NEW YORK. – Everyone wants to pay his share to help the City bail out of its current financial crisis, but the citizens of New York feel they are taken advantage of, said the NYC Comptroller William Thompson, speaking at an event organized by the Hellenic American Political Action Committee (HAPAC). Comptroller Thompson, a philhellene and possible candidate for mayor of New York, criticized Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policies, especially those that show insensitivity for the people, like ticketing for minor reasons.
He also rejected the anti-smoking laws because of their effect on city businesses.
“Personally I would do it at a different time,” he said.
According to Mr. Thompson, half of our budget gap was created because of 9/11. The city lost 140,000 jobs, and the federal government refuses to direct assistance to the city. At the same time, having a Republican governor and a Republican mayor was no help in this regard.
“Today it is tougher than it was in the ’70s. Because of the states being in a bad financial position, they are letting us tax ourselves. It took us 20 years to recover from the financial crisis in the 70s,” he said.
Comptroller Thompson also rejected the layoffs from the City.
“What we have learned from the past is with the layoffs, city services and quality of life shrink and crime increases.”
He also suggested that the new taxes imposed on New Yorkers should not be permanent.
Comptroller Thompson said that he remains optimistic about the recovery of New York’s economy. He suggested though that the City needs a smaller government, but a better-trained and prepared work force.
“That’s the future of New York City. A better trained, better paid, smaller and more productive work force.”
Before the speech, HAPAC’s Executive Director Archie Mavromatis, President John Catsimatidis, Angie Douris and board member Lena Varis, spoke about the need for all Greek-Americans to get involved in the political process, while the new web site of the organization was presented.
John Catsimatidis said that our community is at least 30 years behind the Jewish community in terms of political organization and involvement, although some progress has been made.
“Who would have imagined a Greek-American like myself would have hosted so many times the President of the United States?” Catsimatidis said.
He suggested that HAPAC be the starting point for future progress.
“Unless we can show big numbers, we can’t succeed,” Catsimatidis said.
Angie Douris paid tribute to her late husband, George Douris, HAPAC’s founder, and his dream for the Greek-American community to be appointed to political positions in the city administration.
“It is important for young people to get involved. We should educate them, groom them, make them part of us and create the future generation of Greek-American leaders,” Mrs. Douris said.
Lena Varis presented a plan to increase HAPAC’s membership, especially the youth. The first step, she explained, is to insure the young generation will get involved in HAPAC and move on in any field, not just politics. Varis said the only way to preserve and promote Hellenism is through our youth.