A city councilwoman made an end run around the budget process — using tax money to pay the head of a nonprofit after the city deemed his group unfit to receive public funds, The Post has learned.
Maria Baez (D-Bronx) allocated $5,000 from her discretionary office account to Leo Martinez for his work with immigrants in her district.
The city had twice refused to allow Baez to fund Martinez’s now-defunct Alliance for Community Services through a separate account for nonprofits, spending records show.
City contracts officials had earlier cut the group’s funding, citing its troubled history, amid a federal and city probe into the council’s long-standing practice of setting aside tax money for phantom community groups and later doling it out to members to hand out to organizations they favor.
After the scandal became public last year, the Department of Investigation froze 100 nonprofit contracts.
Four were subsequently yanked, including a $99,000 grant Baez had given the alliance through her community-groups account.
Officials at the time would not say why the group lost its grant, but sources indicated there were problems with the organization.
Mayor Bloomberg’s spokesman, Stu Loeser, declined comment, citing an ongoing probe.
Baez was undeterred by the city’s move. She allocated another $198,214 to the group last June, but said the council finance division quickly blocked it without telling her the reason.
She then decided to use her “Other Than Personnel Spending” account, which members generally use for office rent and supplies, to pay Martinez as a consultant. The council’s finance office approved.
“They provided a great service,” Baez said of the alliance.
She insisted she did nothing wrong and said she should have been told why the grants were blocked in the first place.
Source: NY Post