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So Bill zings a few off Rudy

December 10, 1996

William Bratton may have called off his run for mayor, but he was still giving the shiv yesterday to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

In a telephone interview, Bratton cited as a reason not to run his unwillingness to jeopardize the journalistic career of his wife, Cheryl Fiandaca, as Giuliani did to his wife, Donna Hanover.

"Cheryl loves your business," said Bratton. "I'd hate by my running to place her in a position where, like the mayor's wife, she might have to give that up."

Bratton referred to a recent Giuliani embarassment - his support for Rupert Murdoch in Murdoch's struggle with rival Time-Warner, which led to allegations of a quid pro quo because Murdoch employed Hanover as a television reporter. Fiandaca is also a TV reporter.

Bratton also said he had decided against running because his business was close to landing some lucrative consulting contracts. "I can't do business and run a political campaign," he said. "Either I do it full-time or I don't do it."

Bratton apparently made his decision during the weekend and began calling his closest aides yesterday. He then departed for Washington on business and his secretary faxed the news to the Associated Press.

Despite this monumental announcement, Police Plaza was still standing yesterday. As City Hall's police spokesman Lenny Alcivar put it, "The department does not have an official reaction one way or the other."

Police Commissioner Howard Safir said of Bratton's announcement, which ended a few weeks of speculation that began after a political poll put him ahead of all Democratic challengers: "It is his decision."

When asked whether he ever entertained thoughts of political office, Safir answered, "There's nothing I want to be when I grow up. I'm already there."

Bratton had been there too, until Giuliani pulled the rug from under him after Bratton's picture appeared on the cover of Time magazine, forcing Bratton to take a job as head of an armed guard service, which he'd publicly sworn he'd never do.

Printable versionThey dressed his new company up as First Security Consulting, its name implying that it had to do with stocks or bonds. But the word Security meant security.

Since then Giuliani has continued to tweak Bratton. Last month he called him a "good" commissioner but added that crime had gone down even more under Bratton's successor Safir. Other times he seemed to bait Bratton, hinting that he had something on him if Bratton decided to run.

People at Police Plaza had already begun speculating on how the race might have gone. While Giuliani would take credit for the crime drop, Bratton would maintain that Safir merely imitated his programs.

And whatever Giuliani might or might not have had on Bratton, the ex-commissioner, with the vast resources of the police department that had been his for two full years, had plenty on Giuliani. That includes the mayor's relationships with his $125,000-a-year communications director, Cristyne Lategano, whose primary job appears to be avoiding the media, and with his wife, who no longers appears with him in public.

As Bratton put it to reporters outside the Harvard Club last week, "It's a two-way street."

Lategano was caught speechless yesterday by Bratton's announcement. Asked for her reaction in the City Hall press office, she walked out the door without opening her mouth. An official City Hall announcement came moments later. "Bratton's decision," it said "didn't come as a surprise."

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Email Leonard Levitt at llevitt@nypdconfidential.com

© 1996 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.