Posted by: vote4claxton | May 2, 2008

CALLS FOR A JUDICIAL INQUIRY INTO THE CITY COUNCIL SLUSH FUND SCANDAL

Siegel Sues Over Slush Fund Scandal (Updated)

May 2, 2008

The City Council’s slush-fund scandal has triggered a rare taxpayer lawsuit brought under a legal provision dating back to the Boss Tweed era in 1873, DN’s Frank Lombardi reports.

The suit was filed today in Manhattan Supreme Court by civil rights attorney Normal Siegel (who is running for public advocate again in 2009) on behalf of eight taxpayers representing all five boroughs.

It requests a “summary judicial inquiry” into the details of the scandal.

The suit seeks to have key City Hall officials subpoenaed to testify, including Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg.

A hearing date of a show cause order was set for May 29.

Among other issues that would be explored if the inquiry is approved would be whether actions by Quinn and others in the Council’s creation of phantom budget accounts constitutes violations of neglect of duty in relation to the proper conduct of the government affairs of New York City.

Also to be explored is if anyone knowingly made false or deceptive reports “in the course of their duty.”

Other questions posed by the suit include:

– Why were the secret budget accounts created?

– Who was involved in the decision to create them?

– Where did the money involved eventually end up?

– Who chose the groups that got the money?

– Who was aware of the behind-the-scene use of the secret accounts and how they were used?

– What did the mayor and his Office of Management and Budget know, and if they knew what did they do about it?

UPDATE: Some additional details from Lombardi:

The suit names the entire City Council and Quinn as respondents. The petitioners bringing the action are: James Riches, Jonathan Weiss, Carmen Colon, Philip Depaolo, Marquez Claxton, Peter Killen, Emmanuel Gonzalez Jr and Rafael Martinez Alequin. They were identified in the papers only as citizens and taxpayers in New York City.

But Alequin is a longtime fixture around City Hall, first as publisher of a sporadically published newepaper, “The Free Press,” and currently as a blogger. He had been barred from mayoral press conferences at City Hall for some months but is currently allowed to attend, although the mayor refuses to accept questions from him.

It states that the legal authority for holding a special inquiry section 1109 of the New York City Charter.

“Petitioners have chosen to invoke (Section) 1109 because it is a unique mechanism for lifting the veil of secrecy that surrounds intricate political dealings regarding discretionary allocations of public funds. A summary inquiry will hold the City Council, the City Council Speaker and other government officials and employees accountable for their involvement in the Practice (of stashing taxpayer funds in fictitious organizations) and bring to light the facts surrounding this practice and those necessary to assess the effectiveness of proposed reforms….The systemic and ongoing Practice of making appropriations to fictitious entities has created precisely the kind of breach in the public trust S 1109 was intended to address.”

Siegel will hold a press conference at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at his law office 260 Madison Ave., 18th floor.

He said that unlike other litigation his suit seeks only the holding of a public summary judicial inquiry and not any penalties or judgments against those named in the action.

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