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Rudy’s rudeness still irks

November 22, 1996

The greatest law enforcement official of the decade, if not the century, as his agent refers to him, was back in Beantown yesterday, a day after lambasting his former boss, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, as a race-baiter.

Ex-Police Commissioner Bill Bratton was attending a meeting of First Security Consulting, the Joe Blow security firm he'd vowed never to join, and wasn't taking phone calls - at least not from this reporter.

But here in New York, a common theme ran through the conversations of his former pals from One Police Plaza: If Bratton does run for mayor - which most of them doubt he will - his ambition is fueled not by ideology but by the deep and gratuitous slights Giuliani subjected him to during his two years as police commissioner.

Return now, nearly two years ago, to February 1995, when Giuliani sacked John Miller, Bratton's deputy commissioner for public information. Giuliani also sliced the size of the office in half. Both cuts followed a New Yorker magazine panegyric to Bratton, with barely a mention of Bratton's boss. "We're here to fight crime, not to be Hollywood stars," the mayor's spokeswoman Cristyne Lategano announced then. "This is real-life cops, not NYPD Blue.' "

Last April, Giuliani forced Bratton to quit. Three months before, on Jan. 15, Bratton's mug had appeared on the cover of Time magazine, with nary a mention of Rudy. The mayor has never publicly explained why he sacked Bratton, other than saying that Bratton resigned.

Less well-reported, say Bratton's aides, is what transpired in the period between the Time cover and Bratton's departure. In those weeks, PLAZA on Page A81 PLAZA from Page A8 Giuliani cut the department's overtime budget, blocked transfers and promotions, and delayed the key Brooklyn North drug initiative until Bratton left.

Then, there were the ostensibly secret meetings between Bratton and Corporation Counsel Paul Crotty, who questioned Bratton about the ethics of his freebee trips with his fat-cat friends. "They told us they wanted to do it this way to keep things quiet," said a Bratton aide. But after each meeting, verbatim accounts appeared in the New York Post.

Printable versionBratton aides say Bratton confronted Crotty, who, said a Bratton intimate, "felt uncomfortable being placed in the middle of this." Aides say Crotty acknowledged giving reports of the meeting directly to Giuliani.

Meanwhile, seven months later, the city's lawyers have yet to issue an ethics ruling on Bratton's trips.

Another aide pointed out that after Giuliani dumped Bratton, the mayor never solicited his advice. "The mayor never telephoned him," the aide said. "He never invited him to Gracie Mansion. He never put him on a commission. He never had him advise Howard Safir, Bratton's successor ."

Meanwhile, the public information office Giuliani nearly dismantled seems to have grown larger than ever. It's apparently grown so large that its current commissioner, Marilyn Mode, says she has no idea how many cops work there.

And earlier this month, with the mayor's obvious blessing, Commissioner Safir spent a weekend in Hollywood, appearing on "NYPD Blue."

And Giuliani's slights continue. A couple of weeks ago, Giuliani noted on television that while Bratton had been a good commissioner, crime had dropped even more under Safir.

Yesterday Giuliani said of Bratton's race-baiting remark, "That is something he should be ashamed of . . . If he were more skilled and seasoned he wouldn't have done it."

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© 1996 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.