Tag Archives: City Comptroller John Liu

Local congress members endorse John Liu in state Senate race


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo


In his bid to unseat state Sen. Tony Avella, former City Comptroller John Liu picked up another round of support from local congressional members.

Liu received endorsements on Monday from congress members Grace Meng, Gregory Meeks and Joseph Crowley, who cited his achievements as a councilman and the financial leader of the city.

“John has proven himself to be an outstanding public servant and I’m happy to support his candidacy for the New York State Senate,” Meng said. “His experience as our comptroller and as a Queens councilman make him well prepared to tackle the important issues in Albany, and I look forward to working with him to make our city, state and borough an even better place to live.”

The congress members add to a list of Liu supporters in the District 11 race, which already include Borough President Melinda Katz, numerous unions and city lawmakers.

Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his support of Avella. The incumbent also received an endorsement from the Communications Workers of America, District 1.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Mayor de Blasio endorses state Sen. Avella in re-election bid


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday his support for state Sen. Tony Avella in the District 11 race against former City Comptroller John Liu.

“Throughout this past session, Sen. Jeff Klein and Sen. Tony Avella worked tirelessly on behalf of the residents of New York City and helped make progress on issues that had been stalled for far too long,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio added that he looks forward to working with Avella to achieve progressive goals such as increasing minimum wage, expanding affordable housing and passing the DREAM Act.

“Mayor de Blasio has been at the forefront of the fight for progressive Democratic values, and it is my honor to receive his endorsement,” Avella said. “I look forward to working together towards making New York the city that we all deserve.”

Avella also picked up backing from the Communications Workers of America, District 1 in an announcement on July 3.

Not to be outdone, Liu received numerous endorsements from labor organizations in recent weeks as well as Democratic leaders, including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

 

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Flushing gay rights activist honored with street co-naming


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

A local activist who paved the way for gay rights was honored along with her family with a street co-naming Saturday on the Flushing block where she lived and worked.

Standing in front of Jeanne Manford’s former home on 171st Street, politicians, including openly-gay Councilman Daniel Dromm, neighbors and members of the gay rights community, held a ceremony to unveil the new Jeanne, Jules and Morty Manford PFLAG Way street sign.

“I think it’s important for everybody to know the struggle that we’ve gone through, and how we got to where we are today, and it was because of people like Jeanne, Jules and Morty that we are where we are today,” Dromm said.

Photo courtesy of Councilman Daniel Dromm’s office

Manford founded Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in 1972 and walked with her gay son, Morty, in the New York City Pride March at a time when homosexuality was still considered a mental disorder. The Manfords also took in young people who were thrown out of their homes for being gay.

Now PFLAG has more than 350 chapters and 200,000 members across the country that work toward improving the rights of gay people everywhere.

“We all do the work that we do because it’s right and it feels good and it’s just the right thing to do, but when Jeanne did it, it was so courageous,” said Dale Bernstein, president of PFLAG.

Manford, who died last year at the age of 92, was awarded the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal for her achievements by President Barack Obama.

Jeanne’s daughter Suzanne Swan, who lives in California, attended the ceremony, where she recalled memories of her mother.

“She was just my mother,” she said. “She was just nice, sweet, quiet, and it’s just overwhelming for me to come here and hear the stories and see the people, it’s been fantastic.”

 

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens pols face Bronx rivals in first Battle of the Boroughs Bowl


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Politicians turned into playmakers for a special touch football game.

Queens and Bronx politicians faced off in the first ever Battle of the Boroughs Bowl at Monsignor McClancy High School in East Elmhurst Sunday.

The touch football event was organized to raise money by collecting donations, with all proceeds going to the United Service Organizations (USO) and the Wounded Warriors Project.

“At the heart, the core of this little fun outing that we are having, where hopefully no one will be hurt, is a really serious intent, and that intent is to help our veterans,” said Assemblymember Mike Benedetto, who is chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

The lawmakers in attendance ranged from all levels of government, including City Comptroller John Liu, State Senator Mike Gianaris, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., Assemblymember Mike DenDekker and many more.

“Off the field and out of the office it’s good to have a personal relationship with your colleagues,” said DenDekker, who helped organize the event.

In addition to playing for a good cause, many of the politicians competed for city bragging rights.

“It’s friendly, it’s a fundraiser for our veterans, but its also serious business,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “We’re obviously competitive people, we are used to winning. And I am anxious to demonstrate to the people of my district that I can play football even though it’s been 20 years.”

In the end, Queens lost to the Bronx, 20-19.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Liu confident going into mayoral primary


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo and video by Liam La Guerre

This pol is out to prove the polls wrong come the fall primary.

Mayoral candidate and City Comptroller John Liu still believes he can win the Democratic nomination even though recent polls put him well behind his opponents.

“I have a very clear shot of winning on September 10,” said Liu when he recently sat down with The Courier’s editorial board.

An August 13 Quinnipiac University poll found only 6 percent of likely Democratic primary voters would elect Liu. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio placed first in the poll with 30 percent, followed by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn with 24 percent, former Comptroller Bill Thompson with 22 percent and former Congressmember Anthony Weiner with 10 percent.

“You look at the poll numbers and my numbers have been consistent – consistently low,” said Liu.

However, he argued those numbers are flawed. Liu said they are good at measuring long-established voting groups, but not emerging ones including Asians.

But he does not fault the pollsters, admitting it is difficult to survey a demographic group that includes numerous languages and dialects.

He points to his comptroller win four years ago, when he became the first Asian-American elected to citywide office, as an example of the polls’ faulty methodology.

“In 2009 the pundits and so-called political experts gave me no chance of winning the city comptroller election. Well, at the end of the day, it wasn’t even that close.”

Among his other challenges heading into the fall Democratic primary, Liu lost out on about $3.5 million in campaign public matching funds.

The city’s Campaign Finance Board (CFB) on August 5 denied him the money because it had “reason to believe” violations had been committed involving the campaign’s fundraising.

Though Liu was never accused of any wrongdoing, the CFB said he was “ultimately responsible for the campaign’s compliance with the law.”

Liu is planning on appealing, but told The Courier it was “relatively meaningless” because the earliest decision would not occur until a few days before the primary.

“I vehemently disagree with any of those characterizations [the CFB] made,” said Liu. “What they said about my campaign is the same scurrilous, baseless innuendo that I’ve been facing for years now.”

If elected, Liu – the only candidate from Queens – said he would seek to “bring back a level of attention to [the borough] that we have not seen for many years.”

Discussing some of his citywide plans with The Courier, Liu said he has a “very comprehensive way to overhaul the school system.”

That includes starting children in school earlier, at age 3, giving students better access to computers and the Internet to close the digital divide and better preparing them for post-secondary education.

“High school has to be geared not towards high school graduation but towards eventual college graduation,” said Liu.

Liu also discussed his stance against the police department’s stop-and-frisk policy, saying it deploys “resources wide and thin.” He added that he would not keep Ray Kelly as NYPD Commissioner if elected mayor.

He also wants to greatly reduce fines and penalties for small businesses and reduce their taxes.

“Too many people consider [the city] a playground for the rich,” said Liu. “The middle class is shrinking. The working men and women are being left behind. I think we have to restore the promise of what New York is.”


 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Comptroller John Liu officially launches mayoral bid


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of the New York City Comptroller

Comptroller and former Queens councilmember John Liu has formally kicked off his campaign for the mayor of New York City.

“This can’t be the city of the rich and poor, of them and us. New York City needs to be one city. One city where everyone gets a fair wage and a fair shot,” Liu said at the announcement on the steps of City Hall Sunday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, Liu went on a five-borough tour to meet voters.

“With your help, I’ll be a mayor who fights not only for every borough—but for every block in every neighborhood,” he also said during his announcement.

Liu is entering an already crowded Democratic primary that includes Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who launched her campaign last weekend, and Bill Thompson, who served as comptroller before Liu.

The first Asian-American to be elected to a citywide office in New York, Liu has served as comptroller since 2010 and represented Council District 20 from 2002 to 2009.

After immigrating to the U.S. from Taiwan as a young child, Liu attended P.S. 20 in Queens, later graduating from the Bronx High School of Science. He currently lives in Flushing with his wife and son.

Liu mentioned his immigrant roots in his speech today.

“My parents truly believed in that promise–that an immigrant family named Liu could work their way up to become like a family named Kennedy. That’s why they named me John—and if you don’t believe me—feel free to ask my brothers Robert and Edward,” he said.

Though a recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 15 percent of city voters are enthusiastic and 72 percent are comfortable with an Asian candidate, it also found that in a Democratic mayoral primary against Quinn, Thompson and de Blasio, Liu would come in last.

Even before officially entering the race, Liu’s candidacy has faced issues over the arrest of two of his campaign aides last year in connection to illegal contributions towards his mayoral bid.

Liu has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Overcast in the morning, then mostly cloudy. High of 81. Winds from the NW at 5 to 10 mph. Tuesday night: Mostly cloudy in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 68. Winds less than 5 mph. Chance of rain 20%.

EVENT of the DAY: “The Adventures of Tintin”

Come to the Little Bay Park outdoor amphitheater for a free family movie overlooking the Long Island Sound. Tonight’s feature is “The Adventures of Tintin,”based on the beloved series of children’s books. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

City to begin $70 million plan to alleviate flooding in Springfield Gardens

A basement water pump is a necessity for many residents in Springfield Gardens and other deluge-prone areas of southeastern Queens. Read more: New York Daily News

Authorities offer $45K reward for alleged gunman who shot policeman

Authorities have increased a reward to $45,000 for information leading to the arrest of a man who allegedly shot a police officer in Jamaica, Queens earlier this month. Read more: NY1

Bones found near LaGuardia Airport

Police are investigating a set of remains that were found in a marshy area near LaGuardia Airport Monday night. Read more: NBC New York

B’klyn man loading cement onto truck struck and killed by school bus

A beloved married father and grandfather from Brooklyn was killed early today when he was struck and killed by a school bus carrying mentally disabled children in Queens, cops and witnesses said. Read more: New York Post

Majority in city see police as favoring whites, poll finds

A significant majority of New Yorkers say the Police Department favors whites over blacks, according to a new poll by The New York Times. Read more: New York Times

Mayor: City budget hole from stalled taxi program could result in layoffs

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to expand taxi service to all five boroughs would not just have been a boon for riders. It also would have put an extra $1.4 billion in the city’s coffers. Read more: NY1

10 MTA workers charged for alleged false reports

Prosecutors charged 10 Metropolitan Transit Authority employees with falsifying reports to suggest they had completed or supervised safety inspections in the New York subway system, District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said Monday. Read more: Wall Street Journal

Fresh Direct feasts on tax deal


| smosco@queenscourier.com


A sweet tax subsidy deal for an online grocer is leaving some with a bitter taste in their mouths.

After an announcement that seemed to imply an agreement was in the bag, the city is taking some heat for its deal with online food retailer Fresh Direct – which will receive more than $100 million in tax subsidies to move from its Long Island City facility to new digs in the Bronx.

Critics argue that the deal announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Andrew Cuomo on February 7 should never have happened without public input. And after a hearing on February 9 and a vote on February 14 – which many feel is inconsequential – the deal seems to be a foregone conclusion.

“Today’s $100 million subsidy to Fresh Direct was already a done deal from the moment it was announced last week and the reality is that my vote today does not change the outcome,” said City Comptroller John Liu, referring to the vote to approve the pact. “Nonetheless, I cannot vote for this subsidy in good conscience. There may be more ways to ensure a better return on this investment.”

To convince the company to stay in the city and not move to a proposed site in New Jersey, a package of state and city incentives valued at over $100 million is being provided to augment the company’s private investment of $112.6 million. Fresh Direct said it will retain nearly 2,000 existing jobs and create almost 1,000 new jobs when it moves to the location at Harlem River Yards.

Liu said that for the cost of this tax subsidy, the city could give 4,385 students full, four-year scholarships to CUNY or hire 1,458 new teachers.

“The EDC (Economic Development Corporation) has not clearly justified why this much money should be used to subsidize this company,” he said. “This subsidy seems to give away too much in exchange for the jobs and economic development it promises, despite the rosy numbers provided by the EDC.”

The EDC contends that the approval process was not expedited and that the details of the deal have been available on the corporation’s web site for weeks.

Fresh Direct did not return requests for comment as of press time.

 

Politics Aside: Watch the falling dominos


| RHornak@queenscourier.com


Watching one of those world-record setting domino falls, where the pieces go off in all different directions and patterns, is like watching politically connected indictments in Queens these days. As the dominos fall, they get closer and closer to knocking down more elected officials.

A few weeks back this column wrote about the Kool-aid many Queens Democrats must be drinking that makes them think what is obviously unethical is somehow permissible for them. Featured were the scandals surrounding Congressmember Gregory Meeks. Now, the man who gave Meeks $40,000, in what was allegedly a loan, but with no repayment terms, interest, or any signed agreement, is reported to be negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors.

Developer Ehul Ahma’s deal, however, seems to be taking an unusually long time to work out, fueling speculation that he has something to offer regarding the Meeks issue, and possibly other Queens electeds. How far this will reach is not known, but would seem to be a bad omen for Meeks.

Meanwhile, the dominos are also falling around State Senator Shirley Huntley, who saw four of her close associates indicted this past week for allegedly stealing $30,000 in taxpayer “member items” Huntley secured for a local non-profit, Parent Workshop, Inc, that she founded before being elected.

The indictments included Lynn Smith, Huntley’s niece and Parent Workshop’s treasurer, and Patricia Savage, Parent Workshop’s President and Huntley’s Chief of Staff. The probe was conducted jointly by the Attorney General and State Comptroller’s offices, and is said to be ongoing, indicating more indictments could follow.

And the dominos are falling fast and furiously around City Comptroller John Liu, who is seeing scandals arising involving almost everyone in his fundraising operation, and has yet to reveal the names of the bundlers from his 2009 campaign, whose names he was supposed to reveal in order to receive matching funds.

One of Liu’s known bundlers, Oliver Pan, was arrested a few weeks back for breaking campaign finance laws, including creating “straw donors” to funnel money above legal limits to candidates. This is an allegation recently made against Liu’s fundraising operation, with many of his donors having no idea they made a contribution, or some seeming not to exist at all.

Keep watching the dominos fall. It’s always entertaining to see the patterns they create, and to see if they will go all the way to the end, taking all the dominos down in one motion.