Thompson talks Bronx at CNG candidate Q&A

Democratic mayoral candidate Bill Thompson sat down with Community Newspaper Group reporters to discuss public schools, development at the Kingsbridge Armory and homeless shelters. Photo by Community Newspaper Group

Democratic mayoral candidate Bill Thompson huddled with reporters at the downtown Brooklyn headquarters of the Community Newspaper Group on Monday, September 31 to discuss his five-borough plan.

Unable to match Republican mayoral candidate and present Mayor Michael Bloomberg dollar for dollar, the present City Comptroller is betting on a grassroots campaign a la Barack Obama.

“After eight years of Michael Bloomberg’s Republican policies, it is time for a change,” Thompson said.

The former Board of Education president stated his support for mayoral control of public schools; test scores are up, Thompson said. But the Democratic candidate argued that students cannot afford to miss out on reading comprehension, music and art.

Thompson is a proponent of community benefits agreements linked to development, granted that the city formulate a benefits agreement blueprint. Benefits agreements should be negotiated as part of the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, he said.

Bloomberg has attempted to shut out neighborhood stakeholders at the Atlantic Yards and Kingsbridge Armory developments. Thompson is behind demands for living wages at the planned armory shopping mall; $10 an hour plus benefits is a plausible minimum for developer The Related Companies to guarantee retail workers, he said.

Thompson blasted Bloomberg on aggressive ticket agents. The mayor has ticketed to raise revenue, he said. Asked how he would raise revenue, Thompson suggested a higher tax on NYC residents who earn more than $500,000 a year.

Thompson also weighed in on Bloomberg’s homeless policy, which has had a significant impact on Bronx neighborhoods. The mayor promised to shrink homelessness by two-thirds; instead, there are more homeless in NYC today, Thompson said.

Asked to comment on the alleged preponderance of homeless shelters in the Bronx, the Democratic candidate painted homelessness as a citywide issue. Rather than address the distribution of shelters borough-to-borough and neighborhood-to-neighborhood, Thompson promised to stop evictions and build affordable housing.

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