Mayor Michael Bloomberg is upping the ante in the battle over a homeless mega-shelter on 95th street. Bloomberg is suing comptroller John Liu for rejecting the shelter contract earlier this month on what the city says were unfair grounds, and for publicizing the rejection in a misleading way, the Times reported. (We have asked the mayor’s office for a copy of the suit but have yet to receive it.)

Bloomberg also says Liu has a tendency to publicize his rejection of a contract and then quietly register the contract later. He just did that with the Central Park Conservancy’s $90 million contract, the Times reported.

Spokesperson Stephanie Hoo sent us a statement from the comptroller’s office. It said, in part: “The Comptroller’s primary responsibility is to safeguard taxpayers’ money, and this Administration has wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on a homeless policy that has failed completely. The Comptroller’s office has every intention to continue to use its powers under the City Charter to safeguard taxpayer spending on outside contracts.”

Bloomberg has funneled an increasing amount of money to outside contractors, Hoo noted, with spending jumping to $11.3 billion in fiscal 2014 from $6.2 billion in 2003.

Liu apparently has limited powers to reject a city contract. According to the Times:

“Under the charter, the only basis for a comptroller to scuttle a contract is evidence of possible corruption in the contracting process. And in rejecting the shelter contracts, Mr. Liu did not raise the corruption issue; the reasons he cited include concerns over inspections and certificates of occupancy.”

Whether or not the administration prevails on this issue, it’s strange that the mayor is using this particular contract to make the point. As we’ve noted numerous times, the no-bid $47 million contract is a startling payoff to a politically connected CEO and a notorious landlord. A state Supreme Court justice said that the Bloomberg administration’s approach to homeless shelters like the one on 95th smacks of “CIA black op” tactics. Neighborhood in the Nineties has sued the city and Aguila Inc. (the shelter operator), attempting to shut down the shelter and uphold Liu’s rejection of the contract. Liu is one of the only public officials who has spoken out and investigated the practices. ¬†Under Bloomberg, the city’s homeless shelter population has jumped 61%.

Photo via World Bank Collection.

NEWS | 8 comments | permalink
    1. K8 says:

      I am normally a supporter of Bloomberg, but I am supremely disappointed in this move. Whether or not corruption was cited in the reason for the rejection of this contract, it STINKS of corruption. There are so many problems with this contract, it’s no wonder every single reason was not listed.

    2. westsideMoms says:

      I cannot stand pandering Liu, but is right about this one. and Bloomberg is dead wrong.

      This was an ugly back room deal that costs we the taxpayers millions (3k per room per month) and is destroying the West 90s.

    3. Tom says:

      Look at There are currently 3,524 apartments for rent in Manhattan listed for LESS THAN
      $2,000 per month. NOT $3,000 we are paying Bloomberg’s pal. CRIMINAL.

    4. ELJ says:

      If this lawsuit is not settled prior to the new mayor taking office on Jan. 1, 2014, I’d like to know what position any of our illustrious (sorry, but I’m underwhelmed by all of them) choices for mayor would take on this issue.

      • jerry says:

        It’s nice to see virtually everybody on the same page. We don’t have a Mayor, we have an Emperor, and he has plenty of new clothes. Regarding the fracas: there’s a sweetheart relationship in here somewhere – and it is true that people who can’t afford the cost of food here on the hot UWS (where most of us can, but still raise our eyebrows when we get to the checkout) are being housed – and it is also true that this can do nothing for the upscaling Windemere…the UWS has a lot of luxury options, and living just up the corner and down the block from a msssive homeless shelter isn’t one of them. And lastly, ELJ, I’m with you. C’mon Ms. Quinn – where you at? To my disappointment, I recently attended a “non fundraser” for one of the candidates for City Council here on the UWS…and was really underwhelmed by his ignorance and ambilivance regarding this obviously important issue.

    5. Jay says:

      I say we invite Bloomberg–plus the next group of mayoral hopefuls–to spend a night on 95th Street.

    6. Ken says:

      Not saying Bloomberg is correct here…but you are going to miss him when he’s gone. You forgot how bad it can get when there is an idiot living in Gracie Mansion.

    7. Rose Genovese says:

      The 95th Shelter is a disgrace to city politics.
      Mayor Bloomberg to abide by Comptrollers Lui decision, instead of challenging it-perhaps his ego is getting in the way? After all, since he took office the homeless population has increased 61%. Try rehabilitating the population ( like former Mayor Giuliani), and getting them jobs?
      The UpperWestside has 17 shelters in an 18 block radius. A 400 bed shelter is just unacceptable due to the statistics.
      Mayor Bloomberg, why don’t you move the 400 bed shelter to the Eastside? Perhaps next door to your residence?
      My major concern is the safety of my family- the shelter is a Oasis for drug abuse and crime-Check it out before you challenge Comptroller Liu!!