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July 30, 2013- By Steven E. Greer, MD
The BPCA board met today, after abruptly canceling the July 16th scheduled meeting. The board discussed in detail why the BPCA supports the $632,000 payments to Downtown Alliance to fund the free bus shuttle. Chairman Dennis Mehiel and others emphasized that the payments were for a fee-for-service contract, and not just arbitrary grants, despite the payments categorized as “Community Relations Contributions” in the budget. They also emphasized that the BPCA will audit the funds awarded to assure that they are actually spent on the buses, rather than staff at the Downtown Alliance (which is impossible since the cash is fungible).
Conspicuously absent from the discussion was any reference to the $250,000 yearly grants given to the Manhattan Youth community center operated by Bob Townley in Tribeca, totally $750,000 to date (to the best of our knowledge). Those funds were never procured through an RFP process. Therefore, if the claim by parties involved is that the BPCA was purchasing services, a proper RFP process should have been used (as was used to select Asphalt Green). Moreover, as previously reported, the dollar amount award for three services provided by Manhattan Youth conveniently add up to $250,000, suggesting a backward engineering of the contract figures.
The BPCA made a concerted effort to publicly document during the meeting support for the Downtown Alliance bus system, but made no mention of support for the Manhattan Youth payments. Chairman Mehiel previously this year expressed concern over the entire process that the BPCA awards charitable grants, which all raises the possibility that the payments yet to be made to Manhattan Youth are under consideration. It could also have no significance, and the status quo will continue.