By LOUIS FLORES
After two members of Manhattan Community Board 2 accepted gratuity from the same business with issues before Community Board 2, the city's Conflicts of Interest Board fined the two members for having violated a City Charter rule against accepting such gifts.
However, the Conflicts of Interest Board could only fine the Community Board 2 members, given that the Conflicts of Interest Board's jurisdiction only covers city employees. The Conflicts of Interest Board could take no direct action against the business, which was making the gifts to the public officials.
The business, which had been providing the gratuity to the Community Board 2 members, was identified by the Conflicts of Interest Board to be Soho House, the exclusive membership club. The Soho House had been provided free membership, valued at thousands of dollars, of various durations to John Sweeney and Jo Hamilton while they served on Community Board 2.
The pattern of Community Board 2 members accepting gratuity in violation of the City Charter reveals that there may be no compliance function to monitor Community Board members. If two Community Board 2 members are accepting gratuity in violation of the City Charter, then does that mean that other Community Board 2 members or members of other Community Boards are likewise accepting gratuity ?
As Progress Queens has reported, it is unclear whether the pattern of Community Board members receiving free gifts from businesses with interests before it will be investigated by other authorities with broader jurisdictions.
Progress Queens contacted the office of the District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, Jr. (D-Manhattan) on Thursday for comment, but District Attorney Vance's press office did not answer the request.
Government reform activists have long complained that District Attorney Vance deliberately avoids investigating or prosecuting cases of public corruption.