Officials representing New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and city Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi have locked horns over the selection of a minority firm to serve as one of two financial advisers for the sale of city general obligation bonds.
City sources familiar with the battle say officials in the Giuliani Administration are actively carrying out their new policy of eliminating the city's automatic inclusion of minority and woman-owned firms as financial advisers, bond counsel, and underwriters on bond deals.
Under former Mayor David N. Dinkins and city Comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman, the city reserved a financial adviser position on each of its syndicates for a firm owned by women or minorities. The selection of underwriters and financial advisers are jointly completed by the mayor and the comptroller.
Hevesi, who was elected last fall, would like to continue the Dinkins-Holtzman policy, but Giuliani's finance team, headed by deputy mayor John Dyson, corporation counsel Paul Crotty, budget director Abraham Lackman, and finance commissioner Mark Shaw, has been directed to discontinue the practice in the name of reducing costs.
Although the battle is currently being waged at the staff level, officials on both sides say Giuliani and Hevesi are likely to get directly involved. Sources say Hevesi is committed to the policy of inclusion, where the city reserves slots for minority and women-owned firms on bond issues.
Aides in the comptroller's office also say the depth of knowledge and amount of work necessary on city bond deals requires the use of more than one firm.
But officials in the Giuliani Administration view these reserved positions as a waste of money and have vowed to remove them.
"The position of Giuliani's people is 'Every single agency in city government is being cut m why not this one?'" a source with knowledge of the issue said.
On Friday, Giuliani officials and those representing Hevesi went head-to-head in a meeting, which ended in a standoff. Sources with knowledge of the meeting say Hevesi's first deputy comptroller, Michael W. Geffrard, proposed the hiring of Public Resources Advisory Group, and P.G. Corbin & Co., a firm owned by an African-American woman, as co-financial advisers for the city's general obligation bond syndicate.
Both firms were appointed by Dinkins and Holtzman as the city financial adviser.
"We're trying to work this thing out in an amicable and expeditious manner," Geffrard said. "We stand ready to meet with them to continue a dialogue." Geffrard refused to elaborate on the issue.
These same sources say that Giuliani's finance staff did not object to Public Resources, but took issue with the nomination of P.G. Corbin.
Leading the effort against P.G. Corbin was deputy mayor Dyson, sources with knowledge of the meeting say.
"Dyson did most of the talking," said one city official who attended the meeting. Dyson could not be reached for comment. Forrest Taylor, a budget spokesman for Giuliani, refused to return telephone calls regarding Dyson's comments.
City officials, speaking on a not-for-attribution basis, say the timely selection of a financial adviser is crucial if the city is to complete a much-needed debt restructuring plan to balance its fiscal 1995 budget.
The financial adviser traditionally plays a key role in helping the city select firms to serve as underwriters of city debt. The city is in the process of selecting firms to serve on its general obligation syndicate, but needs a financial adviser to make final recommendations to staffers working for Giuliani and Hevesi.
At issue is the ability of the city to complete an important restructuring of city debt in time to include two critical debt service payments.
The restructuring, which includes the sale of $1 billion of GOs, is needed by Giuliani to close a $2.3 billion gap in the city's fiscal 1995 budget. The restructuring stretches out city debt service costs, producing $225 million in budget savings.