He Said, He Said: Felder vs. Bloomberg

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felder-bloombergMayor Bloomberg yesterday characterized Councilman Simcha Felder’s claim that he never requested funding from the mayor’s office to two influential Jewish groups as a difference in “recollection” between the Brooklyn councilman and the administration.

“I think our recollection of who asked for what is very different,” Bloomberg said.

“As far as I can tell we complied with every rule, and these are organizations that we have funded before, do a lot of good in this city, and are the normal kinds of things that the city supports.”

“Our recollection from everybody I’ve talked to is that it was asked (for by Felder), and we would do it as a normal course of business.”

Felder’s insistence he “did not ask” for the $1.1 million sent to Agudath Israel of America Community Services and $400,000 to Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services provided by the mayor’s office between 2002 and 2006 would mean the Bloomberg administration broke the city’s procurement rules – a pretty serious charge, considering the fact that the other side of City Hall remains mired in the slush fund scandal.

But Felder’s statement to the Times seems to contrast with comments he made almost a year ago during a Sept. 27, 2008 interview with the DN’s Frank Lombardi.

At the time, Lombardi was working on a story about the mayor’s personal slush fund (which has since been discontinued) and questioned Felder – a longtime Bloomberg ally and staunch defender of the member item system – about the $5.7 million he had received, specifically funds directed to Agudath and Ohel.

Felder was the top recipient of funds from the mayor’s $21 million discretionary pot, receiving more than any other council member of borough president over six years.

“We advocate very, very aggressively for organizations that have an impeccable reputation of servicing their community and we pray that that will be something that will continue,” Felder told Lombardi.

“…I would hope that people in the community who see that there was an official who was advocating trying to help organizations that help (them) that they would say the guy is doing a good job and it would help (him politically)…especially if he’s helping organizations that are popular in the community.”

At no time did Felder say he never asked for the funds.

Felder spokesman Eric Kuo said Felder acknowledges he advocated for Agudath and Ohel to get City Council discretionary funding, but not the mayoral discretionary funding cited in the Times article.

This whole who-asked-for-what issue remains murky and subjective – largely due to the fact that the mayor’s office didn’t keep good records about its discretionary spending.

However, as Azi noted, one thing is fairly clear: A rift has developed between the mayor and Felder.

The two were once so close that Bloomberg not only endorsed the councilman’s failed 2008 Senate run but also had a number of people close to him working on the race.

That rift was not evident last weekend when Felder again accompanied the mayor to a quick campaign trip to the Catskills to rally Orthodox Jewish voters.

(The Times story appeared on the Web just a few hours after they returned to the city).

Adam Dickter hypothesizes that the split between Felder and Bloomberg might have something to do with the fact that the councilman was passed over for the finance commissioner post vacated by Martha Stark.

Felder never publicly acknowledged he was in the hunt for the job, but also never denied he was very much interested in it – and had been for some time.

{NY daily News Blog/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Now do you see what happens when you are Mechaneff someone? You get stabbed in the back!
    Nothing good EVER came out of Chaniffa!


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