Another Member Items Database
April 30th, 2010

Courtney Gross filed this post following a City Hall press conference earlier today.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn unveiled another set of initiatives aimed at reforming the council’s discretionary funding system this morning, including a searchable database that will list all of the groups that have received council member items.

Unlike the database unveiled by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio earlier this month, Quinn’s platform will not list groups that have applied for member items until fiscal year 2012, which begins next year. The speaker said members could give the public advocate their funding applications for this year. When asked if she would, she flatly said, “No.” According to some reports, Quinn has discouraged members from cooperating with de Blasio’s effort.

Quinn said her reforms attempt to root out fraud and focus on the “integrity part of the funding process,” while de Blasio’s targets the start of the funding process.

When asked why the council didn’t include groups that had applied for funding in the database’s initial release Quinn said she wanted to be consistent. The council would not have been able to round up everyone’s applications in time for the release, she said. Funding for our current budget year, fiscal year 2010, should be online next week.

Next year, the council will start an online application process for the funding.

In addition to the database, the speaker also announced a ban on subletting council office space. The issue of subletting space came up in the federal indictment of Councilmember Larry Seabrook, one of two council members indicted in connection with the council slush fund scandal. Council members will only be able to sublet to other elected officials.

The council also will limit the amount of funding for nonprofits that use fiscal conduits — groups that distribute money to smaller charities — to between $1,000 and $10,000. It is currently unlimited.

In addition, groups founded in 2009 or 2010 will only be able to receive $15,000 in discretionary funding, and any organization that wants to use its discretionary funding for a consultant will have to have the appropriation approved by the speaker’s office.

By on April 30, 2010, 12:08 pm
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