Capital New York:
After Bill de Blasio's mayoral campaign attacked an opponent for funding a troubled nonprofit connected to a tainted former assemblyman, de Blasio's administration is now giving millions of dollars in city business to that same organization.
Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, which was founded by embattled ex-assemblyman Vito Lopez, received a $3.6 million, three-year contract beginning July 1 for providing an "innovative senior center," according to a notice published last week in the City Record and additional information provided to Capital by a city official.
As public advocate and a contender for mayor last year, de Blasio admonished City Council Speaker Christine Quinn for allowing taxpayer-backed money controlled by the council to fund Ridgewood Bushwick. He lobbed his criticisms in light of ethical charges Lopez was facing for sexually harassing several of his female staffers, as well as previous investigations by law-enforcement agencies for allegations of corruption and fraud at the nonprofit.
"It's ridiculous after all we've learned about Vito Lopez and the way he manipulated the system. I have no doubt in the world that Chris Quinn could have stopped it if she wanted to," de Blasio told the Daily News last year, after it was revealed that Ridgewood Bushwick received $421,964 in so-called member items.
At the time, Quinn, who lost her mayoral bid to de Blasio in September, had said she did not support the allocation but deferred to two local Brooklyn councilmen who requested the funding.
"People should be outraged," de Blasio said last year.
He even said New Yorkers "should demand this money not go to this organization."
Ridgewood Bushwick, a sprawling social-services empire that Lopez started in 1973, responded to a solicitation issued on Oct. 16, 2013, before de Blasio became mayor, to provide expanded services for senior citizens. City Hall sent notification to providers who won the awards on Jan. 14, two weeks after de Blasio took office.
An administration official noted that Ridgewood Bushwick, which won its current contract through a competitive bid, entered into a "corrective action plan" on Jan. 17, 2012 to address "business integrity issues" so it could continue offering services to the city.