Says $50 million doled out by loyalty to Speaker Christine Quinn and not need
By Stephen Witt
A Brooklyn lawmaker charged last week that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn doled out the council’s discretionary funds by favoritism and loyalty, and it resulted in much of Central Brooklyn’s impoverished neighborhoods getting less money than Manhattan’s wealthier neighborhoods.
“Part of my district was designated one of the poorest in Brooklyn and I got very little compared to the Upper East Side,” said the City Council Member, who preferred to remain anonymous, lest they draw the wrath of Quinn.
“One person controls all the money and maybe it should be based on need and income or children living in poverty, or the amount of homeless shelters and food pantries in a district, or the number of people living with HIV/AIDS or the highest number of formerly incarcerated people returning home, or the number of dropouts, or where the lowest performing schools are located,” the city lawmaker added.
According to the recently passed 2013 City Budget about $50 million in total was doled out between the 52 City Council members.
The top five allocations went to powerful council members Domenic Recchia, Lew Fidler, Leroy Comrie, James Oddo and Joel Rivera. All brought home over a million a piece to their districts.
In Central Brooklyn, Bed-Stuy City Councilman Al Vann, who is also the council’s majority whip, received $735,964, or a very respectable 14th of the members, to give to local non-profit organizations and civic institutions in his district on the expense side of the budget.
However, after Vann, other Central Brooklyn city council members received considerably less money.
This includes Fort Greene City Councilwoman Letitia James who ranked 41st of getting expense allocations ($481,964), Flatbush City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who ranked 42nd ($472,464), Bed-Stuy/Brownsville City Councilwoman Darlene Mealy, who ranked 48th ($426,964), and East New York City Councilman Charles Barron, who ranked 50th ($399,464).
Quinn spokesman Jamie McShane responded that many allocations crossed district lines and that the money was doled out fairly.
“Various different factors go into making decisions regarding funding allocations, including each district’s needs and the ability of nonprofits to meet them,” said McShane. “At the end of the day, we end up with a distribution that is truly citywide and diverse.”