Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Giuliani's NY legacy coming under scrutiny

By Dan Janison
November 2, 2007

Christopher Lynn has joined the cadre of former Giuliani administration officials who support their old boss for president with cash contributions and fundraising. Over the years, he seems to have kept his flair for hair-trigger verbal combat of a raw sort.

Lynn is a lawyer like many of the other alumni. Not only is he a longtime gay-rights advocate, and a Democrat who endorsed Fernando Ferrer against then Republican Michael Bloomberg for mayor in 2005, but Lynn's actions fueled some of the zestier tabloid stories that marked Giuliani's first term - first as taxi czar and later in the bigger job as transportation commissioner in which he commanded a $250 million-plus budget.

When contacted, the irrepressible Lynn talked up Giuliani as a problem-solver - and within a minute was on the record condemning former officials whose loyalties to Giuliani have expired, and vice versa.

"I was saddened and shocked," said Lynn, "to see that Fran Reiter, the former deputy mayor, endorsed Hillary Clinton. It's treachery! I'm a Democrat, but when someone allows you to be deputy mayor of this city, the least you can do, if not support him for president, is shut up."

In turn, he echoed criticisms from the Giuliani camp of Jerry Hauer, the highly acclaimed former emergency-management director. Hauer has been openly disputing Giuliani's account of the widely known fiasco surrounding City Hall's siting of a command center that was destroyed on 9/11.

Reiter, a longtime Liberal Party activist who oversaw development issues and managed Giuliani's 1997 re-election campaign, said nothing personal is involved in her support for Clinton, announced six weeks ago.

As for Lynn's rebuke, Reiter laughed. "Who cares?" she said. "I can't imagine anybody more irrelevant than Chris Lynn. Given my record as a public servant, compared to his, being criticized by Chris Lynn could also be viewed as a compliment. He should mind his own business, and he doesn't know what he's talking about."

The potholes on Lynn's record for Giuliani included a botched traffic plan for the Queensborough Bridge, a bizarre public confrontation with a parking lot owner near Yankee Stadium, and his irregular disciplinary action against a cabdriver about whom Lynn's live-in partner complained. When transferred from his post as transportation commissioner at the end of 1997, Lynn didn't stick around for a transition.
Before you dismiss all this as water under an FDR overpass, recall the recent televised debate in which GOP contender Mitt Romney tangled with the former mayor over which of them transformed their blue-state realms using red-state policies.

In fact, a maverick City Hall journalist recently shared an interesting e-mail from a Romney operative. Rafael Martínez-Alequín, a self-styled Giuliani nemesis who once published a paper out of the Bronx on an irregular schedule, these days maintains a Web site, www.yourfreepress.blogspot.- com, with videos of various Giuliani news conferences, including some of the Republican-Liberal mayor's pre-revisionist positions on gun control and immigration.

"I was wondering," wrote the Romney supporter in the e-mail, "if you could tell me a little more about your archive, what type of content you have, what format it is in, how extensive it is, etc. ... "

Meanwhile, Lynn - speaking for himself - has other things to say about fundamentalist Christians in the GOP fold who object to Giuliani. "I don't know what they want, frankly. If we ever had a mayor who believed the 10 commandments were not advisory opinions, it was Rudy Giuliani ... I don't understand. He'll be hands-on. He'll protect this country. He'll be an incredible president."

The Giuliani camp might not be making Lynn its liaison to the Christian Coalition of America. But as Romney's camp shows, the true legacy of the New York years is now under some scrutiny from coast to coast - warts, feuds, fiery rhetoric and all.

Copyright © 2007, Newsday Inc.

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