From the NY Times:
Its friendly name and sizable budget suggest an altruistic resource for all five boroughs: the Community Outreach Unit of the New York City Council, a taxpayer-financed office that has organized rallies to protect student subway discounts and sponsored adult education fairs.
But members of the City Council say that the unit frequently functions as something else as well: a publicity and public relations machine for Christine C. Quinn, the Council speaker, who maintains firm control over its operations and the good will that it generates around the city.
As Ms. Quinn pursues the mayor’s office, the outreach division — with an annual payroll exceeding $1 million — demonstrates the potent political advantages of her perch as Council leader and the sometimes blurry line between her roles as speaker and candidate, according to interviews with current and former lawmakers and their staffs.
The division has a political cast: it employs a former campaign aide to Ms. Quinn, a Democratic district leader from Queens, a onetime spokesman for a Quinn ally, and a former political operative for a union whose support the speaker has courted in the mayor’s race, records show.