Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Making Non Profits into a Politicial Power Base

"In 1976, Vito Lopez founded the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, a Brooklyn-based elder care organization that has grown to employ 1,800 people. This social and political powerhouse helped Mr. Lopez, an assemblyman, win his first election in 1984.
Mr. Lopez has guided the two failed campaigns of Pam Fisher, who directs a senior citizens program at Ridgewood Bushwick. Another employee of the center, Angela Battaglia, ran unsuccessfully for the City Council. Ms. Fisher bristles at any suggestion that she is a puppet of Mr. Lopez. But her aims are virtually identical. #T"As an advocate you have only so much input,'' she says. ''As an elected official, you have access and the power to get things done.''

Anna Gonzalez, director of a city-funded senior center in Bushwick, works the inside. She is an active campaigner for council member Victor Robles and also for Assemb. Vito Lopez, who had supported Franco in an unsuccessful bid for Congress. She says she could have been a Democratic district leader if she wanted. - New York Times, May 13, 1996

Where Does Vito Lopez Live and did he Live in One Room?
Instead, say the activists, Lopez for years has shacked up in a Queens condo owned by his girlfriend, Planning Commissioner Angela Battaglia, who also happens to be executive director of a housing nonprofit Lopez founded. A spokesman confirmed that the district attorney had received the complaint, dated Oct. 24, but declined to say if an investigation has begun.
Falsifying a voter-registration address is a felone. Property records show that the address where Lopez is registered to vote in Williamsburg, is owned by a woman named Tillie Tarantino.
Tarantino is executive director of the Swinging 60s Senior Center in Greenpoint, which is funded by a Lopez-backed nonprofit. - New York Post, 11/25/2005

But advocates for the elderly saw the decision to go to a for-profit company as a shot across the bow of how social services are delivered. Assemb. Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn), who is both benefactor and beneficiary of the Ridgewood-Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, said he will press in Albany for legislation directing future contracts to not-for-profit agencies.

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