2011-03-11 / Top Stories

A Year Later, Some Non-Profits Shuttered, Others Up and Running

For Local Pols, Better To Receive Than To Give
By Howard Schwach

State Senator Malcolm Smith (standing) with State Senator Shirley Huntley at a recent fundraiser in Queens. State Senator Malcolm Smith (standing) with State Senator Shirley Huntley at a recent fundraiser in Queens. The New Directions Local Development Corporation is out of business, silently and without a trace, including all of the public and private money that was directed to the charity by local politicians State Senator Malcolm Smith and Congressman Gregory Meeks.

On the other hand, The Parent Workshop and the Parents Information Network founded by State Senator Shirley Huntley, who represents Broad Channel, is alive and well.

Officials say that the two organizations have one thing in common: they are under investigation by both state and federal bodies.

New Directions Local Development Corporation was founded by Meeks and Smith several years ago. Records show that Smith directed more than $56,000 in state funds to the group. In addition, after a deal was made with the developer of a massive project on Rockaway Turnpike, across the road from John F. Kennedy Airport to provide funds for community development, $250,000 of the developer’s money was funneled into New Directions by Smith and Meeks.

Congressman Gregory Meeks. Congressman Gregory Meeks. That non-profit was also the umbrella organization for NOAH-F a charity started after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. The money was to go towards helping Katrina victims who had relocated in New York City.

Both New Directions and NOAH-F worked out of the office of Joan Flowers, who served as the campaign treasurer for both Meeks and Smith.

Very little of the money taken in by New Directions or NOAH-F was spent as it was intended and now, most if it is missing.

A year ago, Meeks told The Wave that he was shocked at the missing money and that he was determined to get to the bottom of the problem.

There have been no disclosures since that time.

Flowers now has a $145,396-a-year State Senate job.

The records of both New Directions and Noah-F have been subpoenaed by state and federal investigators.

Even before she got to Albany, State Senator Shirley Huntley apparently knew the political deal.

Eight months before she was elected to represent Broad Channel and parts of Brooklyn, Huntley founded a nonprofit called The Parent Workshop. She listed her home address as the nonprofit’s office and herself as president.

Once in office, records show, Huntley turned over the organization to a friend and steered $30,000 in state money to the organization. The group purports to help parents navigate the school system.

Officials say that its purpose is close to that of the Parents Information Network, also run out of Huntley’s home and run by her daughter. The group recently got $415,000 in state money.

Records show that none of the money has been officially accounted for on either state or federal disclosure forms.

Records show that in May, 2008, the group’s president was Patricia Savage. Today, Savage earns $85,000 a year as Huntley’s confidential assistant.

Both organizations are still in operation, and sources say that both are under investigation.

Sources told The Wave this week that the only evidence that either group exists is a YouTube video showing longtime Huntley pal Vanessa Sparks giving a college financial aid workshop to high school students.

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