New York

$2 Million NYC Brain Scan Bus: "Can I demonstrate that scientifically? No"

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Uhhh…

Every year, the Brain Tumor Foundation bombards the [New York] City Council with stories of loved ones lost, frightening statistics about the prevalence of cancer and pledges to "literally save the lives of your constituents."

And each year, the Council responds, turning down food banks, after-school programs and arts groups in favor of the foundation, which provides free brain scans. The group has received nearly $2 million since 2005, making it one of the top recipients of discretionary funds, known as earmarks. […]

The president of the foundation, Dr. Patrick J. Kelly, a retired New York University neurosurgeon, acknowledged that the potential of his work, which focuses on the early detection of tumors, has not yet been proved. "It just makes sense," he said in a recent interview. "Can I demonstrate that scientifically? No." […]

Even Dr. Kelly was startled to learn that his group was one of the biggest recipients of Council money. "Is it as important as feeding people up in Harlem?" he said. "Well, probably not."

"But," he joked, "I won't turn it down."

Ha! Jokes! But seriously, folks…

In New York, council members said they were moved by the foundation's sobering testimonials and grim numbers. Some also seemed acutely aware of the political benefits.

"You should print this: Councilman is saving people from cancer," said Domenic M. Recchia Jr., the Council's finance chairman. "End of story."