Sunday, May 07, 2000
Last fall, a Daily News reporter wondered why the mayor had vanished most summer weekends. For years, the mayor made public appearances on Saturdays or Sundays all summer long, so reporter Michael O. Allen asked the mayor’s press office about his schedule.
Because the answers were vague, Allen asked for the mayor’s public calendars.
File a freedom-of-information request, the reporter was told — a classic stalling tactic, but Allen sent in the paperwork.
A few weeks later, he got a call from the press office. Withdraw your official request, and we’ll tell you what you want to know.
Yes, the mayor had cut way back on his weekends.
How come? Speak to deputy mayor so-and-so, the press office told Allen, and he’ll give you what you need.
The deputy mayor said the mayor was taking more private time on weekends to be with his son.
“He’s also got a new love in his life,” the deputy mayor said. He gave a long, theatrical pause.
“It’s called golf.”
We now know the mayor has developed a very close relationship with a woman who is not his wife. He brought her to the party for the New York City Marathon and to be with him on New Year’s Eve in Times Square.
And he apparently stayed at the friend’s beach home in the Hamptons many weekends last summer.
Nothing here calls for Kenneth Starr and a grand jury investigation. While Bill Clinton lied about his involvement with Monica Lewinsky and confessed to being ashamed of himself, the mayor has all but boasted about his involvement with his friend Judi Nathan. She was posing for pictures all week.
Still, anyone who files Giuliani’s nonmarital relationship under the category “purely private” is hallucinating.
When three or four New York City Police detectives have the job of chauffeuring the mayor to liaisons in the Hamptons with his friend, the public life meets the private around the Douglaston exits of the Long Island Expressway. From the city line to Nathan’s condominium in Southampton, it is 75 miles.
“There’d be one or two city Town Cars in the parking lot all weekend,” said a Southampton neighbor of Nathan’s. “These big guys would be in the cars, with the motors running when you went to bed at night, and they’d be there in the morning. There were always at least two, sometimes three or four.”
Not so long ago, a New York City mayor got in trouble for sending city detectives to Long Island. In 1991, when David Dinkins dispatched two detectives to investigate a fire at the home of a friend, Giuliani clucked disapprovingly: “This poor guy gets into trouble every day.”
Last week, I asked the Police Department how much it cost the public to have the current mayor delivered by a police taxi service to his woman friend in Long Island. I wanted to know if helicopters had been used, hotels booked, food paid for, and if there had been any repayment by the mayor for these expenses.
“We never give out details of security,” Police Chief Thomas Fahey said Friday.
“Not details of security,” I said. “This is a request for costs.”
“Then you’ll be able to see which guy made the most overtime and figure out who spent the most time with him,” said Fahey.
“Give the cost information without the names,” I proposed.
“FOIL it,” he said.
“FOIL it” means file a freedom of information request. It would do no good, Fahey assured me, but I should file it anyway.
We argued some more, and then he said to put the questions in writing. I did. Late in the day, his office called back: “The chief wanted me to tell you that our statement is, ‘We’re not responding.'”
Later on, Fahey revised his official answer: “We don’t discuss security.” Of course, some of this is security, and some of it is a taxi service provided to the mayor.
Since the city has chosen to stonewall, we are free to analyze it ourselves. It is fair to say that the cost to the public of the mayor’s personal friendship was at least $200,000, much of that having to do with overtime and the need to dedicate so many detectives making $55,000 to $75,000 annually sitting in a Long Island parking lot.
Naturally, the mayor is entitled to protection, wherever he is. So are his wife and family, who continue to live in Gracie Mansion, the official residence supplied by the public. His wife and children also have police protection and chauffeurs, a reasonable precaution.
What about Judith Nathan? Asked by The News’ John Marzulli if she also receives police protection, Commissioner Howard Safir retorted: “It’s a nice day, isn’t it?”
Whatever the bright line between public and private life, Giuliani long ago declared that his temperament was a force that would shape the city.
And if he were a senator, he has even declared what the standard of public morality should be. In February, he called for the Ten Commandments to be posted in public school classrooms.
“The Ten Commandments is part of our tradition, it’s part of our history,” said Giuliani.
A few weeks later, the mayor and his “very good friend” Judith Nathan marched on St. Patrick’s Day, in a parade where gays are banned for practices seen by the Catholic Church as sinful as, say, adultery.
The wife who shares a public home with the mayor was not in that parade.