- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 23, 1999

New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani yesterday vowed not to be intimidated by a federal takeover of the city's homeless funds and said his Senate bid would benefit from the flap, which he summarized as "Clinton politics come to New York."
On Tuesday, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew M. Cuomo announced he was taking control of $59 million in federal funds for homeless people in New York City. Mr. Cuomo an outspoken supporter of the mayor's likely opponent in the Senate race, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton said he could not trust Mr. Giuliani to distribute the funds fairly.
"Look, if you can't figure out politics when you see it, then you shouldn't be covering New York City," the mayor told reporters in his daily news conference. "You got to be, like, living on Mars not to figure out what's going on.
"This is Clinton politics come to New York," Mr. Giuliani added. "It's what they used to do in Arkansas. It's what [Clinton friend James] Carville announced on national television he would do. I recognize it. It's not going to affect me, not going to intimidate me."
The mayor went on to level his harshest criticism to date at Mr. Cuomo, who himself considered running for the New York Senate seat before Mrs. Clinton expressed interest in it.
"Andrew Cuomo takes the funding away from the city so he can do it directly," Mr. Giuliani said. "Last night, his wife goes to a fund-raiser, a Democratic fund-raiser, and talks about how Andrew did this.
"Andrew is well known in Washington although you give him a certain amount of protection in the New York media for having highly politicized HUD unlike any other secretary, having hired people to be political operatives, having engaged in patronage and having distorted the mission of HUD," the mayor said. "The more Andrew Cuomo and Carville and this one and that one do, it's going to help me."
HUD spokesman David Egner said the homeless funds were seized because a federal judge ruled that Mr. Giuliani's administration had politicized the process of awarding benefits. He accused the mayor of withholding funds from a group that has held anti-Giuliani demonstrations.
"HUD has an obligation to ensure that federal funds are being spent properly and took its action to comply with the judge's decision," said Mr. Egner, HUD's deputy assistant secretary for public affairs.
"Instead of making apologies and amends for the damage he has done, the mayor has chosen to hurl accusations at the federal government and local advocacy groups and defy the serious findings of a federal judge," he added. "If the mayor has a problem, let him tell it to the judge."
Mrs. Clinton, campaigning in Syracuse yesterday, instructed aides to encourage reporters to ask her about the controversy. The reporters obliged.
"I can't be responding every time the mayor gets angry about something because that's all I would do," Mrs. Clinton said after visiting a Salvation Army food distribution center. "I don't see the point in getting angry all the time and expending all the energy when we could be figuring out a better way to take care of people."
White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart said the Clinton administration backs Mr. Cuomo's action. The spokesman was asked whether Mr. Cuomo checked with the White House before seizing the funds.
"I haven't spoken to everybody in the White House, but he certainly didn't discuss it with the president or the first lady," Mr. Lockhart said. "He is responding, in large part, to a federal judge and his ruling, rather than the mayor.
"And I think we believe that HUD has a responsibility to make sure that these programs are run responsibly, that they ultimately have to be the arbiter of that," he added. "And in this case, we support their effort."
So do several Democratic congressmen from New York, including Rep. Joseph Crowley, who yesterday applauded Mr. Cuomo's action. Rep. Charles B. Rangel added that it "was the right and humane thing to do."
But Rep. James T. Walsh, New York Republican, questioned the move.
"To New Yorkers, this sequence of events appears political," he said. "This is the one homeless-funding situation in the entire United States that the HUD secretary has deemed serious enough to warrant his personal attention.
"This occurs as one of the secretary's top assistants, Bill DiBlasio, has been named campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton," he said.
Dan Allen, spokesman for the New York State Republican Party, said: "It seems that Andrew Cuomo and Bill DiBlasio are still working together, which is unfortunate for the families of New York City.
"Mayor Giuliani has been elected twice by the families of New York to serve their everyday needs," he added. "Andrew Cuomo has never been elected by anybody, but he feels that he has the authority to make decisions over their lives, which is basically an abuse of power."
Cliff May, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said that Mr. Cuomo is "using his office to help the Clintons and their campaign and that's wrong. Perhaps what's even worse, he is using homeless people as political pawns."
Mr. Giuliani said the homeless flap is just one of many controversies the White House is stoking to undermine the mayor's Senate bid.
He said Democrats loyal to the White House are conducting several bogus investigations, including a federal probe of Bruce Teitelbaum, the mayor's former chief of staff and current fund-raiser for Mr. Giuliani's Senate race.
"Bruce did nothing wrong," said Mr. Giuliani, lashing out at the Democrats. "They're all involved in politics. They're all thinking about how they can help Al Gore, Hillary Clinton. I wish they would stop it. It actually is silly."

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