Meeting With The
By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Last Friday afternoon, I met the public advocate.
No, Im not talking about Mark Green. Hes the present
elected Public Advocate. I met Mark years ago and he stopped by the office and we chatted
about his race for Mayor about a month ago.
& Norman Siegel
Im talking about my Friday afternoon visit from a man who
knows what public advocacy is all about. Youll notice that I said, "I met the
public advocate" small p, small a.
The man who seems to embody the job stopped by the Trib office
to chat about his first venture into electoral politics.
Now this is not an endorsement column.
Gosh, I hardly know anyone in the field and havent gotten to
evaluate the other candidates. I never met Councilmembers Steve DiBrienza or Katherine
Freed, very casually know Assmeblyman Scott Stringer chatted on the phone with him
last week, have met and talked with Betsy Gottbaum a couple of times, and Friday was my
first meeting with former NYCLU Executive Director Norman Siegel.
But if first impressions count for anything, Norman Siegel is my kind
of guy. He takes me back to my days of civil rights picket lines and protests. More
importantly, Norman Siegel is truly a public advocate.
Rather, Norman explains, "Ive been the private advocate, now
I want to be the Public Advocate."
For well over 20 years, hes been an advocate for New Yorkers, the
last 15 as executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Among his recent victories were the successful defense of the Brooklyn
Museums right to exhibit provocative art and his challenge of the restricted access
to the steps of City Hall. He fought for taxi drivers, young people and people with AIDS
to have the right to assemble and bring their concern to the citys attention. His
causes included defending street vendors, challenging restrictive zoning laws and a
demanding accountability in the face of fatal police misconduct. He led the fight to
establish the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board.
Siegel fought 27 court challenges against the Giuliani administration
on First Amendment violations and won in full or part 23 times.
Norman has become one of our citys most well-known advocates and
views the job of Public Advocate as an Inspector General, protecting the people from the
government, when necessary.
"Ill sue the city if I have to," he explains.
His platform is simple: improve race relations; improve
police-community relations; and promote quality public education, affordable housing, and
freedom of speech for all New Yorkers.
Although hes running in the Democratic Primary, Siegel likes to
tell groups hes a member of the "Shake Em Up Party of New York."
When asked about some of the issues that impact the city, Siegel readily admits, "I
have to learn more."
"I dont believe in off the record" the
straight-shooting Siegel told us.
"I want to be the Peoples Lawyer," Norman
says with compassion.
Norman is the consummate outsider. Although he hasnt
run for office before and is likely to be outspent by some if not all of his opponents,
Norman Siegel is in this race. Hes raised substantial bucks, has qualified for
matching funds and is prepared to defend his petitions from party organizational
His is a peoples campaign. What he doesnt have in
professional consultants, Norman will make up for in "fighting energy." Siegel
doesnt back down from a fight. And this fighting advocate of the people may just
surprise the establishment and win a job hes been doing for years.
Location, Location, Location!
The Queens Chamber of Commerce has unveiled plans for its Annual Golf
Outing at the North Hills Country Club in Manhasset. Last year, when this column
criticized the organization whose mission it is to promote Queens business
development for going outside of the borough for the golf outing, they responded
the facilities were better there.
We still wonder if location should matter to the Queens Chamber?
Did they even talk to the folks at Clearview and Caffe on the Green or
Douglaston Manor & Golf Course?
Next meeting, at a fancy Manhattan Hotel?
Hey guys, your first name is Queens!
Wear it with pride!
No More Sales Phone Calls!
The letter read:
"Dear New Yorker:
Welcome to the "Do Not Call" Registry!
Thank you for contacting the NYS Consumer Protection Board
("CPB") to register for the "Do Not Call" Telemarketing Sales Calls
Registry. The residential telephone number(s) you wish to protect has been added to the
In October of 2000, I signed legislation creating the "Do Not
Call" Registry to protect consumers from unwanted high-pressure sales calls. Although
the law provides for some exceptions, most telemarketing sales calls will be prohibited 30
days after your number appears on the quarterly Registry.
If you need further information or assistance on this or other
consumer-related matters, please do not hesitate to contact the CPB at
1-800-697-1220 or www.consumer.state.ny.us.
GEORGE E. PATAKI, Governor"
Now, maybe this is not a great column for business. However, I can
think of no more annoying, intrusive business practice than the continual badgering phone
calls that I get at home during dinner hours from stockbrokers pitching their sure win
latest IPO of the month. Telemarketing calls have become too aggressive, too intrusive and
So, I logged onto the NYS Consumer Protection Board website and took
the two minutes and filled out the form. I received the letter above and now those really
obnoxious telemarketers cant get me.
Well, not quite. Although, you are protected from most high-pressure
sales calls, there are exceptions: charitable organizations, religious corporations,
political parties and committees (of course those legislators would give themselves a free
pass), companies with which you have a prior business relationship, and telemarketers who
wish to arrange for a face-to-face meeting before concluding a sales transaction.
Telemarketers who violate the law by calling a registrant more than 30
days after their number appears on a quarterly Registry will be subject to penalties of up
to $2,000 for each violation.
If you want to join the Do Not Call Registry, simply visit their
website at: www.nynocall.com; by telephone toll free at 866-887-5478 or 800-697-7220; or
by mail, "Do Not Call" Registry, NYS Consumer Protection Board, PO Box 2078,
Albany, NY 12220-0078.
The Paradox of Prejudice
Last week we asked:
"If its not easy being green, does the green guy deserve
We invited readers, voters, candidates, rabbis, ministers, gay, black,
white and green, Asian, Latino, Jewish and Christian, Muslim, to share their opinion.
When people cast their votes, should they consider race, religion,
sexual preference, etc?
Several e-mail responses:
¨So, whats wrong with being a liberal (big or small L)? If
liberal means being fair and evaluating things on their merit, then people should be proud
to be considered liberal.
I agree with you that people should be color and religion-blind when it
comes to voting for candidates, unfortunately many of the candidates play this exact
ethnic card. People should study and evaluate a candidates positions, views and
actions but VERY few do.
After all, only about 50% even vote.
¨Although at one time I considered myself a "Liberal"
I now consider myself a Centrist. To me being in the center is truly considering
people on merit with no points given to anyone for any reason other than ability and
Being a realist, I realize that people do consider people they think of
as being "them" more qualified because they feel they know the thinking of their
own racial or ethnic group. This is a political reality that all of us should recognize.
Just check the voting patterns throughout Queens.
Is this right? NO. Is this a fact? YES.
¨In my opinion, I think we should vote for whoever is the best
candidate for the job. Not to vote on a persons religion, race or otherwise.
Thanks for all your opinions. I dont always agree, but
thats fine with me.
Share your opinion by fax (718) 357-0972; by mail M. Schenkler, 174-15
Horace Harding Expressway, Fresh Meadows, NY, 11365.
Or, e-mail: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
Attn: Candidates, Final Notice
To Queens Council Candidates
The deadline has passed! Please email the following to us:
1) Your bio under 200 words
2) Your photo jpg or tif
3) The three most important issues facing your district and how you
plan to resolve them under 200 words total.
4) Are you or do you plan to enroll in the CFBs matching fund
program. How much have you raised to date? How much have you spent? How much in
total, including matching funds do you plan to spend between now and Primary Day?
5) E-mail, web & phone contact
Material to: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
by Dom Nunziato
Michael Schenkler can be reached at: MSchenkler@QueensTribune.com
For The Not 4 Publication Archives