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Friday, December 24, 2004

Paying Rudy's bills

Rudy's insanely incompetent police commissioner: Howard Safir

A Legacy of Giuliani Years: Damage Suits Against City

For the Bloomberg administration, the case was just one more in an unusual collection of city lawsuits that grind along, regardless of national politics: dealing with the civil rights damages people claim to have suffered at the hands of Mr. Giuliani or his senior aides.

In the three years since Michael R. Bloomberg succeeded Mr. Giuliani, the city has spent close to $2 million to settle lawsuits brought by residents and city workers who accused the Giuliani administration of retaliating against them for exercising free speech or other constitutional rights.

Among them is a limousine driver, James Schillaci, who had complained in a newspaper article about a red-light sting set up by the police in the Bronx. The same day, police came to his home to arrest him for a 13-year-old unpaid ticket. The next day, the mayor obtained - illegally, Mr. Schillaci said - the record of his arrests from decades earlier and discussed it, inaccurately, at a news conference. The city settled with him for $290,000 in 2002.

Giuliani called him a criminal at City Hall, a tactic he would use to much greater effect later on.

A correction worker charged that he was bypassed for promotion because he supported a political opponent of Mr. Giuliani's and that city investigators videotaped the guests arriving at his home for a political fund-raiser. The city paid him $325,000 this year.


The totals for such claims could grow. Dantae Johnson of the Bronx has charged in a lawsuit that after he was shot by a police officer in May 1999, Mr. Giuliani and the police commissioner, Howard Safir, falsely described him as a criminal to justify the shooting. The officer was convicted of assault. The city has denied responsibility.

This is one of the more egregious cases, and the city will be likely to settle. Why? Johnson was coming from midnight basketball and walking straight to his home. A plainclothes car pulled up beside him and a gunshot went off. Yet, a few months later Robert Iler, Sopranos star, was arrested for robbery in Carl Schurz Park, a few blocks from Gracie Mansion where New York's mayors live. Giuliani vilified Johnson, saying that his mother should have been watching him, while he called Iler a "good kid". Of course, Johnson, to this day, has no criminal convictions and Iler pleaded out to the robbery.

Eric H. DeVarin III, an assistant deputy warden in the Correction Department, has claimed in a lawsuit that he was denied promotion because of a dispute with Mr. Kerik's former girlfriend. Mr. Kerik has said that is untrue.

However, the city has paid $250,000 to another corrections officer in the same case and is trying to suppress the deposition transcript from public release.

The coming issue of the journal CityLaw reports that a federal magistrate has said that an AIDS housing group can proceed with a suit to recover $35 million in government contracts that it claims to have lost as punishment for protests against Mr. Giuliani's policies. The city lawyers say the Giuliani administration had many sound reasons to stop doing business with the group, called Housing Works.

The Housing Works case is part of "a continuing saga of the policies and litigating tendencies of the Giuliani administration," said Ross Sandler, director of the Center for New York City Law at New York Law School, which publishes CityLaw

Giuliani had ESU (New York's SWAT) stationed on the top of City Hall, ready to shoot AIDS patients hobbling along in front of City Hall


A former member of the police Street Crime Unit, Yvette Walton, was fired in 1999 after publicly criticizing the unit's operations. The police commissioner, Mr. Safir, said she was dismissed for abuse of sick leave, but testimony showed that her commander had planned to punish her for that infraction simply by docking one day's vacation. When she began speaking out, the matter was abruptly transferred to the commissioner's office.

Mr. Safir "removed Walton's case from the jurisdiction of her commanding officer, and, without hearing or trial or consideration of her overall performance, dismissed Walton as a police officer," Federal District Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled. "I find that Walton's dismissal was in retaliation for the exercise of her First Amendment rights."

Mr. Safir disputed that finding, but in November 2002, the city paid Ms. Walton $327,000 and allowed her to retire with her pension, according to Chris Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which represented Ms. Walton.

Walton was ther only black, female member of the unit, which had been involved in the murder of Amadou Diallo. While the four officers who participated in his murder were found not guilty by an Albany jury, two still remain on the NYPD in modified assignments. Two others are now firefighters. However, Walton, who testified before the City Council, was punished far more harshly than the four men who fired 41 shots into an unarmed man in the vestibule of his own building.

SCU was designated to go after gun crimes. The former commander of the unit warned Safir that a rapid expansion would lead to disaster. Which it did, but because their numbers were so good, Giuliani wanted their numbers increased. At the time of the Diallo murder, none of the four officers involved had been long time members of the unit.

And yes, the officers were aquitted, but what else do you call shooting an unarmed man 41 times? An accident?

Safir, and by extension, Giuliani, were desperate to shut her up, and then fired her on a bogus charge of abuse of sick leave. NYPD cops have unlimited sick leave. The city couldn't afford a trial which would air not only Giuliani's dirty laundry, but the PD's and its endemic problem with minority cops being disproportionally punished compared to white cops.

The city paid $490,000 in February 2002 to Timothy Donovan, a police captain, and promoted him to settle his suit claiming that he was punished by Mr. Safir because he would not rewrite a sexual harassment investigation document to put certain senior chiefs in a more favorable light. "It was a case that Bloomberg quickly cleaned up," said Matthew Brinckerhoff, the lawyer for Mr. Donovan.

In March 2000, after Patrick Dorismond, a Times Square security guard, was shot to death in a confrontation with an undercover police officer, Mr. Giuliani responded to criticism of the shooting by releasing Mr. Dorismond's sealed juvenile record. In a wrongful-death suit against the city, his family cited Mr. Giuliani's release of the criminal records as part of a pattern of smearing people hurt by the police. The city paid $2.25 million to settle the suit in 2002.

Derek Sells, the lawyer who represented the family, could not say precisely what role Mr. Giuliani's release of the juvenile records played in the settlement. "It was an embarrassing issue for the city," Mr. Sells said. "It was very clear that it was a breach in the law."

The Dorismond case had killed Giuliani's career until 9/11.

Patrick Dorismond was standing on a midtown street corner, when approached by an undercover cop to buy pot. When he shoved the cop away, somehow he was shot. No one was ever punished for his death.

But that wasn't what got Giuliani in trouble. It was the release of his sealed juvenile criminal record. He had broken a longstanding social rule in New York: you don't smear working guys. He worked for a living. It's one thing to dig up dirt on skells and perps, but not working guys. He had a job and a family. Dragging his name through the mud was simply not done. Hatred for Giuliani was so paltable that the Dorismond funeral nearly turned into a riot. Only quick thinking by Al Sharpton prevented that, when he hustled the family away.

What Jim Dwyer doesn't mention, and should, is that in every case but Schillaci, the complainants were black or Latino.

He also doesn't mention the years of warfare between Giuliani and artist Robert Lederman. Lederman was arrested 26 times in like five years. He won every case.

What was clear is that Giuliani used the police force as a way to silence critics and limit dissent. But in every case, Giuliani was warned off and proceeded anyway. Then the city has to come in and pay the bill.

While he was doing this, Kerik was on the pad with people either mobbed up or doing business with the city.

Oh yeah, on 9/11, Giuliani ran to the cameras. His heroism was as fake as John Wayne's. All for show.

Oh yeah, Kerik's aide also quit the Giuliani family today

Kerik aide quits Giuliani Partners


December 23, 2004, 7:30 PM EST

Former top Police Department aide John Picciano has followed his scandal-singed boss Bernard Kerik out the door of ex-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's consulting firm.

Picciano had been Kerik's $145,000-a-year chief of staff when the latter was commissioner for jails and then police under Giuliani. In 2002, Picciano followed Kerik first to a security partnership that dissolved and then to Giuliani Partners.

"He left of his own volition," Giuliani spokeswoman Sunny Mindel said of Picciano Thursday. "We are on good terms and we want to wish him the best."

Other ex-correction officials hired at Kerik's behest are staying for now at the separate division that once carried Kerik's name but is now being renamed Giuliani Security.

Long before Kerik's alleged abuses and lapses in city service became front-page news, Picciano's actions raised questions in the jail system and the NYPD.

They included a 1998 police complaint filed by a female correction officer that Picciano threatened her with a gun in a domestic dispute.

Picciano was never arrested. From all accounts, he also never faced the usual firearms review board, though the officer was never charged with filing a false report.

That's led others in city government to ask how carefully Picciano had been vetted as chief of staff, given his own repeated bankruptcy filings and use of a tax-exemption trick that got other officers fired.

Sid Schwartzbaum, president of the union representing deputy wardens and assistant deputy wardens, which had many clashes with Picciano, said: "John Picciano was the protected and connected one, if anybody has been.

"In their offices, most people on the executive staff have pictures of honorable, committed leaders on the wall -- Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Nelson Mandela," he said.

"In John Picciano's office there was hanging Al Pacino as Michael Corleone and Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone. Picciano assumed a nostalgic role that transcended into unfettered power and made him a negative influence in Kerik's office," he added

OK, you're in law enforcement and you have pictures of actors as mobsters on your wall? Are you fucking kidding me? This guy waved a gun and engaged in tax fraud and Kerik kept him around. And so did Giuliani

posted by Steve @ 3:10:00 AM

3:10:00 AM

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