City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) received a better than 40 percent cut in his member items for fiscal year 2012, which meant he was not able to fund some of the nonprofits he traditionally has given money to throughout his district.
“Some of the groups understand the financial situation we’re in and are grateful to receive any money and others unfortunately don’t take it as well,” Vallone said in an interview.
The councilman received $838,321 in member items for his district last year, down sharply from the $1.4 million he received in 2011. Vallone said the drop was due to the city’s current financial situation.
“That’s unfortunate because it’s going to affect Little Leagues and senior centers,” Vallone said.
Yet some sources say Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) slashed the funds in revenge for Vallone’s opposition to changing the name of the Queensboro Bridge to the “Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge,” the New York Post reported.
Quinn could not be reached for comment.?
Mayor Michael Bloomberg pushed for the name change in December as an honor to the former mayor. Quinn and the majority of the Council approved the change, although Vallone led a campaign against it and 70 percent of the borough was opposed to the renaming, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.
Vallone admitted his relationship with Quinn had been strained ever since he came out against the name change, but said he hoped that did not influence her decision.
“I’d like to believe grown-ups get through political differences without pettiness,” Vallone said.
Most of the money Vallone distributed stayed inside his district, which encompasses most of Astoria, LaGuardia Airport, Rikers Island, Randalls Island, Ward’s Island and small parts of Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst, with a few grants going to citywide nonprofits.
The Central Astoria Local Development Coalition received the most funding from Vallone with a collective $131,714 in grants. The funds provide for a variety of services Central Astoria offers, such as its Waterfront Concert series and July 4 fireworks in Astoria Park, promotional programs for business districts and housing application help.
Another large recipient was the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens Inc., which received $103,500. The club was founded by Vallone’s grandfather and serves more than 400 kids a day.
“It gives them a safe place to do their homework and participate in sports,” Vallone said.
Other groups that received large sums included the Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee, which received $62,000; Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services Inc., which received $45,500; the East River Development Alliance, which received $14,500; and Central Astoria. All groups provide services for seniors and ERDA also specializes in assisting members of public housing.
Other, smaller recipients of Vallone’s funding included various Greek organizations as well as art, music and recreational groups.