Volume 18 • Issue 15 | September 01 - 08, 2005


Siegel for advocate

Public advocate may be the only position in city government that Norman Siegel could do well. The civil liberties attorney is a consummate outsider and that just may be what we need to define a little-known position that technically is the second-highest-ranked position in the city after mayor.

Betsy Gotbaum, the incumbent, has done little to show why the position is necessary. She has produced many reports in the last four years but they have not led to much. Recently, we learned during a TV debate that Gotbaum believes she is being followed by a stalker, and so does not make her daily agenda public.

If the mayor were to die in office, the public advocate would take the reins at City Hall — thankfully for only 60 days until there is a special election. That’s a short period of time and Mayor Bloomberg, as well as his Democratic opponents, appear to be in good health.

Other than assuming control in an emergency, the main role of the advocate should be to be a thorn in the side of the mayor and the city powers that be. Siegel has a long career of making the comfortable uncomfortable and we’d like to see what he can do inside government. He has been an advocate for the anti-Republican protestors mistreated at last summer’s convention and the Critical Mass bicyclists in their ongoing efforts to ride in their monthly event. He also takes on less sexy issues, such as representing Tribeca residents fighting the dangerous amounts of diesel fuel being stored at 60 Hudson St.

In short, Siegel has the right sort of track record and chutzpah for the job. He’s not afraid to speak out and cause a ruckus, if necessary. The incumbent simply has been too low key and the office has not been used to its fullest during her tenure.

Although the politically well-connected Gotbaum has a lot of impressive political endorsements, Siegel has tellingly won the support of many local Democratic clubs and human rights organizations, from the Village Independent Democrats to the National Organization for Women, NOW — the latter over a female candidate, no less.

Andrew Rasiej, another candidate in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary, is focused on better Wi-Fi connections, which may be a good goal, but advocate is not the best place to make it happen. Downtown Express endorses Norman Siegel for public advocate.

Morgenthau for D.A.

Robert Morgenthau was first elected to be Manhattan’s district attorney 31 years ago and has built a professional, nonpolitical prosecutors’ office that has been a model. We do have concerns about his age, but at 85, Morgenthau still has the energy to run 1 Hogan Pl. and we don’t see evidence of backsliding there. His opponent, former state Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder, became famous as a tough-talking legal commentator. Her fundraising and judicial assignment decisions have raised ethical questions and we wonder if she will be too concerned with grabbing good headlines. If we were booking a pithy talking head for a show, we’d pick Snyder. We need a D.A. we can trust. Downtown Express endorses Bob Morgenthau.


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