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Scandal forces DiBrienza from race

The Brooklyn Paper
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Former City Councilman Steve DiBrienza has reportedly abandoned his controversial and scandal-tarred campaign for his old seat.

“I have finished my exploration of another run for the Council … and decided against it,” DiBrienza told the Park Slope Courier, our sister publication.

DiBrienza has not spoken to The Brooklyn Paper since this newspaper reported that a non-profit group controlled by the former councilman had received close to $1.2 million in taxpayer money since 2002 — the vast majority of the money was spent on salaries to DiBrienza and other staffers.

DiBrienza had told The Paper that his group sponsored soccer, basketball and softball teams at three Catholic schools in Windsor Terrace and Park Slope.

But a sports director at one of the schools said he hadn’t heard of the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation or seen DiBrienza in years.

“I know all the sponsors,” said the athletic director. “[DiBrienza] has helped us in the past, but I couldn’t tell you the last time.”

Neighborhood activists also said they have barely heard of DiBrienza’s group or seen it in action.

“I respect the work he did when he was a councilmember, but to be honest, I haven’t seem him around the community in eight years,” said Randy Peers, the chairman of Community Board 7 who is supporting Brad Lander in the now–six-man race to succeed Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D–Park Slope).

In the wake of the scandal, Josh Skaller, a rival for the Windsor Terrace and Park Slope seat, called for the city to release paperwork about DiBrienza’s non-profit.

Last week, the Department of Youth and Cultural Development made the paperwork available to The Brooklyn Paper. The documents did not explain exactly what DiBrienza’s group did with the city money, and at least one site visit suggested that the non-profit didn’t keep very good records.

“Overall, the services [delivered] could have been better defined,” said the June 3, 2008 audit, which called for “a better description and quantification” by DiBrienza’s group.

“Services are being provided,” the audit continued, “but not reflected adequately … to be compared with compliance.”

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