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Thursday, April 17, 2008

NY Post Closer to Acknowledging TAMMANY HALL II

New York Post EDITORIAL - April 17,2008

April 17, 2008 -- Two City Council employees accused of ripping off cash from a council slush fund first revealed by The Post were arraigned in federal court yesterday - and US Attorney Michael Garcia promised a continuing "hard look" at the way lawmakers dole out dough to well-connected not-for-profit corporations and favored agencies. Asquith Reid and Joycinth Anderson, aides to Councilman Kendall Stewart of Brooklyn, were both still on the council payroll last night, despite being accused of ripping off at least $145,000 in taxpayer cash allocated for the "Donna Reid Memorial Education Fund" - whatever that might turn out to be. Actually, it might turn out to be the first glimpse at a scandal that could reshape the city's political landscape over the coming weeks and months.

Already damaged by The Post's slush-fund revelations is Council Speaker Christine Quinn - whose assumed mayoral candidacy next year is suddenly looking a tad tentative. Meanwhile, both City Comptroller William Thompson and even Mayor Bloomberg himself stand to be tarnished by what appears to be a burgeoning scandal - the misuse of public money allocated to ostensibly not-for-profit social agencies. Both Bloomberg and Thompson have fiscal oversight responsibilities regarding these matters. Clearly, these haven't been well-exercised. According to Garcia's indictment, Reid, Anderson and other "criminal associates" dipped into a $356,000 allocation to the not-for-profit to pay for their own personal and political activities. The details are a little bizarre.

Not-for-profit grants are supposed to be vetted by a municipal agency before checks are cut - and, in fact, the municipal Department for the Aging rejected the Donna Reid appropriation in the summer of 2004. Then the aides appear to have shopped it to another agency, the Department of Youth and Community Development - which promptly approved it.How could this happen? Bloomberg was tight-lipped yesterday. Thompson's auditors are supposed to root out such things, eventually - but obviously failed in this case. How many other such cases are there? After all, it's not as if this sort of thing hasn't happened before. To wit:

* Former assemblyman and union hotshot Brian McLaughlin pleaded guilty to embezzling cash from discretionary monies that were supposed to go to, among other things, a Queens Little League.
* Bronx Sen. Efrain Gonzalez is under indictment for swiping $423,000 from the coffers of a kids' charity he funded from public grants.
* Former executives of Air America swiped $875,000 out of the largely state-funded Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club to help prop up the struggling lefty radio network. Albany and City Hall pour billions into nonprofits every year.

Indeed, the city funded upwards of $5.4 billion into so-called human-service contracts last year - a figure that includes both monies allocated through discretionary funds and standard agency procurement procedures. Quinn and previous speakers hid cash in funds, such as the "Community Partners" or the "Association of Concerned Veterans" funds - then shifted the money to suit their needs. How much was spent on the up-and-up and how much was stolen will be sorted out by Garcia and his prosecutors, with some assistance from city investigators. We wish him good hunting.


Anonymous said...

It's a good editorial. I heard that a few NY Post reporters have been working on a big court corruption story- mostly about the 5 boroughs.

Anonymous said...

they are always blaming the boys on the hood for crime and the biggest gangsters are on the public payroll, that's the way its be

Anonymous said...

If the Post SHOULD run a story pertaining to the the "Systemic Corruption" in the First Departmental Disciplinary Committee, and the OCA. The properly would run out of ink.

Anonymous said...

Corruption in the COURTS , MUST be a primary obligation of the FBI. The courts are where all the other private and public corruption is determined and dealt with. You cannot have this seedy and intolerable behavior in our NY OR AMERICAN justice system another day! The FBI should be conducting employee and attorney protective investigations here in NY IMMEDAITELY, and the corruption stories will devour the news for many months. This is of course.... all the courts of NY STATE!

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