NYC Has Spent $3.3 Million On Food And Booze This Year

The New York City Mayor’s Office took part in its own stimulus program, apparently pumping $18,000 into liquor stores for unexplained booze binges.

The New York Post dug up city records that say workers have spent $3.3 million so far in 2010 on food and alcohol despite the fact that, according to the paper, city workers are generally not allowed to expense meals.

Under the comptroller’s orders, city workers are allowed to expense reasonably priced meals when they’re working 10 or more hours a day or completing urgent work over lunch hours.

The Mayor’s spokesman told the Post about 70 percent of the office’s food and booze expenses are reimbursed privately. No word on whether what must have been some rockin’ open bar was covered by a private benefactor.

City Pigs Out — And You Pay! [New York Post]


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  1. El_Red says:

    How much money per worker?

  2. Alvis says:

    Headline seemed like a low-ball figure until I realized it was synecdoche.

  3. pantheonoutcast says:

    As a teacher who is not even provided with chalk in a school that refuses to make photocopies, I am not at all surprised that the Dept. of Education is the biggest culprit here. My principal buys lunch for her and the five assistant principals at least three times a week, and it’s certainly not coming out of her pocket. The amount of money that is wasted on a daily basis, on everything from food to supplies to “consultants” to worthless technology is sickening.

    Of course, none of the money is used for instructional purposes. None. Our history textbooks have a sticker on the front that says, “Special 2000 Election Edition!” and one of the only class sets of poetry books is titled, “Great Negro Poets.”

    • Mighty914 says:

      At least the text books don’t refer to the Civil Rights Movement as “trouble ahead.”

    • yusefyk says:

      Sorry for dogging you before all over this website. I didn’t realize you’re a teacher in the USA. In that case, you have every right and reason to be cynical.

      If you ever need help teaching a module on Malaysian history, I’ll help you.

      From one teacher to another, I feel your pain ;)

      Don’t worry though, in 10 years, your students wouldn’t remember the books, they will remember you and the fine job you are doing.

    • pax says:

      If I expensed a meal every time I worked 10+ hours in a day, I would expense 2-3 meals/week.

      • pax says:

        (I’m also a teacher in NYC!)

        • Hoss says:

          10-12 hours at the school unexpectedly? Meal reimbursements should be for situations where it is difficult to get dinner due to unanticipated time at the job

          • pantheonoutcast says:

            I don’t mean this to sound insulting, flippant, or argumentative, (I swear), but it is clear you are not familiar with NYC employees, especially teachers.

            We get nothing. And when I mean nothing, I literally mean that NYC teachers are not paid “overtime” (unless part of a tutoring program or the like that one must apply for – but it is not guaranteed), we are not reimbursed for meals for any reason, and 99% of the time, all classroom expenses come out of pocket. Even if the school sends a teacher to workshop at another location, there is no opportunity to expense lunch. Or travel, for that matter (unless it is a class trip). New teachers, in the system for 1-5 years, typically work 10 hour days (7-5) for no extra salary, reimbursement or other perks. Of course, administration will tell you that it’s “by choice” that someone works those extra hours, and will not provide them with so much as a free bottle of water.

            To be fair, every teacher is “given” a stipend of $150 for outfitting their classroom. However, every dollar must be accounted for, can only be used for certain materials (mostly consumables) and any item purchased is legally the property of the Dept. of Education. So it’s basically less of a stipend and more of a program that allows teachers to become purchasing agents of the DOE.

  4. Moriarty says:

    The annual budget for NYC is about $50 billion.

    So what we’re really saying, to keep some perspective, is that 1/3,000,000th of the city’s budget has somehow been spent at liquor stores. Still weird, but not at all significant.

    Oh, and there are about 250,000 city employees. So that’s an average of $13 per employee on food (and 7 cents per employee at liquor stores). So basically, the average employee has expensed one “reasonably priced meal” so far this year. Alright.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      You numbers are disingenuous. Sure, there are 250,000 city employees, but there’s no way that all of them are receiving a portion of that $3.3 million.

      There are 80,000 NYC teachers alone. You honestly think that any of them are being treated to dinner and drinks by the city? There are 8,000 uniformed sanitation workers – do you think they’re getting free lunches paid for by City Hall? The police, the firefighters, the teachers and the thousands of other city workers – we don’t expense our meals.

      The only people receiving these perks are upper level management (read:expendable) and cronies of Bloomberg. The rank and file get nothing.

      • Hoss says:

        The law department alone would get a sizable portion of this. Are they fat cat lawyers and paralegals? I don’t think so

      • Moriarty says:

        Sorry, “disingenuous?” I’m sorry if you got the impression that I was implying that every city employee is given an equal ration of a pizza and a couple drops of whiskey. I believe you that the rules are unfair. I’m sure a few have found a way to abuse it, and most never get their pizza. My point was just that it’s still a very small expense, while the NY Post was implying it was a big deal.

        But how about this: say it’s only the police (~35000) who do this. That’s still only $95 average per cop for the whole YTD.

        • pantheonoutcast says:

          Once again, it’s not 80,000 teachers or 35,000 cops or 8,000 sanitation workers who are getting their food and beverages comped by the city. It’s a few hundred upper level administrators who use their positions to wring out as much from the city as possible. And it’s not just food and drink, either. I could tell you stories of malfeasance and misappropriations that I have witnessed firsthand that would make you burn with rage. It is a big deal because it speaks volumes of the attitude the Bloomberg administration has for its rank and file workers.

        • Conformist138 says:

          So, only $13 (as an average for all city employees, just to stick with established math) sounds small for the whole year. But then add in all the sketchy travel expenses, all the questionable office decorations, all the bonuses for just doing a job adequately… i’m not pointing at anyone or any expense in particular, the point is that this is just one area with unexplained expenses. I bet this would pop up in other places, not just food and drink. Add it all up and this $3.3million is probably only the tip of the money-hemorrhaging iceberg.

          Remember, you see one cockroach, you got at least 10 more you can’t see.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      As was noted by others – most employees are not allowed to spend city any money on food and drinks. I’d really be interested in seeing how much was spent per employee, of the employees who spent anything.

  5. Bativac says:

    Insert comment about yet another NYC-centric story.

    Here in northeast Florida, the city’s library system just got nailed by the local paper for spending almost $100,000 on travel. Meanwhile the libraries have cut staff and scaled back library hours, eliminating Sundays altogether in some cases.

    This kind of waste is everywhere.

    • smo0 says:

      It’s true… the country just likes to keep it’s finger on the pulse of cities like NYC, Chicago, D.C. and L.A.

      Here in Vegas, we get the occasional main stream story – but stuff like that runs rampant here….

      Hell, our Mayor drinks martini’s in front of kids at elementary schools. I’m sure it was “expensed.”

      • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

        “Hell, our Mayor drinks martini’s in front of kids at elementary schools.”

        I know, I know that’s horrible. I know it is! But it made me laugh :)

        • Spike3185 says:

          Consumerist is based in NY, of course they’re going to find more NY-centric news. Find a site run from your city if you want local news.

          • smo0 says:

            I wasn’t making a negative comment… it’s the truth, a lot of small local news makes the headlines because of location sure, but what I said about main stream news focusing on major news has always been so.

  6. Hoss says:

    I agree with others. Seems like The Post was on a hunt, found nothing, and of course wrote another scandalous story about nothing.

    The mayor serving wine with private dinners seems reasonable. And they found no meal tab greater than $25 which is amazing. The remark about private reimbursements is confusing. If that means a reimbursement service where you fax the receipt and the service prepares electronic reimbursements, that is not unusual.

    • yusefyk says:

      I think the problem is, people are being paid to do their jobs, then they are being paid also to eat. But other people are expected to pay for their own eats. That’s why the controversy.

      • Hoss says:

        So if you’re in the law department and need to meet tomorrow’s deadline, you shouldn’t eat after ten hours? Typically they would get pizza or chinese delivery

        • pantheonoutcast says:

          No, he’s saying that if he’s at the school and he needs to put in the grades of 90 students, update ARIS groupings, or meet with parents, (activities which could conceivably take hours) all by “tomorrows deadline”, then he should be allowed to order Chinese food on the taxpayers’ dime, too, right?

          But he’s not. The NYC Teacher’s contractual workday is 6 hours, 20 minutes per day. If we work that amount of time, 8 hours, ten hours, or more, we are paid at the rate of 6 hours and 20 minutes a day. And we don’t get a free quart of sweet and sour pork, either. Yet we are expected to meet deadlines as well.

        • myCatCracksMeUp says:

          If you’re in the law dept and need to meet a deadline you should do what the rest of us do and bring or buy your own food, whether it be pizza or a pack of nabs from the vending machine.