Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Johnny Liu's name game

Last Updated: 6:33 AM, January 12, 2010

Posted: January 12, 2010

When last New Yorkers got a look into the amazing fantasy world inhabited by rookie comptroller John Liu, he was seven years old and toiling away in a sweatshop.

Or so he claimed in the heat of last year's primary campaign, where shamelessly preposterous assertions are coin of the realm -- and never mind that his own mother said, in effect, "No, Johnny, you never did that."

That must have stung, being outed as a fibber by his own mom -- which maybe explains why Liu is feeling a tad insecure in his new circumstances.

For, as The Post's Chuck Bennett reports, he's ordered staffers to treat him with royal obsequiousness.

AP

Low-level aides and longtime confidants alike must now address him as "Mr. Comptroller" and stand whenever he walks in the room -- a sharp departure from the practice of prior comptrollers, to say nothing of common sense. "We want to address the office with the seriousness it demands," said a spokesman.

Hey, Johnny, news flash: Fancy titles won't make New Yorkers take you seriously -- but doing your job might.

Liu's predecessor, Bill Thompson, managed the city's books with utmost seriousness for eight years -- even as he told staffers to call him "Billy."

But Liu seems to think he's president -- or at least mayor. Indeed, his first major appearance last week, at a teachers-union press conference bashing charter schools, had precious little to do with keeping an eye on the city's books.

Equally odd (if less startling) was the memo he had his top aides distribute to staff last week inviting them to wish the comptroller a happy birthday.

Of course, New York has never lacked for ego-obsessed politicians. Usually, though, they've been in office long enough to compile a bit of a record.

Not so, Johnny Liu -- who needs to break a real sweat doing the job he was elected to do.

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