NYC Comptroller John Liu is considered one of the leading candidates for the Democratic Party nomination for mayor in 2013. However, the strategy he has chosen to advance himself just may be what ultimately disqualifies him for many New Yorkers.
As the first Asian-American elected to the NYC Council, Liu seemed full of promise. But after eight years in the council, the only thing he seemed to develop was a desire for higher Office.
When the former Comptroller, Bill Thompson, decided not to take advantage of Bloomberg’s overturning of term limits to run for a third term, as most electeds did, and instead run for mayor, Liu saw a rare opportunity to run for the open Comptroller seat with limited competition.
He did so by aggressively courting the support of the big labor bosses, and walked away with almost all of their endorsements. For the union power players, it turned out to be a great investment. Liu has been a shameless shill for the unions since getting elected, completely ignoring the mandate of his office.
The Comptroller is supposed to act as a watchdog to manage city expenses and debt, in addition to overseeing the pension fund to maximize its investment returns, which also minimizes city expenses. Instead of fulfilling his mandate, Liu has taken every opportunity to advance the interests of the union bosses, acting against the best interests of the city and the taxpayers. Some of Liu’s most shameless acts include:
• Setting a prevailing wage for city contracted movers at $39/hour, twice the federal rate and three times the private sector rate. This was so outrageous it was excoriated by a Justice of the NYS Supreme Court, saying it was ridiculously tilted towards the unions.
• Bashing a recent report on pension reform, even before it was issued, advancing the union’s argument that city pensions are not overly generous and instead tried to scapegoat market performance.
• With no jurisdiction he intervened in a labor dispute at Brookdale Hospital, insisting the managers resign.
• Issuing a sham report insisting that city workers were paid LESS than their private sector counterparts, again in an effort to protect the pension system.
Liu’s efforts to prove his fealty to the unions included his making an outrageous claim during the 2009 campaign of having worked in a sweatshop at the age of seven, a claim that left his own family speechless. John Liu’s ambition has caused him to abandon the job NYC voters elected him to do, to resist the efforts of special interests and union bigwigs while protecting the financial interests of the people of the city. As long as he purports to be nothing more than a puppet for union bosses, he does not deserve higher office.
Robert Hornak is a Queens-based political consultant, blogger, and an active member of the Queens Republican Party.