New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer has spent his career in public service fighting to ensure that every New Yorker has an equal opportunity to make it in our City. Over the last two decades, Mr. Stringer has been a champion for policies like a $15 minimum wage, has advocated for affordable housing, worked to strengthen the City’s fiscal health, and promoted open, transparent government.
Born and raised in Washington Heights, Mr. Stringer was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1992, where he represented Manhattan’s West Side for 13 years. In 2006 he became Manhattan Borough President, and was elected Comptroller in 2013.
Protecting the Integrity and Fiscal Strength of the City’s Public Pension Funds
As investment advisor to, custodian and trustee of the City’s five pension funds, Mr. Stringer and his staff oversee the City’s $160 billion public pension system.
Comptroller Stringer is dedicated to ensuring that New York City employees have the secure retirement they deserve. In April 2015, he released a report analyzing the value received for fees paid by the City pension funds over the last decade and found that manager performance was $2.5 billion below benchmark returns. In response, Mr. Stringer pushed for industry-standard fee reporting practices and began a review of investment fee structures to better align pay with performance.
Working with his fellow trustees, Mr. Stringer has implemented tough ethics, compliance and risk management reforms, including a ban on placement agents, the appointment of a Chief Risk Officer and Chief Compliance Officer in the Comptroller’s Bureau of Asset Management, and the streamlining of the operations of the pension system by creating a Common Investment Meeting of the City’s five funds. Mr. Stringer also initiated a top-to-bottom review of how the Office’s Bureau of Asset Management functions.
Transparency and Accountability in Corporate Boardrooms
Comptroller Stringer launched the Boardroom Accountability Project in 2014, a nationwide campaign to give large, long-term shareowners the ability to nominate corporate board directors using the company ballot — a right known as “proxy access.” The project targeted companies with inadequate board diversity, excessive executive compensation, and those with carbon-intensive business models that are among the most vulnerable to long-term business risks related to climate change.
The project has had unparalleled success in making proxy access a reality, with over 235 companies, and nearly 40% of the S&P 500, adopting meaningful proxy access bylawssince it first launched in the fall of 2014. In a major victory, a resolution submitted by Comptroller Stringer demanding that ExxonMobil, the world’s largest publicly-traded energy company, enact proxy access bylaws passed with majority support, the first such victory at the company in a decade.
A True Commitment to Diversity
In 2014, Comptroller Stringer appointed the City’s first-ever Chief Diversity Officer to identify ways to increase the number of Minority and Women-Owned Businesses that do business with the City. Each year, he issues a report that grades City agencies on their M/WBE procurement spending – in 2014, the City received an overall grade of “D,” and in 2015 it received a “D+.”
Comptroller Stringer is also committed to providing opportunities for diverse firms to act as investment managers on behalf of the City’s public pension funds. In 2015 he proposed a policy, consistent with fiduciary obligations, to formally consider the diversity of investment professionals when evaluating investment managers. This policy—which was adopted by three of the City’s five public pension funds—is based on research showing that diversity improves decision-making, prevents limitations of groupthink and correlates with stronger financial performance and risk management.
Fighting for Working New Yorkers
Comptroller Stringer has called for greater flexibility in the workplace, from paid family leave to his 2014 report calling on the City and State to pass “Right to Request” laws that protect employees who seek schedule changes from discrimination.
As the City’s chief fiscal officer, Mr. Stringer has analyzed and addressed key economic issues facing our City. He released a report highlighting the positive effects that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would have on millions of New Yorkers and on our City’s economy. Comptroller Stringer also released a first-of-kind analysis detailing the economic hurdles faced by Millennials seeking to enter the New York City job market after the recession.
Mr. Stringer has strengthened enforcement of the prevailing wage laws, helping hundreds of hardworking New Yorkers — including many immigrants — recover over $8 million owed to them in unpaid wages with interest for work completed on City-financed construction projects and building service contracts. He has cracked down on 35 unscrupulous contractors who fail to pay employees the wages they’ve earned by penalizing and debarring them from doing business with the City for a period of five years.
Boosting Small Businesses
In an effort to help support small businesses, which are the engines of our City’s economy, Comptroller Stringer convened the “Red Tape Commission,” a group of 31 small business leaders, regulatory experts, and advocates from across the City. The commission held public hearings in all five boroughs to listen directly to small business owners about the bureaucratic barriers they encounter. In its final report, the commission issued 60 recommendations to cut the red tape that too often trips up small businesses across the City. Mr. Stringer also created the Vendor Roadmap, an online tool that helps small businesses navigate the City’s procurement process.
Opening up Government and Pushing for Community Engagement
Throughout his career, Mr. Stringer has been a strong advocate for transparency in government. In the State Legislature, he fought for key reforms including ending empty-seat voting in the Assembly, requiring lawmakers to be present in the Capitol in order to vote on bills, and as Manhattan Borough President, he reformed the appointment process for Manhattan Community Boards to end patronage positions. As Comptroller, he released the very first Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR), making important information about the financial activities of the City accessible to New Yorkers in a concise, straight-forward, and simplified manner.
Equal Rights for All
A longtime champion of equal rights for New Yorkers of every background, Comptroller Stringer has been a staunch champion for immigrant rights. He has spoken out on behalf of the DREAM Act and in 2015 published the City’s first-ever Immigrant Rights and Services Manual — in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Haitian Creole, and Bengali.
In the State Assembly, he co-sponsored the first marriage equality bill in New York, and has been an outspoken supporter of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) since it was first introduced in 2003. Continuing this decades-long commitment to LGBT rights, under the Comptroller’s leadership, the New York City Pension Funds have adopted new guidelines that expand the definition of board diversity beyond race and gender to include LGBT directors.
Protecting Taxpayer Dollars
In 2014, Mr. Stringer announced the creation of ClaimStat — a data-driven tool that analyzes the thousands of legal claims filed against the City each year to save the City money and improve services by identifying troubling trends. Mr. Stringer’s ClaimStat reports have explored unsafe playground equipment, pedestrians injured by City vehicles, vehicles and pedestrians injured by potholes, and skyrocketing claims at Rikers Island. Comptroller Stringer has also taken a proactive stance in settling major civil rights cases before litigation, avoiding costly and unnecessary legal battles while providing New Yorkers and their families with some semblance of justice.
As Comptroller, Mr. Stringer has aggressively exercised his Office’s power to audit and investigate City agencies. Audits from Comptroller Stringer have examined everything from lead in water at daycare centers, school overcrowding, vacant City properties, and filthy subways to the Board of Elections, homeless shelters, rat infestations, and deteriorating living conditions at NYCHA apartment buildings.
Comptroller Stringer also created a Sandy Oversight Unit to monitor how FEMA funding was used to rebuild neighborhoods damaged by Superstorm Sandy and uncovered millions in misspent taxpayer dollars at the Queens Library. Mr. Stringer’s audits have protected tax dollars and led to policy changes at the agency level. An audit of the Department of Finance, for example, prompted the department to re-classify nearly 100 buildings in Queens that had been improperly taxed at a lower rate, enabling the City to collect an additional $1.28 million in revenue over the next five years. After Mr. Stringer’s audits revealed dangerous and deteriorating physical conditions in many homeless shelters, the City formed a rapid response unit to speed up the repair of such conditions.
Preserving Affordable Housing
Amid a growing shortage of affordable housing in New York City, the Comptroller documented the problem in an eye-opening report, “The Growing Gap.” The study showed that, from 2000 to 2012, median rents in the City skyrocketed 75 percent, compared to a 44 percent increase nationwide. The report also showed that New York City has lost more than 400,000 apartments renting for $1,000 or less in the same period. To expand the supply of affordable housing, the Comptroller proposed creating a New York City Land Bank that could help build an estimated 57,000 units of permanent affordable housing on City-owned and tax-delinquent properties.
Fighting for Better Public Schools
Every New York City child deserves an education that includes arts instruction and physical education, in addition to other classroom courses. But two reports issued by the Comptroller documented significant shortages in, and in some cases a total absence of, such instruction across the City. In both cases, Mr. Stringer’s reports got action. New York City placed an additional $23 million in the budget to beef up arts instruction in all five boroughs. It also budgeted $100 million over four years to hire 500 additional physical education instructors in City schools.
Advocacy That Gets Results
Comptroller Stringer has launched a multitude of initiatives to ensure that New York City’s local government is accountable to the people it serves. He has issued reports on diverse topics including internet inequality across the five boroughs, green bonds, and the need for a free sunscreen program in New York City. His eight audits of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) have revealed problems ranging from thousands of apartments left vacant for decades to years-long waits for repairs.
He has worked with the City Council and the Mayor’s Administration to secure millions of dollars in funding for arts and physical education, and has spurred the first steps toward real reform and greater transparency at NYCHA.
Scott M. Stringer attended local public schools in Washington Heights and graduated from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He and his wife, Elyse, live with their two sons, Maxwell and Miles, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.