City’s big cheese stops by BID on Myrtle Avenue

City Comptroller John Liu (l.) takes a break from his regular slice to pose with John Mistretta, part owner of Joe & John’s Pizzeria on Myrtle Avenue, and Joe & John’s employee Julio Figero. Photo by Howard Koplowitz
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City Comptroller John Liu chomped into a regular slice at Joe and John’s Pizzeria in Ridgewood after spending an afternoon explaining his office’s successes and how it can work with the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District.

“You don’t stay in business since 1968 for no reason,” said Liu, whose affinity for pizza is well known. “This has to be good stuff.”

Liu sampled cheese and Sicilian slices from the Ridgewood business after meeting with the Myrtle Avenue BID.

The comptroller said he sympathizes with business owners when the city comes down hard on them during so-called “ticket blitzes” instead of educating them on how they can comply with the law.

“I am very cognizant ... that small businesses often bear the brunt of government policies, especially on the local level,” Liu told the BID last week. “Government can at least be a little bit more predictable on its actions.”

One BID member complained to Liu that the organization from City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), with most of it going toward street trees, but the city Department of Transportation gets a portion of the money for administrative costs.

“This is why we’re auditing city agencies,” Liu said, “because of that kind of cut. It wouldn’t be the first time a city agency takes a cut.”

Liu said his office is trying to reduce government waste and he headed audits that found tens of millions of dollars in wasteful spending, including $125 million alone from one audit.

Liu said the city can save money by stopping its reliance on technology contracts to outside consultants — work that he said city employees can do.

“We’ve stopped the spigot at many of these contracts,” he said.

The comptroller said one of the things he is proud of is that his office has put all city spending online in an initiative called Checkbook NYC.

He said the office plans to upgrade the system in a couple of months to link all city contracts into the checkbook function.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 11:16 pm, February 1, 2012
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