Stringer versus Spitzer for NYC comptroller

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Give former State Attorney General and Governor Eliot Spitzer credit for recently announcing his candidacy for the Office of the New York City Comptroller. Manhattan Borough President and former mayoral candidate Scott Stringer will have to cancel summer vacation plans.  Now Stringer has to put on his walking shoes, burn some shoe leather and calories to earn the Democratic Party nomination for NYC comptroller.  Current NYC Council Finance Committee Chairperson Dominick Reccia dropped out of the race months ago.  All three losing 2009 Democratic Party Primary candidates for NYC comptroller, NYC Councilmembers David Yassky (Brooklyn), Melinda Katz and David Weprin (Queens) didn’t have the fire in the belly to try again. Melinda Katz has instead declared for Queens borough president. David Weprin appears tired after losing in 2009 for comptroller and again in a 2011 Special Election to fill the vacant seat of former Brooklyn/Queens Congressmember Anthony Weiner.  David Yassky seems comfortable serving as NYC Taxi and Limousine Commissioner with no apparent aspirations to run for any public office.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer would prefer that voters forget he dropped out of the 2013 race for NYC mayor to instead run for NYC comptroller.  NYC has a municipal budget approaching $70 billion dollars with over 220,000 employees. This is greater than many nations and states. Stringer previously served as a legislative assistant to State Assmblymember and Congressmember Gerald Nadler along with serving as a member of the State Assembly has no private sector experience. He has never built a business, balanced a budget, created jobs, met a payroll or managed any significant agencies with large numbers of employees. He had been running around town campaigning since November 2009 “unofficially running for mayor” as term limits prevents him for running Manhattan borough president in 2013. His dreams of running for mayor never got off the ground. Stringer had been consistently polling at no greater than 5 percent among potential Democratic Party primary voters over the past three years.  He came in last among the four leading candidates, which included NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, City Comptroller John Liu and Public Advocate Bill De Blasio prior to former Congressmember Anthony Weiner entering the mayoral race. Now, Stringer decided in January 2013 to run for NYC comptroller instead. This hardly makes him a credible candidate. Stringer appears to be just another career politician looking for his next meal ticket.  After reading the recent Quinnipiac University and Wall Street Journal polls showing him trailing Elliot Spitzer by significant margins,  (Quinnipiac University was the worse with Spitzer ahead of Stinger by 48 percent to 33 percent) you have to wonder if Stringer has the fire in the belly to continue running.  Perhaps he will want to take the easier path to stay in public office.  Maybe Stringer will want to run for a local NYC Council seat or try a comeback and reclaim his old State Assembly seat in 2014.

The lines have been clearly blurred between Stringer’s day job and new job he seeks. Stringer has been actively working the Pay for Play fundraising circuit, along with visiting every local and county Democratic Party clubhouse on day one after lame duck Mayor Bloomberg took his last oath of office in January 2010.

Stringer starts out with many advantages not available to Spitzer.  As Manhattan borough president, he has had daily television, radio and newspaper exposure, press conferences, newsletters, guest columns in newspapers, letters to the editor and speaking engagements on a regular basis. Don’t forget the perks of public office, including announcements of member items (many of which taxpayers consider local pork-barrel projects) which are used to raise name recognition and assist in greasing the wheels of re-election or attempt at a higher new office.

According to “Driving the Beep” by Lisa L. Colangelo and Irving De John which appeared in the New York Daily News on  June 7, his office has spent $118,000 of $170,000 for drivers to date. Why didn’t he use public transportation like his constituents?  How many hours were spent driving him to campaign fund raisers, campaign events or speeches especially outside of Manhattan on the taxpayers’ time and dime?  Shouldn’t his campaign reimburse taxpayers for many of these trips which were clearly related to his quest to become NYC comptroller?

If Stringer is serious about running for comptroller as his consolation prize for dropping out of the mayoral race, he should have resigned from his current office months ago.  Stringer could have ended the charade by being honest enough to run full time on his own time and dime. The Manhattan deputy borough president can easily step up and fill his shoes.  Allow citizens a Special Election to elect a replacement who can represent Manhattan constituents full-time. It is time we elected someone who is not using one public office as a stepping stone to another.

Hard-working municipal civil servants or private sector employees who work full time can’t campaign part time during the day as Stringer has been doing.  They would have to either take a leave of absence or quit their day job.

Diogenes is still searching for an honest public official. Stringer clearly doesn’t fit the bill.