City Council Not Pleased With Level of Stimulus Input

In a hearing at City Hall this afternoon about the impact of the federal stimulus bill on the city, the director of the Michael Bloomberg's office of operations, Jeff Kay, was asked what role "if any" the New York City Council will play in putting together a list of projects.

"Um, it’s a good question," he said.

He added that the mayor’s office has been discussing this issue with the City Council’s finance staff for some time. That isn't enough for Councilwoman Letitia James, she made clear while questioning Kay during the hearing.

James–who has opposed the mayor several times, including on his extension of term limits–said she is afraid people not already allied with Bloomberg will not see projects in their districts funded.

"There are those who are not above retribution," James said.

"Not one dollar of any of this money," said Kay, "[will] be spent without releasing a list of projects it’s going to be spent on."

Kay said the list could be released within two weeks of the president signing the bill. "I’ve been looking for this list for the last three weeks," James replied.

She also said the city used millions of dollars from the federal TARP program to acquire buildings facing foreclosure, with no input from the Council, and that she learned of the city’s actions from Representative Maxine Waters of California.

James said, "The City Council as a body was left out and so, if past is the past is prologue to the future, the administration might repeat its past practice and the City Council might not be involved in what projects should go forward."

Kay said they would continue discussing this process as it moves forward.