Lew Leone is the vice president and general manager of WNYW-FOX 5. He is taking to the airwaves with his thoughts on current affairs. It's called "Lew's View." The views expressed are not necessarily those of the station or its employees.---
In this commentary, Mr. Leone explains why the mayor is right in taking aim at the City Council's discretionary funds.
I have criticized Mayor de Blasio on several topics but there is one issue where he is dead on and needs all the support he can get. That is his effort to end the practice of discretionary funding by New York City Council members. This money, which totals about $50 million per year, is doled out by City Council members to their favorite community groups. You can see the items for yourself if you go to this website: seethroughny.com.
Taxpayer dollars go to everything from Little League teams to senior citizen centers.
De Blasio rightly believes that these pork barrel items foster corruption, and are distributed randomly and unequally. Right now the City Council is not listening to de Blasio's call to end this practice.
However, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has recently proposed changes that would take some money from members in richer districts and give it to those members in poorer districts as well as limiting the amount of discretionary money that the speaker can give away.
According to his spokesperson, the mayor is happy that the council is taking measures for "increased transparency and efficiency" but he "continues to believe that the city should eliminate member items altogether."
I agree. New York City taxpayer money is supposed to be used for the benefit of all taxpayers and not as a piggybank for City Council members to hand out to their personal friends and associates.
In New York State, political corruption and special interest influence have become commonplace. It makes sense to eliminate opportunities for more conflicts of interest and scandals by not using everyone's money to benefit a few.