Monday, July 04, 2005

Talk of the Town

Nobody reads The New Yorker anymore, of course, but if they did they'd see a particularly snarky entry in this week's Talk of the Town column about the race for Public Advocate. Don't get me wrong: The race for Public Advocate is a subject entirely worthy of snarkiness, but this piece is just lame. It leads off with a great quote from me (“I promise to report to work just long enough to fire the staff and padlock the office.”) that they don't even bother to attribute.

After goofing on a few of the other candidates and lamenting the lack of respect for the Public Advocate, the writer tries to argue that "the office holds so much promise!" Among his dubious assertions is that the Public Advocate is second in line to the mayor in case of emergency. At one time that was true, but a public referendum in 2002 changed the city charter, so that now we would have a special election within 60 days of the mayor's demise. The Public Advocate would be interim mayor for a whopping two months. The writer also claims that the Public Advocate can break ties in the City Council, which is technically true, but he neglects to point out that the Council Speaker never lets anything come up for a vote unless it is guaranteed to pass. With 48 of the 51 council seats controlled by Democrats, the Speaker always gets his way, and on those rare occasions when some rebels get out of line and vote their conscience, they find themselves swiftly stripped of perks and committee positions. At least the Vice President of the United States occasionally gets to case a deciding vote in the Senate. To my knowledge, the Public Advocate has never had the opportunity to do so in New York City Council, and never will.


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