Embattled City Official Denies Likening Mayor To Leading Nazi
NEW YORK (AP) _ An embattled city official recovering from a suicide attempt ″is just staring at movies on television,″ according to an interview published today that set off a dispute over whether he compared Mayor Edward I. Koch to a Nazi.
Queens borough president Donald Manes, the central figure in a corruption scandal that has rocked the city for the past few weeks, has not answered reporters’ questions since he cut his wrist and ankle and suffered a heart attack Jan. 10. He initially said of his wounds that he had been attacked.
Since that incident, a Queens businessman has alleged that Manes participated in an extortion scandal, and Koch has called him ″a crook″ and called on him to leave his office. Manes has temporarily handed over his duties to a deputy.
Manes spoke with columnist Cindy Adams of the New York Post, the newspaper reported today, drawing his attorney to quickly deny that Manes had likened Koch to Nazi official Martin Bormann.
Ms. Adams, in a copyright article, reported that she and Manes talked about a story in which a cab driver purportedly told a friend of Manes: ″Koch is a friend like Martin Bormann was a friend.″ Bormann was Adolf Hitler’s secretary.
″The cabbie is right,″ Manes told Ms. Adams, she reported.
Manes’ attorney, Michael Armstrong, later said Manes’ recollection was that he did not make the remark and denied Ms. Adams’ characterization of the conversation as an interview. He said Manes, thinking he was home alone, picked up the phone when it rang and spoke with Ms. Adams only in attempt to get her to hang up. They spoke for ″a couple of minutes,″ he said.
Manes apologized for the report about Koch ″even though he didn’t say it,″ said Armstrong. He also said Manes contended that Ms. Adams told the story about the cab driver.
″He certainly did not mean to say anything like that about the mayor and would not say anything like that about the mayor,″ Armstrong said. He said Manes was ″really punchy″ from medication and could have been misinterpreted.
″To get her off the phone who knows what he said,″ Armstrong said. ″But he says his recollection is that he did not″ make the comment attributed to him.
Post officials were in a meeting and were not immediately available to comment, said Diane Reid, an administrative assistant at the newspaper.
Ms. Adams said she asked Manes why he had not responded to charges linking him to corruption in the city’s Parking Violations Bureau. Manes told her:
″I’m not up to to it. I haven’t got it. Right now I’m just staring at movies on television. And falling asleep while they’re on. I’m not up to seeing people much. Or having conversations.″
Asked today about the Post report, Koch said: ″I don’t care about that. You have to understand, Donny Manes is at the end of his strength. It’s played out. He can’t hide any more.″
Koch said that if Manes was fit to speak with a columnist he should be able to speak with law enforcement officials.