The Kid From Great Neck

Grown-Up Green Is Poised to Run ‘the City’

As much as Green talks diversity, his inner circle of top policy-making advisers has long been very white, with exceptions like current aide Barry Ford, who was hired at the start of the election year. Latinos have been even lower on the Green totem pole, with the highest-ranking holding down administrative posts. David Dinkins is apparently his closest black friend, though he might not remain that once he learns that Green dissed his tennis game to the Voice. "He needs to work on his backhand," said Green, who had arthroscopic surgery on a knee a few years ago but still smirks at any thought that Dinkins could beat him.

Other blacks who worked closely with Green in the Dinkins era, like Deputy Mayor Bill Lynch, are not endorsing him now. "I asked him a couple years ago to name the blacks who are his key people, and he couldn't," Lynch recalls. On Fernando Ferrer's campaign payroll now, Lynch says, "I'm concerned about that."

Some of the same ambiguities cloud Green's campaign finance future. Though he's been writing for two decades about the ugly power of money in politics, he has no plans to restrict the flow of contributions to his committee from people doing business with the city if he becomes mayor. "I've never thought that far ahead," he demurs, saying the same about any changes in the lobbying practices that have been such a scandal in both the Giuliani and Dinkins eras. So powerless as public advocate that he was "hardly ever lobbied," nor could he attract quid-pro-quo contributions, he laughs at the notion that he might have achieved his Mr. Clean status due to a lack of opportunity. "It was either idealism or luck," he says, offering no ethics reform specifics, though his campaign has dumped many long-winded proposals about other issues on reporters' desks. Green acknowledges that in July, for the first time in his political career, he started getting large front-running donations over the transom, without his having to get on the phone and beg. "They're not giving because they believe in me; they're giving because they're worried about me," he smiles. If he does not embrace a clear new personal standard of campaign finance conduct, so should we all be.

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