NYC Comptroller Scott String invited Southeast Queens residents to a town hall. “It is your night to ask questions,” he said to those who were gathered.
It was an evening in which the answers to most questions were “My office will get back to you”. This was not necessarily because the Comptroller did not have an answer per se, but more so due to the fact that questions were wide ranging and may not have applied directly to the function of the Comptroller’s office.
The financial topic the Comptroller was most asked about that evening was Minority and Women Owned Business (M/WBE) participation. Glenn Greenidge, Supthin Boulevard Business Improvement District’s Executive Director, proposed support for M/WBE by means of receiving bids for city contracts and asked if there needed to be a tag team and or task force on the issue. The Comptroller was open to the suggestion and gave a history of the city’s dismal participation and low grades for city agencies in terms of their M/WBE support. Stringer thought using the pension fund was a good means to push for diversity participation.
Two business owners shared their challenges with gaining city contracts and their M/WBE certification. “I’m not getting contracts,” said Allan Pope, the owner of CPA Accounting firm. There was even a follow up question after the town hall by a business woman who doubted the necessity of acquiring an M/WBE status if there were no contracts. Both business representatives mentioned having contacted the Comptroller’s office prior to that night’s meeting.
Ongoing efforts at making Rockaway resilience was the other financial question put to the Comptroller. The concern was connecting the remaining funds available for the necessary upgrades that still needed to be addressed along the bay side. “Why are we fighting over heated bathrooms and doggie parks,” asked Deborah Star Reed from Rockaway Bay Coastal Association.
Here is a summary of the other questions asked at the forum.
-Can anything be done about homeowners bearing the brunt of costs related to the flooding in Southeast Queens?
-Can we examine the level of pay for home health care attendants?
-Can we have an indoor track? What about upgrades to Roy Wilkins Park?
-As a sanctuary city will there be a withholding of sending funds to the Federal Government?
-Can we examine Health and Hospitals outsourcing of lab tests when there are other options available?
-Can we have more information about a J51 tax exemption and abatement for Rochdale Village and follow up meetings?
-Why do we have an unfair and disproportionate share of homeless shelters in Southeast Queens?
-Can there be day programs for Autistic children in Indian communities?
-Can something be done about the level of funding for preschools?
-Why does a visit to the Emergency room last for hours?
-Can we have shop and home economics courses return to the schools.
-Women who wear the hijab have been frightened and have begun wearing hats. What is your stance on hate crimes?
-What can be done about the flooding on Brookville Boulevard?
-Can there be oversight of (Administration for Children’s Services)?
The town hall took place on Thursday, January 26 at the Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center.