2012-07-13 / Top Stories

Rockaway's Councilmen Dish The Pork

By Nicholas Briano

As the fiscal year budget was passed last week, the City Council also released their itemized list of discretionary funds, or what many in the political spectrum refer to as “pork.”

Those pork items which amount to less than one percent of this year’s city budget, according to New York City good government group Citizens Union, help council members prioritize funding in their district for either not-forprofit groups or capital improvementtype projects that weren’t covered in the capital budget. Each council member receives his or her own share of discretionary funds and some get more than others.

According to a compilation published by Citizens Union, Councilmember Eric Ulrich received $603,321, which ranked as the 26th highest in the council of 51 members. Some highlights of Ulrich’s spending included covering most senior centers and local churches in Rockaway, which all received an average of $5,000 each in funding, and the Broad Channel Athletic Club was awarded $25,000 to maintain their programs and league sports.

The Midori Foundation, Inc. was awarded $16,000 to operate an afterschool guitar program for students of P.S. 232. The RAA was given $15,000 for their art education offerings including the art-based kidsmART afterschool and summer camp programs and art classes for children. Local dog rescue group Bobbi and the Strays received $7,800 to aid in the veterinary costs associated with spaying/neutering services.

Ulrich elected to also give $5,000 to Cheer Foundation to help produce a 30- minute documentary program about the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area, to be aired on Queens Public Television and Manhattan Neighborhood Network.

On the education front, he distributed a total of $27,000 for SAT prep programs in Channel View, Scholars’ Academy and Robert H. Goddard High School. The South Queens Boys and Girls Club was given one of Ulrich’s largest member items with a $50,000 donation for after-school and summer programs that serve youth ages six to 18.

He also hopes $20,000 in funding to the DSNY will help clean up Rockaway by replacing many of the trash baskets that were removed on the streets and beach in recent years in an effort to close the city’s budget gap. Another $19,000 goes to the Doe Fund to help keep local streets clean and free of garbage, which can prove to be especially useful as the influx of summer visitors to Rockaway continues to increase.

Councilman James Sanders Jr. ranked just below Ulrich at 29th highest, receiving $588,321 worth of discretionary funds.

A large portion of his funding, however, went to two groups. The Margert Community Corporation, a home improvement and homeowner counseling advocacy group, which received Sanders’ largest member item of $67,000. They then received another $50,000 for comprehensive housing counseling services for eviction and foreclosure prevention and another $56,000 was dedicated to Margert’s general operating fund. In all, the group received $177,000 in discretionary funds or roughly 30 percent of Sanders’ total allocations.

Another $25,000 piece of funding was given to Parodneck Foundation for Self- Help Housing and Community Development which also specializes in foreclosure prevention services.

The Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation received the other large chunk of Sanders’ funds. Nearly $120,000 was given to the group over three member items to help pay grant writers who, the group says, will help them develop proposals focusing on youth development for disadvantaged and minority populations, as well as proposals focusing on employment, financial literacy and entrepreneurship training for disadvantaged and minority populations.

Other notable recipients include Swim Strong which received $6,700 for their free or low-cost swimming classes held at Far Rockaway High School and the Business Outreach Center Network, which received $10,000 for their child care business classes held on the peninsula. The Far Rockaway based Jewish Community Services Coalition got $12,500 for after-school programs that include tutoring and homework help as well as for the implementation of a youth program. Lastly, Sanders also allocated $10,000 for mosquito spraying in the area.

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