The Daily News reported today on yet another example of nepotism in the Bronx. City Council member Maria del Carmen Arroyo funneled $82,500 from her discretionary funds last year to the non-profit organization, South Bronx Community Corp, which employs Arroyo’s sister and nephew.
In 2001 and 2002, before being elected to the Council, Arroyo made between $33,000 and $45,000 a year working at the organization.
According to the Daily News, “Arroyo's sister, Iris, was ‘fiscal officer’ for the South Bronx Community Corp., where a former employee accused her of incompetence that led to thousands of dollars of federal liens filed against the group.” In addition, the group listed Iris Arroyo’s son, Richard Izquierdo, as an executive at the agency. The Daily News added that he “claims he’s not paid” though.
Discretionary funds are the set amount of money that each Council member is given every year for spending throughout their district, at their discretion.
Also yesterday, two employees of Council member Kendall Stewart (Brooklyn) were charged in federal court with embezzling $145,000 of discretionary funds through a nonprofit which they were associated with.
And the Department of Investigation is still looking into some $4 million in discretionary funds that the council has given to phantom non-profits each for the past seven or eight years. They said they used the phantom non-profits to hold the money for later legitimate use, but it's unclear where that money has gone.
In response, Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn pledged to overhaul budget practices, and bring more transparency to discretionary spending.-By Graham Kates