Bestselling Bigotry

Rudy's Book Bares a Black & Latino Hit List

Tucked away at the end of Rudy Giuliani's Leadership, which has been at or near the top of the New York Times bestseller list for 12 straight weeks, is a typically spiteful hit list disguised as four pages of "Acknowledgments." Dissecting it has become a parlor game for Giuliani insiders and watchers—as much for who's missing as for who's thanked.

More important than the gossipy intrigue of the list, however, is the continuation of our own Trent Lott's race war. Giuliani praises "my commissioners and agency heads" who "served the city with distinction," thanking 33 of them, but names only one of the 11 blacks he appointed—former housing commissioner Richard Roberts. Giuliani says how "grateful" he is to the 36 key City Hall staffers who regularly participated in the morning cabinet meetings he describes as critical to his government, but includes ex-deputy mayor Rudy Washington as the solitary black. A third list of "others in city government" who "merit mention" does not include a single black.

Finally, he lists 39 people who've "enhanced my career in politics" without acknowledging a single black, though Richard Parsons, the head of Time Warner, chaired his mayoral campaign finance committee as well as the city's Economic Development Corporation. The cumulative lists—which leave blacks as two of the 122 cited in these four categories—is almost as white as Giuliani Partners LLC, his new corporate venture. Not only was there no room in the inn at Partners for blacks—not even for Washington—but Giuliani has yet to help his most loyal black retainer land anywhere else.

The two Rudys: no room, even for a token, at Giuliani Partners LLC
photo: Richard B. Levine
The two Rudys: no room, even for a token, at Giuliani Partners LLC

The book's lists reach far back for Giuliani appointees like Lou Carbonetti, who was director of the Community Assistance Unit for a few months until he was forced out by scandal in mid 1994, and Abe Lachman, the budget director who quit after the first year. But the book omits Parsons, Deborah Wright, Margaret Hamburg, Marva Hammonds, Al Curtis, Earl Andrews, and Bruce Siegel, who, during the early years, ran, respectively, the city's development, housing, health, human resources, youth, tax, and hospital agencies. With Andrews and Curtis serving in other posts until the end of the administration,the list also leaves out Wilbur Chapman at Transportation, Violet Mitchell at Community Development, Deborah Weeks at Business Services, and Schools Chancellor Rudy Crew, who was installed at Giuliani's behest. These four served most of Giuliani's final years, and Crew, for a long while, was actually a close social friend of the mayor's.

Speaking of friends, Giuliani also named 53 "terrific friends and supporters," grouping them sometimes by ethnicity, and managed to list three blacks, starting with Willie Mays, who chaired a fundraiser for him when he was running against David Dinkins but moved to the West Coast years ago. The others are Crown Heights community activist Richard Green and Imam Pasha, a twofer for Giuliani, the only Muslim on the four pages.

Giuliani is somewhat kinder to Latinos, much as his administration was. He recognizes four Latino commissioners—the Housing Authority's Tino Hernandez, Human Rights' Marta Varela, Probation's Raul Russi, and Records' George Rios, as well as Deputy Mayor Ninfa Segarra and aide Manny Papir. Herman Badillo makes the list of people who aided his political career, bringing the Latino total to seven of 122. But he omits eight other commissioners, including heavy hitters like Ruben Franco, who ran the Housing Authority far longer than Hernandez; Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jose Maldonado; Health and Hospitals president Luis Marcos; Employment Commissioner Antonio Pagan; and Lillian Barrios-Paoli, who headed three different agencies for Giuliani.

Barrios-Paoli, who is now a top director at New York United Way, attributed her own omission to a "philosophical conflict" over anti-poor policies that developed between her and City Hall while she was Human Resources administrator. Clearly, listed commissioners like Rios remained team players in the ex-mayor's eyes by secretly turning over control of Giuliani's public records to him in the final days of 2001, though the law required him to retain them as chief city archivist. Likewise, Varela, a hero only in Giuliani's book, was implicitly blasted in a recent Times story for running the rights agency into the ground, leaving a backlog of unexamined complaints that Bloomberg's new commissioner has attacked with a zeal unheard of in Varela's eight years at the helm.

Actually the discredited human rights agency is the only one that comes in for two citations on Giuliani's Thank-You Card. Sara Vidal, the onetime deputy commissioner under Varela, is the only Latino to make Giuliani's list of "terrific friends." Giuliani also recounts in the chapter of the book entitled "Weddings Discretionary, Funerals Mandatory" how he went to the 1989 funeral of Vidal's mother and how it led to her and her sister becoming "dedicated workers on my mayoral campaign," a support he was "extremely grateful for." He does not say that the sister, who was once Dinkins's personal secretary, supplied him with all kinds of dirt on her former boss, including pilfered love letters from several women, which Dinkins kept in his office—and which Giuliani tried unsuccessfully to turn into a news story. No wonder Vidal got both a job and an acknowledgment.

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