The September 29th runoff for NYC Comptroller pits John Liu, with a degree in mathematical physics and extensive financial experience, against David Yassky, a lawyer and career politician with no financial experience, whose financial abilities are so challeneged that in 2006 he threw $15,000 of taxpayer money to a fake non-profit that did nothing but pay salaries to a former City Councilman's family...after that former City Councilman endorsed Yassky, of course. Yassky also made the same kind of corrupt deal with a Ratner front organization, exchanging an endorsement for taxpayer funding. And, of course, there is the fact that Yassky endorsed Sampson for Brooklyn DA four years ago even though Sampson's primary reason for running was to get machine boss Clarence Norman off the hook (Clarenace Norman is now in prison, of course, despite Sampson and Yassky's efforts). And remember that Yassky also voted to overturn term limits that the voters had approved TWICE, while John Liu voted to support the will of the voters.
But let's turn to a more pleasant subject: John Liu. Although, like Yassky, Liu is an ambitious politician and hence not always known for perfectly up front speaking, my personal discussions with him and Yassky have shown that Liu is much more upfront and honest than Yassky. And I think this comes through in the endorsement competition since Liu is overwhelmingly getting the top endorsements (NY Times aside). Here is a sampling of people and organizations who have endorsed John Liu for Comptroller, with quotes where available. I should note I may have been the first person in the city to endorse Liu for Comptroller! Since then he has gathered a broad coalition of people supporting him, from firefighters to teachers to most of the LGBT organizations in the city to the UAW, etc. etc. etc. Here's just a sampling:
Queens City Councilman David Weprin:
"I have decided to put my support behind John Liu's candidacy, because we are similar in many ways. We both fought to protect the rights of New York City voters during the fight to extend term limits without a referendum; we felt that any change to term limits had to be done via referendum, as it had been the case in two prior referendums. More importantly, John and I both have comprehensive finance experience. We are in tough economic times, and this City needs someone managing and auditing the City's finances with an understanding of both public and private sector finance. We need a Comptroller who is ready to hit the ground running - there is no room for a learning curve," Councilman Weprin said.
Noting that John Liu has had a distinguished career in the City Council, Councilman Weprin continued that Liu's "finance experience and innovative ideas combined will pave the road to a prosperous City as we move on to economic recovery."
(Note: David Weprin was the only other Comptroller candidate other than John Liu who had financial experiencea)
Uniformed Firefighters Association
Steve Cassidy, UFA President said, "John Liu has demonstrated his leadership as a member of the City Council, supporting firefighter and public safety issues and has a background in finance as an actuary. He fought to halt the efforts in 2003 and 2009 to close our community firehouses and reduce fire company staffing to unsafe levels. John Liu fully understands that while budgetary priorities must be made in the city, public safety must be at the forefront."
"We are here today because we believe that John Liu is the candidate that fills the duties of Comptroller of the City of New York and can be an advocate for all New Yorkers," concluded Mr. Cassidy.
Communications Workers of America - District 1
"The Communications Workers of America - District 1 endorses John Liu, who has walked our picket lines and supported working people as an advocate and as a councilmember. John Liu is unafraid to take on the tough fights, whether it's the Mayor or the MTA. He has the practical knowledge of finance for the job - and he understands that New York City's Comptroller should use the pension fund to benefit New Yorkers through more affordable housing, economic development and living wage jobs," said Chris Shelton, Vice President for CWA District 1, which represents 35,000 members living and working in New York City.
"Our city is unfortunately becoming more of a place for only the very rich, with the rest of us left behind. We should not allow the city we love to be transformed into a playground for the elite. We need a Comptroller who will fight for working people, especially in tough economic times - and that's why CWA District 1 is endorsing John Liu. We will educate our members about John Liu's record of success and urge them to vote for him," concluded Shelton.
United Federation of Teachers
"John's vision, strong leadership skills and fiscal know-how make him the best candidate in this race in a field of very strong contenders," said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. "Those attributes will be crucial during this time of economic uncertainty. The enormity of the challenges ahead requires someone who can bring people together and find smart and responsible solutions. John has proven that he can and will be that person.
"John is committed to strong public school communities and has had a solid record on education issues throughout his distinguished career," continued Mulgrew. "He recognizes the importance of oversight, transparency and fiscal responsibility, and has never been afraid to take on the Department of Education or City Hall. John also steadfastly supports and defends working families, and has been a forceful voice in the fight to protect important safety-net services from devastating budget cuts. Once he is elected, New Yorkers can count on Liu to be a relentless and dedicated public servant who will work hard on their behalf."
"It is my pleasure to announce on behalf of the more than 120,000 working men and women in the Teamsters Joint Council 16, our endorsement of Councilman John Liu for New York City Comptroller," said Teamsters President George Miranda. "Over the past eight years, as a Councilman and Chair of the Transportation Committee, he has consistently backed the interests of working people. John's financial experience will make him a fine Comptroller, but his passion for public service will make him the people's watchdog in an era of economic uncertainty. We look forward to doing all we can to make sure that John becomes New York's next Comptroller."
Gay City News
We are impressed by the commitment of one candidate to go further. "I don't see the comptroller as a bureaucratic position," Liu said in a recent Gay City News interview. "It absolutely can be and should be an office as agent of change." That posture is what leads us to endorse John Liu, who has amply demonstrated his follow-through in his eight years on the City Council. Last year, as the Council acquiesced to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's request to extend term limits, Liu took a principled stand in opposition. In a body where bucking the powerful office of speaker carries political risks, he bit the bullet, and says, "I haven't felt any changes in my role in the budget process."
"It would be fair to say that my background is one of being excluded, whether blatantly or de facto," he said of his childhood in Flushing as an immigrant from Taiwan. The first Asian American elected to any legislative position in New York City, Liu has been a stalwart friend and highly visible ally of the LGBT community. That record lends substantial credibility to his pledge to "shatter all the records" in using New York City's substantial pension investments as a tool to nudge corporate America toward fair workplace and marketplace practices for the LGBT community.
Manhattan City Councilmember Rosie Mendez
"John has been a great ally on the Council, working closely with me to preserve affordable housing, public education and mass transit," Councilmember Mendez said. "As Comptroller, John will provide outstanding leadership for all New Yorkers."
Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette Clarke:
"Over the years, I have watched John Liu take
a courageous stand on issues that matter most to the people in my district and in disaffected communities throughout New York City. John is a selfless leader. He is a candidate for New York's future - someone who
will build coalitions across the City, one borough at a time, and represent the interest of the people, not his own personal interest. And, John's training and fiscal experience well-positions him well to lead our city
forward in these tough economic times."
Brooklyn Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez
"John, with his extensive fiscal management experience at Pricewaterhouse and his strong commitment to serve all New Yorkers, is the best candidate for Comptroller," said Congressmember Nydia Velázquez. "In this economic crisis, we need a Comptroller who can improve efficiencies in our government and agencies and save taxpayers' money. We need a Comptroller who will be prudent with our pension funds and invest wisely. John Liu is the best person for the job."
Brooklyn Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries:
Assemblymember Jeffries, who represents the 57 AD, said: "During his time in the Council and as Chair of the Transportation Committee, John has had a proven record of standing up for working families, middle class residents and senior citizens who live throughout New York City. I plan to do all I can to help elect John as Comptroller. I have no doubt that he will continue to be a strong champion for all New Yorkers."
Liu has a five-point plan in his quest for this position. Liu proposes to diversify the comptroller's investment portfolio by going back to basic portfolio management of stocks and bonds. He wants to bolster diversification of the city's economy by expanding opportunities for WMBEs (women and minority business enterprises) and emerging industries. Liu also wants to support a more graduated income tax for city residents based upon wealth. The Industrial Development Agency that oversees small business development in the city is also in need of reform and Liu believes that the comptroller should have a greater role in this agency's operations. And finally, he believes in using the comnptroller's audit bureau to review the city's business development programs, including the Department of Small Business' services.
This is just where Liu wants to begin. He sees a strong future for this city and wants to make sure that all New Yorkers are part of the success that can be achieved. This is why the New York Amsterdam News endorses John Liu in the Democratic primary for comptroller of the City of New York.
El Nuevo Caribe Democratic Club of El Barrio/East Harlem
Members of Nuevo Caribe, the oldest democratic club in New York, came together to announce their support for John Liu for City Comptroller. Club President Mr. Hector Santana hailed Liu as a strong advocate for all communities and the right leader for New York's future.
504 Democrats (disabled rights)
"The leadership and members of the 504 Democratic Club are proud to stand with our candidate for City Comptroller, John Liu," said Edith Prentiss, President of the 504 Democratic Club. "From Access-a-Ride to access in subway stations, he has been a champion for increasing accessibility in New York City. He has earned our endorsement with his strong commitment to our issues, his policy platforms and clear vision for the office. He has pledged to audit existing and future developments to ensure that promises made by the City are kept, especially with regard to compliance with ADA requirements, and that existing developments will meet their obligations where incentives were allowed in exchange for accommodations for PWDs, public amenities, affordable housing, or other community-minded provisions. We are confident that prioritizing accessibility issues, especially in public transit infrastructure like escalators and elevators, is more than just campaign rhetoric from Liu--it's a promise."
Lower East Side Democratic Club
"John Liu has the fiscal management experience and would be a huge asset as Comptroller to manage our pension funds. Our members have long appreciated John's integrity and leadership in fighting against racism, sexism and bias of any kind. He has always stood with us as we fought for fairness and justice for immigrant rights, job protection for working men and women, and expand opportunities for small businesses," said John Quinn of the Lower East Side Democratic Club of Manhattan. "John understands the needs of the middle class as they seek to keep more of their hard earned dollars in their pockets. He would ensure that the billions in stimulus money would be used fairly to create and keep jobs in New York City. We are proud to support him."
United Democratic Organization in Lower Manhattan
Mrs. Virginia Kee, President Emeritus of United Democratic Organization in Lower Manhattan, stated, "We are so very proud of John. His story is similar to that of many immigrants - one full of determination, courage and desire to succeed. John's leadership has had such a positive influence on our community. We will demonstrate our commitment to John by coming out in record numbers for him for Comptroller."
Northern Manhattan Democrats For Change Club
On-hand for the announcement were President Rolando Cespedes, District Leader Maria Morillo, State County Committeeman Ricardo Ureña and members of the club.
"John's career in public service has been dedicated to advocating for the rights of the people in this city without a strong voice, and we know as Comptroller, he will continue to help level the playing field for the hard-working men and women of this City," said Mr. Cespedes.
Democratic Organization of Richmond County
"After consideration of all candidates, John Liu stands as a true reformer and leader and will make a great Comptroller. Moreover, John has the knowledge of issues particularly important to Islanders, ranging from transportation to job creation, and we can count on him to be a champion for our borough," said Gary Lane, President of The Democratic Organization of Richmond County.
The Democratic Organization of Richmond County is an important progressive political organization in the 13th Congressional district, which encompasses Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Staten Island.
Also endorsing John Liu:
State Senator Velmanette Montgomery
State Senator Diane Savino
American Heritage Democratic Club
United Progressive Democratic Club
New Visions Democratic Club
United Auto Workers
National Association of Letter Carriers
Rosa Parks Democrats
Sojourner Truth Democratic Club
Lambda Independent Democrats
Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens
Out People of Color Political Action Club
Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats
Barack Obama Democratic Club of Upper Manhattan
East Harlem United Democrats
West Harlem Independent Democrats
East Side Democratic Club
Gramercy Stuyvesant Independent Democrats
Village Independent Democrats
Village Reform Democratic Club
Staten Island Democratic Association