Streams

Comptroller Scott Stringer's First Month in Office

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Scott Stringer, New York City Comptroller, discusses his first month in office, from minimum wage efforts to his library audit and more. 

Guests:

Scott M. Stringer

Comments [12]

Toni from Manhattan

You know, the secrecy, lack of adequate financial gain to NYPL and deception evident in the Library "plan" to sell off and eliminate libraries has all the hallmarks of the NJ/Chris Christie/Port Authority development scandals. In fact, most of Bloomberg's "accomplishments" - failed and realized - were nothing more than private development projects undertaken as public initiatives. I wonder when someone will catch on to that and start investigating on this side of the river. Maybe Mr. Stringer could start here. Follow the development money.

Feb. 09 2014 08:46 AM
G.Filschman from Brooklyn

All well and good to have the audits to verify the not so benign neglect of our libraries, i.e. emptying of shelves, lack of repairs, sell offs to developers. Thanks to public interest shows like the Lehrer program, some sunlight is coming through to reveal how our public assets are being stolen from us. As DeBlasio and Cuomo spar over pre-k, why don't they connect the dots to the extraordinary value our libraries have for toddlers and for all ages. Visit the Brooklyn library at Cadman Plaza at the story book hours to see our libraries at work. It is one of the libraries scheduled to be a luxury condo, if we don't stop it.

Feb. 06 2014 10:08 AM
C. M. P. from Manhattan

Indeed, Comptroller Stringer, we in your neighborhood congratulate you, and have high hopes for your role in the life of our City. We implore you to audit the accounts of the NYPL expeditiously. This is a crisis, and is urgent. These plans were laid at least 8 years ago, secretly, around the time of the ill-judged sale of Asher Brown Durand's "Kindred Spirits" to the Walmart family. This iconic Hudson River School painting, depicting William Cullen Bryant (of Bryant Park renown) and the artist Thomas Cole, was donated to the NYPL by Bryant's daughter Julia in 1904. We have lost the painting. Let us not lose the Main Research Branch Library, in which so many of us began to learn what learning really was. Let us preserve and restore to its former glory (which was world-renowned) that legacy for future generations of New Yorkers and Citizens of the World. Your public investigation of this is crucial, before further actions are taken in secret.

Feb. 05 2014 07:54 PM
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights

Regarding Mr. Lehrer’s question about whether there was reason to suspect wrong-doing on the part of the library officials or irresponsibility and Mr. Stringer’s response that he doesn't go into this with a "particular prejudice" or thinking he is about to "unearth some big scandal.". . .

. . . Mr. Stringer said he would be using an investigative approach and one thing to investigate that has never been investigated is the Donnell debacle, the secret sell-off of a 97,000 square foot flagship, destination library across from MoMA (53rd Street Between Fifth and Sixth Avenues) at an unconscionably low price, netting the NYPL less than $39 million.

In that regard ALL the proposed library sell-offs and their lack of mathematical sense and suspicious figures and calculations should be looked at.

* $150 million from the taxpayers and perhaps verging on a half billion dollars total for the Central Library Plan, a consolidating shrinkage that sells off Min-Manhattan and SIBL (completed in 1996 for $100 million), reducing more than 380,000 square feet of library space to less than 80, square feet?

* The sell-off of the Brooklyn Heights Library where development rights were transferred to Forest City Ratner in 1986? With the excuse that the air conditioning can’t be fixed except for a very suspiciously inflated price?

There is a question of balance of focus: Some of the things raised with respect to the Queens library system are interesting and worth investigating but the Queens expenditures ($140K for a conference deck) are penny ante compared to the library sales at the NYPL and the BPL. Similarly, the salary for the Queens Library president has been questioned but is relatively similar to the salary of David Offensend COO of the NYPL who sold off Donnell and is pushing the CLP sales. Others at the NYPL get paid in similar very high ranges while the NYPL’s president is probably earning many multiples of that figure still. The all-in figure for his predecessor’s compensation was well over $1 million. See link below.

The Queens Library system has not been selling off libraries like the other two.

Citizens Defending Libraries with its petition is making sure that these library issues are attended to.

Saturday, March 16, 2013
Read All About It: Library System Burglars Are Getting Inside Help - AND - The Mystery Of The Brooklyn Heights Association

http://noticingnewyork.blogspot.com/2013/03/read-all-about-it-library-system.html

Feb. 05 2014 05:45 PM
Jennifer from Manhattan

The city should not be funding the destructive Central Library Plan. What is needed is updating and repairs to the Mid-Manhattan Library and the 42nd Street
Library, but not a sell-off of the Library's invaluable real estate and the removal of the historic and brilliantly designed stacks -- the books that were housed in those stacks have already been removed without public input or oversight. One is left to speculate on the motives of the Trustees, who are pushing so fervently such an impractical, expensive, drastic, and irreversible plan.

Feb. 05 2014 05:35 PM
Carol Krinsky from Manhattan

The NY Public Library did the public no favors by selling the five-story Donnell Library and replacing it with two levels of basement in a condo-hotel. The building developer is asking more money for one penthouse than the Library cleared for selling the whole site. There's a danger of repeating this folly if Mid-Manhattan is sold to bring about the functionally disastrous and financially wasteful Central Library Plan. We must trust our Comptroller to investigate deals of this kind and safeguard the public's interest.

Feb. 05 2014 05:34 PM
A Retired NYPL Librarian from Forest Hills, NY

Thanks for bringing up the crises confronting NYC's three public library systems and asking Comptroller Stringer about his forthcoming performance and financial audits.

Feb. 05 2014 05:28 PM
Viv R. from Brooklyn Heights

thank you Mr Stringer for auditing the dealings of the New York Public Library.

Please do not allow the trustees of NYPL as well as the trustees of Brooklyn Public Library to fail on their fiduciary obligation to protect this public asset. Instead they seem to be rushing with plans to either shrink the service, or in the case of BPL simply sell a public building to private developers.

While they use "glossy" language and promise great improvements to the libraries in the future, ultimately these deals only benefit real estate developers and other high-powered players, while short-changing citizens.

Please help save our libraries and the public buildings which house them.

Feb. 05 2014 05:26 PM
Marilyn Berkon from Brooklyn, ny

Thank you, Scott Stringer, for your plan to audit the three library systems. I hope that it is accomplished quickly since our libraries are at risk of destruction. The executives who head these systems are interested in selling them off to private real-estate developers who will tear them down and replace them with high-rise luxury condos. Greed is the motivating force, not necessity. These executives intentionally allow the libraries to fall into disrepair--faulty air-conditioning, for example-- and use such minor disrepair as an excuse to sell them to the developers! In addition, they exaggerate the costs of the repairs to the point of absurdity. The city budget would have no problem accommodating the libraries with truly necessary funds. Far more expensive for the city would be the burden of a population that had no libraries, or libraries terribly diminished in size. As a former teacher, I know that libraries are essential to our education. I know, too, that through education we achieve equality. If we want a thriving city, we will need the kind of people who can make it grow. These are educated people who contribute to it with all they have learned, using all the advantages that this city can offer. Please save our libraries.

Feb. 05 2014 05:04 PM
ernesto from vermont

re: CGI & NYC's 311:

How interesting. CGI is also the contractor for Vermont's abysmal roll-out of Health Care Exchange, as well as for the US Exchange & that of several other states (I believe.)

The state $5.1 million in penalties for missed deadlines allowed by the contract. It’s unclear what might happen if CGI walked away from the contract without completing the work.the maximum

There is a "demonstrated intent to complete" clause in the contract with CGI.
Don't these guys ever smarten up--?

Feb. 05 2014 10:43 AM
Peckstiff

Scott,
Please help the mayor cut new deals with the unions that give them all raise increases, but NOT back pay.
Thanks

Feb. 05 2014 10:39 AM
Dona from Manhattan

Brian: Please ask Scott Stinger why he isn't auditing the New York Public Library's Central Library Plan immediately? The trustees are trying to rush through a secretive scheme that, to judge from the little that has been made public, will drastically limit the usability of the Central Library for researchers by gutting the existing book storage instead of updating it and cramming millions of circulating-library users into the redesigned space, which is too small for that purpose. Since updating and renovating both would be far cheaper, there seems reason to think that selling the huge Mid-Manhattan circulating library is intended to indirectly benefit some of the real estate moguls on the board. Comptroller Stringer should investigate this wasteful, impractical, short-sighted plan at once.

Feb. 05 2014 10:06 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.