Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) stands accused of taking bribes to guide the flow of taxpayer cash, creating a pay-to-play environment for what is commonly called discretionary spending.
Or, depending on how you feel about it, “pork.”
It has birthed unfortunate pig-related puns like “bringing home the bacon.”
Well, Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) told Halloran to stop eyeing the skillet, because there’s no way he’s going to decide who in the 19th Council District gets a big helping of his pork.
Now Quinn and Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) will be holding back the pen, as elected officials, community groups and activists all want a say in how to distribute the bacon.
Several elected officials representing the area at the state level have lined up to insist on providing input on how to distribute the funds. But Comrie said everyone needs to calm down and line up at the trough.
First, he said he will honor the results of a recent Participatory Budgeting vote, saying “I don’t anticipate it being a problem.”
He also promised to be as collaborative as possible, with the full Queens delegation and voices from within the community welcome to provide input.
The kerfuffle began after the 19th Council District wrapped up its Participatory Budgeting process on April 7, which would give constituents some voice in how the pork gets sliced. Questions emerged if the results were valid, after Quinn had stripped Halloran of his discretionary spending abilities, as well as his committees.
The councilman’s office released a statement congratulating his district on a sizzling turnout of 1,170 voters. The Poppenhusen Institute garnered a thick slice of the vote, with 52 percent voting to fund the historic site, netting it $250,000 in taxpayer funds.
“I thank my hardworking staff and all the constituents who put so much time and effort into this process over the past several months,” Halloran said in a statement. “We all learned a great deal. I especially congratulate the winners and encourage even more participation next year, in every district.”
Quinn grew salty at the Whitestone lawmaker’s assertion.
“I don’t usually quote Mike Bloomberg, but it’s one of the stupidest things I have ever seen, and the height of arrogance,” Quinn said, sizzling in reaction to Halloran’s press release, according to various reports. “And he puts out a press release trumpeting his Participatory Budgeting process. I mean it represents, to me, no real appreciation, steeped in arrogance, of how significant the charges are against him. It was outrageous.”
The speaker wanted to make clear: when it comes to bringing home the 19th Council District’s bacon, there are two cooks in the kitchen: Quinn and Comrie.
A check of Halloran’s 2013 discretionary spending requests shows a smattering of community groups getting greased with proposed pork, including the Bayside Historical Society, the Queens Oratorio Society, the Boy Scouts and the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, among others.
Halloran’s case proves that pols caught being careless in the kitchen can burn their constituents, said BTCA President Warren Schrieber, whose group was slated to get $3,500 in discretionary funds from the councilman.
“Whenever one of our elected officials is arrested and charged with a crime, unfortunately it doesn’t only affect that elected official, it affects all his constituents. People really have to think about that,” he said.
Quinn provided Halloran with a biting reminder that if you play in the taxpayer’s kitchen, you’re going to get burned.
“Councilmember Halloran will have no input in how funds are distributed in his district. Period. End of conversation,” Quinn said. “I don’t care how many stupid press releases he issues.”