By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
Jacobson, a skilled press rep who has worked for a string of my friends,
called me the other day. As Public Advocate Betsy Gottbaum’s flak, Anat
is now taking issue with the Mayor’s Charter Revision steps to decimate
the office of Public Advocate (PA).
this writer has thought the rush to judgment by the Mayor — who
incidentally receives nothing but top marks from this corner — was
foolish. He has two other shots at placing items on the ballot before he
has to appear there himself. So why not move slowly and carefully before
changing the City Charter — or rather, putting the change to a vote of
seems that Bloomberg is no fan of Gottbaum. Furthermore, since the last
major Charter revision when the Council was enlarged and empowered, the
value of the office of Public Advocate has been in dispute.
watched the impressive network of then City Council President Andy Stein
lobby to retain the office which became public advocate. Had it not been
for the influence of Andy’s friends and family, Betsy likely would not
have an office from which to lobby. Likewise, Andy’s successor, Mark
Green, might have found obscurity much earlier in his career.
public advocate’s position has long been hanging by a string. In
structure, it is not replicated elsewhere. In function, it is not
essential. The PA presides over the Council, is the people’s ombudsman
and fills in if the Mayor dies — until a special election can be held.
we can do away with it. We’ll sacrifice a bit of the “watchdog” role
that perhaps keeps the Mayor honest occasionally — whoever he is.
We’ll save a little bit of money — but not all that much from cutting
an office that has already been gutted financially. We’ll sacrifice a
little bit of tradition — who the hell cares? We’ll have the Speaker
preside over the Council — he rules it anyway. We’ll give up the role
of the “people’s ombudsman” — perhaps a value worth thinking
up the Public Advocate is not a revolutionary idea. But why the rush to
judgment? The Mayor wants it done and he wants the line of Mayoral
emailed me the wording to appear on the ballot this November:
the Charter be amended to require a special election in about 60 days
after a mayoral vacancy (in addition to the later general election to fill
the vacancy), with a runoff election if no candidate receives at least 40%
of the vote, and to make the Speaker of the Council responsible for
presiding over meetings of the City Council instead of the Public
friends, this is all you’ll get! The paragraph above and perhaps an
article or a column or two like this.
have to walk into the voting booth in less than a month and decipher the
language above. And if you can really figure it out — and on its face,
I’m not certain if the intent is to make the Speaker the presiding
officer immediately or upon a mayoral vacancy — although I think I know.
It seems to me this might be a “language sneak” to permanently change
the power of presiding over the Council from the PA to the Speaker without
really making it clear.
have been other distasteful attempts at language deception — most
memorably when the last Council in 1996 tried to overturn term limits
making a “no“ vote mean “yes.”
I’m not voicing strong feelings on the Public Advocate thing. However, I
find myself again yelling that the politicians are changing the rules,
affecting the guys presently in office and are sure not giving the people
the information needed to make an intelligent decision.
Mayor gets two more bites of the apple before he runs again. He should
allow the charter revision idea to ripen and age rather than risk spoiling
the flavor of his administration’s pie.
all the talk about war and patriotism causing this 60’s liberal
a bit of discomfort, I called my old friend – much older friend
– Trib founder Gary Ackerman and asked if he had a copy
of the piece about “Being An American” that ran in the Trib
in the early 70’s.
Congressman informed me that it first ran in the Castle, a
Queens College paper which he edited when we both attended that
said he’d dig into the back of his desk and find a copy. Moments
later, “Home Of The Brave,” came across on the fax machine
with “When I was one and twenty, Ack” scribbled on the top.
more than a couple of years ago, it’s my favorite piece by Gary.
Curious Mail Box: Pataki v. McCall
week, Not4Publication shared my analysis on the New York State
Governor’s race. I explained that short of Tom Golisano, so effectively
hurting George Pataki so that Carl McCall would become competitive, the
voters had no reason to throw out a popular incumbent. My column, caused
considerable response and, unlike the usual barrage, no one was yelling at
and disagreeing with me.
the comments received didn’t all welcome a Pataki victory, they all
merely added mortar to the Pataki fortress I had constructed.
longtime friend Jerry Kaniuk — we attended Queens College together —
emailed a note agreeing with the column but objecting to my omission of
the McCall “letters of recommendation” which according to Jerry: the
bad taste letters count and will hurt McCall as much as anything else.
I’m not sure they will still be an issue in November. But since I penned
last week’s column, former Queens Beep Claire Shulman and former NYS Guv
Hugh Carey have jumped on the Dems for Pataki bandwagon. The letters plus
more Dems for Pataki – count the first 10 days of October as Pataki’s.
Not good news for McCall who is already miles behind. And let’s not
forget about the incredible disparity in their warchests. Pataki has
gazillions more than McCall.
Dem, longtime friend, Brooklyn Councilman Lew Fidler – an accomplished
political stategist in his own right – reacts:
McCall camp can hope for Golisano. Ultimately, unless McCall commits a
major gaffe, I predict the Golisano number will be less than 5 percent.
First, people like to vote for someone who has a chance of winning, so
unless Golisano breaks the glass ceiling to the point that his poll
numbers put him in that category, his final vote will melt away. Of his
voters, some will come from disaffecteds, and from those that might have
voted for another minor party candidate. Also, some undoubtedly will come
from McCall’s pocket. Ultimately, the hurt to Pataki from Golisano will
be minimal. Even the value of his constant attack on Pataki is somewhat
blunted by its shrill tone.
endorsed Carl McCall last year, I hope I am wrong…the only way for
McCall to beat Pataki, is to make the campaign about real issues on which
the Democrats have an advantage: education, health care and the state of
question is: will voters allow that to happen, or are we going to be
treated to another few weeks of who wrote what letter recommending whom on
the way I see it from my little cross-section of multi-ethnic southern
You can save this and see how right I am later. :)”
We’ll print it and let everyone see that even loyal Dems like you can
occasionally see clearly.
Guv Race Scorecard
by Dom Nunziato