B’klyn pol $taten his case now

Posted on 08 July 2013 by Community Voice NY

Last Updated: 3:55 AM, July 8, 2013
Posted: 1:07 AM, July 8, 2013
A Brooklyn councilman mounting a run for Congress next year is dishing out  taxpayer cash around a district he doesn’t represent — but would like to — a  review by The Post has found.Domenic Recchia (D-Brooklyn) funneled nearly one-third of the City Council’s  “member items” to charities, schools and hospitals on Staten Island in the  Fiscal Year 2014 budget — even though his council district only covers portions  of South Brooklyn.Recchia gave roughly $2.75 million of his $10.3 million in expense and  capital money to Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn that comprise the  congressional seat he plans to run for next year, currently occupied by Rep.  Michael Grimm, a Republican.Recchia earmarked $40,000 to the Staten Island Zoological Society, $50,000 to  the Staten Island Economic Development Corp. and $10,000 to the borough’s Legal  Services NYC branch.

He also shelled out millions for capital projects, including more than $1.5  million for upgrades to the Eden II School for Autistic Children on Staten  Island, which was damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Critics branded the spending spree politically motivated.

“This is exactly what’s wrong with our current system of member items — there  are no objective standards for how they should be distributed, so it’s up to  each member,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause. “It’s very  tempting to use it for political purposes.”

“Many Council members, state legislators and Congress people use member items  as a political honeypot,” she added.

Recchia defended his largesse by explaining that he funded Staten Island so  heavily because it was devastated by Hurricane Hurricane Sandy — as was his own  district, which includes Coney Island.

“It’s Sandy and I’m also the finance chairman so everybody comes to see me,”  he said. “There were programs out there that if we don’t give them the funding  they’d never get these things and there were schools that needed things  now.”

But despite his rationale, he didn’t spend a penny of his money on the  storm-battered neighborhoods in Queens, such as the Rockaways.

“I helped make sure money get there, too,” he said when asked about the  discrepancy.

Because Recchia is the Council’s Finance Committee chairman and a close ally  of Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), he took  in more discretionary grants in FY14 than anyone else on the 51-member body,  whose members averaged about $5 million in expense and member items.

In total, the Council spent nearly $50 million in member items and $548  million in capital projects in FY14.

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