Thursday, May 15, 2008

NY City Council Has "Pay To Play" System In Full Gear

Kids can put quarters (or dollar bills now) into an arcade game to play anything from PacMan and Skeeball to Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto. Whatever the amount of desensitization of violence a game may induce, it allows kids to enhance their hand-eye coordination, learning a valuable tool that may or may not be used later in life.

Adults in New York City, especially those with money or in the City Council also know how to play games that involve paying money first. "Pay to Play" is the catchy phrase that means if you fill a politician's campaign coffer, you can expect returns on your investment that would make an honest financial planner's eyes boggle. Of course the losers in this are the taxpayers, but plenty of people in our City Council really do not care about that.

From The NY Sun:

A council member who represents parts of Queens and is running for comptroller, David Weprin, for example, has collected thousands of dollars in donations linked to outside groups he has supported with tax dollars, according to a review by The New York Sun of the city’s Campaign Finance Board database and the council’s list of member items in a public document, Schedule C.

Mr. Weprin, who co-sponsored a $40,000 council grant to the Joyce Theater Foundation in Manhattan last year, pulled in $1,500 in campaign contributions for his 2009 citywide race from the foundation’s board chairman, Stephen Weinroth. Public matching funds from the city’s Campaign Finance Board mean that the donation will net Mr. Weprin’s campaign a total of $2,550.

The chairwoman of the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute, Erica Forman, donated $500 to Mr. Weprin’s campaign in December, netting his campaign $1,550 when combined with public matching funds. Mr. Weprin helped steer $35,000 to the Bella Abzug Institute last year.

A developer who is the co-chairman of Friends of Hudson River Park, Douglas Durst, donated $2,100 to Mr. Weprin for his 2009 campaign, and previously gave the council member $1,500 for earlier campaigns. Last year, Mr. Weprin, along with two council members from Manhattan, co-sponsored an $88,000 grant to the park group.

The donations have helped Mr. Weprin, who is chairman of the council’s finance committee, raise more than $1.5 million for his campaign for comptroller, according to the Campaign Finance Board’s most recent figures.

Of course Mr. Durst says that those donations have nothing to do with all of the generous donations that he gave to Weprin. I'm sure that Scott Stringer, Comptroller Thompson, Speaker Quinn, and her fellow council members Gioia, Gonzales and Katz would all agree with that as well, since they have all gotten money from Mr. Durst.

The atmosphere of corruption is all around us, yet this probably sits just well with many a conscience in City Hall. At first you get there and the stench is overwhelming, and then you get used to it and then you work with it and become part of the system. Term limits does not seem to be working here, because the pols simply play a massive game of musical chairs and run for other things. Perhaps they should go back to the arcade, where they can play games without messing around with the taxpayers' dime for those write checks to their campaigns.