Jun 17, 2012
With An Eye on the Mayorship
NYC Comptroller John Liu met a group of Jewish officials, but an aide told COLlive it's not about the 2013 mayoral race.
By COLlive reporter
New York City Comptroller John Liu invited a large group of officials from Jewish communities and organizations to his office last week, and opened with an unexpected line.
"We read in the Parsha..." he began to the sheer surprise of the audience, and went on to speak of the special role of the Levi'im in communal life.
Liu then introduced three members of his staff, who all happen to be frum Jews: Simcha Felder, Deputy Comptroller for Budget and Accountancy; Ari Hofnung, Deputy Comptroller for Public Affairs; and Pinny Hikind, of the Department of Public Affairs.
Representatives of Satmar, Pupa, Agudath Israel, Met Council, JCRC, Chaim Berlin Yeshiva, Shomrim of Flatbush/Marine Park, and the community councils of Boro Park, Washington Heights, Crown Heights, Flatbush, Bensonhurst and Madison were present.
The Crown Heights delegation included Rabbi Shea Hecht of the NCFJE organization, Eli Cohen and Chanina Sperlin of the community council and Eli Slavin, a local aide to Rep. Yvette Clarke.
But Hikind told COLlive.com the June 11 meeting was not connected to the 2013 mayoral race which Liu is said to have been eying.
It was an informal discussion on ways to improve life in the City, explained Hikind, who worked for the former Comptroller Bill Thompson and aided his failed 2009 mayoral run against Michael Bloomberg.
Hikind, brother of Assemblyman Dov Hikind, said Liu is "an amazing kind of person. Dedicated, committed and compassionate."
When he travels with Liu in frum communities, Pinny Hikind said, people ask "which Yeshiva did Mr. Liu go to" because he's well versed in the lingo of the Chosen People.
Asked about his boss's mayoral ambitions, Hikind said he will not comment, only saying, "I'm there to guide him with whatever he needs."
The Comptroller's office is responsible for monitoring waste in the operation of New York City, for reviewing all City contracts and for investing City funds. One of the investment decisions that Liu said he is proud of is the way that New York City invests in Israel, where he visited in September 2010.
"He made clear that it was a government meeting, not a political one," said Eli Cohen, Executive Director of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council.
Cohen said he and Sperlin spoke to Liu about about health insurance for employees of Shalom Center, the senior agency on Albany Avenue which has been downsized due to limited funding.