Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Council Member Says There's No Issue With Giving Portion of Her Budget to Museum She Founded

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City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo of Brooklyn says there is no conflict of interest in giving a large portion of her budget to an institution she founded. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

As a City Council member, Laurie Cumbo is now able to give funds to organizations in her district, a big change from when she used to be on the receiving end as the founder and director of the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, known as MoCADA.

"Under this administration, we were able to give support and funding to many of the cultural organizations," Cumbo said.

However, Cumbo was criticized for giving MoCADA $1.4 million of her capital budget, which the city will match.

"This is an opportunity for me to support an institution that was supported by my predecessor," Cumbo said. "When people talk about if it's too much money, it's really relative in terms of someone's opinion. Too much to whom and what community? This is what's keeping the amounts of money that were given all across the board throughout New York City."

Cumbo said MoCADA started a capital campaign three years ago. She said her funds will help complete the campaign.

Cumbo founded the museum in 1999. NY1 was there as it started in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Cumbo found a permanent home for it on the ground floor of a building in Fort Greene. The capital project will be used to expand its space.

Cumbo said the museum's importance remains the same.

"Every community should have a right to know more about their history, more about their culture, but we all win when we know more about each other," she said.

Some of Cumbo's other projects she's funding include the expansion of the BAM movie theater from four screens to eight, more services for Prospect Park and programming for NYCHA community centers.

"We're just putting together dynamic programming to make sure that our young people have a safe summer and they have activities that relate to them, that are exciting," she said.

One is a New York City Housing Authority intramural basketball program. The next basketball tournament Cumbo organized in collaboration with NBA player Taj Gibson will be played at the Ingersoll Houses on Saturday.

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