Here’s a NYC Councilwoman who vacations in Puerto Rico with her daughter and daughter’s boy friend all at city taxpayer’s expense. The Times article focuses mainly on the lady’s poor attendance record (she’s gone half the time) but I was struck by the salaries she, her daughter and that boyfriend receive.
Ms. Baez said she went to Puerto Rico last year to meet with people important to her fund-raising efforts back home, though she said she could not recall whom she met. Campaign records list no contributions from Puerto Rico.
Her daughter, Carmen Baez, called in sick that week from her $90,000-a-year job as deputy city clerk for the Bronx, a job that the Bronx party under Mr. Rivera helped secure. Carmen’s former fiancé, Christopher Riley, who also worked as Ms. Baez’s Council spokesman, claimed to be on official duty that week and received his normal Council pay. Ms. Baez said she did not authorize his pay, but her signature appears on his time sheet. Mr. Riley said it was an honest mistake on his part.
Ms. Baez has said she played no role in Mr. Riley’s hiring in 2006. But a Council spokeswoman said that though he went through the normal application process, Ms. Baez recommended him. He became a $100,000-a-year special adviser to the Council’s communication director. Mr. Riley, who no longer works for the Council, had made $64,000 in his previous job as communications director for the Board of Elections.
Ms. Baez, who lost a home in the Poconos to foreclosure in her first Council term, keeps a fifth-floor walkup apartment on Davidson Avenue in her district. But she spends much of her time with her daughter in an apartment in New Rochelle, in Westchester. Both women are required to keep residences in the city, though the courts have generally said, as a matter of law, that elected officials do not have to reside within their district a majority of the time.
Ms. Baez says her stays in New Rochelle are only visits.
There are something like 51 City Councilmen, all receiving, like Ms. Baez, $112,000 in base pay, plus benefits, plus tens of thousands more for each committee they’re appointed to, and nothing about New York’s governance leads me to believe that they aren’t all like this Baez slug, appointing their friends and relatives to useless jobs. I understand the motive animating the politicians – Ms. Baez is a high school drop-out making far more than she could at a real job – but why do city residents and even more important, upstate residents who support the city, tolerate this? It’s not as though the loot is distributed evenly so most taxpayers aren’t in on the game. Whatever the reason, the next time I hear piteous cries from New York about the plight of the city and its budget woes, I’ll think of Ms. Baez and know that there is at least one source of readily available cash.