Big Apple Polisher

Like Bill Clinton, Rudy Giuliani has been looking for a way to cement his legacy. But with the appointment of former senior adviser Richard Schwartz as Daily News editorial-page editor, he may even have the beginning of an administration in exile. According to many in the Giuliani administration, Schwartz was a major fan of the mayor’s – though some of his former colleagues wouldn’t put it so nicely.

“In the world of ass kissers, Richard wins the Academy Award, the Tony, the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer,” recalled former deputy mayor Fran Reiter (who in 1996 beat him out for a deputy mayor’s job), in a 1999 interview. “They were all sycophants around Rudy,” says a top city-union leader, “but Schwartz was the worst. It was like, Yes, Mister Mayor. Of course, Mister Mayor.”

The wonkish architect of Giuliani’s welfare reforms, Schwartz was among the first people on the mayor’s payroll in the ‘93 race. Only when the campaign bureaucracy swelled did he get pushed down in the pecking order, and he spent considerable energy trying to move up again in the years that followed. Reiter and two other senior aides recall watching in amusement as Schwartz switched his position to agree with the mayor’s in the course of a single 8 a.m. staff meeting. “If you had him on your side before a meeting and Rudy disagreed, you’d lose him,” recalls one of the aides.

Now Schwartz will get to pronounce judgment on his own initiatives, his old boss, and Giuliani adversaries running for mayor. As always, though, the final say belongs to the Giuliani-friendly real-estate developer and News publisher Mort Zuckerman, who doesn’t seem worried about a potential conflict of interest. Under Zuckerman, the News has become a virtual stomping ground for Giuliani alumni: Schwarz will share editorial writing duties with, among others, Michael Aronson, who worked under him on the ‘93 campaign; executive editor Michael Goodwin is married to Hunter College president and former Giuliani appointee Jennifer Raab.

Still, there are those who think Schwarz won’t stick up for Rudy when push comes to shove. “Richard’s the kind of guy who understands where his bread is buttered,” says a former Giuliani aide, “and now it’s being buttered by Mort Zuckerman. He’ll try his hardest to convince everyone he’s an objective journalist, and if that means stepping over the guy who made him, Richard won’t think twice.”

Zuckerman and Schwartz referred all questions to News spokesman Ken Frydman, who said, “We know Richard will be even-handed and open-minded.” Of course, Frydman was Giuliani’s ‘93 campaign press secretary.

Big Apple Polisher