2013-08-30 / Columnists

It’s My Turn

Support For Tracking Sandy’s Bottom Line
By Councilman Donovan Richards and State Senator James Sanders Jr.

On October 29th, 2012, Hurricane Sandy dealt a devastating blow to New York City. The hurricane left behind a tally of destruction unlike any storm we have ever seen – 43 residents killed, millions forced to suffer without heat or electricity, a submerged subway system, and billions in additional damages.

Nine months later, the winds have subsided but a new challenge now confronts our city – the process of rebuilding Rockaway and making sure that every tax dollar devoted to strengthening our infrastructure and returning families to their homes is spent wisely and efficiently. New York City is expected to receive at least $15 billion in Sandy recovery funds in the coming years from the federal government. This money will have a profound effect, not only on the lives of homeowners and business people whose lives were turned upside down by Sandy, but also on how the City prepares itself for the storms of the coming century. As elected officials representing the Rockaways, we saw the devastation firsthand. Our constituents had their homes destroyed, businesses shuttered, and their lives uprooted.

That’s why we are supporting Scott Stringer’s call for a designated audit bureau within the City Comptroller’s office to track Hurricane Sandy recovery funds and ensure hard-working families and business owners get the aid they deserve.

One of the first things Councilman Richards did after getting into office was put forward the Sandy Tracking Bill. The purpose of the bill is to create a public online database where all Sandy recovery funding is tracked. If the Sandy Audit Bureau goes into effect, this would only strengthen one of the pieces of legislature closest to his heart.

Senator Sanders saw the destruction firsthand and understands the need for greater measures of accountability in using Sandy relief funds. Monies that will flow to properly serve both ends of the Rockaways are greater than ever, and ensuring that the funds are being used in such a manner that enriches the well-being of everyone post-Sandy is imperative.

We all remember reports of waste and abuse in past natural disasters – funds meant to go to victims of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina were embezzled, misallocated and abused by unscrupulous contractors.

Not this time.

Scott has pledged to post every single Sandy-related contract online, so that taxpayers can see the progress of each job in real time. As Comptroller, he will set up a dedicated hotline where people can report allegations of waste, fraud or abuse.

These are welcome ideas for a community that has known tragedy all too well. But we also know that when we rebuild, we do so with a fierce determination, and in honor of those we lost.

With Scott Stringer as Comptroller, residents of the Rockaways will have someone watching their backs, ensuring that we rebuild and recover from Hurricane Sandy with transparency, accountability and integrity.

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