Thursday, July 02, 2009

Simcha Felder Wants To Do Away With Public Advocate

In a grand display of pledging allegiance to Mayor Bloomberg, Councilmember Simcha Felder is reportedly getting a bill ready to do away with the Public Advocate's office. The elected position was created as to protect New Yorkers from potential abuses from the Mayor and Council. It is seen as a nuisance by Bloomberg and the ethically dubious members in the Council that interferes with their agendas that do not always have the people's best interest at heart. Two weeks ago Speaker Christine Quinn kept the Advocate's budget slashed by 40%, now Felder wants to cut it out completely.

From City Hall News:

The legislation, now under review by Council staffers involved with bill drafting, would likely come before the Council sometime this summer. If passed, a referendum on the matter could go before the voters as soon as the November general election.

If voters approve the referendum, the matter would then need to be reviewed by the Department of Justice. Almost certainly, that would mean the office would stay in place at least through 2013, allowing the winner of this fall’s election to serve one term in office.
Bloomberg will most likely campaign heavily for this referendum, as he has done trying to keep Mayoral Control on the books and the tens of millions already spent on his own re-election campaign. The Mayor has a long history of disliking the office that watches over him.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has long been seen as skeptical of the public advocate’s office—he has paid little attention to Gotbaum during their years of serving together, and in 2003 explored changing the rules of succession in the City Charter which put the public advocate next in line to the mayor. He also supported the referendum which passed that year which stripped the office of several of its statutory responsibilities and powers.
Unsurprisingly, the current candidates oppose such a drastic measure. Whether that is for their own self-interest or if they care about the need for an advocate of the people, that depends on which candidate you are talking about. In my opinion, Norman Siegel is the man that takes the office seriously, as he already advocates for the public without the official title. Though if he had a budget that had enough funds to sufficiently check the Mayor, then this city would be just a little more democratic. Abolishing the office would have the opposite, authoritarian, effect.