"NYC Comptroller John Liu failed to report $736M in lawsuits, settlements."
That headline! How could someone miss $736 million dollars?! Good to know we can close this sordid chapter on another one of this town's corrupt politicians. Boy, are we lucky that he won't be mayor so he won't be, uh, controlling New York City's finances any more than he already is. There couldn't possibly be more context to these allegations, they're much too horrible!
The Post gravely reports:
City Comptroller and failed mayoral candidate John Liu left the astronomical sum out of his annual report on the payouts in June… The total sky-high legal bill is not mentioned in the bulky, 89-page report. And in a letter that precedes it, Liu deceptively warned taxpayers that the cost of claims against the city “still hovers at a half a billion annually.”
That figure referred only to the $485.9 million the city coughed up for personal-injury and property-damage settlements and awards.
It is mentioned later in the executive summary that the city forked over an additional $250.7 million paying settlements and awards on law and contract disputes.
Translation: Comptroller Liu didn't print the sum of $485.9 million and $250.7 million, the two figures he mentions on page 3 of his 89-page report [PDF] that he released in June, that the Post is reporting on in September.
Liu’s predecessor, Bill Thompson, and former Comptroller Alan Hevesi reported the total expense of tort and non-tort settlements and awards to taxpayers.
Say what you will about Alan Hevesi's penchant for graft, at least he had the dignity to perform basic addition.
Valerie Budzik, the Deputy Comptroller for Legal Affairs, gave us this statement on the Post's piece:
Today’s New York Post article on the payment of claims by New York City misleadingly claims that the Comptroller’s Office “left the astronomical sum” of $736 million out of our annual Claims Report. The article later mentions that this number came from that same report.
Our Claims Report is complete and accurate and available for the public to examine at the Comptroller’s website. We provided the Post with 10 years’ worth of data, including the data in your article used to compare the average payout 10 years ago and the current average payout.
We have no control over the number of claims against the City, but we have made every effort to settle claims prior to litigation where appropriate. History has shown that awards are almost always larger for cases that wind up in court.
Our office answered every question asked by the Post. The only deception came in the writing of the Post article.