Embattled assemblyman Vito Lopez received a bit of good news late last week, when the mayor’s office indicated the Human Resources Administration would award $135 million in new homecare contracts to a division of the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, even though the Bushwick-based nonprofit is the subject of a widening fraud investigation.
But the news was tempered following a Manhattan judge’s decision to suspend the lawsuit in the wake of the investigations into Ridgewood Bushwick, further delaying Ridgewood Bushwick-sponsored development on several city-owned sites within the Broadway Triangle.
With little action occurring on the investigations this week, The Daily News sifted through a 2008 city audit of the nonprofit which questioned whether $108,000 in consulting fees and equipment payments had been competitively bid.
And the Post examined how nine poll sites in Lopez’s assembly district just happen to be located in buildings built or funded by Ridgewood Bushwick (we counted seven).
In the past few days, candidates running for statewide campaigns, mostly Republicans, began to invoke Lopez and Ridgewood Bushwick as a symbol for public corruption.
Last week, Carl Paladino, the Republican candidate for governor, slammed Democratic standardbearer Andrew Cuomo for having a “cozy relationship” with Lopez.
In a visit to South Williamsburg on Sunday, attorney general candidate Dan Donovan said that fighting public corruption was his number one priority and noted repeatedly that his office was involved in an investigation of Lopez’s nonprofit.
And Councilman Charles Barron, a Freedom Party candidate for governor and Democratic Councilman from Canarsie, criticized Cuomo for not taking a closer look at Lopez and Ridgewood Bushwick while he was attorney general.
But the news with the most far reaching consequences into the Lopez investigations happened in Queens, where former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate was indicted on federal corruption charges that may also link to Lopez.
Monserrate pleaded not guilty, but so would Lopez.