Sunday, July 05, 2009

Felder advocates eliminating the public advocate post 

The money spent on the office of the public advocate could be better spent elsewhere -- “for schools, senior centers, child care,” for instance.

That’s the rationale provided by the office of City Councilmember Simcha Felder, whose spokesperson, Eric Kuo, told this paper that Felder has “long supported eliminating the office of public advocate” and is now “exploring ways to do this legislatively.”

While Kuo declined to confirm that Felder was either “drafting or requesting legislation,” news of the councilmember’s planned legislation was first aired last Thursday on the website, cityhallnews.com.

Why eliminate the position, which serves as an ombudsman for city residents and a watchdog over City Halli “Ninety nine percent of New Yorkers don’t know what the public advocate does or who the public advocate is,” Kuo responded. The office’s responsibilities, including oversight over other officials, could be taken over by other offices, Kuo contended.

The public advocate’s office has been under frontal assault lately. The fiscal year 2010 budget, adopted last month by the City Council, cut funding for the office by a whopping 40 percent.

The proposal is “unworthy of a comment,” noted Anne Strahle, campaign manager for former Public Advocate Mark Green, who is running for the office again this year.

A spokesperson for Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum had more to say. “It seems that Simcha Felder has resumed his role as cooing pet pigeon to the mayor and speaker, just like with term limits,” said Sarah Krauss of Gotbaum’s office when asked for a comment. “Whatever his motive, one thing is clear, this is one councilmember who is impossible to take seriously.


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