By Steve Mosco
A treasure trove of discretionary funds was allotted to members of the City Council recently — but the cash hauls were not doled out equally, as one Queens lawmaker’s funds were drastically slashed.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) received the lowest amount of funds in Queens, netting $378,321, a cut of more than $286,000 compared to what she received last year.
The funds, which are doled out by a committee composed of Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) and 24 of her appointees, are used by Council members to pay for projects and to fund organizations deemed worthy — as part of the city’s new $68.7 million budget.
The funding cut puts the councilwoman second-to-last place on the funding list in the entire city, above only Councilman Larry Seabrook (D-Bronx), who was stripped of control over discretionary funds for his district by Quinn pending the outcome of criminal proceedings.
Quinn’s funding slash to Crowley’s coffers comes on the heels of the councilwoman challenging state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) for the Democratic nomination for the 6th Congressional District, a move believed to have angered party leaders — including Quinn and Crowley’s cousin, U.S. Rep. and Queens Democratic Party Chairman Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) — who had endorsed Meng from the start.
A spokesman for the councilwoman called the fund allocation process “mostly political favoritism with no real rhyme or reason to it.”
He also said the councilwoman made sure to distribute the funds wisely this year in order to address the needs of the community.
“Even though funds were cut, she made sure to focus on her district and the people and make sure they got what they needed,” he said, adding Crowley focused the bulk of her funds on senior and youth programs in her district.
“She worked hard to make sure those programs are protected and funded,” he said.
According to the spokesman, organizations like Maspeth Town Hall and the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council were given up to $2,000 more than last year.
Documents released by the Council revealed Crowley is funding 47 organizations with this year’s budget — as opposed to the more than 80 she was able to direct money to last year.
“There are various different factors involved in the decision-making process regarding discretionary funding allocations, which results in a broad-based citywide distribution of funds,” said a representative for the Council.
Several of the organizations Crowley funded this year are the Ridgewood-Glendale-Middle Village-Maspeth Little League, which received $12,000; the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society, which was given $3,500; and the Greater Woodhaven Development Corp., to which she directed $8,500.
Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) received more money in discretionary funds than any other Council member in Queens, with $1.1 million. The councilman said he plans to work with organizations that have a good track record of making positive changes in the community.
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.