Exclusive: State Senate Screwees

We reported yesterday on social service organizations in East Harlem and the Bronx that were promised grants last year by Republican State Senator Olga Mendez. She lost her reelection, and the State Senate took the grants away.

State Senator Jose M. Serrano‘s office has given us a list of the organizations that got, as one of their leaders said, “screwed.”

They include everyone from the Harlem Drummers, Steppers and Flag Team, which lost a $10,000 grant, to El Museo Del Barrio, which lost $30,000.

Also on the list is Presbyterian Senior Services, which had been awarded $15,000, according to an October letter from Mrs. Mendez. The grant would have gone toward everything from a copy machine to field trips to the theater and the park for members of the cash-strapped Highbridge Senior Center in the South Bronx, the group’s executive director, David Taylor, told us.

“I am pleased to inform you that I have been able to secure” the grant, Mrs. Mendez wrote. “I am delighted to have been able to support your organization.”

But on December 17, a little over a month after Mendez lost her election, the organization received another letter, this one from the state’s Office for the Aging. It acknowledged the grant was included in the state budget.

“[H]owever, we were notified that this grant has been put on hold by the legislative finance committee and is not available for use by your organization,” wrote James Foy, the agency’s assistant director.

Pretty blunt, no?

“She loses and they take it away,” said Taylor. “So what am I supposed to conclude? They’re buying our vote.”

We’re just a little blog, and our Albany bureau is a bit understaffed. But Taylor would love to talk about it more. And shouldn’t somebody be asking Joe Bruno about this?