Since the city budget was approved Thursday night, council members can go back to their districts and tout what programs they funded. The controversial spending, known as member items or pork, is seen by some as a waste of taxpayer dollars, while others question whether it allows the council speaker to play politics. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
The council's discretionary funding, sometimes referred to as pork, is barely a tenth of 1 percent of the city's $68.5 billion budget.
The money funds programs in the districts of each of the council members. Some members are better at bringing home the bacon than others.
A review of the spending, approved late Thursday by the council, shows that close allies of the speaker and high-ranking committee chairs were able to land the most cash.
Meanwhile, some council members who perennially spar with the speaker lost out.
"It's kind of human nature and normal behavior for the speaker to be more receptive to the requests of committee chairs, people who cooperate in the initiatives she is trying to carry out," said Carol Kellermann of the Citizens Budget Commission.
Critics said this is no coincidence.
"We think politics plays a factor," said Alex Camarda of the Citizens Union. "It may not be the only criteria but it's certainly one of them and maybe the major one."
Quinn disagrees. She said the distribution is about need.
"At the end of the day, we end up with a distribution that is truly citywide, truly supports a lot of diverse groups, supports a lot of smaller groups who often just don't have the ability to go out and be apart of the RFP system, which i think is one of the best things about this system," she said.
But even members of the council say it's possible to be punished.
Take Peter Vallone Jr., who took on the speaker over renaming the Queensboro Bridge after former mayor Ed Koch.
She wanted to. He didn't. She won. Vallone said his member items took a hit because of it.
"I had not been cut my first eight years and then I stood up against taking the bridge from the people in Queens County," he said. "Since then, I have been cut for two years. You do the math."
Vallone still receives more than 30 other council members.
Whether council members were able to bring home millions or mere thousands, one thing is consistent: most, if not all, defend the spending. They say the funding keeps nonprofits across the city alive.