City Councilman James Gennaro, one of Council Speaker Quinn’s most loyal allies and attack dogs, is stepped forward to defend her once again.
The Queens councilman shot back at one of Ms. Quinn’s mayoral rivals, Bill de Blasio, for criticizing the Council’s member item system, after Politicker reported that council members who endorsed Ms. Quinn’s mayoral bid fared especially well in this year’s allocations.
Mr. Gennaro, who has repeatedly criticized Ms. Quinn’s electoral opponents on a variety of issues in the past, reached out to note that Mr. de Blasio, a former councilman himself, had never raised objections to the member item system while he was benefiting from the millions of dollars distributed to members each year to pay for local projects including after-school programs and libraries.
“During his eight years in the City Council, Bill de Blasio advocated to receive member item funds, was allocated a generous allotment of such funds, and no doubt funded many vital institutions, projects and services in his district with these funds — and had nothing to say during that period about the system by which these funds were allocated. I know, because I served with him in the Council during those years,” Mr.Gennaro said.
Mr. Gennaro went on to slam Ms. de Blasio’s calls for reforming the system “nothing more than acts of desperation.”
“Now that the member item system has been reformed to include a much higher degree of verification, oversight and transparency, Mr. de Blasio finds it politically expedient to ignore the reforms that he had no role in creating and instead hurls baseless attacks at the member item system that he participated in year after year to the benefit of his district,” he said.
Mr. de Blasio began to double down on his criticism against member items back in April, after Councilman Daniel Halloran was arrested for his role in an alleged scheme to get Democratic State Senator Malcolm Smith on the GOP ballot for mayor. He was also accused of pocketing thousands in bribes in exchange for steering member item cash.
Mr. de Blasio’s campaign spokesman dismissed the criticism, noting that “four Councilmembers weren’t in jail or facing charges when Bill was in the Council.”
“It’s undeniable that Speaker Quinn has perpetuated a politicized member item process that she uses to reward her allies and campaign contributors and punish Councilmembers for even the smallest slights,” he said in a statement. “Even today after her so-called reforms, Vito Lopez’s non-profit receives hundreds of thousands of public dollars through Council member items. Speaker Quinn could have chosen real reform, instead she kept in place a broken system simply because it gives her power.”
Ms. Quinn’s office has long maintained that political allegiances have nothing to do with the allocations and noted this week that, while five members who endorsed Ms. Quinn saw their allocation rise above the average this year, four saw below average changes.