From the Daily News:
An examination of Economic Development Corp. honchos' credit cards from July 2008 through March unearthed a stunning collection of unusual purchases on the taxpayer's dime. The bills generally have risen month by month during the past two fiscal years, growing from $5,870 in July 2008 to $18,226 in March. In December, they topped $20,000.
EDC executives have used their agency American Express cards:
* To buy four gold- and silver-plated shovels for grip-and-grin groundbreaking ceremonies. Total cost: $494.
* To fly participants in a "Next Idea" contest from India and Argentina and put them up for a week in the Manhattan Holiday Inn in January. The tab: $13,861. Winners and others that month got gold-engraved plaques valued at $370.
* For interoffice wining and dining.
Most city agencies follow rules that say payment for "modest meals and light refreshments" should be regarded as "an exceptional event." But officials at the EDC, a quasi-city agency that also collects rent on city properties, say they aren't subject to the same rules.
The city controller has chastised them for this position, asserting that the EDC is sloppy about how it spends its money.
Take, for example, the $112 the EDC spent on wine on May 22, 2008, at the Green Grape in lower Manhattan, listed as a "prewedding party" on the bill.
Asked by the Daily News to explain the expense, the agency released a statement saying it held a "congratulatory toast" for EDC Chief Operating Officer Tokumbo Shobowale at the agency's office.
EDC bosses "invited all 400 EDC employees to participate."
Records show EDC President Seth Pinsky charged $3,630 in March for a day-long event at the elegant Bayard restaurant near Wall Street attended solely by about 40 agency employees.
Then there was $3,000 for "companywide catering" - including coffee, dessert trays and miniature Italian pastries - from the gourmet Sale & Pepe in 2008 and last year.
Another $3,000 went for food and space rental for a companywide event at Water Taxi Beach at the South Street Seaport in October 2009, records show.
The agency also paid Fairway $600 to fete dignitaries like Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Rep. Nydia Velazquez with fruit and cheese.