It’s “Daddy Friday” for Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and what better way to celebrate than giving away 16 free eco-friendly refrigerators to lucky residents of the Lower East Side. Right?
Well, actually Stringer’s press conference this morning — which (you read that right) was a refrigerator giveaway event — had nothing to do with his four-month-old son Max. But his newborn was joining him on the job today for, as he called it, “Daddy Friday,” making his adorable son the star of the show at times this morning. As if the 16 fridges lining East 4th Street weren’t colorful enough!
Stringer, who is expected to run for mayor, stood with fridge-recipients, local community organizations, partners from environmental groups, and his son Max in a baby carriage, to announce that his office would be giving out the energy-efficient products to residents on the block as part of a “Go Green Lower East Side” initiative.
“This project showcases what is possible when residents, businesses, government, and community groups work together to make sure that we have a bottom-up approach to sustainability,” Stringer said.
The 16 fridges are part of his office’s “Model Block” initiative to bring sustainable appliances to a single block, in partnership with the residents of the Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association. The fridge replacements, through a collaboration with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), along with an organization called Solar One, are part of several upgrades for residents, which are intended to reduce energy costs.
“When you think about all that we have accomplished just on this little block, the fact that we’ve created this protocol for how we create sustainable communities, we’re doing it one block at a time — and this is actually the model going forward for the entire city,” said Stringer, glancing at his speech notes resting on his son’s baby carriage.
Stringer, who is likely building his platform for his mayoral run in 2013, has tried to gain some traction on green issues, notably with his call for putting solar panels on school roofs, which has given him an opportunity to criticize the current administration’s record on solar energy investments.
“We think about the big issues related to this environmental movement that we are trying to create in this city to compete with other cities around the world, but what really matters is how we do it on the ground up, how we’re able to engage the people in our communities,” said Stringer, who emphasized the middle and working class in his State of the Borough speech earlier this year.
With new fridges, residents in these low-income units can save up to $200 annually, since the energy-efficient models use 20 percent less energy than traditional fridges (which are typically the most expensive appliances to operate in the kitchen and account for a large portion of a home’s energy use and cost).
After applauding his partners, Stringer paused and looked at his son, saying, “Max, how am I doing so far?” The four-month-old declined to respond.
One of the residents getting a fridge said she was excited about the news.
Why? “You know I’m 85 and let me tell you something. This is the first time in my life I’ve ever heard of a free refrigerator,” said resident Lucille Carrasquero. “This is a great thing for me. For us, it’s not just the refrigerator — the bill that comes is going to be that much better and easier for us.”
After the event, before the Voice briefly talked politics with Stringer, we attempted to chat with Max, who was born in December.
“This is Max,” the elder Stringer said. “I’m having daddy day, we’re doing some work together. Max do you want to make a statement on Governor Christie or the Commuter Tax?”
“No comment!” Stringer said.