Giuliani Says Fighting Crime His Top Priority

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MAYOR Rudolph Giuliani has named fighting crime as his top priority in New York and says big budget cuts will force him to be ``realistic'' about helping the needy.

``American cities cannot survive as we know them if they remain so violent,'' the former federal prosecutor said at his inauguration Sunday as the city's 107th mayor. He called for stricter gun control and dismissed the notion that the city of 7.3 million people had become ungovernable.

New York's first elected Republican mayor in 28 years renewed his pledge to make the city safer and called for unity after a racially divisive campaign against David Dinkins, the city's first black mayor.

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``The era of fear has had a long enough reign,'' Mr. Giuliani said. He said he would take steps to curb budget deficits estimated at $2 billion each fiscal year. Cutting the city's payroll, even at the risk of a strike, is a possibility. And social programs could take a hit as well.

The problem of combating urban violence with limited resources also awaits the new mayors of Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. Atlanta's new mayor, Bill Campbell, faces a $30 million budget shortfall. He is considering a hiring freeze and hasn't ruled out firing city workers.

Crime is the first concern of Tom Murphy, who replaced Sophie Masloff yesterday as mayor of Pittsburgh. Mr. Murphy plans to reduce street violence by reorganizing the police department.

In Detroit, Dennis Archer succeeded Coleman Young yesterday as the first new mayor in two decades. To Be Sued, Live in D.C.

If you live in Utah or Indiana, relax. But watch your back in Washington, D.C., the worst place in the nation for getting sued, according to a survey by Forbes magazine.

Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Nevada are not exactly safe havens from lawsuits, either, ranking second through fifth on the magazine's list of litigious states.

Forbes reports in its Jan. 17 issue that the greatest concentration of litigiousness - lawsuits stemming from car accidents to medical malpractice - is in the Northeast, while the Midwest and Rocky Mountain states have lower levels. Not Enough Fish in Sea

With fewer and fewer desirable fish coming up in their nets and plenty of new federal restrictions, New England's mariners are fishing for a future. Haddock, once a mainstay of the industry, was off limits starting yesterday, to allow its numbers to recover. So is an entire section of Georges Bank, the vast, rich fishing area east of Cape Cod, Mass.

And over the next five years, federal regulators want to limit fishing for all ground fish - haddock, cod, and pollack - to just 88 days. The Canadian government, which controls half of the Georges Bank, announced Friday that it and US regulators were closing that fishery until June 1.

What are fishermen to do? ``Flip a coin,'' suggests Tony Verga, executive director of the Gloucester Fisheries Commission. ``Either come up with a remedy or have absolute chaos - not just in Gloucester but in all New England fishing ports.'' Some say the remedy could be in turning to other types of fish that are still plentiful.

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