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Stringer tell! The Brooklyn Paper sits down with the new comptroller

Stringer for the Paper: Comptroller Scott Stringer held forth about a grab-bag of topics in a wide-ranging interview with The Brooklyn Paper.
Community Newspaper Group / Nathan Tempey

Space. The rain forest. The deep blue sea. Just when you thought we were out of final frontiers, comptroller Scott Stringer has a fresh one: Brooklyn.

The newly elected city-money-minder and former Manhattan borough president stopped by The Brookyln Paper’s Downtown office last week to hold forth about his plans and propositions and chief among them was turning the borough into a hub for high-tech businesses.

“There’s a lot of density to Manhattan, a lot of build-out,” he said. “So the new frontier is going to be in communities in Brooklyn, which have so much vast potential.”

In order to woo silicon-centric companies, Brooklyn needs more bike lanes, more dedicated-lane bus routes, fast public internet service, and “to create more of the office space that younger people want to work in,” Stringer opined.

“In my generation it was all about getting the corner office, the big corner office with the view,” he said. “Today, younger people are working around tables with laptops and computers. They’re inventing things among five people.”

Also on Stringer’s agenda is deciding what it is worth to taxpayers to litigate the cases freshman District Attorney Ken Thompson has opened up for review, citing possible misconduct by his predecessor Charles Hynes, should the prisoners be exonerated and sue the city.

Stringer claimed victory for overseeing the $6.4-million settlement in the lawsuit brought by David Ranta, who was sprung from prison in 2013 after serving 23 years for a murder he did not commit.

The financial top dog demurred when asked how much the agreement had saved the city, but said he assigned an in-house legal team to the task and that the result was a good deal for all involved.

“We negotiated a fair settlement but we were able to act right away,” he said. “We didn’t go through years and years of litigation.”

The Ranta case is one of many allegedly questionable cases handled by Hynes’ office that Thompson has assigned a team of legal eagles to pore over and Stringer says that, if additional exonerees turn up, his office will work to put a dollar amount on their suffering, too.

When pressed on whose side he takes in the stand-off between Mayor DeBlasio and Gov. Cuomo on how to pay for universal prekindergarten — DeBlasio wants to raises taxes on New Yorkers making more than $500,000 while Cuomo says the program can be paid for with existing state funds — Stringer said that DeBlasio’s proposal is the only one that clearly makes sense money-wise.

“Cuomo’s plan hasn’t crystallized so I don’t think it’s much of a plan,” he said. “The DeBlasio plan is real, consistent, and I praise him for giving us a way to pay for it.”

Stringer has also begun an audit of the city’s three library systems and said that the question of whether Brooklyn’s and Queens’ should be separate from New York’s is one worth examining.

“I think we should take a look,” he said.

Nathan Tempey is a Deputy Editor at the Community Newspaper Group. Reach him at ntempey@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4504. Follow him at twitter.com/nathantempey.

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