Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Items From Comptroller John Liu


 City Comptroller John C. Liu today cast the lone “no” vote on the Industrial Development Agency’s $127 million subsidy for Fresh Direct, which received final authorization. He stated the following:
“This was a bad idea when it was first voted on a year ago, and it’s an even worse one today. New York City needs jobs, particularly in the Bronx, but this is a wasteful way to do business that picks taxpayers’ pockets in order to reward fat cats.
“During the Bloomberg Administration, the Economic Development Corporation has doled out hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate welfare to companies that fail to deliver on their promise of jobs for New Yorkers, and we have no reason to believe this will be any different.
“Even if the EDC’s dubious projections turn out to be accurate, the Fresh Direct deal will go down as yet another Bloomberg big business boondoggle. Spending roughly $127 million to create 964 new jobs—$131,397 per job—just doesn’t make economic sense.


A “perverse incentive” enacted together with the minimum-wage increase in the New York State budget could jeopardize the pay or even the jobs of low-wage workers in New York City, a report released by City Comptroller John C. Liu today is warning. Comptroller Liu renewed his call to implement an $11.50-per-hour minimum wage in New York City, which would make employers ineligible for this harmful tax credit and help many more workers make ends meet in the most expensive major city in the nation.

“State lawmakers did their best to craft a minimum-wage hike that would help workers in Rochester and Buffalo, but a tax credit for employers they included as part of that deal may actually harm low-wage New York City workers,” Comptroller Liu said. “That’s yet another good reason why we need to raise the New York City minimum wage to $11.50 an hour. Not to mention that New York City is just so much more expensive to live in.”

Liu’s report comes out as the United States marked the fourth anniversary of the last rise in the federal minimum wage, which activists have named as a “National Day of Action to Raise Up America,” calling on elected officials and employers to raise wages for the nation’s lowest-paid workers.

The “Minimum Wage Reimbursement Credit” included in the New York State budget gives businesses tax credits if they hire young workers, but employers only get the credit if they pay their workers exactly the minimum wage and not a penny more. Employers would receive a $1.35-per-hour tax credit for each worker between the ages of 16 and 19 earning no more than the minimum wage of $9.00 per hour in 2016. This could jeopardize the jobs and wages of roughly 120,000 New York City workers making between $9.00 and $10.00 per hour, because the state would pay their employers to replace them with workers earning minimum wage.

“New York should be a city where working men and women can afford to make ends meet,” said Comptroller Liu. “If we are serious about helping families with children climb out of poverty, narrowing the wealth gap, and growing the middle class, we need to have the courage to pay all people a livable minimum wage of $11.50. Let’s not ignore the fact that the federal minimum wage created decades ago has not kept up with inflation; if it had, today’s federal minimum wage would be more than $10.50. Contrary to what many in corporate America would have us believe, sound economic research indicates that a New York City minimum wage of $11.50 will help, not hurt, the Big Apple’s economy.”


City Comptroller John C. Liu today called on the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to open its operations to the public as well as reject a plan to raise $750 million in a new bond issue, amid grave concerns over a deepening crisis that threatens the Authority’s finances and operations.

Formal comments were submitted earlier this week, with Liu raising key concerns at tonight’s NYCHA public hearing on its Annual Plan for Fiscal Year 2014.

Comptroller Liu’s full submission to NYCHA can be found at:

Comptroller Liu noted that there are even questions about the legitimacy of the current NYCHA board, given that Mayor Bloomberg has not yet appointed new board members as required by a new state law.

“The Mayor’s refusal to act is tantamount to vetoing legislators’ actions and demonstrates his contempt for the legislative process,” Comptroller Liu said. “In the meantime, it is unconscionable that NYCHA is holding just one public hearing in light of its fiscal woes, significant issues of crime and safety, and literally groundbreaking plans to offload 14 parcels of valuable land in Manhattan to be used for luxury housing.”

Comptroller Liu also questioned NYCHA’s plan for a new bond issue. “As it is, the Authority is sitting on about $700 million in unused capital funds and clearly lacks the capacity to spend the new funds it is seeking. NYCHA should postpone any new bonds until the new board has an opportunity to assess NYCHA’s financial condition. In order to restore public faith in its finances, NYCHA also should accept our longstanding invitation to join Checkbook NYC, our financial-transparency website.”


 With a deadline looming on the Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC)-CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS) contract negotiations that could cause service disruption, City Comptroller John C. Liu is offering his boardroom as a venue and his staff as facilitators in order to help the parties iron out their differences.

“More than a million New York City TWC customers may experience a blackout of CBS and Showtime beginning tomorrow morning if an agreement is not reached, barring them from watching their favorite television shows even as they continue to pay for the programming,” Comptroller Liu wrote in a letter Wednesday to Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corporation, and Glenn A. Britt, chairman and CEO of Time Warner Cable. “It is time to stop using the customers as leverage in these disputes.  TWC and CBS must come together now. My office stands ready to host or assist in facilitating a meeting of the parties in order to help resolve this dispute quickly and without disruption of service.”

Comptroller Liu sits on the New York City Franchise Concession and Review Committee, which authorizes the television franchise agreement between New York City and Time Warner Cable and provides TWC access to New York City customers.


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