Monday, August 29, 2005

Eliminating the Public Advocate

Anyone who is familiar with my campaign knows that my #1 issue is eliminating the office of Public Advocate altogether. Recently I came across this NY Post editorial from last December that makes essentially the same points I have been making throughout my campaign. Now that I think about it, I do recall reading this editorial at the time, but I had forgotten about it. Anyway, I agree with everything below:

28 December 2004
New York Post

Publicity-hound lawyer and public scold Norman Siegel says he’s decided to challenge incumbent Betsy Gotbaum next year for New York City public advocate – a position whose only other prior holder was Mark Green. Apparently, the 2-to-1 trouncing he got from Gotbaum in the 2001 Democratic primary runoff hasn’t lessened Siegel’s appetite for the office.

Well, that’s his right, of course.

But does anyone need further proof of this job’s utter uselessness than the fact that Norman Siegel aspires to win it?

Voters in 2002 overwhelmingly approved a measure that not only stripped Gotbaum of the ceremonial position of presiding over City Council meetings but also mandated a special election within 60 days of a mayor’s incapacity – instead of letting the public advocate take over for the rest of the term.

In other words, whatever substance this job might once have had is gone.

Since then, Gotbaum’s most notable achievement has been a “report” charging that the 2003 summer blackout inconvenienced seniors. Wow.

As for Siegel – well, it’s been 15 years or so since he last took a pitiful, mentally ill homeless woman to Harvard as a “lecturer” on NewYork’s shortcomings.

But the fact remains that the Public Advocate, a job created 10 years ago, is the most pointless political position in the entire city. It provides nothing of value except a platform for someone who likes holding press conferences – to wit: Green, Gotbaum, Siegel – and hopes to run for higher office.

And that’s no reason to be spending scarce tax dollars. This position has to go.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hardfire Debate on the Web

Gary Popkin, the intrepid producer of Hardfire, captured the streaming video of last night's Public Advocate debate and preserved most of it for posterity on the web. Due to technical difficulties, the first 10 minutes is missing (including my brilliant argument that the position should be eliminated), but still some good stuff there.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Public Advocate Forum September 8

We'll see if the wuss-burgers show up for this one. I will be participating in a Public Advocate candidates forum at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, 208 West 13th Street, at 6:30 p.m. Stop by to cheer or heckle me as you see fit.

VCR Alert

If you live in Brooklyn, be sure to check out tonight's repeat episode of Hardfire, where I debate my opponents for Public Advocate. All the candidates participated, except wuss-burgers Gotbaum and Rasiej. The program is at 10:30 pm on channel 35 on Time-Warner cable or channel 68 on Cablevision.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Letter of the Week

The good news is that the Village Voice not only published my letter, but actually ran it at the top as the Letter of the Week. The bad news is they strangely omitted by name and location. That's particularly strange, since the editor even called on Friday to confirm my location.

I guess there's a chance that's just a glitch in the web edition. I won't be able to check the print edition until I return to NYC from vacation on Saturday.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Somebody in the Media Likes Me!

Run, don't walk, to you newstand, and buy a copy of today's NY Sun. Then check out the wonderful editorial on page 8 about my matching funds lawsuit.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

My Magrittean campaign promise

Thanks to Audrey Silk for pointing out that my campaign is kinda sorta mentioned deep inside this article in this week's NY Observer. (Search for Libertarian.) Who knew I had made a "Magrittean campaign promise", whatever that means? Well, I guess people who read the Observer would know what it means, but I don't know any.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

My big day in court

This morning Judge Feinman heard oral arguments in Lesczynski v. Bloomberg, my lawsuit to overturn the city's matching funds program. It was a lot more low-key than I expected. The courtroom was a small room in the old court building at 80 Centre Street, not the big fancy Supreme Court building at 60 Centre. There were about 18 cases on the docket, I was #6, but the city attorney and I were the first parties to sign in with the clerk, so the judge heard us first.

The clerk called for us to come back to the judge's chamber, and I assumed they must want us to fill out some form or something, but he actually sat us down and had the hearing right there in his office. There was no call to order or swearing in or anything like that; the judge just started casually asking us questions.

A reporter from the NY Sun showed up late, and the stupid court officer told the reporter he wasn't allowed to join us, but luckily Mark Axinn arrived at the same time and overheard that conversation, and insisted that they allow the reporter and Mark to observe the proceedings.

So we're all in the judge's office at a conference table, and the judge laid into the city attorney for sloppy paperwork. The judge received the notice of motion but not the accompanying memorandum of law, and he had to call the clerk's office yesterday to get a copy, which irritated him. The judge also reprimanded the city attorney for citing the wrong statute numbers twice in her motion papers. That's not a big deal, but it was nice to see the judge peeved at the defendants early on. :-)

We spent a bit of time on the city's technical defenses regarding statute of limitations and standing, but the judge cut through that quickly and spent a lot more time on the merits of the case -- the free speech arguments. The city attorney went right for Buckley v. Valeo, the US Supreme Court case that upheld the presidential matching funds program. The judge pointed out before I could the key difference between the presidential matching funds program and the city version is the feds at least give you an optional checkoff to fund that on your 1040, whereas there is no opt-out provision in the city program. The city attorney didn't have a response to that one.

I spoke some more about the right to free speech including the right not to speak, blah blah blah, and the judge seemed very appreciative of my arguments. Overall, it went as well as I could possibly expect. The judge said he is intimately familiar with the campaign finance law, that he has been reading a lot of case law and history of campaign finance, and is very interested in this topic. An attorney for the Campaign Finance Board was present but not representing the defendants, and the judge acknowledged that he has many cases on his docket regarding participants in the program, and the judge joked to the CFB attorney that it would be great if he ruled the program was unconstitutional because he could clear her from his caseload. :-)

The judge thanked us and advised us that he would render a decision "but it will be awhile". He had us fill out envelopes so he could send us the decision. Mark says the guideline is typically 60 days for a decision. As I said, it went as well as could possibly be expected, so now all we can do is wait and get lucky.