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John Liu

The Empire

Let Linsanity reign! MSG, TWC reach deal -- pols react

Friday, February 17, 2012

Assemblywoman Grace Meng with Knicks phenom Jeremy Lin. (Courtesy of the Assemblywoman's office)

Govern Andrew Cuomo:

I applaud both Mr. Dolan and Mr. Britt and their companies. I thank them for being responsive to the needs of New Yorkers.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (a little more emphatic):

Our office has worked diligently with Time Warner Cable and MSG Networks over the last month to bring about a resolution to their dispute. We are pleased that both parties have reached an agreement that will finally allow Knicks, Rangers, and Sabres fans to enjoy the rest of this season’s games.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (showing considerably more spirit):

I want to thank the MSG-Network and Time Warner Cable for coming to a deal that will put the Knicks and the Rangers back on TV. Now, a million more New Yorkers will be able to go Linsane in the privacy of their own living room. I’m looking forward to watching the return of Carmelo Anthony for the Knicks and Henrik Lundqvist in goal for the Rangers.

Comptroller John Liu will, undoubtedly, be pleased.

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The Empire

Liu: I've done nothing wrong

Friday, February 17, 2012

Colby Hamilton / WNYC

A day after his first ever state of the city speech--seen by some as essentially a 2013 mayoral campaign event--Comptroller John Liu continued to defend his campaign against accusations of inappropriate fundraising practices.

"We have always conducted ourselves honestly and with the highest level of integrity," Liu said, appearing on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show. "At no time did my campaign act improperly in any way and I've done nothing wrong, and I've not been accused of doing anything wrong."

Oliver Pan, the Liu fundraiser accused of helping a wealthy donor funnel funds through straw donors, is expected to be arraigned today. Liu's campaign is currently under federal investigation for its fundraising practices as far back as 2009.

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WNYC News

Comptroller John Liu Quips: Jeremy Lin Could Give Me Tips on Getting Good Press

Friday, February 17, 2012

New York City’s Comptroller John Liu, the first Asian-American elected to citywide office, joked on Friday that he'd be willing to have Knicks star Jeremy Lin give him a few pointers on how to get good press.

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The Empire

Public Advocate de Blasio pushes city pension fund to invest more locally

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

One of the biggest arguments by defenders of the public pension system as it works now is the power the funds can wield to do good in the world. New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio would like to see the city’s fund do a little bit better.

De Blasio called on the city’s largest pension fund to expand its investment in local housing and infrastructure projects. According to a statement from his office, the Public Advocate—in his capacity as a trustee on the New York City Employee Retirement System (NYCERS)—has sent two resolutions to the NYCERS fund: one calling for an immediate investment of $350 million in “local affordable housing investment”, and another requesting the fund put together a plan for investing in local infrastructure by May.

“We are leaving resources on the table that we should be putting to work right here in the five boroughs,” de Blasio said in a statement. “This is a very real opportunity to do right by our bottom line as a pension fund and spur job creation at the same time.”

According to a monthly review of the fund conducted in November of last year, NYCERS was falling short of its target of investing 2 percent in local investments by about half (1.2 percent). According to deBlasio, simply meeting this target would allow the fund to invest the additional money now.

Comptroller John Liu’s spokesperson Mike Loughran said in a statement that this is currently one of the investment opportunities Liu is looking at.

“We continue to review a pipeline of potential [Economically Targeting Investments] ETI investments, the flow of which has been reduced by the recession. Since last summer, we have engaged in discussions with our Trustees, including the Public Advocate, about the issue of infrastructure investments and ETIs,” Loughran wrote, noting that Liu intends to address this issue in his State of the City speech on Thursday. “We commend our fellow Trustee and Public Advocate for his focus on this issue and look forward to working with him further."

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The Empire

Comptroller Liu in on the Giants' Super Bowl celebration

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Check out more of WNYC's coverage of the Giants' Super Bowl victory parade here.

Comptroller John Liu takes part in the Giants' Super Bowl parade. (Stephen Nesson / WNYC)

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The Empire

Comptroller Liu's prepared remarks at the executive budget hearing in Albany

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Comptroller Liu sees costs dropping in the future.

Courtesy of the comptroller's office/Paul Brumlik

Thank you Chairmen Farrell and DeFrancisco, and all the members of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee for this opportunity to speak today regarding the Governor’s Executive Budget proposal and the impact it will have on New York City’s finances.  I am joined here today by Jonathan Rosenberg, Executive Director for Budget at the New York City Comptroller’s Office.

At this time last year you were struggling to find ways to close a $10 billion budget gap.   To close such a large gap without doing irreparable harm to the citizens of our great state who rely on many state services for their health and well being was a significant undertaking. By reining in spending, the Governor and the legislature were able to correct the structural imbalance that had plagued New York State’s budget in previous years. You are to be commended.

A year ago I testified before you that New York City residents were more than willing to bear their share of the financial burden in order to right the State’s budgetary ship.  But I also noted that New York City residents should be treated equitably in comparison to our fellow state residents.  

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The Empire

Assemblywoman Meng on Being a Bundler for Liu

Friday, January 20, 2012

Assemblywoman Meng with US Senator Charles Schumer (Courtey of the Assemblywoman's office)

The New York City press corps waited excitedly for embattled Comptroller John Liu’s latest campaign finance report. On top of a sort of a schadenfreude-like desire to see just how bad Liu got hurt by his fundraising scandal, reporters also anticipated the list of other bundlersthe Comptroller had been so reticent to reveal.

They were rewarded this week when the semi-annual filings came due on January 17. Within hours the world saw the list of intermediaries, who “bundle” multiple donations together on behalf of a candidate. The infamous Pan, who is accused of trying to help an FBI agent posing as a wealthy donor to skirt campaign finance laws, was there among them.

And so was Queens Assemblywoman Grace Meng.

Seeing Meng’s name might have surprised some observers; it was the understandable but ultimately unfair negative association the term “bundler” has received, especially when connected with the Liu campaign.

“The issue is not that he used intermediaries, because intermediaries are built into the law. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have forms to register and such,” said political consultant Michael Tobman, who has worked with Meng since her 2008 primary. “The issue is who called, how much pressure, what was said, and where were the calls made.”

All the potential 2013 Democratic candidates use intermediaries. Council Speaker Christine Quinn actually has more listed in her campaign filings than John Liu. Even so, Meng’s name appearing in Liu’s filing stood out.

For those who know Meng’s history, the real surprise was that she was helping Liu at all.

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WNYC News

Asian American Political Aspirations Shaken By Liu Scandal

Thursday, January 19, 2012

An ongoing FBI investigation into campaign donations to New York City Comptroller John Liu has caused a reassessment of his candidacy for mayor among his strongest supporters.

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The Empire

Liu's fundraising slowdown is his rivals' gain in 2013 Mayoral race

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Colby Hamilton / WNYC

The city and state’s semi-annual campaign finance filings were due this week. In the city, the Mayoral candidates fiscal pictures were the primary focus. As Mirela Iverac reported for WNYC yesterday, City Council speaker Christine Quinn continued to dominate her potential rivals for the Democratic nod. The Speaker is now quickly approaching a point of inertia after becoming the first candidate to raise more than what the campaign finance spending limit during a primary would allow. Quinn’s haul over the last six months was more than $482,000.

But the real story here starts with John Liu, who observers were watching to see how much an impact the fundraising scandal has hurt his efforts. The answer, it seems, is significantly.

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WNYC News

Quinn Raises Maximum Funds for Primary

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn became the first presumptive mayoral candidate to raise the maximum amount of money that can be spent in the primaries.

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The Empire

Future mayor hopefuls (mostly) criticize Bloomberg's State of the City

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Colby Hamilton / WNYC

After Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s State of the City speech at Morris High School auditorium this afternoon, elected officials began giving their post-speech reaction on the floor of the emptying auditorium. The mayor’s hard-charging education plans, a new chance for developing the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx, and the Mayor’s support for a minimum wage increase were at the top of lawmaker’s minds.

Most of the likely mayoral candidates on hand lined up against the Mayor's educational plans. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was the exception.

“I think the mayor's five point educational plan is very aggressive,” said Quinn. Education dominated the speech, even as the tone of the Mayor’s speech also turned aggressive towards the teacher’s union. The Speaker went on to say that it's clear this will be a "signature issue over the next 12 months."

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio saw the Mayor’s aggressiveness towards teachers was more like picking a fight.

“A lot of the content he raised was worth looking at and talking about,” de Blasio said. “It’s right to talk about how we make evaluations better, how we make the tenure system better. But why not talk about doing it cooperatively?”

Comptroller John Liu also took issue with the Mayor’s tone towards teachers.

“It was apt that he spent such a large amount of time at the beginning talking about the challenges we still face in our public schools,” Liu said. “[It was] somewhat surprising he spent a good deal of time criticizing teachers and almost throwing down the gauntlet against our teachers.”

The mayor’s education comments weren’t the only hot topics after the speech. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said the Mayor’s support of a state proposal to increase the minimum wage was a step in the right direction.

“The minimum wage proposal is not enough to solve the problems of working families in New York City, but it's a good start,” Stringer said. The minimum wage support and the restart of plans for the Kingsbridge Armory left some with the impression the Mayor was undercutting arguments in the living wage fight. The Borough President said he hoped that wasn’t the case.

“I hope this is a larger strategy to give relief to working people in this city,” Stringer said. “There has to be much more of a concerted effort to deal with the fundamental issues impacting working people.”

Another Borough President, Bronx BP Ruben Diaz, Jr., who had been central to the living wage fight that scuttled the first Kingsbridge development plan, said he didn’t see, nor support, a Kingsbridge proposal that didn’t contain a living wage.

“If you're a developer and you know of the history of the Armory, are you really going to put in a proposal on this [request for proposal] without a living wage,” Diaz asked. “It probably wouldn't be the smartest thing to do."

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The Empire

De Blasio makes his move on living wage in New York City

Monday, December 19, 2011

Updated with additional statements below.

Colby Hamilton/WNYC

As the New York Times reported today, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has thrown his support behind the contentious living wage bill sitting stalled in the City Council. In a letter to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, de Blasio said the legislation was need because "we have not done enough to grow the prospects of all New Yorkers."

"Our city is in the midst of a prolonged economic crisis that has battered the middle class, driven down wages and led to unacceptably high rates of unemployment. Underlying these problems is a rising income inequality that threatens our social fabric and economic future," de Blasio said in the letter. "New York City must move aggressively to address rising income inequality—and I firmly believe that the Living Wage bill represents one of the most immediate and important steps our City can take to do this."

The move puts de Blasio on firm ground in the debate over the bill--and on the side of labor, whose backing he courts in the coming mayoral race--while further boxing in Speaker Quinn, who has not taken a position on the bill. However, the legislation cannot move to the floor without her consent, where it will likely pass. The Speaker has positioned herself as the candidate friendly to business interests in the city, which observers believe are pressuring her to keep the bill from becoming law.

Political consultant Michael Tobman, of the New York City-based firm Hudson TG, saw the letter reflecting three current political realities in the early stages of the 2013 mayoral battle.

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The Empire

Liu's job approval numbers plummet

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Liu's future political forecast looks cloudy. (Colby Hamilton / WNYC)

The fundraising controversy surrounding City Comptroller John Liu has taken its toll, according to a new Quinnipiac poll. Only 38 percent of those New York City voters polled gave Liu the thumbs up--that's down from his high of 57 percent back in May.

While Liu's standing in the 2013 field doesn't appear to have changed--he's always been pulling single-digit support--voter's sense of his qualifications as mayor are dismal. Among the three citywide(-ish--Quinn wasn't technically elected citywide) Democrats potentially running in 2013--Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, and Liu--46 percent of those polled said Liu would not make a good mayor. That's compared to 37 percent for Quinn and 22 percent for de Blasio.

“New York City Comptroller John Liu has been in the news a lot, in a bad way. All those negative stories about his fundraising have zapped his job-approval numbers,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in the release. “And voters say almost 2-1 that he would not be a good mayor.

“City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio have OK job approval ratings, but voters don’t seem enchanted with the prospect of either elected official as mayor."

But don't take this as a sure sign Liu's 2013 ambitions are dead in the water. Looking at his job approval number details, he's still managing to receive the majority of Black voters and a plurality of Hispanic voters' support. In other words, the multi-racial coalition, backed by labor (there's been no indication the labor-backed Working Families Party has thr5own him under the bus, despite his current spat with Teamster Local president Gregory Floyd), hasn't broken up--at least not in the polls.

Of course, both groups gave Speaker Quinn higher marks, just reinforcing her position as the front runner.

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WNYC News

Ex-MF Global Exec Abruptly Leaves City Post

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The former chief executive of MF Global Holdings Ltd. has abruptly left his job at the New York City comptroller's office. In a statement on Thursday, the city comptroller's office accepted the resignation of Kevin Davis, but stopped short of explaining the reason for his departure.

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The Empire

Embattled Liu aide abruptly quits

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Colby Hamilton / WNYC

From WNYC's newsroom:

The former chief executive of MF Global Holdings Ltd. has abruptly left his job at the New York City comptroller's office.

In a statement on Thursday, the city comptroller John Liu said he has accepted the resignation of Kevin Davis, who started work in September as head of commodities in the comptroller's Bureau of Asset Management.

“We have accepted Mr. Davis’s resignation," Liu said. "Chief Investment Officer Larry Schloss will be assuming Davis’s responsibilities.”

Read the rest of the piece here.

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The Empire

All five potential NYC Mayoral candidates laud the tax reform package

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Council Speaker Christine Quinn:

I praise Governor Cuomo and the leaders of the Senate and Assembly for joining together to forge a strong and, most importantly fair plan, that will help close the budget gap and put our state in a better financial position.

Comptroller John Liu:

I applaud Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Skelos, and Assembly Speaker Silver for their leadership on this important issue and look forward to reviewing the proposal further.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio:

By putting in place a fairer tax structure, Governor Cuomo and State legislative leaders have shown, in contrast to the gridlock in Washington, that by working together we can find solutions to the problems facing our state and nation.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer:

I am gratified that New York state lawmakers worked together and agreed on a plan to boost our economy, unlike those in Washington D.C. who continue to be paralyzed by political gridlock.

2009 Democratic Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson:

I applaud the Governor and the legislature for their vision and leadership in making sure our state's tax structure is appropriately adjusted to meet these difficult financial times and support New York's economic recovery.

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WNYC News

City Hires Ex-MF Global Exec to Help Manage Pensions

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The New York City’s Comptroller Office hired a former executive from MF Global to help manage the city’s pensions a month before the company led by ex-New Jersey  Governor Jon Corzine filed for bankruptcy in October.

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The Empire

Is Liu alone in Mayoral fundraising issues?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Crain's Insider this morning has an interesting piece up that looks at the practice of bundling among the likely 2013 Mayoral candidates. As you may recall, Comptroller John Liu has been in the crosshairs with editorial boards and reporters after the most recent campaign bundler--a person who recruits donors for a campaign--was arrested by the Feds for illegally funneling large sums into Liu's war chest.

But, as Crain's Insider reporters Jeremy Smerd and Shane Dixon Kavanaugh report, Liu is not alone. They take aim at former city Comptroller and 2009 Democratic Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio in particular for what they say are improbably low numbers of bundlers.

Campaign Finance Board filings show a mere nine bundlers who have raised just $38,825 of the nearly $3 million de Blasio has brought in during his past two campaigns. Thompson has reported 11 bundlers contributing $128,733 of the $6.5 million he's amassed in two runs for mayor.

In contrast, Council Speaker Chris Quinn has listed 107 bundlers contributing nearly $1.9 million. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's 114 reported bundlers have raised $994,363.

Political fundraisers and campaign finance experts question the number of intermediaries reported by de Blasio and Thompson. “It's just not possible,” said one who has worked on a number of citywide races. “To raise millions of dollars with so few bundlers—it's an impossible feat.”

De Blasio in particular appears to have under-reported his bundlers. According to the article, his campaign will be revising their filings, adding around 20 new bundlers. There has been no indication of malfeasance or illegal behavior by any of the other 2013 hopefuls' donors, but the reality is that the process of bundling--and the outsized cash it can create thanks to the city's generous public financing of campaigns--is now receiving much greater scrutiny than before.

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WNYC News

City Failed to Collect $9M in Hotel Taxes: Report

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Bloomberg Administration has failed to collect taxes from 92 hotels in the city to the tune of $9 million excluding fines and interest, according to an audit from the city comptroller's office.

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The Empire

A good scandal always needs some animation

Friday, November 18, 2011

Just in case the John Liu fundraising issue has you scratching your head.

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