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Regulate how the Council gives out grants

As a City Council candidate, former NYPD member, former prosecutor and practicing attorney, it is clear the federal investigation of corrupt Council members embezzling taxpayer funds in the “Council slush fund” that reaches as high as the speaker’s office must be expanded and everyone called to account.

As authorities continue to investigate the spending of about a dozen members to see if they are guilty of absconding with taxpayer funds, like former Councilman Miguel Martinez, who admitted stealing from taxpayers, it is clear government’s integrity has been impaired.

In a chamber with only 51 members, it is alarming perhaps 20 percent of the Council is under suspicion. With Council staff and others reportedly steering clear of suspected members for fear of being caught up in the scandal or caught on a wiretap, this chapter in city history is likely to grow. Such a scandal smacks of Tammany Hall and city voters must insist on real change and accountability.

How can hard-working Queens taxpayers, seniors on a fixed income and families struggling to make ends meet have any kind of comfort level that public funds are being wisely or legally spent with this kind of recordi This never could have happened if there were tighter controls in place. It also could not have happened but for out-of-control partisanship that rewards party loyalty and legislative bossism over independence and constituent services.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was as “shocked as anybody else” by the ever-widening Council investigation. Our mayor has been a champion of non-partisan elections and honest government, and I believe he should likewise weigh in on the issue and ensure the city Department of Investigation holds the guilty accountable.

In a time when folks are out of work and elected officials keep raising taxes instead of prioritizing spending and demanding accountability, it is important we can trust they do not have their hands in the cookie jar. We need a comprehensive audit and financial controls to ensure there is no opportunity for this kind of scandal to be replicated.

We need to protect taxpayer monies and be certain funds are properly accounted for and Council member spending items are not being funneled to groups that are shams or compromised. We are entitled to good government — government we can trust in. We and our city deserve better.

Dan Halloran

City Council Candidate

Bayside

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