Updated 02/16/2012 06:47 PM
Scandal-Marred Comptroller Promotes Tax, Pension Reform In State Of The City Speech
City Comptroller John Liu pushed job creation and tax and pension reform in his State of the City address in Manhattan Thursday morning, and while some observers say the speech was meant to enhance his potential run for mayor, his campaign contributions are still subject to a widening federal investigation. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
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There were plenty of distractions during Comptroller John Liu’s first State of the City address Thursday—gospel choirs and lion dancers included—but the speech itself may have been a distraction from a federal investigation into his campaign account.
"You can expect me and my office to vigorously discharge our duties, expect us to be objective and diligent, and expect us to defy conventional thinking and past practice when we feel it necessary," said Liu.
He offered a number of proposals to appeal to low income or middle class New Yorkers. For example, he called for lowering taxes for joint filers making less than $500,000, and he wants to create a new retirement fund for private employers and employees to invest in.
Liu said the city should fast-track $2 billion worth of capital project to create jobs.
"Economic recovery is not our only objective. So is our economic equality," said Liu.
His speech is the first of its kind for a city comptroller in recent memory.
It also came a day after a Liu fundraiser was indicted for wire fraud.
The fundraiser, Xing Wu Pan, allegedly tried to get over the limit campaign contributions to Liu through straw donors.
The scandal has cast a shadow over the comptroller. Some attendees on Thursday still said Liu got his point across.
"It was really in tune with what is happening in our homes, in our neighborhoods and in our schools, and I thought that was very good. He defined the problem very well," said Lillian Roberts of District Council 37.
"I think he wanted to remind people of what he has been able to do as comptroller, what his abilities are and what his skill set is," said Queens City Councilman Leroy Comrie.
"I think this was a serious speech about the economic condition of the city, and I think many people are going to view it that way," said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.
It was a packed house at City College, and the comptroller's office said it did invite all of the city's elected officials. By NY1’s count, there were about a dozen present.