One Police Plaza

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Say Good Night, Gracie

August 20, 2012

The curtain is going down on Michael Bloomberg’s third term but our billionaire mayor doesn’t want to leave the stage.

How else to explain his latest chimerical plan? He wants to host a national debate on immigration policy with another billionaire — that great humanitarian Rupert Murdoch.

Bloomberg’s debate fantasy follows by a few weeks another righteous initiative that went nowhere: his call for a national dialogue on gun and violence, prompted by the Batman movie massacre in Aurora, Colorado.

What a contrast all this bluster is to Mayor Mike’s hands-off stance on related issues that he can actually affect back in New York City.

You want to talk about immigration policy? Why not start with the New York City Police Department’s widespread spying on the city’s largely immigrant Muslim communities?

The NYPD’s spying — which, according to secret Intelligence Division documents, consists of compiling information on hundreds of mosques, Islamic schools, Muslim-owned businesses and non-governmental groups, Muslim student groups and “persons of interest” — is not confined to New York City.

Intelligence Division detectives spied on Muslims in New Jersey and as far away as Buffalo. [And that’s just a couple of places we know of.]

How about guns and violence? Let’s start with Bloomberg’s vanishing act after Police Commissioner Ray Kelly attacked black officials for remaining “shockingly silent” and lacking “outrage” about gun violence in their own communities.

Or Bloomberg’s decade of silence over Kelly’s “Stop and Frisk” policy. Until the city’s body politic recently awoke and started screaming, the police had made no fewer than three million stops of minority teenagers and young men in their twenties, virtually all of whom were innocent of any crime. In 2011, police made 685,724 stops, a 600 per cent increase since Bloomberg became mayor in 2002. Eighty-eight per cent of the stops resulted in no arrests or summonses. Weapons — the stated reason for the stops — were found in only one per cent of them.

And when Bloomberg did speak, nonsense came out of his mouth. Lamely side-stepping the furor over Kelly’s blast at the city’s black officials, Bloomberg said: “No one has done more to improve community and police relations than Ray Kelly.”

Or, echoing Kelly — following disclosures that, despite the 600 per cent increase in the number of stops, the number of weapons police found on people has actually decreased —Bloomberg said this showed that criminals were keeping their guns at home: "The fact that we are getting fewer guns says it’s working."

Can you imagine Rudy Giuliani or Ed Koch hiding behind his police commissioner? Can you imagine Giuliani or Koch allowing his police commissioner to dictate policy?

Can you imagine Giuliani or Koch allowing the NYPD’s Intelligence Division, which runs the spying on Muslims, to become a rogue outfit with no outside supervision or accountability?

This is failed mayoral leadership. This is why Bloomberg does not belong in elective office. In short, he lacks the stomach to mix it up with the big boys.

Alas, Bloomberg’s greatest accomplishment will probably be recorded as having used millions from his seemingly limitless bank accounts to overturn the city’s two-term limit law so he could run for a third term.

He then spent more millions to defeat his listless opponent, William Thompson, by just a few thousand votes.

Here now are some suggestions so that Mayor Mike can avoid making a pest of himself if he insists on remaining in the spotlight.

One: push for a post in the next Administration, either as an ambassador or in the cabinet. He might, for example, make a pretty good Secretary of the Treasury.

Two: take advantage of the declining mainstream media and expand Bloomberg News, his own media empire. That way, he can set agendas, write editorials and influence policy.

That’s a sure way to get the big boys, who have ignored him on gun control and immigration, to listen.

He can even make Kelly his director of security, although Bloomberg might be wise to forbid Kelly from appearing in the offices of newspaper editors to try and intimate them and their reporters.

As this column illustrates, bullyboy tactics don’t always work.

BILL BRATTON: CURTAIN GONG UP? So Bill Bratton has signaled he wants a second act as New York City Police Commissioner.

Making millions at Kroll, a corporate security firm, apparently means nothing more to Bratton than holding a Joe Blow security job.

He probably figured that, if his rival and nemesis Ray Kelly can return as P.C., why can’t he?

Bratton is altering his strategy from his last audition for his old job when in 2001 he glommed on to the leading Democratic candidate, the hapless Mark Green. We see where that got him.

This year, he’s making the rounds of all the candidates, save one — the leading Democrat Christine Quinn, who’s said that any mayor would be “incredibly lucky” to keep Kelly. [Whether that echoes Bloomberg’s 2001 gambit — pretending to want to keep then police commissioner Bernie Kerik — remains to be seen.]

As capable as Bratton is, he’s no sure bet to become the city’s next P.C.

There are plenty of guys out there who can do the job.

Let’s start with Chief of Department Joe Esposito, who has served 10 years in that spot under Kelly and another year before that under Kerik. He is said to be the glue that holds the department together today, despite Kelly undercutting him.

Then there’s Espo’s former boss, the former First Deputy Commissioner Joe Dunne, whom Giuliani probably wishes he’d appointed P.C. instead of Kerik. At his swearing in as First Dep in 2002, black cops at Police Plaza — as well as a contingent of African-Americans from Brooklyn, where Dunne had recently served — gave him a standing ovation. Also, check out news photos of Dunne on 9/11. Despite a previous leg injury, he, shortly after the planes struck, was hobbling around Ground Zero on crutches.

There’s also former Deputy Commissioner Garry McCarthy who made great strides heading Newark’s police department and is currently fighting an uphill battle as the Superintendant of Chicago’s police force.

And there’s Bratton protégé John Timoney. He’s headed police departments in Philadelphia and Miami and currently holds the job as advisor for the security forces of the small Mideast country Bahrain, which is fighting an internal insurrection.

As Chief of Department at the NYPD two decades ago, Timoney was an unsung hero during the 30th precinct corruption scandal. After indicting numerous cops on major corruption charges, prosecutors then focused on other cops for relatively minor matters. Following the suicides of two cops and the suicide threat of a third, Timoney urged the prosecutors to wrap up their investigation to avoid more deaths. In return, they charged, falsely, that Timoney was “soft” on corruption.

Bratton, meanwhile, might consider the advice of a recent Post editorial, headlined: “Raise Your Sights, Bill.”

The editorial suggested he run for mayor.

“That’s where the vacuum exists — and where the opportunity lies,” the Post declared.

Recall that not too long ago the Post was cheering on Kelly.

Their cue to Bratton may mean that Kelly is definitively out of the race. If so, Bratton might make an interesting law-and-order alternative. He’s got Kelly’s plusses, without the chip on his shoulder.

The Post cautions that it is not endorsing him.

But it concludes, “Run, Bill, run. Why the hell not?”

For the first time in recorded history, NYPD Confidential agrees with the Post.


Copyright © 2012 Leonard Levitt