Christine Quinn's Half-Billion-Dollar Secret

Another hefty chunk of taxpayer-funded projects that council leaders would rather not discuss

Council rebel Tony Avella, the Queens Democrat now running for mayor, says that last year he threatened to sue Quinn, and make public all documents related to the apportionment of capital-budget funding, if he was denied what he believed to be a full share of the pie, an estimated $3 million. "I got what I wanted," he says.

Since the city sells bonds to finance the capital budget, projects are supposed to be tangible, brick-and-mortar improvements that physically enhance the city's property. The council's capital budget is filled with such items, changes that somehow didn't make it onto the mayor's own list: new roofs for firehouses, upgraded athletic fields for community colleges, clinic improvement at city hospitals.

But it also includes scores of allocations to what are known in the budget business as "non-city-owned" projects. Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg signed an agreement in March tightening up funding for such ventures, but the current fiscal year is filled with them: $100,000 for exterior restorations at the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum in Staten Island; $1.2 million for a new roof at the Noble Maritime Collection in Snug Harbor; $100,000 to help build a home for the New Way Circus in Brooklyn; $4 million for a climate-control project at the Brooklyn Museum; $3million for Ridgewood-Bushwick Senior Citizens' Council's new school; $88,000 to preserve documentary materials for the Greater New York Coalition for Soviet Jewry; $2.75 million for renovationsfor Rosie's Broadway Kids; $170,000 for new film projectors at the Museum of the Moving Image; $500,000 for an office fix-up for Ballet Hispanico; $250,000 for a new generator for the 92nd Street Y; $1.1 million for a library at Vaughn College of Aeronautics in Queens; $600,000 for a project of Black Veterans for Social Justice; and $500,000 for a new "Abe Beame Center" at the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council.

All laudable projects—hopefully. But who requested them? Who decided taxpayers should pay for them? Who knows?

Jemal Countess/WireImage/Getty Images

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