Daily News 7/11/2010 “Lucky nonprofit park workers are getting a salary from city Parks Department, too

The city is setting up increasingly cozy relationships with nonprofit parks boosters - even paying some of their staffers a second salary out of the public till, a Daily News review found. Critics say the entwined arrangements with conservancies - nonprofits that support individual parks - mean that a handful of well-connected parks are ending up with more attention and money than the rest. "New York is creating a two-tier system," said Geoffrey Croft of New York City Park Advocates, a frequent critic of the Parks Department. "The nightmare is that all these deals are going on behind closed doors and that people are taking city dollars away from other parks," Croft said. The situation is unusual. Although it is not uncommon for the city and nonprofits to hire from the same pool of advocates and experts, it is extremely rare for people to work for both at the same time. No other agency has as many employees who have been cleared to work for nonprofits while simultaneously collecting a city salary, according to the Conflicts of Interest Board.”

NY Post 9/13/2009 Fat cats turn park-keeper groups into their 'shady' money trees “Green acres is the place to be. Nonprofit park "conservancies" have raised $90 million to spruce up the city's natural spaces -- and in the process have sown a cottage industry of murky relationships, potential conflicts of interest and fat, six-figure salaries for its executives. A Post investigation found: * Madison Square Park Conservancy co-founder Debbie Landau pulls down $185,000 annually running the 6.2-acre Flatiron District park. Her sister Maggie is on the payroll, too, as the $114,962 director of events.

* Danny Meyer, a co-founder of the Madison Square Park conservancy and board member, got an inside track to land the $5 million food concession there. And his outside eateries raked in more than $60,000 last year hosting conservancy events. * Bryant Park Corp.'s Daniel Biederman, whose group tends the 6-acre Midtown park, earns $229,000 while holding down at least two other plum full-time jobs. * Randall's Island Sports Foundation head Aimee Boden collects two paychecks for the same job, overseeing the upkeep of the 480-acre East River park. She is paid $55,196 by the city Parks Department as an administrator and $94,469 by the conservancy -- an arrangement two comptroller audits have cited as a conflict of interest. * Central Park Conservancy President Douglas Blonsky is the biggest earner, raking in almost $400,000 in 2008 in pay and benefits. His group raised $70 million the previous year for the upkeep of the 843-acre park. City Parks Department Commissioner Adrian Benepe has extolled the benefits of these public-private partnerships. He says the conservancies can raise private dollars for a park, and, in turn, the city can put more money into poorer parks that don't have conservancies. "It's a very good deal for the city," Benepe said. But critics argue the arrangements allow the Parks Department to skirt its responsibility of maintaining public spaces. They also complain that conservancies are given unchecked autonomy over parks and gain an inside track on profitable city concessions.”