Sunday, November 9, 2008

Darlene Mealy

Brooklyn councilwoman Darlene Mealy's 25G for nonprofit run by sister tabled
Daily News, BY TINA MOORE and GREG B. SMITH, Sunday, May 11th 2008

City Council member Darlene Mealy insists her sister's nonprofit group hasn't received a dime from taxpayers - but it wasn't for lack of trying.

Mealy admits she tried to sponsor $25,000 in Council "discretionary funds" for the Fulton-Atlantic-Ralph-Rochester Community Association (FARR), a Brooklyn block association run by her sister, Louise, out of her apartment.

For some reason - she won't say why - the fiscal 2007 funds weren't paid. A City Hall source said the Council pulled it back. A spokeswoman for Speaker Christine Quinn refused to comment.

One reason could be that FARR has not registered as a charity with the state attorney general.

The agency that would have distributed the money - the city Department of Youth & Community Development - also wasn't talking.

Asked about the proposed payment to FARR, an agency spokesman said he was prevented from speaking because of an ongoing probe of Council funding by the city Department of Investigation.
DOI and the Manhattan U.S. attorney are probing abuses of Council funds sent to nonprofits, including some with family links to Council members.

The Daily News has revealed four other Council members with such ties, including Erik Dilan (D-Brooklyn), Maria del Carmen Arroyo (D-Bronx), Miguel Martinez (D-Manhattan), and Diana Reyna (D-Brooklyn).

Mealy said FARR is a block association she founded before she was elected to represent Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York in 2006.

After she joined the Council, she says her sister, Louise, took over as president.

"I had the intention of giving money to FARR, including the $25,000 member item from fiscal year 2007, but FARR never received that funding," she said in a written statement.

The group is based at Louise Mealy's apartment on Hancock St. in Bed-Stuy. Mealy said her sister is an unpaid volunteer.

In October, the councilwoman made a point of mentioning FARR on a form all members must fill out if they feel a budget item could pose a conflict of interest for them.

Questioned by The News about why she did this, she responded, "The current president of the block associations, who also volunteers her time, happens to be my sister. I listed FARR on my budget item disclosure form so that the public would be aware of this connection."

In incorporation papers filed with the Department of State, FARR lists Louise Mealy's home address and labels her apartment as a "suite."

There were no signs on Mealy's apartment building in Bedford-Stuyvesant for a community association, and neighbors said they had never heard of the group.

Resident Jean New, 38, said she stayed with her mother in the building and confirmed that the councilwoman's mother lived in the unit that's listed as FARR's headquarters.

"I've never heard of that," she said.


New York Post, By SALLY GOLDENBERG and DAVID SEIFMAN, October 25, 2008

Reported political threats against Brooklyn Councilwoman Darlene Mealy before the vote may have contributed to her queasiness.

Darlene Mealy - one of only two City Council members to switch sides in the tense term-limits vote - was under such intense pressure and threats that she vomited twice at City Hall before announcing her decision, sources said yesterday.

Mealy's "yes" vote drew gasps from the audience in the packed council chambers Thursday, since it was the first public signal that the opposition was headed to a slim defeat, 29-22.

Some council members insist Mealy, who was injured in a car crash just hours after the vote, was threatened.

"She was very upset. She kept saying she has to deliver for her district, and she was tired of being on the losing side," said Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Brooklyn), one of the bill's leading adversaries.

Opponents said Mealy was told she would face trouble for trying to sponsor a $25,000 grant for a Brooklyn block association run by her sister in Fiscal Year 2007.

Mealy attempted to allocate her council discretionary funds for her sister's group, the Fulton-Atlantic-Ralph-Rochester Community Association (FARR), but the request was mysteriously pulled.

Jamie McShane, a spokesman for council Speaker Christine Quinn, denied Mealy was threatened in any way.

Proponents of the measure said it was the other side - namely the Working Families Party - that tried to intimidate Mealy by warning they would mount a campaign against her in the next election.

When a Post reporter approached her in City Hall before the vote, Mealy called out for Bill Lipton, of the Working Families Party, and hustled away without addressing questions on term limits.

"Even while we were on the floor, Bill Lipton came over to her and tried to flip her back," said Councilman Lew Fidler (D-Brooklyn), a proponent of the bill.

He said Mealy told him "people she considered to be political allies were threatening her."

A Post reporter saw her leave Thursday's council meeting twice, and one member said she threw up before the vote.

Mealy issued a statement yesterday saying she changed from "no" to "yes" only after "strong deliberation."

Mealy's auto accident occurred Thursday night in Queens. She said in a statement that she was not seriously injured. Sources said she broke her collarbone.

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