Mayor Bill de Blasio is (unsurprisingly) siding with State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli after Gov. Andrew Cuomo dismissed the comptroller’s audits of his economic development programs as “opinions.”
Last week, Cuomo, who has feuded with the mayor at every turn, told the Observer that the comptroller’s scathing audits of his economic development programs were not valid given his background as a state assemblyman, despite the fact that he appointed DiNapoli to oversee the city’s homeless shelter system. When pressed on the matter again yesterday, he dismissed DiNapoli’s findings as opinions that are subject to debate.
The mayor said he has not seen the comptroller’s report but believes his word can be trusted: “I can tell you I know Tom DiNapoli really well,” he said.
“He’s a very serious public servant and he’s asking a question we asked ourselves all the time, that our economic development programs get the kind of bang for the buck that we hope they would,” de Blasio said at an unrelated press conference announcing $150 million in improvements at five large city parks this afternoon. “I think it’s a very valid question and obviously, the state comptroller should be respected.”
One audit found that the governor’s Excelsior jobs program gave large tax breaks to companies without properly corroborating their eligibility or productivity. Another concluded that a program meant to dispense power to struggling nonprofits and entrepreneurs at discounted rates made errors when evaluating applicants’ eligibility.
Cuomo, who had insisted homelessness in the city was getting worse as the mayor claimed progress, appointed DiNapoli to oversee shelters statewide and City Comptroller Scott Stringer to inspect the city’s shelters.
The governor also blasted President Barack Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development for claiming that New York mismanaged $22.4 million in hurricane relief funds from Washington, arguing that Inspector General David Motoya and his staff do not understand HUD rules.
The mayor said he is not privy to the facts but that the city and the state had similar experiences with the federal government over Hurricane Sandy relief.
“The city certainly has had the same experience as the state,” de Blasio continued. “The federal government burdened us with a very cumbersome approach to dealing with Sandy relief. But I don’t know the specifics so I can’t comment specifically.”