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Queens Chronicle

Liu blasts Willets Pt. deal on his way out

Departing city comptroller vows to remain involved in public affairs

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Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:36 am, Thu Dec 26, 2013.

Comptroller John Liu may be stepping down at the end of the year, but he’s leaving office with some parting shots at the Bloomberg administration and still has some unfinished business with the City of New York.

Speaking last week with the Queens Chronicle editorial board for the last time as comptroller, Liu, a Flushing resident, blasted the administration for what he and many critics call a bait and switch in the Willets Point redevelopment.

Mayor Bloomberg and other officials made drastic changes this year to the plan the City Council originally approved several years ago, most notably delaying the affordable housing component that had been promised, and even leaving the developers an opportunity to never build it at all. It was approved nonetheless.

Liu, in his capacity as a member of the city’s Industrial Development Agency, voted against the plan when it came before that panel last week, but it passed there too.

“This was supposed to be the greatest new neighborhood in New York City, with the focus on housing and a school — and now you don’t hear anything about the housing,” Liu told the Chronicle the day before the vote. “If you think this is a far cry from the revised plan passed by the City Council, imagine how far it is from the original plan.”

Willets Point is not the only issue the outgoing comptroller and former councilman has with the city. He has filed the preliminary papers needed to sue the Campaign Finance Board over its denial to him of matching funds during his run for the Democratic nomination for mayor. The decision was made over a scandal in the campaign that saw his treasurer and one fundraiser convicted of wrongdoing, but he says it was all overblown.

It did, however, effectively end his run.

“I have no regrets; we ran as hard as we could,” Liu said. “At the end of the day it was basically this ridiculous denial of three and a half million dollars that flushed the campaign down the toilet.”

Liu said he will not be seeking money if he goes ahead with the suit but to “flesh out the issues” that saw his funding denied.

On another issue of public monies, Liu boasted of increasing the city’s pension fund’s value by a little more than 50 percent during his term, bringing it to more than $150 billion.

Liu said that he does not know what his next job will be, but that he may return to private-sector finance, where he worked before winning office. He vowed to remain involved in civic affairs, possibly through a citywide good-government group like Citizens Union. And he said he has things to take care of at home, with his wife, Jenny, and their son, Joey.

“I’m catching up on chores, chorse that have been deferred a long time,” he said.

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