Mayor Cautions Pols on Fallout

New York Daily News, June 14, 1997
Mayor Giuliani warned yesterday that any end to rent regulations would pose a "lingering political problem" for fellow Republicans Gov. Pataki and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

Giuliani said the two state leaders will feel the political fallout whether rent laws are allowed to expire overnight on Sunday or over time through "major vacancy decontrol."

"The person primarily identified with that would be Senator Bruno; the next person would be the governor," Giuliani said during an interview in his office. "People who disagree with them would be upset with them, and it would be a lingering political problem."

The reelection-seeking mayor's comments are the latest in a series of attempts in recent days to distance himself from the rent controversy and cast himself as a leading defender of tenants.

His remarks track those by Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, the state's most powerful Republican. On Thursday, D'Amato predicted that voters would hold Bruno, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Pataki responsible "in that order" for a demise of the laws.

Giuliani has had rocky relationships with D'Amato, Pataki and Bruno since he broke with the state GOP to endorse former Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1994. He has tried to patch things up since then. But yesterday's comments drew immediate retorts from Pataki and Bruno.

"The mayor has a right to his opinion, and I personally disagree with his opinion," said Bruno. "We're not dealing with this politically. We're dealing with trying to do what is right."

Pataki spokeswoman Zenia Mucha said Giuliani's remarks were an unwanted distraction. "We're not here assessing blame, we're here trying to solve the problem," she said.

The mayor's comments mark a shift in strategy from low-key lobbying in Albany to a more confrontational approach from afar.