From the NY Times:
Lawmakers covet the $18 million pot of money distributed by the Council every year, saying that despite its relatively small size, it was a crucial way to respond to community needs.
But in distributing that money, the Council has neglected lawmakers who serve some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, an analysis of financial records by The New York Times shows. Each of the 51 council members gives out grants, or earmarks, ranging from $80,000 to more than $1 million.
In the race for earmarks, status often trumps economic need, council members say. Council leaders and those who curry favor with the speaker, Christine C. Quinn, consistently win the largest share of the pot.
In an interview, Ms. Quinn, who has the final say in how the money is distributed, disputed the idea that needy districts had been ignored or that politics played a role in the process. She said the Council took pains to ensure that struggling neighborhoods received adequate money from a variety of sources.
Ms. Quinn has fought to preserve the money, saying it is a lifeline to many communities and small organizations. In an effort to stamp out corruption, the speaker has instituted rules requiring greater transparency, stricter ethics and heightened oversight of groups requesting money.
But the rules have not stopped criticism that the pool of discretionary grants functions as a tool for reward and punishment for Ms. Quinn. Several council members said they worked to stay on Ms. Quinn’s good side in hopes of winning a sizable share at the end of the fiscal year.