De Blasio Sees Public Advocate as Check on Mayor

City Councilman Bill de Blasio, who just declared he will run for public advocate, is beginning his campaign by advocating for the position itself.

Saying he imagines the office as a place for “independent information and ideas,” de Blasio told me just now that he would like to establish an independent revenue stream for the office so the public advocate is not beholden to the mayor or the City Council.

(Current Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum has been very low-profile, in part because funding for the office was slashed soon after she was elected.)

De Blasio envisions an arrangement similar to the Independent Budget Office.

“They’re all meant to deal with the overwhelming power of this mayoralty,” said de Blasio.

A spokeswoman for Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum wrote to say that the budget for the office was cut 40 percent since 2002, “which is why for over a year, she only had 2 staffers in the policy department, one person in community affairs, a jr. level person for intergov, and no press secretary until almost May.”

The spokeswoman, Gia Storm, said funding for the office had been restored somewhat, but was hit with an 8.3 percent cut this year.

De Blasio Sees Public Advocate as Check on Mayor