Spitzer Draws on NYCHA Residents Support

By Kristen Meriwether
Kristen Meriwether
Kristen Meriwether
Journalist
August 21, 2013 Updated: August 21, 2013

NEW YORK—A day before the first officially sanctioned live city comptroller’s debate, Eliot Spitzer took his campaign to the Frederick Douglass Houses on the Upper West Side on Aug. 21.

Spitzer took a tour of the houses with Jane Wisdom, the president of Douglass Houses, who expressed dismay over a backlog of repairs at the affordable housing complex. Wisdom pointed out issues with the elevator in particular, which she said constantly had problems.

Wisdom also spoke about the security cameras, which she claims were supposed to be installed in January, but are not expected now until November.

Spitzer took one look at the ceiling, and, noticing no wiring coming from the ceiling, said: “That’s not going to be done by November. That’s not the way construction works.”

Spitzer finished his tour in a courtyard to a cheering crowd of about 15 supporters who shouted his name, vowing their support.

“I am supporting Eliot [Spitzer] with all of my heart because the current borough president has done nothing for Douglass Housing,” said Carmen Quinones, a resident and activist, referring to Spitzer’s opponent Scott Stringer. “If he hasn’t done anything as borough president, he is not going to do anything as comptroller.”

Quinones went on to express her dismay at the coverage Spitzer’s past transgressions had been getting in the media. Spitzer resigned as governor in 2008 after reports surfaced he was a regular customer of a prostitution ring.

“People need to look past whatever they are saying because I am quite sure they have all done it; they just haven’t gotten caught,” Quinones said.

Spitzer took the opportunity to criticize Stringer for being a part of giving Mayor Michael Bloomberg a third term, which he claims led to NYCHA housing being ignored.

Stringer’s office responded with a statement: “Scott Stringer began his career as a tenant organizer and has been an outspoken leader on issues impacting 700,000  residents of NYCHA housing. Whether it was funding needed security cameras,  securing half a billion dollars in federal dollars to fix elevators, or advancing a reform plan for NYCHA’s governance.  It’s nice that 20 days before an election, Eliot Spitzer has woken up to the needs of public housing residents.”

“This is a consequence of a third term that would not have happened if my opponent had not been a part of the political establishment that took an easy path,” Spitzer said. “This is a matter of simple management, paying attention, and doing your job.”

Spitzer touted his record as the state’s attorney general, and his short tenure as governor. Both offices wield considerable power, unlike the Office of Comptroller. As comptroller, he would not have direct oversight of NYCHA, or its funding, but could run audits of city agencies, a method he says he is ready to use if elected.

“It is not a matter of counting the money, it’s making the money count,” Spitzer said. “When you look through these housing developments, there is a lot that can be done with the money that is there. It is a matter of putting your shoulder to the grindstone every day and managing.”