It's no surprise that taxpayer dollars pay for some ridiculous things. Today, the Post is outraged that the city has spent $3.3 million so far this year on food for workers and guests. The main problem is that city workers are not allowed to expense meals, yet seem to be hiding food under categories like "non-overnight travel expenses." That's right, city officials are being sneaky.
The paper cites the DOE as the worst offenders, with the staff of PS 16 spending $2,176.75 at "tacky" Mars 2112 in Times Square. Bad culinary choices aside, $2,176 doesn't seem that much for taking a school staff to dinner. However, they also spent $37,686 at Bassett Pickle Works. And the Mayor's office has spent around $18,000 on liquor so far this year.
According to the comptroller, "light refreshments" (up to $3 for soda and coffee) and "modest meals" (sandwich and drink for $8) are allowed in some circumstances, like when workers must "complete urgent work." However, the criteria seem hazy. Three bucks for coffee could easily cover the $5,256 the City Council has spent on the stuff this year, and it's easy to get a meal for $8 at Bel-Aire Diner in Queens—the DOE's favorite spot. So should they get to dine on the city's dime, or is it time for city officials to start bringing in last night's leftovers?