case.

Managing editor Stuart Marques, who was apprised of the situation, has apparently never asked Cruz for his version. Nor apparently has he spoken with anyone at the police department.

It seems the News wants to handle the incident without embarrassing Browne, a former News reporter who is Commissioner Kelly’s closest aide.

Contrast the News’ inaction with the way the paper defended its former police bureau chief John Marzulli in 1996 when he was barred from an in-house news briefing by the newly appointed Commissioner Safir.

What angered Safir was that Marzulli, too, was simply doing his job. He had reported comments from outgoing first deputy John Timoney, calling Safir a “lightweight.”

The News immediately put out a statement, decrying Marzulli’s exclusion. News owner/publisher Mortimer Zuckerman even got into the act, publicly declaring that he had been assured that Safir would never again bar a reporter from his news briefing.

That turned out to be true — probably because Safir stopped holding briefings for an entire year.

As for Hayes, he was at his desk last week. Sources say he has even had dealings on minor stories with Cruz, but has yet to offer an apology.

Just a week after outgoing Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau bloodied Michael Bloomberg’s nose after the mayor accused Morgy of hiding secret funds, Mayor Mike took another beating.

Apparently still dreaming of a political career outside New York City, Bloomberg put his political organization behind Massachusetts Senatorial candidate Alan Khazei, who finished a distant third.

In this, Bloomberg seems to be imitating his predecessor Rudy Giuliani, who also backed a host of out-of-state candidates — and lost virtually every time.

Even the usually Bloomberg-loving Post took a poke at Big Mike over Thursday’s Times Square police shooting where an illegal street peddler packing high heat — a Mach 10 that can spit out 30 high-speed rounds — shot at a sergeant who, although outgunned, returned fire and fatally wounded the perp.

While Bloomberg again decried the lax weapon laws in other states, the Post hammered home the point that the mayor should pay attention to his own streets.

“[I]f Mike thinks this near-tragedy presents an opportunity to renew his crusade against Virginia gun shows and such, he's missing the point,” the Post editorialized. “For the episode shows quite clearly that plenty of work remains to be done right here in New York. Anecdotal evidence suggests that hustlers purporting to be rap artists have become increasingly ubiquitous around Times Square.”

Just think, Mayor Mike’s third term has not even begun.

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