By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
An internal memo prepared by Spitzer's staff and obtained by the Voice indicates that as recently as January, "the governor's office" was "considering making a substantial grant to the museum through the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC). Malloy told the Voicelast year that he was seeking $4 million from the governor's office, allocated over a two-year period. The Spitzer memo reported that when ESDC contacted the AG's office, they were told "the theoretical range of outcomes" of the probe.
"ESDC did not seem troubled," concluded the memo, "by the prospect of the governor's making a grant and our subsequently determining that the executive director received excessive compensation and improper expense reimbursements and should make restitution and/or be removed." Rubenstein, the museum spokesman, now says that the grant will not be part of this year's budget, though it's unclear when it was deleted.
Having delayed a decision on the museum's application for a charter renewal, the state ed department, according to museum director David Palmquist, is now "reviewing the AG's settlement." Palmquist declined to answer questions about whether the governor's office or ESDC had made inquiries about the status of the charter review, but a decision to stall the state grants might, at least in part, be due to its still uncertain legal status. Palmquist explained that even though the charter lapsed in 2000, the museum remains "a legally incorporated body" and "would be eligible" to receive grants.
But the museum has yet to even answer a long overdue state questionnaire required of all charter applicants. Combined with the AG's findings, that makes it an unlikely election-year recipient of Pataki largesse, though anything can happen after the November election. The last filing the museum did with the state was in August, handwritten by community college dropout Cox, conceding that the facility was still "close" [sic], but asking that the ed department "wait untill [sic] December 2001." Like a decade of other false promises, this deadline too was missed.