Friday, July 4, 2014

City Council Leadership Denied Lawmakers a Look at the Details of a $75 billion City Budget

Withholding of City Budget Details Undermines Financial Oversight and Checks and Balances

Melissa Mark-Viverito photo Melissa-Mark-Viveritoexport_zpsa541f49c.jpg


Council Staffers Withheld Budget Documents From Lawmakers (The Wall Street Journal)

New York City Budget : Vote First, Read Later (The Wall Street Journal)

Melissa Mark-Viverito Is Quiet on City Council’s Budget Losses (The New York Observer)

City Council Central Staff, reportable to Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, delayed sharing with all municipal lawmakers some of the budget paperwork for several hours on the day that the Council voted on the city budget.

IN A CONTINUATION OF corrupt strong-arming of City Council votes, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito's central staff deliberately withheld some budget documents from Councilmembers for up to six hours before the full Council would vote on the Fiscal Year 2015 $75 billion city budget.

The phony reason that Speaker Mark-Viverito's central staff gave for holding back some of the budget paperwork was because all of the budget had not yet printed, and that staffers were told that “you don’t slow drip the budget,” as one person told The Wall Street Journal, whose City Hall reporter broke the story.

But this blatant lie flies in the face of that fact that Council Speaker Mark-Viverito did "slow drip the budget" -- by dropping the 400+ page budget report of the speaker's slush fund, otherwise known as "Schedule C," the night before the Council voted on the city budget.

Releasing the Schedule C report of slush fund allocations to politically-connected charities, Council Speaker Mark-Viverito satisfied Councilmembers' first order of business : how much tax dollars were they going to be able to award to nonprofit groups that helped Councilmembers with get out the vote efforts, mailing lists, and other soft forms of political contributions.

By withholding the details of the FY2015 city budget up until the very last minute, the Council Speaker aimed to thwart any debate on or challenges to the budget by her fellow Councilmembers. Details of the city budget were probably largely dictated to the City Council by de Blasio administration Budget Director Dean Fuleihan on the mayor's behalf.

Suppressing debate, examination, or challenges to the $75 billion budget is detrimental to the healthy function of the City Council. Political bloggers and government reform activists, such as Suzannah B. Troy, have long argued that the Council leadership under Speaker Mark-Viverito's predecessor deliberately thwarted investigations into corrupt multi-billion dollar technology outsourcing contracts, such as CityTime employee timekeeping system and the ECTP program of the 911 emergency call system.

Who knows how many corrupt over-payments, contract-overrides, or payment extensions were granted under the city budget documents that Speaker Mark-Viverito's central staff deliberately withheld for several hours. But the Councilmembers surely did know how many millions they gave to quiet down police reform groups, to deescalate political pressure from the Left on the neoliberal de Blasio administration.

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