It Ain't Easy Feeling Sorry For Rudy

One New Yorker Remembers How the Mayor Responded to His Illness

The investigation infuriated Hynes, who unleashed his ire on Giuliani this January 7 on the mayor's morning radio show, Live From City Hall With Rudy Giuliani. Hynes began with a hyperbolic attack, portraying the ex-prosecutor—who has set himself up as a tough-guy moralist—as a hypocrite.

" . . . the biggest thing you could do to reduce crime would be to resign, sir," Hynes said. "Crime would drop like a rock if you resigned. You're the biggest criminal in the city."

Giuliani laughed. But his trademark insult was not far behind.

The politics of compassion? John Hynes, a Parkinson's sufferer, says Giuliani didn’t feel sorry for him.
The politics of compassion? John Hynes, a Parkinson's sufferer, says Giuliani didn’t feel sorry for him.

"Hey, John!" Giuliani said. "What kind of little hole are you in there, John? It sounds like you are in a little hole. JOHN!"

It seemed like Hynes might miss the chance to confront Giuliani about the alleged harassment by HRA investigators when he suddenly jumped on Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker, who was stealing headlines for his racist, homophobic, and anti-New York remarks.

"Why don't you accuse Mr. Rocker of being a convicted sodomite like you do your other opponents?" Hynes asked.

"Are you okay there? You're breathing funny," Giuliani teased.

"No, I'm not okay," Hynes replied. "I'm sick, and you cut me off my food stamps and Medicaid several times; but I suppose you don't give a damn about that either."

Giuliani ignored Hynes's complaint, preferring to engage the caller in more vexing rhetoric. "There's something really wrong with you there, John. I can hear it in your voice. Tell me a few of your other things you'd like to say."

"I'd like to say that my hero is [sidewalk artist activist] Robert Lederman, who paints you as Hitler. He should be mayor. He's the man!"

"Robert Lederman for mayor? You gonna be his campaign manager, John?"

"I don't use words like fascist and racist loosely, sir, but I use them when I refer to you," Hynes shot back. "You're the worst mayor this city has ever known."

Giuliani took the condemnation as a compliment. "Now, why don't you stay on the line," he urged Hynes. "We'll take your name and your number and we'll send you psychiatric help, 'cause you seriously need it. Sounds like you need it more than John Rocker."

After screeners cut off Hynes, the mayor continued: "Man! Look, it's a big city, and you get some real weirdos who hang out in this city, and that's what I was worried about on, uh, New Year's Eve. I wasn't, you know—I figured, the terrorist groups and all that we could keep under control—worried, but who knows what, what's living in some cave somewhere. So, uh, and John called up. John calls up from Queens, but who knows where he's from."

Giuliani then took a call from a woman who identified herself as Victoria and said she was calling from Westchester.

"Hi, I'm so glad that I followed that jerk," Victoria said.

"He's not a jerk," Giuliani said, giggling. "Victoria, I spent a lot of years being a lawyer, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney. I've dealt with a lot of disturbed people; sometimes you can just hear it in their voice. . . . "

"Boy, you had him tagged. . . . "

"That's a seriously disturbed guy and I hope he takes up our offer of giving us his name and number so we can get him some psychiatric help 'cause, even more than John Rocker, he needs it."

John Hynes says he openly baited the mayor because he felt Giuliani had declared war on poor and disabled people. "Mr. Giuliani showed a total lack of respect for all disabled people when he mocked me after I revealed that I was sick," he contends. "He could have had a field day laughing at my tremors and inability to walk or even speak at times had we met in person."

Hynes concedes that he provoked Giuliani's harsh comments, "but that does not make such remarks by an elected official tolerable." Giuliani, he says, should have been aware of his illness. "I did not make it personal," he insists. "I called him 'sir' and 'Mr. Mayor,' yet he referred to me as a 'weirdo' in need of psychological help. Perhaps the most bizarre part of the conversation was when Mr. Giuliani stated that he was more worried about people like me coming to Times Square on New Year's Eve than he was about terrorism. That statement speaks for itself. I cannot make the point of the mayor's unfitness to serve any better than he made it himself."

Hynes maintains that Giuliani was too wrapped up in defending his ego to acknowledge the serious aspects of his fight with the HRA."At no point [on the program] did the mayor express concern for a constituent who was on the line alleging victimization by a mayoral agency under his direct control," Hynes argues. "He did promise, interestingly, to attempt to help a recently arrived student who had overstayed his visa—that he would help him secure a green card. While I wish the best for the student, the fact is that Mr. Giuliani ridiculed a person he had the power to help and gave false hope to someone who probably stands a snowball's chance in hell of success in a federal jurisdiction over which the mayor has no influence."

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