- The Washington Times - Monday, December 31, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) There was a time before Rudolph W. Giuliani was a saint.
There was a time before he was feted everywhere he went, embraced as "America's mayor" and Time magazine's Person of the Year, perceived as a man who was born to lead. There was a time before the glint in his eye was softened by sadness, before he seemed shadowed at every appearance by thousands of victims.
It is hard to remember that time, though it is not so long ago.
Now he is about to become America's ex-mayor. After midnight today, Mr. Giuliani's mayoralty will end, leaving historians to puzzle over his eight-year term.
New Yorkers have been treated to astounding decreases in the crime rate. The mayor has made it safe to walk in Times Square.
There was a bout with cancer, a campaign against jaywalking, the mayor wearing a dress on "Saturday Night Live," charges of police brutality, an aborted Senate race. At one point in 2000, polls showed his popularity at 32 percent.
Then, in the catastrophe of the World Trade Center, it all became a dim memory.
If it wasn't for September 11, says Andrew Kirtzman, author of "Rudolph Giuliani: Emperor of the City," Mr. Giuliani would be remembered "as an excellent mayor with extraordinary flaws, someone who revived New York City but also tarnished his own reputation with his personal behavior."
He came to office as an acclaimed federal prosecutor who had lost an earlier race for mayor against David Dinkins in 1989. In his rematch with New York's first black mayor, Mr. Giuliani promised to improve the city's quality of life. Among other things, he would roust the "squeegee men" menacing panhandlers who stopped motorists, dragged dirty squeegees over their windshields and demanded payment.
He won by fewer than 45,000 votes.
The squeegee men soon were gone. So were a lot of the guys who sold joints in the parks and most of Times Square's X-rated businesses.
Two weeks ago, Mr. Giuliani offered a valedictory before a group of business and civic leaders at a Wall Street hotel. As he spoke, a 1990 Time magazine cover was projected on giant screens behind him: "The Rotting Big Apple," read the headline.
This was New York Before Giuliani, he suggested, and New York After Giuliani was a far better place. He did it, he says, by prudent management, by reducing welfare rolls in favor of workfare, and by cutting taxes, allowing the city's economy to bloom.
New York's police waged a full-court press against crime, prosecuting even the most minor offenses.
The results: Murders fell 65 percent from 1993 to 2000, from 1,927 to 671, and another 5 percent this year, even as the homicide rate was rising in other major cities. All major crimes declined 57 percent, from 430,460 to 184,111.
In the minority communities, the police often were perceived as aggressively violent. A series of highly publicized incidents fanned the flames.
Fred Siegel, a history professor at Cooper Union and author of "The Future Once Happened Here," a book on the decline of American cities that influenced Mr. Giuliani's thinking on quality-of-life issues, insists that blacks have thrived better than anyone under Mr. Giuliani's leadership. Their neighborhoods have become safer and more prosperous.
But the mayor, he says, will not play the liberal to get black support. "He wasn't a politician. That's what's good about him and that's what's bad about him," Mr. Siegel says.
Mr. Giuliani leaves office with one regret that he has failed to reform the city schools. It was not for lack of trying; he ran two schools chancellors out of town, and declared that the Board of Education should be "blown up." But the state refused to give him the control he craved.
At 57, the queston is: What next? Would Rudy Giuliani, the opera-loving Yankees fan with a comb-over, a nasty divorce and a prickly nature, like to be president of the United States?
"Unquestionably," says Mr. Kirtzman. "No doubt. He believes in his own righteousness. He thinks he led New York City and will lead America in the path of righteousness."

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