Feud Erupts Over Former Deputy Mayor’s Illness
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
A rare public feud erupted yesterday between the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations following reports that City Hall is trying to prevent a former deputy mayor from receiving worker’s compensation benefits for an illness he apparently contracted while working after the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Rudy Washington’s worker’s compensation claim was initially approved after he complained of asthma about a year ago. But Mayor Bloomberg’s lawyers have appealed that decision, sending Mr. Washington’s Giuliani administration colleagues into a rage.
Another former deputy mayor under Mr. Giuliani, Joseph Lhota, called Mr. Bloomberg “callous.” He said that in the days after September 11, Mr. Washington was in charge of coordinating search and rescue, and ultimately of the cleanup of ground zero.
“When I first saw Rudy Washington on 9/11 his body was completely covered in dirt and dust. He had a mask on and goggles on,” Mr. Lhota said.
“I’m amazed at the lack of benevolence on the part of Mayor Bloomberg,” he continued. “I have no idea what he is thinking.”
Mr. Giuliani was in Atlanta last night, but his spokeswoman, Sunny Mindel, said the former mayor “hopes the original decision stands.”
“Putting the city’s welfare before his own, Rudy Washington, on September 11 and for weeks after, worked at ground zero courageously and tirelessly on the recovery effort,” Ms. Mindel said.
While Giuliani and Bloomberg officials do sometimes snipe at each other in private, this is the first time since Mr.Giuliani endorsed Mr. Bloomberg in 2001 that their staffs have dueled in public.
Mr. Bloomberg’s aides quickly reached for a compromise – saying the mayor was not personally aware of Mr. Washington’s claim.
“Nobody at City Hall knew about this issue, and now we are trying to resolve it,” said a high-level Bloomberg aide who refused to be identified.
Another source familiar with the case said Mr. Bloomberg is now asking the Law Department to settle Mr. Washington’s claims.
A city attorney, John Sweeney, said in a statement that the city’s lawyers are currently discussing the case with Mr. Washington’s lawyers.