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Clyde Haberman[Barrett is a] formidable investigative reporter...Barrett's knack for mining official records enabled him, with his assistant, Adam Fifield, to strike investigative gold.
—The New York Times Book Review
Rudy Guiliani. New York City's Mayor. America's Number One Cop. A municipal superhero who needs no phone booth. A politician of astonishing complexity whose full story has never been told. Until now. Guiliani has assumed mythic proportions, the can-do emblem of the new urban politics. He has been heralded as the ultimate turn-around artist - projecting himself as the reformer who single-handedly salvaged a crime-ridden and blighted New York. From his days in the Eighties as the Michael Milken-busting U.S. ...
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Rudy Guiliani. New York City's Mayor. America's Number One Cop. A municipal superhero who needs no phone booth. A politician of astonishing complexity whose full story has never been told. Until now. Guiliani has assumed mythic proportions, the can-do emblem of the new urban politics. He has been heralded as the ultimate turn-around artist - projecting himself as the reformer who single-handedly salvaged a crime-ridden and blighted New York. From his days in the Eighties as the Michael Milken-busting U.S. Attorney of Manhattan to his current purge of hundreds of thousands from his city's welfare rolls, Giuliani has targeted rich and poor with the same relentless certitude. This investigative biography starts with the college kid who confided his presidential dream to his girlfriend and practiced future campaign speeches in front of her at home. It analyzes his substantial impact as U.S. Attorney, badly wounding the Mafia, ransacking the white collared halls of Wall Street and forever changing the face of New York politics. It looks at his celebrated crime reduction and other achievements through a new lens, highlighting the single-mindedness that has made Giuliani one of America's most important and controversial figures. With two marriages as troubled and secretive as his family history, Giuliani is on every New Yorker's therapeutic couch, stirring feelings as intense as the ones that visibly boil inside of him. Though he has become a national legend, his re-election total in 1997 was the lowest in seventy-four years. Wayne Barrett, co-author of the bestselling City for Sale, draws on twenty years of reporting on Giuliani to bring us the most comprehensive and newsbreaking biography of a man of giant contradictions and unpredictable expectations.
With twenty-eight television networks beaming live to an estimated billion viewers in the world's two dozen time zones, the fifty-five-year-old grandson of Italian immigrants stood center stage at Times Square a minute before midnight, his finger on the trigger of a new millennium.
Rudy Giuliani, the 107th mayor of New York and the first to put himself at the helm of its New Year's ritual, was literally, for the single moment that the Time Ball took its seventy-seven-foot fall, at the Crossroads of the World. In the midst of an historic run for the U.S. Senate against First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton--a race that could catapult him to Washington stardom--Giuliani was also at the crossroads of his life. Though no one would have believed it that night, just four months into the new millennium, the private world of this steely, moralist would detonate in four successive, pyrotechnic, press conferences, blowing apart, at least temporarily, a career of meticulously mythic measure.
After six years as mayor and five as U.S. Attorney, he'd become a municipal superhero without a cape, a media avenger who embodied the will to vanquish wrongs ranging from the greed of Wall Street to the infamy of common criminality.
He was the best-known law enforcement figure in America since J. Edgar Hoover, and his federal cases were epic: "Fat Tony" Salerno and the heads of the five mob families; Drexel Burnham and its colossus Michael Milken; the Philippines' Imelda Marcos, hotel queen Leona Helmsley and former Miss America Bess Myerson; the Democratic potentate of New York Stanley Friedman; and even the closest advisor to his own boss at the time, Attorney General Ed Meese. He became the model for the network television series, Michael Hayes, the story of a big-city U.S. Attorney, and the series star David Caruso came to New York to study him close-up.
The best-known mayor in America since the first Richard Daley, he'd taken aim at the blameless and the notorious: squeegees, the "fake homeless," pan-handlers, sex shop purveyors, cabbies, jaywalkers, street vendors, cop-bashers, unreconstructed liberals, black radicals, black moderates, anti-Catholic art exhibitors, drunk drivers, methadone users, graffiti artists, public school bureaucrats and, of course, welfare freeloaders. Even as crime plummeted almost everywhere across the nation, he'd managed to make himself the country's top cop, a legend whose zero tolerance stopped criminals in their tracks and tamed the toughest tribal streets. Booming Times Square itself, with glut replacing smut, was a symbol of the New York he'd re-created, an electric urban theme park as safe and, some said, sterile as a suburban mall.
America's mayor was atop the giant, thirty-five-foot-high "Temple of Time" riser in the middle of Broadway that night, his face alight with giddy joy, rubbing his hands together again and again in anticipation of hitting the one-foot crystal button, dancing to the pounding music and hugging his three handpicked companions.
With him were Ron Silver, the actor who'd hosted so many of his campaign fundraisers and now chaired the mayor's NYC 2000 Committee; Dr. Mary Ann Hopkins,, the millennial honoree whose war-zone work with Doctors Without Borders won the Nobel Prize; and Brendan Sexton, the president of the Times Square Business Improvement District (BID), the city-supported sponsor of the ninety-four-year-old ball-drop spectacle. Hopkins was a stand-in for Giuliani's first choice, Elian González, the six-year-old Cuban posterboy of the right.
When midnight struck, three tons of multicolored confetti was fired from thirteen buildings around the square by crews with hand-held cannons. A computer-generated fifty-piece symphony orchestra blasted through eighteen speakers attached to eighteen buildings. Seven minutes of fireworks lit up the sky. Sixty-one spotlights panned the scene, alive with seven giant Astrovision screens and seven-foot-tall numerals bursting into view atop One Times Square. The thousand-pound, six-foot-tall ball of Waterford Crystal, with 786 lights and mirrors, hit ground zero. Eight thousand cops barricaded off the fifty blocks of midtown filled with 700,000 penned-up celebrants, magically transformed into two million by a mayor who regularly breaks records by statistical fiat.
As soon as the climactic instant passed, Giuliani, his chiseled teeth flashing, rushed off the platform to the camera crews below, while his three companions remained. He had known the joy of two electoral wins and two inaugurals, two weddings and the birth of two children, two swearing-ins for powerful Justice Department posts and two for junior, career-building jobs. But this was the golden moment of his life and still he knew it was all prelude.
He had sensed since he was a boy at a Brooklyn high school that he was destined for greatness, maybe even the presidency. He rebuffed reporters now who asked him whether he would serve out his six-year Senate term should he beat Hillary. He did it because he believed that if George W. Bush lost in 2000, he could run and win in 2004. The millennial stage--with him coolly handling both the terrorist and the tipsy--offered a giant but fleeting box office, a chance to briefly insinuate himself into the subconscious of tens of millions of Americans.
Within twenty minutes of the celebration, Giuliani was on the phone with Jerry Hauer, the director of his Office of Emergency Management. The steadiest crisis hand in Rudy's administration, Hauer was already in the midst of a press conference at the city's downtown command center. Hauer and Deputy Mayor Joe Lhota, two Giuliani managers widely respected by the press corps, had agreed to appear for a post-midnight briefing with the seventy-five reporters and cameras waiting in the room right off the newly constructed emergency center. They were in the middle of describing an uneventful evening when an aide interrupted to tell Hauer: "The mayor wants to talk to you." While Hauer listened on a cell, Lhota smiled and said: "I hope this is a sanctioned press conference." Apparently it wasn't. In mid-sentence, the two left the press room and retreated to the command facility.
Giuliani shared face time on camera with no one. He ran an administration of media midgets and statues; when a camera was on, the most they could be was part of the set. Though Rudy would not get back to the command center until nearly 2 A.M., he wanted to have the final word on the successful management of a night that had actually managed itself. It was one of the warmer January nights, so the city's medical stations were underused. There were far fewer arrests than on a typical night, and no serious crime. Bomb threats went up slightly--one of Rudy's first, personally delivered, bulletins--but they were all bogus.
The biggest daylight story was a steam leak on the West Side that reporters in the command center heard about from their editorial desks. When they tried to get confirmation and details, no one at the emergency center would answer their questions. Mary Gaye Taylor, a usually staid radio reporter, had to call outside the compound to find out what had happened and went on the air reporting that there was only one person in this administration who could answer a question. And the mayor had not shown up yet.
In fact, the assembled press horde could not even see into the command center until Giuliani arrived, since a white screen was drawn over the large soundproof window that separated the press room from the center. Just before Rudy entered the room to handshakes and applause early in the evening, the curtain was lifted. That way there was nothing to shoot unless he was in the picture. Asked about the closed screen at his 5:30 press briefing, he attributed it with characteristic humor to the comfort of the staff: "Who knows what they might want to scratch?" he said of the mostly male emergency crew. When he left, a stooped, six-foot bundle of intensity and command shuffling face down in the direction of his next performance, the screen was dropped again, to the grumbles of reporters.
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat whose wife was a deputy commissioner in her third successive city administration, appeared at the command center with their children shortly before midnight. His wife had to be there, so he joined her. Reporters lured him into the press room for a brief conference shortly after midnight. The screen was momentarily up. He was asked how the mayor had handled the night's events and he delivered one laudatory quote after another. "Excellently" was the starter. Suddenly the screen was drawn and reporters discovered that the mayor's staff had apparently pulled the plug on the senator's audio feed, unaware of what he was saying but sure that Rudy wanted no one speaking from his podium but himself.
Reporters didn't ask Giuliani where his wife of fifteen years, television personality Donna Hanover, and two children, ten-year-old Caroline and thirteen-year-old Andrew, were that night, though the kids would certainly have enjoyed the Times Square extravaganza, if not the high-tech emergency center. Donna had come with him for the 1994 ball-drop. She'd come again in 1995, though this time in a separate car. That was her last appearance at his side at Times Square--inside or outside the camera lens. The press had become so used to Donna's absence at this and other major events, and his annoyance with any question about it, that it had stopped asking. Photos of the kids were half-expected to appear on milk cartons any day now, they'd been missing so long.
As big as the night was, his forgotten family did not attract a sentence of ink, though Giuliani had just positioned himself in national fundraising letters as a champion of school prayer, the posting of the Ten Commandments in schools and more religious "faith" in American public life. Unbeknownst to the press, Donna and the kids had actually gone to a party she hosted for a dozen or more friends in the 20-something floor of the new Condé Nast building on 42nd Street, right next to the descending ball. The children could look down on their father's balding head, watch his stiff and mechanical waves and see him on a giant screen just as they often saw him on smaller ones at home in Gracie Mansion.
His family crisis, rumbling just beneath the surface for half a decade, was one of the earthquakes that would erupt a few months into the new millennium.
Another was the woman who shuttled back and forth with him all night--from command center to Times Square. Judi Nathan, just turned forty-five but looking much younger, had become his constant companion. The glacial barriers that divided his home sent him looking for warmth elsewhere, he rationalized, though it was looking for warmth elsewhere that had prompted the barriers in the first place.
He loved living on the edge and even as he plunged into the hottest Senate race in modern history, he dared the media to expose him. When he walked into the Times Square facility to flashbulbs that night, she was two steps behind him, looking down and away, bejeweled and decked out in a low-cut dark dress and a brocade-trimmed coat, a gold necklace, locket and pendant framing a beaming face. The mayor hosted his own party--minus Donna--at the All Star Café and Nathan was there, sparkling. His secret life on display gave him a personal power surge to complement the 225 million watts of power flowing through the square that night.
A third woman made a stunningly brief appearance at the Broadway press island underneath the platform. Cristyne Lategano, only seven months after stepping down as the second most powerful person in Rudy's government, had to call the Times Square BID to get access passes. Though appointed two years earlier to the four-member executive committee of Giuliani's NYC 2000 apparatus, she apparently could not get any kind of committee or NYPD pass. The new president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, an independent but city-supported tourism booster, Lategano said she had to do a couple of interviews at the event.
Only a year earlier she'd run the 1999 ball-drop press arrangements. She was then a special woman in Rudy's life, the subject of scandalous surmise for so long that her presence with the mayor was as much an assumption as Donna's absence. She, too, at thirty-three, about to marry a golf writer she'd just met, was a time bomb set to rock Rudy's ambitions.
Around him that night were not just reminders of his personal disarray. Ragtime, the big musical that had opened a new theater on revived 42nd Street, was headlined by Alton Fitzgerald White, a black actor playing a victim of official misconduct at the turn of the century who was suing the NYPD for the real thing in 1999. On his way out of his Harlem apartment building to do a matinee performance that July, White was grabbed by cops looking for an Hispanic man, strip-searched and incarcerated for five hours.
If Giuliani was to bask in the glory of the city's plummeting crime rate, he also had to live with the sting of nationally spotlighted cases of NYPD brutality and rising indexes of cop misconduct. Other major cities--like San Diego and Boston--showed that it was possible to get one without the other.
The new $13 million command center the mayor visited twice that night was freely referred to in the Times's January 1 coverage as a "bunker," a symbol of Giuliani's weakness for gadgetry, secrecy and militarist overkill. Located on the twenty-third floor of the World Trade Center and equipped with a video conferencing/hotline hookup to the White House, the facility had displaced an existing, state-of-the-art, emergency center.
Combined with the deployment of an astonishingly excessive 37,000 cops citywide that night, the bunker was emblematic of an administration that had unconstitutionally closed City Hall Park to all but mayorally sanctioned public spectacle, blockaded bridges to kill a cab protest, barricaded midtown crosswalks to regulate pedestrians and yanked the homeless out of shelter beds on the coldest night of the year to enforce ancient bench warrants for open beer can violations.
"Freedom," said the mayor who put snipers on the roof of City Hall for an AIDS demonstration, "is the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do and how you do it." He had a new rule a day for everyone in New York--blocking thousands more than necessary from a view of the ball that night, for example--but defied the most basic social precepts himself.
Times Square itself was a metaphor for Rudy's government--brash, self-serving claims of transforming achievement with little or no substance. As often as he cited the comeback of this seedy midtown core as one of the prime accomplishments of his administration, no one outside his hype office could cite a single development decision jump-started by his team.
He grabbed credit for Disney's pivotal determination to rebuild an old 42nd Street theater by announcing it at a grandiose City Hall press conference with Governor Mario Cuomo. The announcement came a month into his first year. In fact, Disney, the state and the administration of the previous mayor, David Dinkins, had signed the memo of understanding (MOU) celebrated at that press conference on December 31, 1993, the final day of David Dinkins's term.
Barry Sullivan, a Dinkins deputy mayor, signed the memo and three other agreements with Disney on a metal detector at City Hall as he was leaving the building for the last time. Dinkins, who'd lost to Giuliani a month earlier in a nasty rerun of their 1989 mayoral campaign, wanted to announce the Disney deal, but the savvy Michael Eisner, CEO of the globe's master myth-making monopoly, preferred to wait. He wanted the new mayor to make the deal his own by letting him announce it. So while Disney signed the December memo, it also insisted on a confidentiality agreement.
The side-letter explicitly stated that the parties would not "issue any press release, hold any press conference or make any other public statement" regarding the MOU. In the event of press inquiries, the parties pledged to respond: "There are still some open issues; no further comment at this time" or "no comment."
Though Eisner had been lured to New York by an architectural consultant retained by the Dinkins and Cuomo administrations, Robert A. M. Stern, and by a member of the New York Times's Sulzberger family, Marian Heiskell, he did not announce the decision until February 2, 1994, when he could do it at Giuliani's side. The confidentiality agreement never became public. The press release for the announcement said the parties "have entered into an MOU" without saying when they did or mentioning the role of Dinkins, already the Invisible Mayor.
As crucial as Disney's arrival was, the Square's rebound was rooted in other events that had long preceded it. Cuomo and Mayor Ed Koch approved the creation of a development project for the area a decade before Giuliani took office, targeting unique tax abatements for redevelopers of the strip and authorizing massive condemnation of the porn palaces and other marginal operators that dominated it. Turning over control of the thirteen-acre site to a developer, George Klein, and Prudential, the city and state traded the abatements for Prudential's willingness to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire and clear it. The Dinkins administration threw in an extra $35 million from its capital budget for additional condemnation in 1993.
Encouraged no doubt by this unprecedented public and private undertaking, Bertelsmann, Viacom and Morgan Stanley made major investments in the area just off 42nd Street before Rudy took office. Viacom signed its first lease at 1515 Broadway in 1990 and gradually took over twenty-six floors in the building at 45th Street, moving much of its MTV operations there. Aided by an $11 million incentive package from the Dinkins administration, Bertelsmann bought 1540 Broadway in 1992 for its Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group and RCA Records divisions. Morgan Stanley acquired 1585 Broadway for its own use in 1993, and later closed on a second building in the area (750 Seventh Avenue), bolstered by $100 million in city and state incentives.
Bertelsmann and Morgan bought vacant, bankrupt buildings and added thousands of upscale pedestrians to Times Square streets. Bertelsmann also began negotiating with Virgin Records in 1993 to open the largest music store in the world on the commercial floors of its new tower.
Another turning point was the redesign of the Times Square plan completed by Yale's Robert Stern in 1993, replacing the Rockefeller Center vision of George Klein with what critics called "the honky-tonk diversity" of a "jumbled, kinetic, dazzling and loud" street featuring entertainment and retail uses. With tourist traps, hip outlets, amusements, theaters, a rooftop billboard park, garish signage and name-brand superstores, the Stern plan recognized the area's "genius," said a Times critic, and encouraged it "to shine." Prudential vowed to invest an immediate $20 million to make it happen.
Shortly after the release of the Stern plan and two weeks before Giuliani was elected, New 42nd Street, a not-for-profit founded by the city and state to develop new theaters, announced an $11 million renovation of the Victory Theater, paid for by Prudential. Chaired by Marian Heiskell, New 42nd Street was another Times-connected effort to spur development in the area around its 43rd Street flagship property.
Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the current Times publisher, also founded and chaired the Times Square BID, which began operations in January 1992. Funded primarily through special tax assessments approved by the Dinkins administration, the BID brought together major business interests in the area and added an annual average of $7 million to the sanitation, security and other services already provided by the city. The BID was another pre-Giuliani building block re-energizing the area, opening a visitor center in January 1993 and launching a $1.4 million sidewalk lighting project.
Madame Tussaud's and American Multi Cinema did not actually close Times Square deals until the summer of 1995, but both began looking at the square in the Dinkins era. Dinkins deputies went to London to lure Tussaud's, but two early near-deals fell apart. The wax museum and AMC's massive twenty-six-screen theater were part of a 335,000-square-foot complex built by developer Bruce Ratner. But the Giuliani administration resisted state efforts to push the project until Ratner, Mayor Giuliani's top campaign fundraiser, was chosen to develop it without the usual competitive bidding process. Also forcing the city to end its recalcitrance was Disney, which retained a right to withdraw from the project if two other major entertainment companies didn't commit to it by that July.
Similarly, the other post-1994 linchpin to the Square's resurgence was developer Douglas Durst's decision to finally build one of the four office towers long planned for the strip. Durst, too, faced city resistance to okaying Prudential's sale of the site: "To our surprise the administration was initially cold to our attempt to build a new building." Charles Millard, the head of the city's economic development corporation, said the administration wanted stores, not a skyscraper, at the key corner of Broadway and 42nd Street. John Dyson, another deputy mayor, demanded Durst instantly produce a signed term sheet with a major tenant even though Durst, one of the city's most prominent developers, was willing to build at least a retail center if he couldn't get office tenants.
So Durst met Dyson's deadline--signing up Condé Nast, a major media company. The day before a planned three-party press conference announcing the $1.5 billion tower, City Hall leaked the story, taking credit for producing a deal that had started with state officials.
Other skyscrapers followed Durst--with the Rudin family developing an office tower for Reuters and Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman building one for Ernst & Young. A Canadian firm, Livent, built the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, and the Tishman Urban Development Corporation was designated to develop a hotel/entertainment center with a thirteen-screen SONY theater. The All Star Café moved into the Bertelsmann building, Warner Brothers opened a major store and ABC opened a studio for their morning show over the street. By then, the market needed no assistance from government to get developments off the ground.
As little as the Giuliani administration had to do with rebuilding the Square, it was always the first at the scene when a new development was celebrated. Its leak of the Condé Nast deal sabotaged the Durst press conference but put Rudy in the project's driver's seat. In the spirit of the Disney announcement, he was center stage at the opening of the New Victory Theatre in 1995, as irrelevant as he was to its restoration. When Governor George Pataki was late for the announcement of the Bruce Ratner complex with Madame Tussaud's and AMC, Giuliani's staff tried to start the press conference without him. Rudy dominated the announcement of the Reuters tower deal just days before his re-election, using it as campaign grist. His annual ball-drop appearance and simultaneous interviews merged him and the revival in the public mind.
Rudy was so concerned about maintaining that illusion that when a Times story in January 2000 noted that Dinkins "made the deal with Disney that led to the new Times Square," Giuliani, choking on his own mythology, denounced the simple statement of fact. "The deal that was made to bring Disney to Times Square was made in my office and announced by me," he declared. The Times assertion, he said, was the product of "either incompetence or political ideology." Giuliani berated top Times brass in phone calls but never made his reasoning clear. It was true that Disney did not sign a final contract with the city and state until 1995, though its essential terms were virtually identical to the Dinkins MOU. Giuliani apparently believed that any deal he didn't blow belonged on his scorecard.
In fact, the only arguable contribution that the Giuliani administration might have made to the Square's renaissance was the local effect of its general crime and sanitation service improvements, and the anti-porn zoning legislation the mayor steered through the City Council. But the BID reported that crime fell in the area 23 percent from January 1993 to January 1994--the year before Giuliani took office. That was a bigger drop than in any Giuliani year except 1994, when it fell 24 percent.
Sidewalk cleanliness soared from a 54.8 percent rating in the city's sanitation scorecard in 1991 to 93.3 percent in Dinkins's last year. Porn dropped from a peak of 140 outlets to twenty-one in 1998 before Giuliani's new law went into effect, with most of the shops eliminated in condemnation. In fact, Giuliani's law was a response to the growing number of porn palaces in residential Queens and was spearheaded not by him, but by a Queens city councilman.
Crime in the area continued to drop slightly, it got marginally cleaner and porn shops fell to seventeen by the end of 1999. The BID's sanitation and security crews clearly contributed to these improvements. In fact, the BID objected when Giuliani actually tried in his initial budget to cut sanitation services to all BID-covered neighborhoods, an illegal redirection of citywide resources.
Instead of Times Square savior, he was its beneficiary, the almost accidental heir to the glory of a booming new street, propelled by two mayors he maligned and a governor who shared the Disney catalyst with him. Its misappropriated saga was a familiar story in Rudy Giuliani's life.
There is little but that New York City has become a better place to live on Rudy Giuliani's watch. It recovered all the private-sector jobs lost in the most recent national recession. It got dramatically safer and cleaner. The tax load dipped and the budget surplus soared. The fraudulent were forced off welfare. Medical coverage for gay city workers was extended to their domestic partners. There is also little doubt but that the Giuliani administration had something to do with these improvements, but "something" isn't enough for Rudy.
What says it better than Giuliani's rage about a playful ad planted on the side of city buses by New York magazine shortly after his re-election in 1997? The magazine described itself as: "Possibly the only good thing in New York Rudy hasn't taken credit for." Rudy forced the Transit Authority to remove the ad. The magazine sued and won. Rudy appealed. He lost again, and even a third time when the Supreme Court refused to hear it. The public cost of defending his ego skyrocketed.
Giuliani mythology doesn't permit recognition of any possible cause other than himself of the city's good fortune. Just as the recession, for example, decimated the city's economy under Dinkins, the national recovery belatedly restored it. The biggest boom in Wall Street history spurred the city's job growth. These are axioms everywhere but City Hall. He points endlessly to the upsurge in the hotel industry and credits it to his minuscule cut in the city hotel tax. The state cut in the same tax, announced before his, was far greater. Who thinks that the millions of international tourists who have flooded New York in recent years came because they saved a tax buck a night on room costs that skyrocketed anyway?
Giuliani mythology also permits no admission of downsides. The soaring budget surpluses, for example, were not used by the mayor to lower the city's awesome debt burden, as practically every fiscal overseer urged. Instead, while posing as a fiscal conservative, Giuliani dumped one year's surplus into the next year's budget, hiking expenditures and deepening the budget gaps projected for the years after he left office.
The city did get cleaner under Giuliani because he was the first mayor to appoint a commissioner who had once hauled garbage himself. The still-obscure John Doherty was Giuliani's finest appointee and the mayor showed the good sense to leave him alone. In Rudy's first year, Randy Levine, the labor commissioner, negotiated the only real productivity improvements achieved with a municipal union and the contract caused the cost of collections to drop from $121 per ton in 1994 to $108 a ton in 1997, in sharp contrast with rising costs in other major cities. But when Doherty left, Giuliani bowed to political pressure from his Staten Island GOP ally, Borough President Guy Molinari, and put a cop from the island on top of the agency. The new commissioner, who was criticized once because he campaigned for Molinari while still a top cop, brought in another ex-police executive. Led by patronage appointees, the place started stinking worse than the garbage.
Staten Island had to control the department to make sure it shut down the giant city dump located there. Giuliani was closing the landfill years before it was necessary to satisfy the borough that gave him his margin of victory in 1993 and would be key to a 2000 Senate race. It did not matter that an anti-recycling and anti-incinerator administration had nowhere else to get rid of the waste. He's now locked the city into spending hundreds of millions a year trucking the garbage to New Jersey, Virginia and anywhere else that will take it.
Similarly, his celebrated welfare cutbacks have harmed tens of thousands of the legitimate poor in a feverish hunt for the illegitimate. His police department has frisked and embittered a generation of minority youth.
Rudy the Mayor could be no better than Rudy the Man, whose life was a mesh of half-truths, double agendas and secrets, wins that had to be transformed into records, losses that had to be imagined as wins, flaws that were depicted as misunderstood strengths, opponents who could only be explained as evil. His rigid will had put him on the millennial stage, made him a national political force on every Sunday morning news show and every major national cover. It was a daunting determination with him since childhood, a blessing of birth.
He had caravaned in the open back of a school bus across the city for ninety-six hours, almost without sleep, before his re-election victory in 1997 though polls showed him leading by eighteen points, scratching in the dead of night for the votes that would help him exceed Fiorello La Guardia's record margin. He missed, and actually ran up the lowest winning total vote in a two-person mayoral race in seventy-four years. He got 172,000 fewer votes than he had four years earlier, a 22 percent drop. The other two citywide officials, Comptroller Alan Hevesi and Public Advocate Mark Green, got 70,000 more votes apiece than he did. One in ten New Yorkers voted to give him a second term. But he declared it a landslide and the media agreed.
Hoarse and exhausted, he waited to give his victory speech that night while a couple thousand supporters in the Hilton ballroom watched the debut of a five-minute video with him. It depicted the city he claimed he'd resurrected. A majestic soundtrack accompanied scenes of glittering Gotham, shot mostly from a hovering helicopter. New towers reached for the sky. Children beamed on spotless sidewalks. Parks flowered. The campaign camera rushed past images of every slice of the city--except its vast neighborhoods of pain. The only recurrent face was Giuliani's. Without a syllable of voiceover, the pulsating message was nonetheless clear: Rudy is the rising city, the rising city is Rudy.
When it was done, he told his almost all-white crowd of donors and bureaucrats, that he would, in his second term, "reach out" to the very people left out of the video, the ballroom and the first term. Then he launched a thank-you tour the next morning.
In the city that never slept, he was omnipresent for years, at the hospital beds of cops and firemen, at sewer main breaks in the early hours of the morning, dispatching trucks from a morning command post at the first sign of an inch of snow.
Try to keep up with me, he sneered at the ordinary.
I am going places no one will believe, he smiled at those who smiled with him.
Boldness was his birthright, destiny his dream.
Excerpted from Rudy! by Wayne Barrett Copyright © 2001 by Wayne Barrett. Excerpted by permission.
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