How a North Brooklyn transfer of political power threatens millions in funding to the area
November 3, 2020 Josefa Velasquez and Claudia Irizarry Aponte, THE CITY
Assemblymember Joe Lentol speaks at an opening for a new library in Greenpoint in 2017. Photo: a katz/Shutterstock
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When voters in Williamsburg and Greenpoint cast their primary ballots in June, they did more than tap a new representative for an Assembly district that’s been held by Joe Lentol since the 1970s.
Emily Gallagher’s stunning defeat over one of the most influential members in the state Assembly potentially puts on the chopping block millions of dollars local nonprofit organizations and community programs receive.
That’s because the programs were funded via the state budget, under a spoils system that rewards senior members of the Legislature.
It’s been a decade since then-Gov. David Paterson and leaders of the state Assembly and Senate announced an end to so-called member items, taxpayer-funded allotments that individual state lawmakers used to back programs and projects in their districts.
But the practice has persisted via different pots of money — putting potentially $10 million on the line in the Brooklyn Assembly district, where leadership will change hands for the first time in 48 years come Jan. 1. Gallagher is running unopposed in the general election.
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