The following is a column I wrote over two years ago, when former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was mulling over whether or not to run against Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate back in 2006. At 1,300 words it is certainly much longer than most blog entries, but I hope readers will find it relevant enough right now to read it from start to finish.
Keep Giuliani Off The Ballot!
A Mock Letter to the NY GOP From One New Yorker
Chairman, New York State Republican Party
315 State Street
Albany, NY 12210
November 18, 2004.
Dear Mr. Minarik,
It has recently come to my attention that your organization is considering supporting former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as a candidate to run against New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2006. It is my belief, shared by many others, that if Mr. Giuliani were to unseat Senator Clinton, he would soon consider a run for the Presidency in either 2012 or 2016.
As one of Mr. Giuliani’s former eight million employers (the people of New York City), I feel it is my duty to persuade you to consider another candidate by offering a critique of Mr. Giuliani’s performance while serving under our collective employment for eight years.
Most Americans who do not reside in the five boroughs of New York City under the Giuliani Administration (1993 – 2001) only know the Rudy Giuliani of post-September 11th folklore. This Rudy Giuliani was viewed as a leader who sprang into action as soon as he learned his city was under attack. Mr. Giuliani has profited handsomely from this one day, spinning himself as a hero and gaining spectacular publicity on a global level, bordering on sainthood.
Unfortunately, this was not the same Rudy Giuliani New Yorkers had known for the seven and a half years prior to September 11, 2001. I wish the people of New York could’ve known the Rudy Giuliani many non-New Yorkers think they know.
Law enforcement and after September 11th, crisis management were the only two fields in which Mr. Giuliani showed sensibility and leadership. For the duration of his Administration, Mr. Giuliani proved to be racially divisive in a city famous for its racial diversity. With several relatives in law enforcement and having served in the past as a Deputy U.S. Attorney General, fighting crime is certainly in Mr. Giuliani’s blood.
His loathing for criminals and law enforcement background helped implement crime fighting strategies that made New York City much safer than it had been in decades. But his consistent defense of the New York Police Department (even when there was overwhelming evidence of their abuse of power) and his hand picked Police Commissioner, Howard Safir ensured that the NYPD would play an instrumental role in worsening race relations in New York City.
Some of the most heinous occurrences of police brutality took place while Mr. Giuliani served as Mayor, with blacks and Latinos being the victims. Anthony Baez was choked to death by a police officer in 1994 and David Cedeno had been fatally shot in the back. Three years later, Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant was arrested and taken back to the 70th Precinct in Brooklyn where four police officers shoved a broom handle up his rectum and then forced it down his throat.
Patrick Dorismond, also Haitian, was approached by an undercover officer and was asked if he could buy drugs from Mr. Dorismond. Not knowing this buyer was a cop, Mr. Dorismond was insulted and began yelling at him. A brawl ensued between the officer and his two partners (also in plainclothes) and Mr. Dorismond who was fatally shot by one of the officers. Mr. Giuliani responded by beginning a smear campaign against Mr. Dorismond to make his murder seem justified, digging up his past offenses and even going as far as to unseal his sealed juvenile record.
Amadou Diallo, a West African immigrant was approaching his Bronx apartment building at midnight in 1999, when four white plainclothes officers approached Mr. Diallo and asked him to hold out his hands mistaking him for a rape suspect. It is unknown whether Mr. Diallo understood English well enough to follow their orders, but when he reached for his wallet, the officers assumed it was a gun and fired their own weapons 41 times, with 19 of the bullets fatally striking Mr. Diallo. Mr. Minarik, if I believed you were a suspect reaching for your gun to shoot me, how many bullets would I need to fire to immobilize you? I think that number would be far less than 41.
Mr. Giuliani also appointed Henry Stern to be the Commissioner for the City’s Department of Parks. Under Mr. Stern’s tenure, the Department’s upper management consisted almost entirely of whites. Blacks and Latinos made up half of the Department’s staff, but they claimed they were frequently passed up for promotions by white employees. In 2001 the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a ruling that 20 black and Latino Parks employees had indeed been passed over for promotions because of their race.
In the eight years of his tenure, Mr. Giuliani had refused, with very few exceptions, to meet with New York City’s black leaders. While there is little to no proof of any racist tendencies by Mr. Giuliani, there is no clear explanation why he avoided the City’s black leaders and many local events that would bring in predominantly black audiences.
The New York City Board of Education (BOE) was already a dysfunctional mess long before Mr. Giuliani became Mayor. The BOE had become a political patronage mill where corrupt administrators and back door bribes were the mainstream. Instead of addressing this problem, Mr. Giuliani used the public school system as his personal punching bag and made things even worse. He cut the BOE’s budget by at least $6.7 billion between 1993 and 1999 and ordered the School Chancellor to fire BOE 2,500 employees. Mr. Giuliani found a new way to further deplete funds from the BOE in school vouchers, a program in which the City would agree to pay for a student’s private school tuition. His hand picked chancellor, Rudy Crew fought him on this issue, until Mr. Crew was ultimately fired.
Another trademark of the Giuliani Administration was his crusade against the First Amendment. Mr. Giuliani was famous for his daily press conferences in which few or no reporters were allowed to ask questions, and his refusal to issue permits for protests or allowing people to assemble in public at all. By the end of his tenure, Mr. Giuliani had been successfully sued 27 times on grounds of violating the First Amendment.
When an African artist’s depiction of the Virgin Mary with elephant dung appeared at the Brooklyn Art Museum, Mr. Giuliani threatened to cut all City funding to the museum if they didn’t remove the artwork. He then formed a Decency Commission to review art in publicly financed institutions which would define what was and what wasn’t obscene. The Commission died before it even began.
Mr. Giuliani had a reputation for shouting down anyone who opposed him. His is remembered most for his daily radio show, where he hurled insults at elderly women and referred to callers with complaints as “idiots.” I feel Mr. Giuliani’s style of governance was one of intimidation to those who disagreed with him and retaliation when he didn’t get his way.
Prior to September 11th, Mr. Giuliani’s approval rating was at an all-time low, but overnight Mr. Giuliani had become a national public figure. Perhaps it was President George W. Bush’s lack of leadership upon learning of the attacks that made Mr. Giuliani look more like a hero when America needed a hero the most. But while the national and even international media praises Mr. Giuliani for 9-11, let us not forget who the real heroes of that day were: the scores of firefighters and police officers who risked and in many cases lost their lives saving others.
In conclusion, I highly recommend your party nominate someone else to run against Mrs. Clinton in 2008, as I feel that based on his eight-year performance as Mayor of New York, Mr. Giuliani is unfit to hold political office of any kind. His demonstrated expertise in crime prevention and crisis management may make him an ideal candidate for a position in Homeland Security, the FBI or the CIA. His authoritarian style of leadership is best for leading soldiers or law enforcement agents, not citizens who revere their civil rights.