Out of Comptrol
It’s not just the mayor’s race that’s growing increasingly contentious.
At an Uptown campaign stop that was billed as former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s first policy proposal announcement, the comptroller candidate toured the Frederick Douglass NYCHA housing complex before briefly criticizing Mayor Bloomberg’s controversial proposal to fingerprint all public housing residents–all the while mercilessly blasting his opponent.
In a bid to boost security at public housing complexes, Mayor Michael Bloomberg this morning suggested fingerprinting residents so they can access their homes.
“What we really should have is fingerprinting to get in. And of course there’s an allegation that some of these apartments aren’t occupied by the people who originally have the lease,” said Mr. Bloomberg during his weekly radio sit-down with WOR’s John Gambling.
The five leading Democratic mayoral candidates–sleeping bags, gym shorts and bouquets in tow–spent last night sleeping in a Harlem public housing development, heeding Rev. Al Sharpton’s call to “dramatize” the many maladies residents of the city’s massive housing system face on a daily basis.
“We started hearing how people were ignored and I said the thing to do is, not only bring the candidates but to dramatize the issue. All of us stay in the development one night,” Mr. Sharpton said last night at the Lincoln Houses, a development nestled next to the East River. “One night’s not going to solve the problem. But one night is going to dramatize that there’s an issue because the media will have to going forward say, one of the central issues in this city is people in public housing.”
For one, it marked the end of an era, his last governing document over the finances of the city he’s run for the past 12 years. For the other, it marked the start of a new chapter, her chance to celebrate the early budget she hopes to inherit come January.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his wannabe successor, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, unveiled the duo’s final budget deal Sunday evening, surrounded by fellow council members in the grand rotunda of City Hall.
Anthony Weiner, who usually points to his congressional record or loud advocacy efforts, went a different route in Harlem yesterday and recalled his days battling then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani from the City Council.
“Do you remember when the stairwells were bursting into flames in public housing?” Mr. Weiner asked members of the Sojourner Truth Democratic Club’s mayoral forum gathered in a back room of the La Hermosa Christian Church.
Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson is up in arms about the New York City Housing Authority’s plan to lease unused space and playgrounds in public housing complexes to developers of luxury housing. In a statement released this afternoon, Mr. Thompson described the plan as a “wrongheaded move” that goes against the purpose of NYCHA.
“NYCHA was created to provide housing to low and moderate income New Yorkers, not to play Monopoly with financiers so they can build more high priced apartments in the city,” Mr. Thompson said. “Furthermore, this wrongheaded move comes at a time when more and more poor and working families are being priced out of the City.”
New York City Housing Authority has been in the news lately after it released a report on its ongoing problems, which was followed with Mayor Michael Bloomberg replacing a couple board members. But Mr. Bloomberg strongly defended the agency during his weekly radio show and suggested his critics should manage NYCHA if they don’t like the job that’s being done.
“NYCHA is as dilapidated as the worst of its rat- and mold-infested projects,” one of those critics, the New York Daily News editorial board wrote today. ”Summing up, its bureaucracy doesn’t know how to make routine repairs, perform major renovations, buy supplies, apply for federal funding or collect rents.”
“We are really trying, and there is no easy solution,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “And it’s going to get worse and they’ll be able to write another story about it.”
Is the media to blame for NYCHA’s problems? Or, more specifically, the Daily News? That was certainly the impression given by a handful of pols on the steps of City Hall this afternoon.
Led by Rosie Mendez, chair of the City Council’s housing committee, the group applauded the New York City Housing Authority’s recent improvements over the past months and years. While it was widely acknowledged that the state of public housing in the city was far from perfect, the situation was indeed improving in the view of those huddled under the portico of City Hall as it drizzled on the steps just beyond.
“NYCHA’s problems are profound,” Queens Councilman LeRoy Comrie said. “They cannot be explained away in a newspaper article that simply says they are not doing their job.”
Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries convened a press conference yesterday calling for a federal investigation of mismanagement of the New York City Housing Authority. Mr. Jeffries and about 50 of his constituents were lined up in front of the Farragut Houses, wedged between the BQE and the luxury lofts of DUMBO.
Throughout the half-hour event, while away from the podium, the would-be Congressman, dressed in a navy suit with subtle pinstripes and geometric red tie, would dip his hand into his pocket and withdraw a blue handkerchief that matched his shirt. He would duck his head and swiftly dab at his brow before returning the hankie, to do it all over again a few minutes later.
Assemblyman Jeffries looked as though he wanted to hide the fact that he, too, was human, and thus susceptible to the heat. But the thought that crossed our minds was imagine having to live in one of these brick-and-concrete monoliths on such an unbearable day. It turns out that is the unfortunate case year-round.