The slush fund scandals at City Hall are getting slushier. Now the mayor and his staff are having memory problems while trying to figure out exactly who requested some money from a so-called discretionary fund. Before, it was City Council that was in slush up to its ears. One councilman, Miguel Martinez, admitted misuse of public funds involving non-profit groups he supported. [Bloomberg said he was “outraged” by this alleged plundering of taxpayer dollars].
Two former aides to another councilman pleaded guilty to stealing more than $145,000 in so-called member-item money [that’s City Hall lingo for the pork available in the Council’s prodigious slush fund].
Now, the mayor has some explaining to do – and he’s trying. Seems that some of his aides steered about 3 million dollars in city money to two politically connected groups, in violation of the rules.
The Times reports that, over the years, the Mayor’s office gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Agudath Israel of America Community Services and Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services. The money came from an obscure fund that the mayor can spend as he likes. But, to shell out the money, under the law, the mayor’s office needs a request from a councilman or a borough president.
The mayor’s office says Councilman Simcha Felder asked for the money. But Felder says he didn’t. A mayoral spokesman insists he did.
At a news conference, Bloomberg explained: “People disagree on what they remember.” He said Felder’s recollection was wrong.
The mayor asserted: “I really asked a thousand times of my staff, and we remember it one way. It’s one of these things that was never documented but, when I talk to my staff it makes sense that they’re right. They wouldn’t have any reason to not, and there was lots of history before and afterward that would suggest that, as you know, maybe it’s just bad memory.