An interested reader pointed out that, according to this 2001 New York Times article, the public advocate’s office faced a “looming fiscal crisis” back in 2001 when Rudy Giuliani trimmed its budget by 15 percent and outgoing public advocate Mark Green gave “retroactive raises for several of the office’s 45 or so staff members.”
The article, dated December 15, 2001, goes on to say, “Many of those employees are owed substantial accrued benefits, which has compounded [Betsy] Gotbaum’s budgetary woes, officials said.”
The idea is that Green’s last-minute pay raises made the office more expensive to run, making him partly responsible for just how calamitous the effects of this year’s 40 percent budget cut will be to the public advocate.
After today’s event about the cut, I asked Green about it.
“It was a different moment. A different issue. The context here was completely different,” he said.
Far from shying away, Green told me it will be a major issue on the campaign trail. He said the proposed cut shows why the next public advocate needs to have the “skills, spine and stature to stand up to City Hall.”
Green went on to say, “Of course, I was not part of the budget process that led to this result. I come at it with clean hands.”
Two of the candidates in the race, Bill de Blasio and Eric Gioia, are members of the City Counci, and were, therefore, part of the budget process that led to this result.
De Blasio voted for the budget, despite the cuts, saying he fought hard for other restorations that were in the budget. A spokesman said the councilman didn’t want to take a symbolic vote against it.
Gioia did vote against the budget, but when he did, criticized the member items in the budget, not the cut to the public advocate’s office.