Sunday, July 20, 2008





Click image to enlarge.

One has three drivers, a speechwriter and a writer of proclamations - like the one presented to Ms. Full-Figured USA 2005.

Another has a "secretary to the assistant to the president" who makes $85,000 - on top of two other special assistants, two plain old assistants and a secretary.

And two have fleets of 11 cars.

The city's five borough presidents get tens of millions in taxpayer dollars for chauffeurs, staffs of up to about 80 and discretionary spending - all so they can meet a whirlwind schedule that includes ribbon-cuttings, graduation speeches, community meetings and honorary breakfasts, a Post investigation found.

Called "glorified cheerleaders" by critics, the presidents' roles have become questionable to the point that the Charter Revision Commission is expected to explore changing - or even abolishing - the five offices when it convenes this year, sources told The Post.

Former City Councilman Kenneth Fisher, who once ran for borough president, said, "They either have to be made stronger or weaker."

"A lot of them have struggled to figure out what it is they're supposed to be doing."

Gene Russianoff, of the New York Public Interest Research Group, said: "They can be very effective. They are a connection between the people and the government."

But there are plenty pointing to their existence as largely ineffective.

"Right now, in terms of governmental responsibility, they don't do much," said political scientist Doug Muzzio.

In The Bronx, 79 people worked for Beep Adolfo Carrion Jr. as of May, including two special assistants raking in $95,000 and $140,000, two regular assistants making $61,000 and $55,000, a secretary pulling down $99,000, and a "secretary to the assistant to the president" with an $85,000 salary, budget documents show.

Spokeswoman Anne Fenton said the secretaries perform work of a "confidential nature."

In Brooklyn, where Borough President Marty Markowitz topped all his counterparts with 84 staffers as of May, the office includes a $50,000-a-year speechwriter and a person paid $45,000 a year to write proclamations and speeches.

"People in Brooklyn love Marty's proclamations," said Chief of Staff Carlo Scissura, noting that the office has issued thousands of the honorary documents.

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall has a chauffeur making $63,000 a year. Stringer has two who get paid a total of $114,000. Markowitz has three. The chauffeurs are expected to do other jobs when not driving, according to the offices.

Marshall spokesman Dan Andrews said the chauffeur takes her to work-related events "so she can keep working on the road, avoid parking issues and so on."

In recent weeks, The Post observed Stringer's driver waiting for an hour and a half outside the Beep's Upper West Side home before he hopped into the Grand Marquis.

Later in the week, the same car was parked outside a Stringer fund-raiser for over an hour.

"That is inappropriate," said City Councilman Tony Avella. "The borough presidents should be using their own cars so they can see what real New Yorkers go through."

Stringer, who said he takes the subway when he can, insisted that he reimburses the city when he uses the car for political events.

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