Liu's future on shaky ground

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 3/9/2012, 11:39 a.m.
Hard political questions facing City Comptroller John Liu

Liu and Koch have a testy history. Last year, Liu sent an email to City Council members complaining about the Queensboro Bridge being named after the former mayor. He complained of a double standard because he believed activist Sonny Carson should have a street named after him as well.

"During my 2009 campaign for comptroller, Mayor Koch administered to me quite the tongue-lashing for my 2007 council vote upholding a community board's decision to co-name a street after the late Sonny Carson," Liu wrote. "Mayor Koch expressed his outrage that I would, as a public official, support such honor for someone he considered racist.

"When I was finally able to get a word in edgewise, I reminded Mayor Koch that some considered his own 1983 comments about building a prison in Chinatown to be racist," wrote Liu. The comptroller is referring to an article in a 2001 issue of the Village Voice titled "Chinatown in Limbo. Will Asian Americans Ever Elect a Councilmember of Their Own?" where writer Andrew Hsaio quotes Koch as saying, "You don't vote, you don't count," when discussing the lack of an Asian presence in city government.

But beef or no beef with Koch, it doesn't change the possibility of this campaign fundraising brouhaha putting its hands over Liu's chances of running for mayor in 2013. Floyd didn't outright say if Liu should resign, but alluded to a road that Liu can take to wipe the slate clean.

"If he's the person that he says he is, he should do the right thing for the city, and John Liu knows what that is," said Floyd. "It's going to be difficult for him to do his job with this storm cloud over his head."

Back in January, Liu told an audience at the South Shore Democratic Club, "Whether they throw the kitchen sink at me or not, I'll simply say, they may throw the kitchen sink but it's only the kitchen sink. I'm sure the stove is on their way, and they'll tee up the refrigerator after that."

They might not have to. The damage might be done already.