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A Look At Member Items In This Year's City Council Budget

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The City Council approved a $70 billion budget on Thursday, and a tiny slice of that was set aside for council members to dole out to their districts, numbers that are set by the council speaker. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

A look at the council's annual list of discretionary spending, shows that, as usual, some members made off a lot better than others this year.

"We are as transparent as we possibly can be, and we have a very aggressive vetting system to make sure money is going to good groups," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Topping the list is finance committee chairman Domenic Recchia, a Quinn ally. He was followed by James Oddo and Leroy Comrie. They each raked in more than $1 million for their districts.

At the bottom of the list was Councilman Dan Halloran's district. Halloran was recently indicted for allegedly promising to steer his member item money to fake groups. He was followed by newly elected Councilman Andy King and council maverick Charles Barron. They each had about $400,000 or less.

This funding practice, doling out cash member by member, has once again come under fire.

"It is time to end the system of member items once and for all," Public Advocate and Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio said on April 3.

"My very opponents who say 'Get rid of them' are exactly the people who accepted them for years in the City Council," Quinn said. "They then understood the importance of supporting small community-based groups, and I think it's curious that now, they are running for mayor, they've changed their tune."

In the past, a number of council members, including Peter Vallone Jr., have accused the council speaker of cutting their funding after they spoke out against her.

"I think it was clear it was in retaliation, and that should never happen," Vallone said.

"The process of giving out of member items and making that decision, a lot of factors go into that: community need, capacity of groups," Quinn said.

This year, Vallone said his funding remained flat.

Elizabeth Crowley took to the airwaves earlier this year, slamming the speaker for cutting funding for her district.

Last year, the councilwoman received $378,000. This year, she got more than $500,000. A spokesperson said the councilwoman is now staying quiet.

Crowley had no comment.

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