Continued Corruption at Battery Park City Authority
MDC suggests a class action suit be delivered against the Battery Park City Authority for the abundant amount of years of political corruption.
The Comptroller’s December, 2013 report, “Selected Aspects of Discretionary Spending: The Battery Park City Authority,” concluded that the BPCA “lacked written policies and procedures clarifying what constituted appropriate discretionary spending and specifying permissible dollar thresholds, necessary justifications, and required formal approvals and supporting documentation.” The Comptroller’s office added, “we questioned the appropriateness of most of the Authority discretionary spending that we sampled during the audit.”
The audit sampled 69 discretionary expenditures totaling $112,132 and raised questions about 53 of them, totaling $100,700, “because these transactions did not appear necessary, were not clearly related to the purpose of the Authority, were not properly approved and/or were not adequately supported with documentation.” The Comptroller’s audit also raised red flags about $61,000 in charitable contributions to various not-for-profit organizations.”
This audit covered much of the same territory as a similar probe by the New York State Inspector General (IG), which concluded in 2010. The Comptroller’s audit, however, found that some of the practices criticized in the IG’s investigation continued for at least a year after that probe was concluded.
While the IG’s investigation focused largely on charitable donations to groups located, in some cases, hundreds of miles away from Battery Park City, the Comptroller’s audit found that by 2011, the BPCA had scaled back charitable contributions by 50 percent from the previous year, and that most BPCA charitable contributions were directed to Lower Manhattan organizations and events, such as Manhattan Youth, the Tribeca Film Festival, New York Downtown Hospital, the PTAs of local public schools, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
The retrenchment of Authority financial support for groups such as these in recent years has proved controversial among Lower Manhattan residents and community leaders, among whom there is a widely-shared perception that such contributions enhance the quality of downtown.
In a March 5 written response to the Comptroller’s audit, BPCA chairman Dennis Mehiel said, “since my arrival in June 2012, the Authority has significantly reduced its discretionary spending at my direction. Ten contributions were made in the fiscal year ended October 31, 2013, which represents an approximate 80 percent reduction from the fifty-four contributions made in fiscal year 2010.”
In response to one of the Comptroller’s key recommendations, that the BPCA, “establish a formal framework to govern contributions to outside entities and discontinue such spending unless it can be clearly established how such spending aligns with the Authority’s mission, purpose, duties and authority,” Mr. Mehiel wrote that, “the Authority’s management and its Board are currently in the process of modifying the Authority’s Discretionary Spending Policy and creating a formal framework to govern all contributions to outside entities, including evaluation criteria. Once the spending policy is modified and approved by the Board, any contributions to outside entities will be submitted to the Board in a detailed budget line-item format listing the proposed contributions along with the annual budget for approval, preceded by management’s thorough reviews as mentioned above.”
Source: broadsheet/ Matthew Fenton
top photo by Robert Simko