Weprin on Slush-Fund Blame, Term Limits

In an appearance last night on the Perez Notes radio show, Council finance committee chair (and comptroller candidate) David Weprin discussed David Paterson’s speech on the budget, congestion pricing and development in the city.

Perez also brought up the Council slush fund incident, which Weprin was quick to characterize as a minor blip in the face of a roughly $60 billion budget.

“I’m not proud of these scandals or these misappropriations of some small amount of money in a very large budget, but in the end I think the process is stronger for it, and we’re all better off for all the scrutiny that came out of this,” he said.

When Perez asked Weprin about who dropped the ball, Weprin responded noncommittally. These “fictitious groups,” Weprin said, never came before his committee or the Council as a whole – it was merely the work of a “couple of staff people.”

“I wouldn’t place blame on any one person. You could place blame everywhere, you could place blame nowhere.”

This is somewhat different from what Weprin told Azi just a few months ago, when the councilman blamed the Office of Management and Budget.

Repeatedly pointing to his experience in the world of finance, Weprin said that he didn’t think that the comptroller arguments of fellow councilmembers David Yassky and Melinda Katz would prove to be as strong as his.

“Of all the five candidates that have indicated an interest in running for comptroller, I’m the only one that has that background,” he said. “Look, I don’t think people choose their elected officials based on race or sex or ethnic background. I think they basically do it on qualification. I’m uniquely qualified to be comptroller.”

He declined to name notable campaign endorsements, except for one: his brother, Assemblyman Mark Weprin.

And, in a semi-ironic moment, Weprin expressed his personal distaste for term limits, but said he would defend New Yorkers’ choice to keep them. Weprin’s seat on the Council opened up because of a term-limited official, and current Comptroller Bill Thompson is term-limited, as well.

“I think it would be inappropriate, even though legally we could do it, for the City Council to overturn the will of the people. … Even though I’m against term limits, I am committed to vote against any legislative proposal to overturn what the voters did by referendum. But I would support a new referendum … to overturn term limits.”

Weprin on Slush-Fund Blame, Term Limits