Tag Archives: john Liu

Anti-John Liu protestors disrupt political forum

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Eric Jankiewicz

A group of protestors crashed a political discussion forum in Flushing Tuesday, claiming that one of the candidates, John Liu, was a spy for the Chinese government.

Liu and Paul Gilman are challenging state Sen. Tony Avella for his seat in the state senate. They were invited to discuss issues ranging from immigration to the minimum wage.

Unlike a debate, each person answered questions individually. But as soon as Liu took the stage several people from the large audience stood up from their seats, walked up to Liu and unraveled a sign that said “Arrest john [sic] Liu to Prevent his further Harm to the U.S.”

Liu supporters quickly tore the sign down but the protestors, shouting in Mandarin, prevented the forum from continuing for more then 20 minutes.

Workers from the MinKwon Center,the organization that held the forum ,attempted to remove the protestors by pushing them out, but the anti-Liu group wouldn’t budge.

Eventually cops were called and escorted the protestors from the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel in Flushing.

“This injustice must be exposed,” protester Guohua Liu said through a translator. “Mr. Liu is not an American; he is with the Chinese government.”

After the protestors left, Liu, the politician, explained that these protestors often follow him around and crash other parties.

The other candidates were not present for the protest.  Each addressed the group separately.



Liu starts state Senate campaign trail in Bayside

| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Paulina Tam


The people of northeast Queens deserve “effective, result-oriented representation,” said former City Comptroller John Liu, as he kicked off his campaign for the state Senate on Friday.

The Democrat called the community as the “bedrock” of New York City and promised to be a collaborator with his fellow senators as well as a leader who will not shy away from proposing legislation and “cutting edge programs.”

“In the state senate, I will fight tirelessly for a real minimum wage, the rights of working people, for true women’s equality and for public schools, transportation, and healthcare,” said Liu in a kick-off rally at the Bayside LIRR Station.

“The people here rightfully demand and deserve effective result-oriented representation,” said Liu.

In response to a question on being a minority candidate in a mostly white district and and one of a handful of minority senators, Liu said he’s been a minority his entire life.

“I have built bridges my whole life from when I was a little kid in public school where there were little to no Asians besides my brother and I to entering the private sector in the corporate world, again with very few Asians,” he said. “That is something I strive to do, to build bridges so there will be greater understanding—and at the end of the day, that is what being elected to office is about.”

Liu was joined with elected officials like Councilman Paul Vallone and representatives from the Hotel Trade Council and the International Union of Operative Engineers Locals 891.



Queens Dems endorse John Liu in state Senate race against Tony Avella

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Updated 2:30 p.m.

John Liu is ready to challenge state Senator Tony Avella in the primary this September, according to the Queens County Democrats.

The organization unanimously endorsed Liu in the race Monday, Queens County Democrats Executive Secretary Michael Reich said.

The group is backing the former city comptroller over the incumbent after Avella joined the New York state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a breakaway faction of Senate Democrats who share majority control of the chamber with Republicans, according to Reich.

“I believe that John Liu will not only be a breath of fresh air, but a viable candidate for this position,” Reich said, who likened Avella joining the IDC to “leaving the party.”

After designating Liu during the organization’s meeting this morning, his name can now be included on the county petition, according to Reich. Liu was reportedly not present during the endorsement.

Liu, who was also a city councilman from 2002 to 2009, unsuccessfully ran in the Democratic primary for mayor last year.

During his time as comptroller, he had been the subject of a campaign finance probe. Though he was never accused of any wrongdoing, the city’s Campaign Finance Board (CFB) denied him public matching funds shortly before the primary.

In March, he announced he was suing the (CFB) for withholding the money, claiming that the move “crippled” his chances in the race.

Avella, who has represented the 11th state Senate District since 2011, said he is proud of his record “fighting for the working class residents of Queens.”

“I work for the people I represent — not for the Queens party bosses or political insiders,” he said. “Whether it’s helping our seniors, passing marriage equality, or protecting our environment, I have always fought for the issues that matter most to the people of my district and I look forward to discussing my progressive record in the months ahead.”




John Liu sues over campaign cash in failed mayoral bid

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

John Liu may have lost his bid for mayor months ago, but he is still seeking justice for wrongdoings he believes hindered his campaign.

The former comptroller is suing the city’s Campaign Finance Board (CFB) for withholding $3.8 million in public financing from his mayoral campaign, claiming that the move “crippled” his chances in the Democratic primary.

The lawsuit asserts that the city’s public financing system violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments and that Liu was treated “differently than other candidates who have been suspected of violating campaign finance laws.”

“I am a strong believer in and supporter of the New York City campaign finance system. However, the system has been broken by out-of-control bureaucrats and unaccountable board members,” Liu said in a statement announcing the lawsuit on Wednesday, March 12.

Last August, the CFB denied Liu’s campaign the funds because it said there was “reason to believe that violations of the Act and Board rules have been committed by his campaign.”

Months earlier, a former Liu campaign treasurer was found guilty of attempting to commit fraud, obstructing justice and making false statements. And an ex-fundraiser and contribution bundler for his campaign was convicted on charges of conspiring and attempting to commit fraud.

Though Liu has not been accused of any wrongdoing in connection to the case, the Board said the decision to deny matching funds doesn’t require the candidate to personally engage in misconduct.

Liu’s suit also alleges that the appointment of Rose Gil Hearn as chair of the CFB, made shortly before then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg left office, was illegitimate because it was done without consulting the City Council speaker.

“Over 25 years and seven mayoral elections, the Board’s oversight has always been tough, but fair. It protects taxpayers, and ensures campaigns that receive funds are playing by the rules,” said Amy Loprest, CFB executive director, in a statement. “We will not comment further on the litigation until the appropriate time.”



John Liu endorses Congressmemeber Grace Meng for re-election

| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Congressmember Grace Meng

Former Comptroller John Liu put an end to rumors he may run against Congressmember Grace Meng by endorsing the popular Flushing representative for her re-election bid Monday.

“I thank John Liu for his endorsement and for highlighting the important work I’ve done in Congress during my first year in Washington,” Meng said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to work with him to make our city, state and borough an even better place to live.”

Liu, after an unsuccessful bid for mayor, has reportedly been eyeing a spot back in elected office.

However, the current part-time Baruch College professor has not confirmed or denied any rumors that include possible challenges to Congressmember Nydia Velázquez or State Senator Tony Avella.



Jenny Hou, ex-campaign treasurer for John Liu, files notice of appeal

| mchan@queenscourier.com

The prison-sentenced former mayoral campaign treasurer for City Comptroller John Liu filed a notice of appeal Wednesday in hopes the court will reverse its conviction.

Jia “Jenny” Hou, 26, was sentenced to 10 months in prison on October 10 for attempting to commit wire fraud, making false statements and obstructing justice in a straw donor scheme.

“Jenny Hou is not guilty of any crime, not factually and not legally,” said her lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt.

“I believe she is a scapegoat,” Lefcourt added, “onto whom all of the limitations of the Campaign Finance Board, the ills of raising money for political campaigns, have unfairly been placed.”

Federal officials said Hou and another convicted Liu aide, Xing Wu “Oliver” Pan, evaded Campaign Finance Board restrictions that limit donor contributions to citywide candidates to $4,950.

The pair used straw donors, prosecutors said, or individuals who illegally make political contributions in their own names with money they have received from others.

Hou was caught offering to reimburse an individual for donations well-above the allowed amount during a series of instant messages on July 14, court records show.

Prosecutors said she also instructed campaign volunteers on how to imitate the handwriting of campaign donors on the contribution forms in order to make it appear official.

But Lefcourt said there was no evidence Hou knew anyone was being reimbursed for donations made at a May 9 fundraiser.

The warrant obtained from Google to access her e-mails was also “not legally sufficient and should never have been issued,” he said.

“The conviction of Jenny Hou cannot stand,” the attorney said.

Hou also failed to give up documents with identities of several campaign contributors in response to subpoenas and lied about producing them, according to court records.

“I’m not in the least bit surprised that Jenny would appeal even in light of receiving what many consider a light sentence,” Liu said in a statement. “She is a person of strong mind and uncompromising character.  I believe in her and remain hopeful that she will be vindicated.”



Op-Ed: A STAR of a tax break

| oped@queenscourier.com

Comptroller John C. Liu

If you own a house, co-op, or condominium in New York City, there’s something I want you to do right away: register for the STAR exemption.

In all likelihood, you’re probably already benefitting from STAR. More than 564,000 homeowners in New York City participate in what’s called “Basic STAR.” Last year, these homeowners received an average property tax break of $280 each. While it’s not a huge amount, it’s still money in your pocket.

But this year, the state is requiring everyone to register for STAR in order to receive the exemption. And I don’t want any homeowner in New York City to lose out.

The state created STAR in 1997 to give real estate holders a small break on the taxes they pay on their primary residence. The acronym comes from “School Tax Relief” because most New York State property taxes are spent on local public schools.

The state needs to ensure that second and third homes are not unfairly receiving the exemption. A study last year by the State Department of Tax and Finance found that thousands of property owners were improperly receiving more than one exemption.

To verify the accuracy of its primary homeowner data base, the State is asking all property holders to register for Basic STAR in order to continue receiving the break.

Only those with annual household incomes of under $500,000 are eligible to participate in Basic STAR. There is another version—“Enhanced STAR” for seniors—but it isn’t part of the current registration drive.

If you’ve never received the exemption in the past or are a new homeowner in New York City, start with the NYC Department of Finance, at nyc.gov/finance or by calling 3-1-1.

For past participants, registration is easy and can be handled completely online by going to www.tax.ny.gov. Those without Internet access can register by phone by calling 518-457-2036.

If you’ve been benefitting from Basic STAR, you must register with the State Department of Tax and Finance in order to continue receiving the tax break. Don’t leave money on the table!

The Basic STAR exemption saved 2.6 million owners of houses, condominiums, and co-operative apartments in New York State a total of $1.9 billion last year. But you have to be registered to receive the break!

The registration process began in August, and letters about it began arriving in New York City mailboxes in September. But you don’t have to wait to receive your letter to participate. The deadline to be included is the end of this calendar year: December 31.

The good news is you won’t have to re-register every year. Once the process is done, the Tax Department will use the information to review homeowners’ eligibility in future years.

So get on the phone or visit the New York State Department of Tax and Finance website to ensure your tax break for 2014 and beyond.

Let’s keep all of the stars of New York City shining.

John C. Liu is the Comptroller of the City of New York




John Liu’s ex-campaign workers sentenced to prison

| mchan@queenscourier.com

City Comptroller John Liu painted the Thursday sentencing and overall investigation of his two former campaign workers as a “set up a weak man and a wonderful young woman.”

His ex-campaign treasurer and fundraiser will serve time in prison for less than a year for funneling illegal contributions in a straw donor scheme during his bid for mayor.

Jia “Jenny” Hou, 26, was sentenced to 10 months in prison on October 10 for attempting to commit wire fraud, making false statements and obstructing justice.

The former campaign treasurer from Flushing will also be under supervision for three years.

Another aide, Xing Wu “Oliver” Pan, will serve four months in prison and three years under supervision for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and attempting to commit wire fraud.

The 47-year-old of New Jersey was a fundraiser and contribution bundler for Liu.

“For reasons I may never fully understand, the U.S. Attorney’s Office set out to destroy me with what has been described as an extraordinarily intrusive and exhaustive investigation,” Liu said in a statement. “Failing to find that I had done anything wrong, they proceeded to set up a weak man and a wonderful young woman.”

The comptroller, who lost his Democratic primary for mayor in September, said Hou did not deserve the “ordeal and injustice she has been put through.”

He said she was “a good person and exceptional individual” when she was found guilty in May.

Federal officials said Hou and Pan evaded Campaign Finance Board restrictions that limit donor contributions to citywide candidates to $4,950.

The pair used straw donors, prosecutors said, or individuals who illegally make political contributions in their own names with money they have received from others.

Hou was caught offering to reimburse an individual for donations well-above the allowed amount during a series of instant messages on July 14, court records show.

Prosecutors said she also instructed campaign volunteers on how to imitate the handwriting of campaign donors on the contribution forms in order to make it appear official.

Hou also failed to give up documents with identities of several campaign contributors in response to subpoenas and lied about producing them, according to court records.

Pan was caught funneling $16,000 in campaign contributions by an undercover FBI agent, who posed as a businessperson interested in supporting the comptroller, records show.

Liu was not accused of any wrongdoing. However, the trial kept Liu’s campaign from receiving public matching funds that could have doubled his war chest. 

“I am very sad but even more angry at what has occurred,” Liu said after the sentencing of his former aides.  “The U.S. Attorney’s Office was wrong and should not be proud of its conduct.”


Lhota continues to blast de Blasio on past Sandinista support

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

As Bill de Blasio received an additional endorsement for mayor Tuesday, he faced more criticism about his past support of Nicaragua’s ruling Sandinista party, detailed in a recent New York Times article.

The piece, published online Sunday, examined de Blasio’s time in Nicaragua helping to distribute food and medicine in the late 1980s and how he “grew to be an admirer of the Sandinista party.” It also looked at how his time as a young activist has shaped him today.

The Sandinistas ruled Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990, and, according to the Times, were denounced by the Reagan administration as “tyrannical and communist,” though liberal supporters said they were “building a free society with broad access to education, land and health care.”

The article prompted two of de Blasio’s opponents in the race, Republican candidate Joe Lhota and Independence party candidate Adolfo Carrión Jr. to attack him for his past support of the Sandinista party.

“Mr. de Blasio’s involvement with the Sandinistas didn’t happen in 1917; it happened 70 years later when the cruelty and intrinsic failure of communism had become crystal clear to anyone with a modicum of reason. Mr. de Blasio’s class warfare strategy in New York City is directly out of the Marxist playbook. Now we know why,” said Lhota in a statement released Tuesday.

Carrión, calling him a “radical without a clue,” spoke of another fact mentioned in the Times article, de Blasio’s honeymoon in Cuba, which violated the U.S. travel ban.

“It’s no wonder de Blasio, the political operative and union organizer, whose world view is rooted in the Castro/Guevara philosophy that fueled the Sandinista dictatorship, is surrendering his policy agenda to collective bargaining organizations, he said in a statement.  “That’s why, whether it’s Stop, Question & Frisk, education policy, or business regulation and taxation, this election matters because it can erode the progress we’ve made as a city.”

In response to earlier comments from his rivals, de Blasio said on Monday “I’m not surprised that my opponents will throw labels and call names. That’s a Republican tactic. That’s a right-wing tactic,” according to published reports.

De Blasio also received criticism Tuesday for his choice of debate locations.

He announced today he would participate in three debates over the next six weeks, all in Manhattan.

Lhota, who recently called for weekly debates hosted in each of the city’s five boroughs, said it was “incredibly disappointing that Mr. de Blasio does not appreciate the need to hold debates outside Manhattan when New Yorkers in all five boroughs deserve the chance to learn more about the next mayor.”

On Tuesday, de Blasio found support from former Democratic primary opponent City Comptroller John Liu, who officially endorsed him for mayor.

“Now more than ever, we need a mayor who will stand up for working and middle class families and Bill is that leader. He understands this city is strongest when every New Yorker – no matter where they live or where they come from, who they love or what they look like – has a fair shot, said Liu. “It is time Democrats unite behind Bill de Blasio and work together to ensure a progressive fighter wins in November.



John Liu wants to legalize marijuana in NYC

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

City Comptroller John Liu is proposing legalizing marijuana in the city to generate more than $400 million in annual revenue.

“Regulating marijuana would keep thousands of New Yorkers out of the criminal justice system, offer relief to those suffering from a wide range of painful medical conditions, and make our streets safer by sapping the dangerous underground market that targets our children. As if that weren’t enough, it would also boost our bottom line,” Liu said in a statement released Wednesday.

The mayoral candidate’s proposal would make it legal for adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of pot for medicinal or recreational purposes. They would have to purchase the drug at a government-licensed business.

According to a report released today by the comptroller’s office, the city’s current marijuana market is estimated at about $1.65 million annually. Liu is hoping the $400 million made each year from taxing the sale of the drug could help reduce CUNY tuition by as much as 50 percent for city residents.

He also said the city could save an additional $31 million on law enforcement and judicial resources spent on marijuana-related arrests.

In order for Liu’s proposal to pass, the deregulation would need to be approved by the state legislature.

Along with his proposal, Liu suggested the creation of a task force consisting of the NYPD, Administration for Children’s Services, Department of Education, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, district attorneys, and Department of Consumer Affairs that would study issues related to regulation and work with the state legislature to pass the legislation.





John Liu to go ‘full steam ahead’ with campaign despite no matching funds

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of the New York City Comptroller

City Comptroller John Liu has vowed to go “full steam ahead” with his mayoral bid despite losing out on millions in funds.

The city’s Campaign Finance Board (CFB) on Monday denied Liu’s campaign public matching funds that could have doubled the approximately $3.5 million the candidate has raised so far.

Liu’s campaign was denied the funds “because there is reason to believe that violations of the Act and Board rules have been committed by his campaign,” said CFB Chair Father Joseph Parkes in a statement.

“The evidence suggests that the potential violations are serious and pervasive across the campaign’s fundraising,” he added.

“The [Campaign Finance Board] has chosen to make certain characterizations of my campaign–they are absolutely wrong in their characterization and we will utterly dispute and repudiate those kinds of comments,” said Liu in a statement released Monday evening.

In May, Jia “Jenny” Hou, who was Liu’s campaign treasurer, was found guilty of attempting to commit fraud, obstructing justice and making false statements.

Xing Wu “Oliver” Pan, who was a campaign fundraiser and contribution bundler for the Liu campaign, was convicted at the same time on charges of conspiring and attempting to commit fraud.

Though Liu has not been accused of any wrongdoing in connection to the case, the Board said the decision to deny matching funds doesn’t require the candidate to personally engage in misconduct.

“The candidate is ultimately responsible for the campaign’s compliance with the law,” said Parkes.

Under the Campaign Finance Program, candidates who agree to spending limits receive $6 for each dollar a city resident contributes, for a maximum public matching funds amount of $3,534,300, which Liu was expected to receive.

“Although we may not have the millions of dollars that the [Campaign Finance Board] has chosen to withhold from our campaign and from our donors, the strength of this campaign has never been just in the money — it’s always been in the people” said Liu. “And we’re going to draw upon that strength over the next five weeks throughout all five boroughs.”



Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane


Friday: Overcast with thunderstorms and a chance of rain, then a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain in the afternoon. High of 84. Winds from the SW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Friday night: Overcast with thunderstorms and a chance of rain. Low of 70. Winds from the WSW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Free Outdoor Movie: “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted”

Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman are still fighting to get home to their beloved Big Apple. Their journey takes them through Europe where they find the perfect cover: a traveling circus, which they reinvent – Madagascar style. Bring a chair or blanket. Starts at 7:30 p.m. in Brookville Park. Rated PG. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

FDNY overpaid $1 million to company that maintains dispatch systems: John Liu

The FDNY dished out millions more in tax dollars than necessary because it mismanaged contracts with a tech company hired to repair and maintain dispatch systems, city Controller John Liu said Thursday. Read more: New York Daily News

Queens worker injured at house demo site

Fire crews on Thursday responded to a construction site in Queens after a worker fell into the basement of a home that’s being demolished. Read more: NY1

Queens Councilman Ruben Wills launches a push to promote cricket

Queens’ cricket craze could culminate in a standalone stadium, if one lawmaker has his way. Read more: New York Daily News 

Spike in tickets for bike riders

With the start of the Citi Bike Share program has come a spike in the number of tickets being issued for cycling violations. Read more: Fox New York

After DOMA ruling, surge in marriage applications in NYC

The city clerk couldn’t tell me exactly how many same-sex couples have been coming in since the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA but he said it has been quite an increase. Read more: Fox New York

Senate passes sweeping immigration legislation

The U.S. Senate approved a landmark immigration bill on Thursday that would provide millions of undocumented immigrants a chance to become citizens, but the leader of the House of Representatives said the measure was dead on arrival in the House. Read more: Reuters

Bible signed by Einstein sells for $68,500 in NYC

A Bible with an inscription from Albert Einstein has sold for $68,500 at an auction in New York City. Read more: AP

Poll puts Weiner ahead in mayoral race

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

A new poll released Tuesday night shows Democratic mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner as the front-runner in the race one month after announcing his bid.

The NBC New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll found that 25 percent of registered Democrats would vote for the former congressmember in the primary. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn came in second with 20 percent, followed by former Comptroller Bill Thompson, at 13 percent, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio at 10 percent and city Comptroller John Liu at 8 percent.

In earlier polls, Quinn was the candidate to beat.

A May 28 Marist poll showed Christine Quinn with 24 percent and Anthony Weiner with 19 percent.

But even with Weiner in the lead, a primary runoff, which is required if a candidate receives fewer than 40 percent of the vote, seems likely.

Though Weiner would lose in a runoff to Quinn, he still has gained ground since the May Marist poll.

Tuesday’s poll found that Quinn would win 44 percent to 42 percent, with 14 percent undecided.  Last month, the Marist poll showed Council Speaker beating him 48 percent to 33 percent, with 18 percent undecided.



Audit finds city high school placement flawed

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Rosa Kim

The city’s high school placement system denied a handful of youngsters a chance at being admitted to a competitive Queens school, a comptroller’s audit found.

Four middle school students were not ranked last year for possible enrollment at Townsend Harris High School’s Intensive Academic Humanities even though they were eligible, according to City Comptroller John Liu.

“Our audit confirmed what many frustrated parents and students have long suspected — the city’s high school placement process is often unfair and deeply flawed,” Liu said.

Students who apply to Townsend Harris — a screened school which accepts students based on past performance over where they live — must have stellar attendance, at least an overall 90 average and a standardized seventh grade reading and math score in the 90th percentile before they are considered, its website said.

The four students in the audit had met those requirements, Liu’s office said, although their names and scores could not be disclosed.

Students can apply to up to 12 high schools and order their choices by preference before the city’s Department of Education (DOE) enters their picks into an enrollment program.

If applicants meet the high school’s criteria, they are ranked on a list for possible enrollment. The screened institutions then offer seats to top scoring students in the system.

But the DOE’s “arbitrary and unfair” placement process, Liu said, did not rank nearly 2,000 eligible students who applied to five screened city schools last year. It ranked about 300 ineligible applicants instead.

“Applying to high school is an important and stressful enough experience for students and parents,” Liu said, “and it must not be left to a sloppy and random system like the one our audit found.”

DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia said high school admissions transparency has never been greater. More than 75 percent of the 70,000 annual high school applicants land in one of their top three school choices, he added.

“This report goes out of its way to ignore the enormous strides we have made to provide information to families and implement a clear, fair high school choice process,” Puglia said. “As always, we have more work to do and appreciate the recommendations for how to improve high school admissions.”

Townsend Harris officials did not return calls for comment.

Nearly 5,300 students applied for 270 seats at the school’s competitive humanities program last year.

The DOE did not say whether the four students in the audit were notified of the glitch.



Candidates answer questions at Courier mayoral forum

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

The Democratic, Republican and independent mayoral candidates all came together on one stage for the first time since the race to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg began.

The Courier hosted its Mayoral Forum on Friday, June 7 at Terrace on the Park with Democrats Sal Albanese, Bill de Blasio, John Liu, Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson and Anthony Weiner joined Republicans John Catsimatidis, George McDonald, Joe Lhota and independent Adolfo Carrion. Moderator and NY1 anchor Rocco Vertuccio asked questions pertaining to both borough and city issues.

Vertuccio kicked off the event with a question about handling labor contracts for city workers.

“The municipal work force is demoralized,” Albanese said. “Many haven’t gotten a raise in five years.”

The former councilmember said he would do his best to provide retroactive pay for the workforce without raising taxes.

Carrion suggested establishing a cost-sharing relationship with the city’s workforce, while Lhota said workers do not pay their fair share when it comes to healthcare costs.

“We don’t want to go backwards,” McDonald said, adding he would not sign a labor contract that did not include a cost of participation for healthcare by municipal employees.

He also said there are “too many city employees” and that the city should utilize available technology to fulfill the tasks of some jobs.

Weiner agreed the city needs to take control of spending, especially healthcare costs, and utilize local pharmacies and labs to keep “our healthcare money here in Queens.” He was the only candidate to stand while speaking.

The Major League Soccer (MLS) development in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was a source of disagreement, with some candidates taking a pro-development stance and others aiming to preserve as much parkland as possible.

De Blasio, the city’s public advocate, said he lived near the park and has a “personal sense” of how much Flushing Meadows means to people.

“Sports don’t necessarily help out the larger economy,” he said.

However, he said that finding a way to create a stadium that gives an opportunity to keep the same amount of parkland would be a “worthy discussion.”

“I’m all for having a stadium somewhere in the city, but we can’t burden Flushing Meadows,” Lhota said.

He added we should not be taking parkland and using it for other initiatives. Lhota suggested allocating the funds to renovate the New York State Pavilion instead.

City Comptroller Liu, a Queens native, said he wants to make sure there is no alienation of parkland and that it should not be sold to public interests.

Before leaving for another engagement, City Council Speaker Quinn said it is “critically important to have the utmost respect for the community and voice of the local elected officials.”

She added that is why she has been working with Councilmember Julissa Ferreras on the area’s proposed tennis center.

Former Congressmember Weiner said he is pro-development and would love to have MLS in the borough, but first, he joked, he’d “love to have major league baseball here in Queens.”

“I’m a Mets fan. I can say it,” he said with a laugh.

One citywide issue concerned government’s alleged use of violation fines as a source of revenue. The Bloomberg administration has come under criticism by some who fines placed upon small businesses are unfair. Vertuccio asked the candidates what they would do.

Catsimatidis, once a small business owner himself, proposed a “business advocate group” within the city. When business owners are fined and believe it is unwarranted, they would not need to hire a lawyer. In Catsimatidis’ proposal, the advocacy group would fight on the owner’s behalf.

“New York City is at war with its small businesses,” Thompson said.

McDonald said his city sweeping company cleans the streets outside of merchants’ sites and “saves [them] millions of dollars a year in fines.”

When it came to city cultural institutions and the yearly “budget dance” that such organizations experience, all the candidates agreed there needs to be more control over the mayoral budget, saying the confusion should end.

Thompson said the city should put more money into cultural institutions and place art and music education back in the public school system.


Some candidates briefly showed their claws during the forum’s closing remarks. Albanese made reference to Weiner’s controversial fall from office.

“Weiner is interesting,” Albanese said. “He’s very political and articulate. But I believe it’s important if you want to be the mayor of New York City to have credibility. He’s betrayed the public trust on several occasions. I think that disqualifies him from running for mayor.”

The remark was met with sounds of disapproval from the panel, with McDonald tapping loudly on his microphone.

Moving on, de Blasio described his proposal to tax the “wealthiest New Yorkers so we can have full day pre-kindergarten programs for our kids.”

Catsimatidis called himself “the balance,” saying he has not taken any campaign donations from political contributors.

Carrion said he is running as an independent to “ensure this city of promise gives this opportunity to our generation and future generations.”

Candidates will continue to blaze down the campaign trail until the primary election in September, followed by the mayoral election in November.