From the Brooklyn Paper:
Assemblyman Vito Lopez and his political allies have found a nifty way of ensuring good press: publishing their own newspaper — and you’re paying for it!
The Bushwick Observer, a newspaper founded in 1995 and published by the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, receives about $70,000 a year in state funding for its budget — not including revenue received from ad sales.
More than 9,000 issues are distributed for free in Ridgewood Bushwick-controlled senior centers and housing developments, businesses and government offices throughout Bushwick every month.
The paper, which operates out of a building owned by Ridgewood Bushwick, is a more sophisticated version of the kind of mailers that elected officials typically send to constituents, consisting of short articles and photographs of city and state leaders attending Ridgewood Bushwick-sponsored events in Lopez’s district.
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Lopez’s girlfriend, Ridgewood Bushwick Housing Director Angela Battaglia, reviews every issue personally before it goes to press, according to Ridgewood Bushwick sources. And Lopez is the publication’s primary focus.
Nearly all of the newspaper’s budget is funded from a member item earmarked by Lopez ally, state Sen. Martin Dilan (D–Bushwick), who contributed $70,000 in funds last year to the enterprise — about half of his $135,000 total allocation to Ridgewood Bushwick programs.
The practice of using a state member item to fund a newspaper is extremely rare. Records show that only one other allocation has gone to a newspaper, a $500 award for an upstate high school to start its own paper in the 2009-2010 school year.
Vito's also butting into the Catholic Church's business.
And let's not forget City Hall loves him, too.