Councilman Lew Fidler of Brooklyn has a number of concerns about the “historic reforms” Christine Quinn announced at a press conference earlier in the day. Fidler said he does not object to spirit of what Quinn said—aiming for greater transparency—but he thinks the mechanisms will harm too many small groups.
Quinn said all groups that want money from the approximately $20 million speaker’s discretionary fund will have to go through the Request for Proposal (RFP) process.
“The RFP process is flawed, and it tends to favor the large, well-funded groups that can hire grant writers,” Fidler said. “It’s this ladder process for the use of discretionary funds that really funds the local CBOs [community-based organizations)] that aren’t quite as fancy or ritzy. You know, if they don’t win the RFPs …” he added, before trailing off.
“The RFP process is not transparent. No one’s accountable in the end, and you don’t know who’s making the decision,” he continued. “I allocate money, I’m happy for the more information on Schedule C, I’ll defend every dime that I allocate to every group.
“To suggest that [the RFP process is] apolitical is naive. Everybody comes to the table with preconceived notions, friends and predjudices. And you just don’t know who they are in the RFP process. If it’s a council member, you know who I am and where I come from.”
Finally, Fidler asked, “Why, in a charter where the charter is so heavily concentrated in the executive branch, why would you give up $20 million more leverage to the executive branch? It’s one of the few powers we have left! What if the relationship between the next speaker and the next mayor isn’t as lovey-dovey as this one is?”
“The implication that what we’ve been doing up till now is unfair I disagree with,” he said.