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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Christine Quinn Hands Out Lulus To Political Allies

A lulu of an idea 

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn doles out the moolah one more time

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Christine Quinn uses your tax money to reward her political allies.

For a final time in eight years as City Council speaker, would-be mayor Christine Quinn has just handed favored members the biannual cash payments called lulus. Here is one more argument for imposing an inspector general on the municipal legislature.
Although members are very well paid — $112,500 a year for part-time work — Quinn has rewarded loyalists with additional stipends and has punished those who displeased her by withholding extra pay.
The Council has moved to put the NYPD under the oversight of an inspector general who would have the power to review all of a commissioner’s policies. Backers say this IG will help ensure that all monies are fairly and properly spent.
Think about the good such an IG would do on the Council, where, in addition to lulus, the speaker doles out almost $400 million annually in so-called member items, enabling her pets to fund local causes and denying similar aid to residents of districts represented by the speaker’s foes.
Of course, the Council recoils from the suggestion. The level of hypocrisy is stunning.
Four years ago, Citizens Union asked Council candidates whether or not they would support abolishing lulus.
Twenty-three of the presently sitting members pledged to be rid of the payments and are still blessed by Quinn with taking one.
Five of those now accept the money: Sara Gonzalez and Diana Reyna of Brooklyn, Helen Foster of the Bronx, Margaret Chin of Manhattan and Danny Dromm of Queens.
Fifteen members take lulus, but claim they donate the money to charity. They are: Gale Brewer and Rosie Mendez of Manhattan; Fernando Cabrera of the Bronx; Debi Rose of Staten Island; and Mathieu Eugene, David Greenfield, Letitia James, Steve Levin and Darlene Mealy, all of Brooklyn. From Queens there are Julissa Ferreras, Peter Koo, Karen Koslowitz, Eric Ulrich, Jimmy Van Bramer and Ruben Wills.
Only three members who opposed lulus lived up to their word by refusing payments: Daniel Garodnick and Ydanis Rodriguez of Manhattan and Brooklyn’s Brad Lander. Good for them.

Christine Quinn passes out lulus to Council members who don't have the guts to reject corruption

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quin are greeted by City Council members.

This is the day when the City Council feasts on lulus. Members who stand securely in the good graces of Speaker Christine Quinn will get the first of two installments of the annual bonuses by which she rewards loyalty.
The Council justifies awarding the stipends - on top of the legally set salary of $112,500 - by depicting them as added compensation for committee work. Virtually everyone gets some such task, along with yearly payouts that range from $4,000 to $28,500. Most typical is a $10,000 boost.
Members of Congress, no matter how senior or how hefty their committee loads, get no added compensation. And for a very good reason. Legislators who are beholden to their leaders for big chunks of money will be far more likely to do as they are told rather than buck the bosses.
Quinn, who gets the biggest lulu, is foursquare behind the system. Others recognize its corrosive influence.
Before the 2009 election, the good-government group Citizens Union surveyed Council candidates. One inquiry read: "What is your position on eliminating or limiting stipends for committee chairs and leadership positions?"
Most of those who were elected backed dropping or reducing lulus. Some have lived up to their word. Daniel Garodnick of Manhattan, Ydanis Rodriguez of Manhattan and Brad Lander of Brooklyn are refusing the money. Good going.
Thirteen say they'll donate their lulus to charity: Gale Brewer and Rosie Mendez of Manhattan; Mathieu Eugene, David Greenfield, Letitia James, Steven Levin and Darlene Mealy of Brooklyn; Karen Koslowitz, Eric Ulrich, Jimmy Van Bramer and Ruben Wills of Queens; Debi Rose of Staten Island, and James Vacca of the Bronx.
Then there are the hypocrites who said they opposed lulus but are taking the money: Fernando Cabrera and Helen Foster of the Bronx; Margaret Chin of Manhattan; Daniel Dromm and Julissa Ferreras of Queens; Sara Gonzalez and Diana Reyna of Brooklyn.
For the record, Foster insists she never filled out a questionnaire expressing opposition to lulus. Strange. Someone signed the name "Helen Diane Foster" to such a document. You can look it up on the Citizens Union website. Foster should check it out herself.

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