Michael Nelson, who, according to the Citizens Union report today uses the most amount of taxpayer dollars for advertising, emailed over this lengthy response to defend his practice. Nelson’s says that hes helping worthy groups in his district and that the ads express his "willingness to help those who would otherwise have lost faith in government’s ability to respond to their needs."
The best news for the members named in the Citizen Union report today is that the Conflict of Interest Board has made public the financial disclosure reports of City Council members, meaning that the spotlight should soon shift by tomorrow from members’ spending habits to their earnings.
Mike Nelson’s statement:
These ads are most effective in a personal and direct manner, highlighting my office in the community and most importantly my availability and willingness to help those who would otherwise have lost faith in government’s ability to respond to their needs.
Additionally the funds raised from these ads, which is usually the major fundraising effort of important community organizations, makes it possible for these organizations to continue their vital work.
My annual ad in the Breakfast Journal of the Council of Jewish Organization of Flatbush (COJO), a popular event attended by hundreds of people, is a contribution to COJO’s efforts in providing assistance with entitlement programs to all members of the community, not just those of Jewish faith, and that my office is available to assist COJO in their work.
An ad in the Program of a Kingsborough Community College concert supported an important free cultural event while advising those attending of the Council Member’s availability and involvement with the community.
An ad in the Annual Lunar New Year banquet of Homecrest Community Services sends a message to Asian constituents, many of whom speak English as a 2nd language, that the Council Member’s office is available to help all constituents.
I am particularly proud of my ads supporting the Sheepshead and Nostrand Tenant Associations at the NYCHA Housing Project. The proceeds from these ads enable these organizations to provide hot dogs, hamburgers, and beverages to children attending the Family Fun Day each summer and to provide toys to children attending the Holiday Party. At the same time low income constituents who often feel disenfranchised learn that the Council Member cares and is available to help them.
To simply say that use of these advertisements is a waste of taxpayer money grossly overstates the vital and proper use of a Councilman’s office budget. If it was my desire to shamelessly promote myself I would have in turn used this advertisement money to send out direct mailings to my constituents, especially prime voters, which is allowed. However this is not what I choose to represent, instead I carefully budget my office expenses in order to help deliver vital funding to all groups across my district. Of course do not just take my word on it, please contact some of the many groups I have provided crucial help to. This list includes: Kingsborough Community College President Regina Peruggi, Homecrest Senior Services Chairman Richard Kuo, President of the Nostrand Tenants Association Noreen Southworth, and President of the Sheepshead Tenants Association Annie Statten. Being a local elected official is synonymous with providing basic and vital funding for all important groups that are more often than not overlooked.