Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation
A scandal-scarred Queens non-profit is getting $69,000 in taxpayer cash from City Council pols doling out member items, budget records released Monday show.
The Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation was picked for the grants as part of more than $60 million the Council is giving out to favored non-profits in the $85.2 billion city budget set to pass later this week.
The Council’s discretionary spending adds up to $61.5 million – a $1.7 million spike since last year.
The Daily News reported the foundation – which has been represented by powerful lobbying firm Constantinople & Vallone – got $1.88 million in city contracts in the past year despite a string of criminal charges against employees, city probes and bad performance evaluations.
The group has twice been penalized for losing a child on a field trip, and is currently being investigated for payroll discrepancies and conflicts of interest.
Sports and Arts is set to receive twelve new grants, ranging from $3,000 to $10,000, from twelve different Council members, according to the budget documents.
City officials say the group has overall done good work and received good evaluations, and there are no restrictions in place on its funding.
The Shmira Civilian Volunteer Patrol of Boro Park – a civilian patrol group that had its funding frozen over ties to the NYPD corruption scandal – is also getting a new $30,000 grant from Councilman David Greenfield.
One of the group’s officers was arrested last year for allegedly bribing cops with cash and other goodes to expedite gun permit requests. Its money – including the new grant and $35,000 the Council gave the group last year – is still frozen, a spokeswoman for Mayor de Blasio said. It won’t get any money until it can demonstrate it’s a responsible vendor.
De Blasio came into office vowing to ban the Council from showering money on its pet groups, but quickly abandoned the pledge, and the discretionary spending has only grown since.
This year’s biggest winner on local initiative money was the Hispanic Federation, which got $695,500.
Next up were the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s Brooklyn Alliance, which took in $300,000, and the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, the nonprofit founded by disgraced late Assemblyman Vito Lopez, and LGBT outreach program The Door, each with $260,000.
Under a system launched three years ago, every Council member got $400,000 for local projects, with extra cash on top of that distributed based on the poverty level in their districts. Before the overhaul, the Speaker got to decide how much money each pol would get, allowing them to reward allies and punish enemies.
But Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito got the biggest pot of cash – $23 million to spread among colleagues’ districts and citywide projects.