As New York City works to recover from the attacks on the World Trade Center, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and New York's attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, have begun to spar over who will coordinate the activities of charitable groups responding to the disaster, the New York Times reports.
"There is coordination going on already," said Ani Hurwitz, a spokeswoman for the New York Community Trust, which, with the United Way of New York City, set up the September 11th Fund in the days following the attacks. "To the degree that the mayor's office can coordinate it better, fine. But now we have the mayor, Mr. Spitzer, and the private philanthropic leaders all moving to play a coordinating role. That's fine — the work is monumental and is going to be going on for years — but my feeling is, whoever is providing coordination here, let's be clear about it."
Spitzer, whose office regulates charities in the state, said he would invite the mayor to join his efforts but that he intended to continue to work with the more than 140 charitable groups that have raised some $675 million in donations since the tragedy. After a meeting of officials of the leading relief agencies last week, the attorney general announced that his office would build two centralized databases: one to track the donations from grantmakers and the other to track how much the victims' families receive.
Deputy Counsel Larry Levy, a spokesman for the mayor, said cooperation between the mayor's office and Spitzer was unlikely because several charitable groups had privately expressed to him that they were uncomfortable working with the attorney general's office. And some groups, including the American Red Cross, the nation's largest disaster relief agency, maintained that, because of privacy concerns, they would not contribute to a database detailing the amounts that families of the victims receive.
"There was a general consensus by some of the charities that a government regulatory agency is not the appropriate place to be a clearinghouse of information," said Levy. "My personal sense is that the charitable entities will be able to work this out and coordinate their efforts without the need of the attorney general's office playing a central role."