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Private $pay consultant

May 28, 1996

Two months ago, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani shoved William Bratton out the door of One Police Plaza largely because of Bratton's grandiloquent claims that his - rather than the mayor's - "strategies" had produced the city's dramatic decreases in crime. The mayor also jettisoned Bratton's First Deputy John Timoney and made only half-hearted offers to his Chief of Staff Peter LaPorte and his sidekick Jack Maple that they had no choice but to refuse.

But to the man who wrote those seven crime strategy commandments that for two years Bratton cited as the department's Holy Grail, the mayor has authorized payments of $300,000.

For the past few months, the frenetic John Linder has been commuting between here and his hacienda in Corrales, New Mexico, as a consultant to Nicholas Scoppetta, who heads the Agency for Children's Services. Linder's mandate is to "re-engineer" that troubled agency as he supposedly did the NYPD.

The only question: Where is the $300,000 - half of which goes for Linder's fees and expenses, the rest for five associates working under him - coming from?

Our story begins late last year when the mayor, apparently smitten by Linder's genius in puffing Bratton's image, sent his counsel Dennison Young to figure out ways to rustle up enough dough to pay Linder's $1,500-a-day consulting fees.

When earlier this year, those efforts stalled at a measly $20,000 - enough to keep Linder in New York for less than three weeks - the administration arranged a meeting at the offices of the New York Community Trust, a charity with an historical interest in child welfare. There, Linder was to hustle (in charitable jargon, make a presentation to) a half-dozen private foundations and gift-giving corporations.

Alas, the Great Re-engineerer wasn't quite at his best that day.

Perhaps he'd spent the night before sleeping uncomfortably on the couch in Bratton's office at One Police Plaza, as he did when he worked round the clock to frame those now-legendary strategies.

Perhaps he was reflecting on his recently completed $48,000 consultancy for Massachusetts State Public Safety Secretary Kathleen O'Toole, which led to the resignation of the head of the Massachusetts State Police.

Or perhaps he was pondering his upcoming $140,000 consultancy for the New Orleans police department at a daily rate of $1,800, which would make his New York City consultancy fee a bargain for Giuliani.

Printable versionAt any rate, all agree that Linder blew it. As a potential donor put it, "He made it out that all the changes in the police department began with him and Bratton. I know that's how he has to sell himself but that turned me and a lot of other people off."

Joyce Bove, of the Community Trust, was somewhat more discreet. Asked months after the request was made if her organization would donate to Linder, she said, "We haven't come to a decision yet."

With no apparent takers, counsel Young and his pals at City Hall turned to the administration's newly formed and little-known nonprofit corporation, the Public/Private Initiatives (PPI). PPI is a mechanism set up by Giuliani in 1994 to solicit money from businesses and private donors for contingencies the administration could apparently never justify to the taxpayers. While previous administrations used similar entities, their fund-raising had been for specific purposes or events, such as David Dinkins' mayoral delegation's trip to South Africa. But the fund raiser for Linder is apparently the first time that such an organization was used to raise money to pay a consultant.

As is the case throughout the Giuliani adminsitration, PPI personnel are so secretive that its head, Tamra Lhota, refused to discuss any aspect of its fund-raising, including why it was necessary to fund Linder with private sources. Lhota, who happens to the wife of Budget Director Joseph Lhota, refused to reveal her salary ($90,000), how many people PPI employs and how much money it has raised. (A Giuliani official says Lhota has raised millions, although PPI filed no financial disclosure with the state's attorney general for the fiscal year ending June, 1995, as it is required to do if it raised more than $25,000.)

Lhota also refused to reveal the donors who ultimately kicked in for Linder. All that the Giuliani official would say was that no city money was being used to pay him.

The director of a city-wide foundation familiar with Linder said, "You would think the public has a right to know who his donors are and what reciprocity they might expect from City Hall. More interestingly, if what he is doing is so important for the city, why isn't the city paying for it itself?"

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Email Leonard Levitt at llevitt@nypdconfidential.com

© 1996 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.