Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Speaker Quinn And The Power Of Pork

While the New York City Council (rightly so) examines Mayor Bloomberg's problem with hiring minorities, it turns out they have a few in-house problems to fix themselves. The just-passed budget has approximately $50 million in pork-barrel spending that Speaker Quinn has the power to dole out to the other fifty Council Members. With power like that, you'd think an investigation would be warranted.

Oh wait, there is one:

Christine C. Quinn, the speaker of the New York City Council, has hired a criminal defense lawyer to represent her in federal and city investigations into Council spending practices, an aide said on Friday.

The move comes a week after disclosures that Ms. Quinn’s office had appropriated millions of dollars to organizations that do not exist, instead routing the money to organizations favored by individual council members.

The lawyer retained by Ms. Quinn, Lee S. Richards III, a former federal prosecutor, will be paid with city funds, as will Sullivan & Cromwell, a firm that the Council has hired to assist in responding to the investigations.

Asked why the speaker felt she needed her own lawyer, Jamie McShane, a Quinn spokesman, said in an e-mail message that the lawyer would assist “the speaker in her cooperation” with inquiries by the city’s Department of Investigation and the United States attorney’s office.

The only problem is that nothing is being done about it (this article referenced above is more than two years old), and the idleness of the U.S. Attorney's Office allows the problem to continue. While she has taken action to clean up the worst abuses of the infamous slush funds, clearly this year's budget shows New York City has a long way to go.