Monday, September 29, 2008

Slush Puppy

We didn't get around last week to comment on the news stories surrounding the fact that Mayor Mike had his own slush fund for pliant council members. As the NY Daily News pointed out: "Mayor Bloomberg used a secret fund to reward City Council allies with $20 million for their districts - some of it going to questionable organizations, he revealed Wednesday."

Now we aren't really gonna hold are breathe waiting for the spate of vicious attack editorials, much like those concerning the city council's questionable earmarking practices, directed at the mayor. A nice little chunk of change even went to an organization that had come under fire for nepotism: "Some of the mayor's cash ended up with nonprofits later linked to the scandal.
Among them were the North Brooklyn Community Council, run by the wife of Councilman Erik Martin Dilan. Dilan gave $30,000 from the mayor to that group in 2005."

But one newspaper did take the time to chastise Mayor Mike-and it was the NY Times holding his hand to the fire: "Each day, it seems, there is more news about how New York’s politicians — in the City Council and the State Legislature — hand out taxpayer funds as political sweets to friends and allies. The only one who seemed exempt from the game was Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Not quite, it turns out. As Mr. Bloomberg’s administration has reported, the mayor’s office has its own small pot of taxpayer cash to reward favorite city politicians who then reward their favorite local projects."

Well, not really so small, as it turns out, since there is an entire city expense and capitol budget at the mayor's disposal-and trust us, it is definitely used politically to advance the mayor's agenda-as it should be, since the last we looked it was Mike Bloomberg who the people re-elected mayor in 2005. The Times, however, would like to eliminate "discretionary" spending: "This process is far too prone to abuse. Albany, the City Council and the mayor’s office should eliminate all discretionary funds. Recipients should compete for the money as part of a normal bidding process, and the money should be allocated through the normal budgetary process. That is a good deal for all taxpayers."

Now we know that the idea of a "normal bidding process," appeals to the good government types; but this affinity too often misses how normal pure favoritism is in these procurement processes. We do believe that all money allocated should be a matter of public record-with the elected official responsible linked directly to the expenditure-whether the money is allocated one way or another is not that salient an issue.