BY JON CRONIN
City Comptroller Scott Stringer said that he has a history of challenging the system and would not accept taxpayer funds in this election cycle during a discussion of his re-election campaign last week with the PRESS of Southeast Queens.
Stringer said he has “been a reformer who has challenged the system” and pointed out that, three years ago, he banned placement agents, which he said prevented the abuse of investments for the city’s pension fund after the quid pro quo atmosphere that had been established under former city Comptroller Alan Hevesi in the late 2000s.
“If there’s a quid pro quo, it’s fundamentally wrong. It’s not how we operate our office. I’ve been doing this for 25 years,” Stringer said. “That’s why we banned the placement agents when I came in—because I wanted to make it clear that it wouldn’t be business as usual.”
He also pointed out that he did not accept close to $1 million in taxpayer money for which he was eligible from the city for his re-election campaign.
“I didn’t take it,” he said.
Stringer’s opponent in the comptroller race, Rev. Michel Faulkner, stated at a recent press conference that Stringer has not done enough to create and implement policy in the city. Creating legislation and policy implementation is not the role of the city comptroller, Stringer said. He added that the 255 audits his office has conducted in the past four years were influential. He said that while auditing city agencies, he has also worked with them.
“The city has adopted thousands of my recommendations, some small, some big, to make government and the agencies run better,” he said.
He added that he played a role in the recent outcry regarding sheltering of the homeless in hotels across the city.
“Do you know why you know about it?” he asked. “Because I did the investigation.”
Stringer said that in the past three and a half years, the city has spent $2.4 billion on housing the homeless.
“We’re not getting the bang for the buck,” he said.
In regard to a solution, he pointed out that there are 1,150 city-owned vacant lots—366 of which are in Queens—throughout the five boroughs and recommended creating a land trust that could be used for affordable housing.
He also pointed out that President Donald Trump’s administration is planning on cutting two-thirds of the federal dollars that the city uses to fund NYCHA housing.
“We need to find a new revenue stream for NYCHA,” Stringer said, adding that his plan is to take $400 million in surplus funds generated from Battery Park City over the next 10 years and use it to take care of NYCHA’s maintenance issues. “That would be the first funding stream that would be created for NYCHA ever. The governor supports this initiative. The mayor does not.”
Also, Stringer said that the city has put aside a $450 million investment from the pension fund for affordable housing. A percentage of that investment will go specifically towards affordable housing for veterans.
Regarding the city’s subway system’s woes over the summer, Stringer said that he hasn’t seen improvements in response and believes that the city should designate $400 million for MTA Chairman Joe Lhota’s NYC Subway Action Plan to stabilize and improve the system.
“The summer of hell has now become the fall of frustration,” he said.
As to whether the mayor and governor will see eye to eye on the issue, Stringer said he believed that “when they
work together, they’re a pretty good team.”