One Police Plaza

Infiltrating Rudy’s castle

November 2, 1998

Decided to check up on our old friend Rudy Giuliani, whom we hadn't visited in some time.

Walked from Police Plaza, across Centre Street to City Hall, which is ringed by metal and concrete barriers. The mayor erected the barriers in August after the U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa. Similar barriers now ring Police Plaza on Pearl and Madison Streets.

The mayor says the barriers may become permanent. There's also talk he wants metal detectors placed inside City Hall and a wrought-iron gate constructed similar to the one at the White House.

Some people say the mayor's final destination is the White House. Others say it's the looney bin.

"And to what do we owe this pleasure?" asked the mayor's press secretary, Colleen Roche, when we reached City Hall after negotiating with a sergeant whose car blocked the sole entrance.

Roche, like everyone else at City Hall, has been forbidden to speak to One Police Plaza since 1995, when this column reported the mayor had built Communications Director Cristyne Lategano a basement office, connected to his by a secret passageway.

More recently, the Daily News described Lategano as storming out of a restaurant after the mayor screamed at her over breakfast.

Last week, Lategano was back with the mayor, who was holding a news conference, answering a question with a reference to his favorite subject, the Yankees. A few days before, the mayor had sponsored a Yankee parade from Battery Park up Broadway to City Hall. Atop a float was the mayor's wife, Donna Hanover, with their two children. Hanover has not been seen with the mayor, who was on a different float, since his inauguration in January. No one is sure when they last breakfasted together, much less had a conversation.

While the crowd, which police estimated at more than 3.5 million, but news reports said was less than half that, waited outside City Hall, the mayor held a private lunch with the players. Dark curtains were draped over the windows so no one could look in. Sharpshooters with rifles guarded the rooftops. Detectives with sunglasses patrolled the bathrooms.

A couple of blocks away on Duane Street, four cars belonging to the FBI were vandalized.

A few days before, 1,500 people protesting police brutality had marched peaceably from Union Square to City Hall. For a month, the police department had refused them a permit, a delay called "unconscionable" by federal District Judge John Martin, the mayor's predecessor as United States Attorney, who ordered the permit granted.

The mayor denounced Martin's ruling, saying the authority to issue a permit should rest with the police department, not the "imperial" federal court. Besides serving as mayor, Giuliani doubles as police commissioner.

The mayor then appealed Martin's decision, which was affirmed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The mayor said of those judges: "They think they were put here by God."

Who's a Bore? Police Commissioner Howard Safir says he finds the news conferences he's held at Police Plaza for the past year "boring."

Actually, many reporters find him boring.

This is because Safir often refuses to answer their questions.

And when he does, he sometimes doesn't tell the truth.

Neither does his spokeswoman, Marilyn Mode.

Let's cite some questions that Safir refuses to answer.

Why did a police helicopter swoop low over the Million Youth March in September just before the police rushed the stage? Who gave the order?

Why did Safir recently place the Intelligence Division directly under him? Because the move has no law enforcement value, is it to hide the overtime of cops assigned to the mayor, who's been roaming the country, campaigning for Republican candidates?

And let's not forget Safir's statements about ex-cop Jay Creditor, dismissed by NYPD Trials Commissioner Rae Koshetz for missing 200 hours of work but reinstated after agreeing to pay an unprecedented $50,000 fine so that he could then retire with a tax-free disability pension - value $1.6 milion.

At a news conference in December, Safir said it wasn't he but then-First Deputy Tosano Simonetti who reinstated Creditor. Mode, though, said Safir had told Koshetz to settle the case prior to her decision.

The following week, Safir said he had played "no role" in the Creditor case. But the week after that, when presented with Simonetti's memo noting Safir's "approval," Safir had a "recollection" of telling Koshetz to settle.

©1998 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.