It looks like the Mayor’s been playing around with city finances. The Times reports today that Bloomberg’s office forwarded $1.5 million in discretionary funds to a couple of nice-sounding non-profits — Agudath Israel of America Community Services and Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services . This would be OK, legally, if the funding had been requested by a city councilmember or a borough president. And the mayor’s office had councilmember Simcha Felder’s name on the ticket — but Felder says he “did not ask” for the money, though a few years after Bloomberg started doling it out, they asked if he would put his name on the request. Felder says he did — in exchange for $700,000 more for non-profits of his choosing, which he got…
Agudath Israel says it didn’t ask Felder for the money, either. Ohel Children’s Home is more tight-lipped. The mayor’s former commissioner of the Community Assistance Unit (CAU), Jonathan Greenspun (who, along with a Parks Department official, had a lively encounter with the Rockaway Wave reporter a few years back), also said he thought a councilmember had requested the money. After leaving office, he became a lobbyist for Ohel.
The folks at the Mayor’s office “disagree with the councilman’s recollections,” but the Neighborhood Retail Alliance says, “we believe Simcha on this because, as the lawyers say, he is arguing against interest… what is fully exposed is the extent to which Bloomberg uses time-honored (Tammany honored?) logrolling methods to aggrandize his supporters as well as himself.” (Felder backed the Mayor’s overthrow of term limits, and his chief of staff helps run the Bloomberg campaign’s Jewish voter outreach.)
Commenters at Yeshiva World take a different tack. “Excuse me New York Crimes,” says one, “did the Mayor really break the rules or are you such self-hating Jews that you have to attack Orthodox Jewish organizations?”
Why did Felder even comment? He’s running unopposed for reelection, and is apparently rolling in dough. Looks like the Times‘ case was just too strong for him to shake.