My Take on the Guliani Police Security Scandal

If you don't know the story by now, Rudy Guliani, while mayor of New York, charged the city the costs of his security while he was having an affair on his then wife with his current wife.

The police also supplied security for his mistress (now wife) at the time.

While this is not a wholesome story, I do not think this is really the scandalous part. His behavior was wrong, but public figures to require security, even if they are misbehaving.

The unforgivable part of the scandal is this:

Security costs for those trips were charged to agencies like the New York City Loft Board, which regulates loft apartments and was billed $34,000. The Office for People with Disabilities was charged $10,000, while the Assigned Counsel Administrative Office, which provides lawyers for indigent defendants, was charged roughly $400,000.

He did not charge the costs if his trysts to the Mayor's security account, he charged it to accounts that were established and funded to provide services to the city's citizen's.

How many disabled New Yorkers were not provided service so Guliani could have his affair?

How many indigent defendants received (even) less or no legal advice?

To look at this through a Wisconsin lens, remember that funding indigent defense is a problem we are dealing with right now:

Here's a question: If you're a single person and are charged with a crime, how low does your income have to be for you to qualify to be represented by a state public defender?

Maybe $15,000? Maybe the federal poverty level, which is about $10,000?

Nope. The income level for a single person in Wisconsin to qualify for a public defender is about $3,000. It's based on guidelines that haven't changed since 1987, when the federal poverty level was $5,500.

It's past time for that to change — and a bill in the Legislature aims to do it.
But county budgets are typically strained already, so some judges are reluctant to add to the strain. In those cases, typically misdemeanors or less serious felonies, defendants have to represent themselves.

The bill in Madison would raise the income level for public defender qualification to 115 percent of the federal poverty level, which for a single person would be about $11,750. That's the same income level as the Wisconsin Works program.

The bill also would provide 33 new public defenders and 17 new support staffers, and it would mandate that consistent standards are used in each county.

It would cost about $4.5 million a year. But Wisconsin's counties are spending more than that in court-appointed lawyers. It would basically be a cost shift, from counties to the state — and more defendants would get representation.

That's the point — people aren't getting the representation that they're ensured under our constitution. Even if it were to cost more money, justice demands it. The fact that it should save a little money is a bonus.

Yep, Rudy's fling would have funded 10% of our entire state's public defender need deficit.

That's the scandal. Yet another Republican who feels his selfish needs are more important than the poor sap who just might need a hand.

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