November 19, 2013
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – After spending 20-plus years in government, Comptroller-elect Scott Stringer is about to take on the biggest challenge of his long political career. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice graduate will now command a staff of 750 employees, and his budget as New York City’s official numbers-cruncher will be significantly larger than it was for the Manhattan Borough President’s Office.
But Stringer will need those resources to go after all the waste shielded until now, in secure corners of city government like the consultant-happy Department of Education.
Stringer won’t take office until January, but he’s already looking forward to taking a close, hard look at the Department of Education’s finances, as well as other complex city agencies including the New York City Housing Authority [NYCHA].
The city’s next comptroller says that he is “very inclined to do a top-to-bottom audit” of NYCHA’s suspect finances after an alliance of organized labor and New York representatives recently sounded the alarm about a reported $1 billion in federal aid going unused, as well as other issues of alleged mismanagement and divestment of public assets.
As Manhattan borough president, Stringer once issued a report detailing the sorry condition of far too many elevators operating – or not operating – inside NYCHA developments.
And as the comptroller succeeding John Liu, Stringer says he wants to cut the fat out of the city budget and pass the savings onto working men and women, help grow the middle class, prepare children the tomorrow’s challenges, and make sure the city’s pension system is sound.
In besting Elliot Spitzer at the polls, Stringer instantly became part of the progressive wave presently sweeping across New York City – a surge many members of the poor and working class are hoping will be as constructive as the foul winds fueling last year’s Hurricane Sandy were destructive.
“The voters actually support what we want to accomplish, so we will have a real shot at doing things,” Stinger says.
At the same time, the ever-astute politico cautions that reversing course after 20 years of Republicans mayoral rule won’t be accomplished by fiat – no matter how much many hard-pressed New Yorkers wish that were so.
“We can’t do everything at once,” Stinger says. “I think things have to happen in stages.”
For now, Stringer is deeply engrossed in the transition process and just mapping out a workable agenda for his first two months in office.
“Part of this is setting priorities,” the Washington Heights product says. “First, a new government has to form, and then we have to go through a robust transition process.”
With a solid foundation installed, however, the city’s next comptroller believes the way will have finally been made clear for a greater “agenda for change.”