UNIONPORT — The manager of a Bronx community board, who doubles as the chairman of the borough’s Puerto Rican Day parade, was fined $7,500 by the city for organizing the parade from his taxpayer-funded office.
Francisco Gonzalez, district manager of Community Board 9 and chairman of the nonprofit that runs the parade, agreed to pay the fine after the city’s ethics agency found that he violated city laws over several years by using public resources for a private nonprofit and engaging in non-work activities during work hours.
“Beginning in at least 2005, the District Manager, during times when he was required to be performing work for CB 9, coordinated and operated the Parade’s activities out of the CB 9 office, using CB 9 resources, including its personnel, office, conference room, copier, fax machine, phones, and computers, to operate the Parade,” according to a Conflict of Interests Board notice released Monday.
Gonzalez has helped head the parade for 13 years, previously as its president and now as its chairman. He has been an employee of the community board — which represents Parkchester, Soundview and other East Bronx sections — for 20 years.
Gonzalez earned a $98,104 salary as district manager last year, city records show.
Phone and email messages left for Gonzalez at the board office were not immediately returned.
The board’s findings provoked a strong-worded response from the office of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who appoints community board members who, in turn, hire the full-time district managers.
The findings “represent a violation of the public trust,” spokesman John DeSio said in a statement. “If similar conclusions of taxpayer abuse had been found about an elected official, that official would be forced to resign.”
“Our office hopes that both Mr. Gonzalez and the members of Community Board 9 understand the gravity of these charges and act accordingly,” DeSio added.
As part of a settlement with the ethics board, Gonzalez outlined his violations in a disposition document.
He noted that the ethics board had issued him a waiver in 2000, when he became the parade president, allowing him to take on the dual roles under the condition that he not apply CB 9 resources or time to the event.
But beginning in 2005, he began to host up to eight parade meetings each year in the board office, where he let parade volunteers use the office equipment, Gonzalez acknowledged in the document.
He also handled parade matters on his board computer and phone during work hours, ordered board employees to do parade business and allowed the parade’s vice president — who is not a city employee — to work out of the board’s office almost every day for the past seven years, according to the document.
This year’s 26th annual Bronx Puerto Rican Day parade drew some 60,000 spectators along the Grand Concourse on June 2, according to news reports.
The Bronx event is independent of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, which ran along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan on June 9.