Republican presidential front-runner Rudy Giuliani — whose campaign is based on his reputation as “America’s Mayor,” the hero of 9/11 — is famous for a lot of things. Letting bygones be bygones is not one of them.
Thus Giuliani is blaming an old aide turned adversary Jerry Hauer, the city’s first director of the Office of Emergency Management, for the much-criticized decision to locate the emergency command center at 7 World Trade Center instead of a site in Brooklyn. After terrorists flew planes into the Twin Towers, 7 WTC burned and collapsed, and the 23rd-floor command center was rendered useless.
“Jerry Hauer recommended that as the prime site and the site that would make the most sense,” Giuliani claimed this week on Fox News Sunday. “He recommended that site as the site that would be the best site. It was largely on his recommendation that that site was selected.”
Giuliani has nursed a grudge against Hauer ever since the latter defied him and endorsed Democrat Mark Green in the race to succeed him as mayor. “You’re done,” Giuliani told Hauer ominously on the phone.
“I thought for a number of reasons that Brooklyn was the better location,” says Hauer. He provided New York with a copy of his February 1996 memo to First Deputy Mayor Peter Powers recommending the Metro Tech facility in Brooklyn as his preferred site for the command center. “The building is secure and not as visible a target as buildings in Lower Manhattan,” the memo says.
Giuliani rejected the suggestion. Another aide, Denny Young, “called me and told me Brooklyn was not going to happen,” Hauer recalls. “The mayor was not going to go to Brooklyn. He felt it was better to put it in lower Manhattan, within walking distance of City Hall.” Given a directive from the mayor, Hauer supported the World Trade Center site.
“Rudy’s getting a lot of heat for the decision,” Hauer said. “He’s trying to run on his homeland-security and national-security background, and if you start peeling back the skin on the errors he made when he was mayor, you take away a lot of the basis for his candidacy.” Hauer added: “I feel sad that he would betray somebody that had served him loyally in the past, and I’m angry, too. But when you get to know Rudy, you know that this is the kind of thing he does. That’s just his personality.” —Lloyd Grove