Mark Green’s 311 Story

Yesterday, the New York Post ran a story saying Mark Green is improperly claiming credit for 311, a program that was used in other cities and contemplated by the previous mayor before being implemented by Michael Bloomberg.

The article quotes Green at an April 21 event saying, “I had an idea, one of a hundred. I called it 311.”

Green’s campaign responded in the article by saying the candidate “championed” the idea, and was later “given credit” by Bloomberg himself.

In response to that story, an interested reader sent this video of several of Green’s public comments about 311 at various public advocate forums. In it, Green refers to being “the first” who advocated for “an idea I called 311.”

For the record, Green’s shorthand description of his role is selective and clumsy, in an Al Gore–Internet way. His phrasing suggests that he came up with the idea, which he didn’t. He was, however, an early advocate.

In terms of the “first” claim, his campaign points to what The New York Times wrote in 2002, which was that the “Giuliani administration studied the possible creation of a 311 system, in part to deal with an increase in 911 calls, but determined that it was not feasible to pursue.”

The campaign also points out that on July 5, 2001, Green’s mayoral campaign wrote in a press release “Results for 311 have been impressive in other cities.” (His rivals at the time accused him of poaching the idea.)

And they referred me to Christopher Lynn, a former transportation commissioner and TLC commissioner in the Giuliani administration who later endorsed Green for mayor.

Lynn said Green does deserve credit for bringing the idea to New York City. In a telephone interview yesterday, Lynn said he started a 311-like program for the transportation department under Giuliani, and met resistance from Giuliani over it.

Lynn also said he remembers the newly elected mayor Michael Bloomberg giving credit to Green for advocating for 311 and championing the idea here.

So, once again, Green was in a decent position here on the merits. If only he could get out of his own way.