NEW YORK — The New York City Comptroller’s position was thrust into the spotlight when scandal-plagued former New York governor Eliot Spitzer jumped into the contest right before the filing deadline for this year’s election. The race and Spitzer’s candidacy have become front page news in spite of that fact that most New Yorkers have no idea what the comptroller does.
New Yorkers’ opinions were wide-ranging when asked what they believed what the comptroller did. Bradley Parker, a 42-year old lifelong Brooklynite who claimed he vehemently supports Spitzer, said that he thought the comptroller “controlled all the computers, like the computational and technological abilities of government.“ Maria Arteta, a retired bookkeeper from Douglaston and Spitzer detractor said, “Controller, right, they’re the one really in power. While the mayor does all the media appearances, the controller pulls the strings behind the scenes.”
While the comptroller’s officer is actually in charge of auditing and managing the finances of city agencies, managing the city’s debt, marketing and selling municipal bonds, and overseeing public employee pension funds, New Yorkers, well versed on Spitzer’s prostitution-related fall from grace, do not seem to find the comptroller’s duties particularly relevant to whether or not they would vote for Spitzer. “I don’t know what the comptroller or whatever it’s called does,” Stanley Brewer of Carroll Gardens said, “but I know that he fought greedy Wall Street bankers tough, and I’m glad he’s back to fight them again, using whatever power his new office has.” Staten Island resident Anna Wynn felt differently, claiming that Spitzer is “a disgusting pervert. He’s not fit to be a parent or husband let alone do whatever it is a comptroller does.”
Many politically savvy New Yorkers likewise lack awareness of the duties of the comptroller’s office. Scott Stringer, Spitzer’s primary competition for the position, candidly admitted that he himself didn’t even know what the comptroller does. “I realized the mayoral field was too crowded, and people told me this was the next highest race, and that I could coast to victory without trying too hard. I never really explicitly asked what the comptroller actually does. I figured I’d just get elected first, and then I’d figure it out on the job.”