For the first time, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is suing City Comptroller John Liu over rejecting a contract for two homeless shelters, and after City Hall officials said the comptroller is politically motivated, Liu fired back Monday. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
A homeless shelter on the Upper West Side is still open, despite the fact that almost three weeks ago, City Comptroller John Liu tossed out its $68 million contract with the city.
David Torres, who lives in the shelter, said, "There's a lot of people in there. We struggle, but we have to make ends meet.”
The shelter is run by the mayor's former homeless services commissioner.
"How many people are going to be sheltered as a result of this contract? That question, that very simple question, was not even answered," Liu said.
In return, the Bloomberg administration is suing the comptroller. The mayor wants to force Liu to approve the contract.
"The contract with this particular vendor for two homeless shelters is flawed," Liu said.
Homeless Services Commissioner Michele Ovesey countered, "There are absolutely no grounds for rejecting the contracts."
The city's charter details when a comptroller can reject a contract, specifically saying if there is "possible corruption." Liu says that gives him a lot of leeway.
"It's a possibility in every contract," Liu said.
Officials at the comptroller's office said the contract for the homeless shelter was not the only one they rejected. Out of the 20,000 contracts they receive every year, about 500 are rejected for technical reasons.
But Bloomberg administration officials said Liu's mayoral campaign is seeping into his current job, arguing the comptroller is rejecting contracts not on substance, but for politics.
"This was playing politics and really dangerously so, because we might be forced to close the shelter if we don't receive funds to pay the operator," Ovesey said.
"Everything is political to this administration if you don't agree with them 100 percent of the time," Liu said.
Regardless, the comptroller's move may be get him some votes on the Upper West Side.
"I say three cheers for Liu for rejecting the contract because I do think the contract was ridiculous," said one neighborhood resident.
Those staying in the shelter were not as impressed.
"Whatever it is they are trying to rectify, I hope in some fashion it gets fixed, and I hope it's for us and not against us," Torres said.