BINGHAMTON – A small group of residents, including former public employees and housing justice advocates, launched today a new website that documents and tracks how Binghamton elected officials are spending the City’s $46 million in pandemic recovery funds (often called ARPA funds).
“Former Mayor Rich David and current Mayor Jared Kraham have already allocated almost 90% of these unprecedented recovery funds without a single community meeting or any input from those most impacted by the pandemic,” said Tarik Abdelazim, the City’s former Director of Housing and Community Development and advocate for good governance. “It’s insulting, disappointing, and infuriating. City politicians have turned our community’s pandemic recovery fund into their own political slush fund. Residents have a right to know how badly our leaders have failed us.”
The new website, www.binghamtonslushfund.org, is meant as an educational resource for all Binghamton residents. The website includes:
- a brief background on ARPA funds
- an accounting and description of how former Mayor David and Mayor Kraham have already allocated $41,511,268 of the City’s approximately $46 million award
- numerous examples of how other Mayors demonstrated a strong commitment to inclusion and transparency and created dedicated websites or webpages for their ARPA spending plans
- information for how folks can get involved in local efforts to ensure all residents have access to safe, affordable, housing
The organizers of this website presented legislation to City Council in the summer of 2022 that would require Mayor Kraham to create a website so residents could learn how ARPA funds are being spent. GOP City Council President Phil Strawn refused to even discuss the legislation and then buried it. City Council Democrats failed to champion it.
“Sadly, it became clear that none of our elected officials in Binghamton are real champions for transparency and good governance, so we figured, forget them, we’ll do it ourselves,” said Abdelazim.
Pursuant to New York State’s Freedom of Information Law, the group demanded that the Kraham administration turn over all documents related to how ARPA funds have been allocated.
The City’s response included a dollar-for-dollar accounting of every allocation to date compiled by City Comptroller Chuck Shager. Thus, the financial information featured on the website is based directly on information provided by the Kraham administration. The organizers invite Mayor Kraham to use the website to send any clarifications on the financial data.
Those behind the website promise to continue monitoring the City’s decisions with ARPA funds, and will update the website accordingly.
“It’s kind of sad and pathetic that because our supposed leaders oppose transparency we, as residents, have to volunteer our time to monitor and track how our local politicians are spending our recovery funds,” said Abdelazim. “And when you look at the decisions to date, you can see why those in charge want to keep it quiet—they’ve literally turned this unprecedented recovery award into their own political slush fund.”
Visit www.binghamtonslushfund.org to learn more.