Stringer fields ideas and grievances
About 60 people attended an Upper West Side town hall where the city comptroller took questions for more than two hours
Housing and transportation issues were the main areas of concern at a town hall with New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer at the Goddard Riverside Community Center on April 6.
“Tonight is a very special night to me because, in a lot of ways, coming home,” Stringer said. “Since I became comptroller, our work has expanded to the whole city. So I’ve been to communities all over the city but there’s nothing like having a town hall on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.”
In his opening remarks, Stringer joked about the resilience of those who attend Upper West Side town halls.
“When it was pouring rain, some of the folks on the staff who aren’t West Sider-types, said to me, ‘Well, I guess that’s it; no one’s coming,” Stringer said, to laughs from the roughly 60 people who showed up. “There is no better training ground than the Upper West Side.”
The meeting ran from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. and had an open format, with residents with concerns lining up by microphones to ask questions. More than a dozen people asked questions before time ran out. While Stringer mostly addressed each question on his own, several city officials were on hand to answer questions on specific issues and meet with residents at the end of the event.
One resident, a teacher at P.S. 191 who had been keeping a student with her while the student’s mother waits for an apartment in public housing, came to advocate for the family.
“I’m his teacher; he stays with me so he doesn’t miss school,” she said. “I want to know what it takes for her to get an apartment so can continue at P.S. 191?”
In response, Stringer told her, “Right now, as you know, the real affordable housing crisis is putting a lot of people at risk, which is why we have a 60,000-person homeless crisis – half of the people who are in shelter children, like the young man here,” Stringer said. “I’ve been critical of the administration when they come up with a plan to eradicate homelessness and the best they can tell us is they’ll reduce homelessness by 2,500 individuals by the next five years, which is a joke.”
Stringer assured the resident his staff would locate where the student’s mother was on the list and do what they could to make sure he could stay at his school.
Occupational therapist Paul Agostini, who works with the disabled, suggested Stringer look into platforms that have accessible entrances onto subway trains for those in wheelchairs.
One woman asked that Citi Bike use be audited, claiming the bikes in many areas were largely unused and took up numerous parking spaces.
“Is anyone monitoring Citi Bike?” she asked.
Stringer said he supported a bike network in the city but that he intended to look at Citi Bike in a future audit to determine where the bikes are most needed and where they aren’t.
Prior to taking questions, Stringer highlighted the work the comptroller’s office has done to reform the boards of companies in which the city’s pension fund is invested.
“These corporate boards suffer from groupthink because, basically, you have the same guys who went to the same schools in Connecticut who have the same view of life – nothing wrong with that, they just have one set of life experiences,” Stringer said. “These corporate boards are just too male, they’re too pale – this I hate, but it’s true –- they’re too stale. And they look like me but with better suits.”
Lastly, Stringer touched on issues concerning President Donald Trump and the federal government.
“When they come for immigrants, as they are coming, we not only have to push back, fight back and demonstrate but we also have to make an argument,” Stringer said. “And I just want to let you know that immigrants in this city, from 150 different countries, generate $100 billion of income every year in New York and pay billions of dollars of taxes, own 83,000 businesses — in the medical field, the entertainment field — I mean, this country could not run without the immigrants that come here and are coming.”
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