The city is set to receive millions – if not billions – of dollars in stimulus funding from the federal government (we’ve already received $271 million in funding for transportation projects alone). That’s a ton of money, and it would be pretty nice if New Yorkers knew where it was going, preferably before the fact.
Councilman and public advocate candidate Bill deBlasio (pictured) and current PA Betsy Gotbaum, introduced a bill last month that would create a website detailing all the stimulus funds awarded to the city. Under the terms of “SunlightNYC,” recipients of funds would have to give monthly progress reports and detail how their projects would increase economic activity in the city. City agencies would also have to say what projects did not receive federal funding that they applied for.
“Without accountability, we risk another AIG,” said de Blasio, according to the Gotham Gazette. “SunlightNYC will require all stimulus spending to be tracked and transparent. The public deserves to know how their money is being spent, down to the last dollar.”
To its credit, the Bloomberg administration has created its own stimulus tracker, but it’s pretty vague (What is the “Neighborhood Stabilization Program” or “Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds,” for example? All we know is that together they get $12 billion dollars to be spread across the country, with no breakdowns made specifically for the city).
DeBlasio says his site would be more detailed and would provide another layer of accountability.
Besides transportation and education, it’s still not clear how much stimulus funding the city will receive. But the issue has already been the topic of much wrangling between the Bloomberg administration and the state government, with the city publicly saying it has been shortchanged on Medicaid and on education funds.
(And while we’re on the topic of city council bills, here’s another one that’s worth some attention: Dan Garodnick from over in Stuyvesant Town wants to make street food vendors get quality grades from food inspectors. The vendors would be required to post the grades on their food trucks. As food safety is becoming an ever-greater concern, this seems like a good idea.)