Given his previous support for Mayor Bloomberg, it was no surprise that Brooklyn Democratic County Leader Vito Lopez went out of his way to stress his close relationship with Bill Thompson when introducing him to a community meeting in Brooklyn last Thursday.
Less than two weeks from the Democratic primary, Thompson was presented by Lopez, as a “personal friend” whom he had known in many capacities for 35 years.
Thompson’s speech was highly politicized, in particular going after Bloomberg on the issue of his plans for homes and meals for the elderly.
Thompson said he found it “frightening” and would be “a major mistake” if plans to close and consolidate a large number of the city’s senior centers went ahead. When the plans were announced last year, Thompson launched a petition against them and even urged seniors to complain.
The comptroller said he believes that if Bloomberg wins November’s election, those plans will return to the fore.
Continuing on the theme, Thompson also criticized plans to curb the Meals on Wheels scheme to seniors. He recalled being told by one senior that the frozen meals now being delivered were a fire hazard as, not having a microwave, he would have to put the cardboard container in the oven to heat it.
Before receiving audience questions, Thompson chose to focus his speech on housing and education.
Talking about the progress reports released by the Department of Education last week, which showed 97 percent of schools received an A or B, Thompson said he believed these to give a false impression of the state of New York City schools.
Thompson also weighed in on the recent battle in the State Senate over Bloomberg’s request to continue his control over New York City’s schools, stating his belief in the benefits of mayoral control.
It was on the subject of housing that Thompson was most impassioned, calling it “a crisis situation in New York.” The Comptroller said that the focus on luxury housing has to end.
“It has to be affordable,” he said. “It has to be for low, and moderate, and middle income people.”