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Check, mate! Reporter collects mega-cash for dogging Vito

Brooklyn Daily

Brooklyn Paper veteran reporter Aaron Short received his award from the Manhattan watchdog group New York Civic last Friday, a tribute to his dogged pursuit of shenanigans inside Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s office and its charity spin-off.

New York Civic founder Henry Stern, a former Parks Commissioner, personally presented Short with his $1,000 check as the sole runner up for the Mary Perot Nichols Award at WNYC’s Jerome Green Performance Space, and offered his blessing for a job well done.

Short and Laura Nahmias, a reporter for City Hall News, were named the inaugural recipients of a statewide investigative journalism competition. Nahmias won the top prize of $2,000 for a story that uncovered several instances when Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. sought expense reimbursements for items supposedly bought in Albany when he was nowhere near the state capital.

Short was hot on her heels — and earned a cool grand — with his story, “This is supposed to be a senior center. It’s actually Vito Lopez’s clubhouse,” which ran on BrooklynPaper.com on Oct. 13, 2010 and later in the New York Post, our sister publication.

The lede of the story said it all: “A Bushwick nonprofit that gets $1 million in taxpayer dollars to provide services for seniors is instead renting out its first floor to Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s political clubhouse — and giving back some of that money in ‘consulting fees’ to the embattled lawmaker.”

The story also pointed out that Lopez, while he was an assemblyman, collected $57,600 in consulting fees from a subsidiary of the charity, though it is unclear what the money was for.

Stern’s group praised not only that story, but Short’s “ongoing investigation” into the Lopez-founded charity, Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council.

“In this age of media consolidation, it is more important than ever that we vigorously support and encourage investigative journalism,” said Stern. “Laura Nahmias and Aaron Short uphold the great tradition of the media acting as watchdogs to keep politicians honest, and inform the public when they are not.”

Short, 30 has been with the Community Newspaper Group since November, 2007. He holds an honors undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters from Brown University.

The Mary Perot Nichols Award is named for the late muckraking Village Voice columnist.

Reach reporter Moses Jefferson at newsroom@cnglocal.com.

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