Posted by: vote4claxton | September 25, 2008


Thompson lends Jamaica an ear
<B>City Comptroller William Thompson Jr. takes questions in the Jamaica Farmers’ Market’s Harvest Room with other local representatives. <I>(photo by Matt Hampton)</I></B>
City Comptroller William Thompson Jr. takes questions in the Jamaica Farmers’ Market’s Harvest Room with other local representatives. (photo by Matt Hampton)
   Southeast Queens residents got an opportunity to bring their problems first hand to a top city government official on Friday, as Comptroller William Thompson Jr., stopped by Jamaica.
   In an event designed to help local residents reach out to all of their elected officials, Thompson answered questions about local problems with flooding and construction, the foreclosure crisis and more.
   “There are a number of issues that face us that might not be comptroller-specific issues — we’re involved in all of them,” Thompson said.
   After running down exactly what it is a comptroller does — from monitoring city finances to approving expenditures — Thompson opened the floor. He was joined by colleagues in city and state government, including City Councilmen Thomas White Jr. and Leroy Comrie, state Assembly members William Scarborough, Michelle Titus and Vivian Cook, and state Senator Shirley Huntley.
   The event began as a kind of southeast Queens love-in, with the politicians heaping praise on one another, and alluding to what many in the room thought was an ideal future in which Thompson — a highly likely mayoral candidate — would be running the entire city, not just its finances.
   Thompson, who was referred to as “Mayor Thompson” for much of the luncheon, eventually demurred on the subject, but not before making his position clear on a few topics key to residents, not least of which is the idea of creating a new police precinct for the communities of Rosedale and Springfield Gardens.
   Marquez Claxton, a founding member of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, asked Thompson point blank what he thought it would take to create the 116th Police Precinct. It’s a project that has been discussed in several task forces, and is constantly brought up in community board meetings. Recently, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told residents at York College that it was not a priority, however.
   “If the police commissioner wanted it, it would be done like that,” Thompson said, snapping his fingers. He agreed that on its face, given the way the current 105th Precinct is laid out, the idea is sound. “It’s a common sense answer, it makes sense,” he said.
   When pressed if he was promising to make the future 116th Precinct a priority, Thompson started to decline an answer before saying simply, “yes.”
   Much of the rest of the day was dedicated to hearing individual concerns — everything from security issues in Rochdale Village to complaints about sanitation and the fare hike pains wrought by the MTA.
   Though Thompson only stayed for an hour and a half, his staff hung around to answer other questions, as did a few of the politicians who had come out to see Thompson himself.
   Area residents, including Claxton, were pleased to have had the opportunity to talk to Thompson, and thought the question session was likely to be productive.
   “Often times what comes out (of an event like this is a new initiative from the elected official,” he said. “And for us, we get to see what his ideas are, a sneak peak of what he’d be like as a mayor.” Claxton also said he is thrilled to have Thompson’s word on the possibility of a new police precinct.
   For his part, Thompson said that he’s held many question and answer sessions in other parts of the city, and each one is a unique opportunity to identify the character of an area.
   “Each community is different, and you just tend to see the issues that matter,” he said. “Here, more of the issues are about flooding, people with private homes, and economic development — especially in downtown Jamaica.”
   He also said that the meeting opened his eyes on other issues, like what the loss of state and federal funds has meant to Housing Authority projects in the area.
   “This is the first time I’ve really heard about the impact on the Housing Authority, things closing in the area,” he said. “You see things like that on a smaller basis, and then it starts to become systemic.”

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