The BALCONY Bulletin

Finding  Common Ground Between
New York Business
and Labor
January 5, 2010

December 4, 2009
NYS Comptroller DiNapoli &
NYC Comptroller Liu


NYS Comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli

Special Report by
Bill Hohlfeld, Coordinator Local 46 LMCT
On Friday, December 4, 2009, an impressive array of speakers gathered at the Hard Rock Cafe on 43rd St. and Broadway in New York City, not to sip cocktails or gaze at the instruments of rock n roll's famous, late and great, but rather to discuss over bagels and coffee, the topic that is on every New Yorker's mind today - the state of the economy.

Despite everyone's legitimate anxiety about the economy, it was to everyone's credit that the breakfast began by addressing the hunger of those far less fortunate than anyone in the room. Bill Ayres, Executive Director for WHY HUNGER (World Hunger Year) made an appeal for support because as he quoted John Lennon, "Hunger in America is an obscenity." His organization, co-founded by Ayres and the late singer Harry Chapin, dedicated to helping people find the means to help themselves, is determined to fight poverty and hunger not only here but also all over the world. It was a somber reminder to all present that in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.


Next to take the podium was Bruce Ventimiglia, co-chair of BALCONY. In his brief but very pointed introduction of Keynote speaker New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Bruce reminded the audience that a year ago Comptroller DiNapoli had spoken at a very similar Wall Street Balcony Breakfast. At that Forum, when we were all reeling from shock of the economic debacle, DiNapoli made some economic forecasts for the year to come. Bruce reviewed those comments and pointed out that our comptroller had been, in a word, right.

BALCONY co-chair, Bruce Ventimiglia

Comptroller DiNapoli, was happy to report that the NYS pension fund had rebounded and that as of September 2009 it showed an 18% profit. He was quick to admit that the lesson learned is one of diversification, with the state realizing that it had become too reliant on tax revenue from "Wall Street" for a healthy economy.

He went on to say that bonuses are now federally regulated. And, while that may assuage the populist rumblings amongst us, (my words, not his) that regulation does translate to a drop in revenue. Wall Street accounts for 24% of all wages paid in NYC, and every job on Wall Street creates two more within the city and one more in a nearby suburb. These are sobering statistics if out of the 35,000 jobs lost recently in New York, 1 of every five were in the securities industry.

Lastly, Comptroller DiNapoli presented a realistic portrayal of our financial landscape by alluding to the 288,000 jobs lost in the state since the beginning of the recession. This has left the state with a budget gap of over $4 million. A deficit reduction plan has just been passed which includes $391 million of federal stimulus. But, we are not out of the woods yet. Close scrutiny of the budget is still the order of the day. The bottom line does offer some comfort - New York State, though low on cash, is not broke. Actually, we can still expect to see a three year budget gap over $27 billion in 2011 . Of course means that some tough choices will have to be made to keep us on track. There are opportunities for further pension fund and green business investments, and opportunities for growth in which New York can participate.

NYC Comptroller, John Liu

Following Mr. DiNapoli, NYC Comptroller, John Liu, who was positive about economic recovery in New York City. Using a personal story as a metaphor for the kind of success possible in this city, Liu drew upon his own experience of receiving a world class education in NYC and NYS public schools and universities. He also drew attention to Flushing, Queens, the area he represented on the New York City Council. He held it up as a model of financial success based on a thriving immigrant community made up of a "perfect combination of human capital and entrepreneurial spirit." That certainly is the essence of the BALCONY membership.

Adding to the morning were the comments of BALCONY  co-chair Alan Lubin who, now that he is retiring from his post as Executive Vice President of NYSUT, will be working harder than ever to promote BALCONY. He pointed to the impact BALCONY hasmade on social and fiscal policies governing health care and the insurance industry. Before introducing Tom Lee, he reminded everyone that joining BALCONY was about what you can do and what you can give, not what you can get.

BALCONY co-chair, Alan Lubin

Mr. Lee, who manages the New York State Teachers' Retirement System funds, reported on the health of its portfolio, and shared his personal formula for keeping it so. "It's all about liquidity and alignment of interests."

It should be noted that not all the panelists were quite so optimistic. Economists and financial industry experts, Barry Weprin of the Milberg Law Firm, Gregg Hymowitz of Entrust and James Parrott of the Fiscal Policy Institute, were all a bit gloomier in their forecasts for the future, if more aggressive measures will not be taken to bolster the economy. Issues still loom like pension relief, continued unemployment, lack of a national industrial policy, tax reform, and the need for increased regulation in our financial sector, just to name a few.


The BALCONY Breakfast illustrated two undeniable facts. First, BALCONY still has a great deal of hard work ahead, and second, it has the kind of talent in its ranks that could get that work done.

The BALCONY Wall Street breakfast at New York's Hard Rock Café was sponsored by the Milberg Law Firm, Entrust Capital, BNYConvergEx, NYSUT, Saratoga Capital Management and WHY Hunger.



Entrust Capital

BNY Convergex


Saratoga Capital Management

Hard Rock Cafe New York

NYS Comptroller



Fiscal Policy Institute

New York State Teachers' Retirement System

Call, Write or Email BALCONY
633 Third Avenue, 16th Floor 
New York, NY 10017
(212) 219-7777
Lou Gordon - BALCONY Director

BALCONY, the Business and Labor Coalition of New York, represents more than 1,000 New York businesses, labor unions, and trade associations. BALCONY seeks common ground in the public policy debate in New York to spur economic development through the adoption of business/union friendly, socially responsible common sense laws that maintain and improve the quality of life for working New Yorkers.

BALCONY is a 501C4
Contributions are not tax deductible.

Open this e-Mail in Browser


e-mail broadcast produced by Kevin R. Weaver
Click here for
December 4, 2009




Click below
for the speaker's videos

NYS Comptroller DiNapoli

NYC Comptroller Liu


(click the name to watch video)

Alan Handell & Bill Ayers

Alan Handell
National Board Member, WHY Hunger
and Sr. VP, Astoria Graphics

Bill Ayers
Co-Founder and Exec. Director WHY Hunger

Alan Lubin


Thomas Lee

Executive Director
NYS Teachers Retirement System

Greg Hymowitz

Managing Partner, Entrust Capital

Barry Weprin

Partner, Milberg, LLP

James Parrott

Chief Economist & Deputy Director
Fiscal Policy Institute


Videos produced by
Suggs Media Productions


A Portion of the Proceeds
from this BALCONY Forum
were Donated to

Make a Difference
Donate to Hungerthon

(click image below)

WHY Hunger

The Business and Labor Coalition of New York is proud to announce that BALCONY Co-Founder Alan Lubin has re-upped as Co-Chair of BALCONY, serving with Founding BALCONY Business Co-Chair Bruce Ventimiglia.
"This is a pivotal time in New York's history," says Lubin, "and we need a collaborative effort between business and labor to build trust in the economy. Since 2006, we've found common ground, and moving forward, we can build on it."

Lubin is energized with the decision to stay at BALCONY coinciding with his plans to step down as Executive Vice President of NYSUT. "Having a great life at both home and work is a treasure I have enjoyed," says Lubin. But "after more than 40 years, it's time to bite the bullet-time for me to move on from NYSUT so that new leadership can develop."
"I will continue as Co-Chair of BALCONY and will help grow this fine organization. We are proud of the work we do advocating the affordable health care, assisting  small business, impacting state government and helping people," stated Lubin.
"BALCONY is committed to building a solid coalition between Business and Labor in New York State," stated Ventimiglia.  
Lubin's leadership and optimism are a key natural resource at BALCONY - founded in 2006 by Lubin and Co-Chair Bruce Ventimiglia, Chair of Saratoga Capitol Management LLC.

New BALCONY Members since September 2009

American Federation of Debt Relief
American Federation of Debt Relief
NY Business Group on Health
NY Business Group on Health
H&R Block
H and R Block
  BNY Convergex
BNY Convergex
Juniperhill Asset Management
Citizens Bank
Citizen's Bank
WHY Hunger
WHY Hunger
Infrastructure USA
Performance Home Warranty
Entrust Capital
Pegasus Capital
Chicken Soup for the Soul
McKenna Long & Aldridge
Rockland Teacher's Center Institute
Rockland Teacher's Center Institute 

New York Power Authority
New York Power Authority 


BALCONY Fall 2009
Members Directory

 Members Directory Fall 2009

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