AOC Accuses the City Council Speaker of Punishing Members

Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer. Photos: Getty Images

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is calling out City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, accusing the leader of unfairly singling out members who voted against the city’s new budget.

On Monday evening, the council passed the city’s $101 billion budget by a 44-6 vote, marking the first budget agreement between the council, Speaker Adams, and Mayor Eric Adams.

City & State reported on Monday that the six members who voted against the budget were left out of an approximately $41.6 million discretionary fund that can allocate additional money toward specific interests or causes in members’ districts. A financial breakdown of the allocations appeared to show that none of the members’ projects received any money from the Speaker’s Initiative to Address Citywide Needs.

On Friday, City & State amended its reporting, saying that several of those members’ projects did receive money from the discretionary fund, but those members’ names were just simply not listed beside the initiatives they supported on the budget document.

The members — Tiffany Cabán, Alexa Avilés, Chi Ossé, Sandy Nurse, Kristin Richardson Jordan, and Charles Barron — are all progressive Democrats who opposed aspects of the proposed budget including the amount of funding allocated for education and housing. Some of the projects supported by these members did ultimately receive funding from the $41.6 million fund, though it appears they received less money overall compared to their colleagues who did vote in favor of the budget.

The initial reporting sparked criticism, based on concerns that some organizations would be missing out on much-needed funding. Patch reported Tuesday that Cabán intended to designate $150,000 from the fund to the Variety Boys and Girls Club in her district in Queens, but that it appeared that the organization was no longer getting that money.
Ocasio-Cortez reacted to the story on Twitter, writing, “To punish a councilmember for objecting to cuts in education & housing, NYC leaders are defunding a local Boys & Girls Club as ‘punishment.’”

She urged her followers to donate to the club directly, adding, “I’ve seen a lot of shameful behavior from leadership, but cutting programs for underprivileged kids to score a point? Unbelievable.”

The congresswoman also took to Instagram to expand upon her point, saying that some things were “fair game” in politics, but that this situation went far beyond that.

“Who defunds after-school programming for underprivileged kids in public housing to score a political point? That is like movie-villain type of decision-making right there. Why are we bringing kids into this?” Ocasio-Cortez said in a video.

Adams pushed back against the reports during a press conference on Thursday, telling reporters that the members’ projects did receive discretionary funding, but that they just weren’t personally credited by name.

The council speaker said the funding situation with the Boys & Girls Club in Queens was an “oversight” that would be addressed, Politico reported. Adams did not acknowledge Ocasio-Cortez by name, but addressed her criticisms directly.

“Some federal elected officials forget that a city is not managed through Twitter or social media,” she said.

This post has been updated throughout to reflect new reporting.

AOC Accuses the City Council Speaker of Punishing Members