Mother Dearest & the Courthouse Cabal

A Public Advocate Candidate Has a Patronage Problem

The Times may still endorse the comptroller, despite the clear finding that he attempted an end-run around the reform system it cherishes, and despite the mounting evidence that Morris's point-of-light volunteerism wasn't the only CFB evasion. A Voice look at the exempt expenses claimed by the four camps puts Hevesi in solid first place with $611,421, making him the most ingenious of the candidates in figuring out how to spend money without it counting against the expenditure cap. Though it hasn't been announced yet, the CFB has already quietly nixed about $70,000 of that total—knocking out Hevesi's attempt to claim taxes the campaign paid on interest earnings.

Peter Vallone is the next highest at $426,658 in exempt expenses, Mark Green at $299,966 and Freddy Ferrer at $218,980. Incredibly, Hevesi, in part by pretending to run on a third line in addition to the Democratic and Liberal lines, has claimed $334,978 in petitioning costs versus a paltry $9099 for Ferrer, $38,672 for Vallone, and $95,105 for Green. The CFB may not be able to do anything about it—obviously Hevesi is disguising street and door-to-door leafleting as petitioning—but no one who cares about the level playing field that the CFB is designed to create can be deceived by this transparent game.

Most curious is that Hevesi has submitted $46,500 in payments to Laurelton Car Service as exempt expenditures, ostensibly related to driving petitioners around, a bizarre and unparalleled claim. David Early, who gathered petitions at $10 an hour for Hevesi for six days and collected more signatures than anyone on his team, says he traveled exclusively by train all over the city and knew of no one who was driven. Since Hevesi has a history of concealing election-day transport expenses (and was forced to report it after his 1993 election), the Laurelton expenses may well be pre-payment for the planned pickup of elderly and other voters on primary day.

Scott Stringer: a district leader at 23. His career has always been guided by his mother, the pol.
Scott Stringer: a district leader at 23. His career has always been guided by his mother, the pol.

The other apparent Hevesi maneuver is the low-balling of a cost that does count against the cap—polling. Hevesi has reported paying for only one poll—produced by Washington pollsters Garin, Hart & Yang at a measly cost of $25,500 (he reportedly did another this weekend). Green has paid $144,508 for polls, Ferrer $139,398, and Vallone, $96,026. Is it a coincidence that the Hevesi backers at the United Federation of Teachers use the same pollsters, and that spokesman Dick Reilly won't answer detailed questions about what the firm has done for them this year?

Nader Nukes Profligate Protégé

Ralph Nader is bringing out the paternal paddle for protégé Mark Green. He told the Voice that he talked with Green last week about the mayoral candidate's support of the Giuliani plan for a city-subsidized new Stock Exchange building, slated to cost nearly a billion dollars in public funds.

Saying he'd talked to Green about the boondoggle a few months ago and again last week, Nader charged that "Mark's position flies in the face" of his history of opposition to corporate giveaways. "I asked him, What's going on here? And he said, It's a done deal. When he was with me, he would have been the first to say we should do an article or a book on this. He doesn't even try to justify it."

Nader, who hired Green fresh out of Harvard Law School in 1970 and worked with him over the next 20 years in Washington and New York, said he was "very proud of Mark," but only "until he makes the wrong decisions." He said the establishment is "in the process of processing Mark and we're going to hold him to his beliefs."

"I don't expect him to be a kamikaze mayor. He can't be the same as he was as Public Advocate or consumer commissioner. He's got to juggle a lot of considerations, but there's a limit to how much he can juggle. It's never going to be a question of a lack of knowledge or insight with Mark. It's going to be the sheer question of whether he can stand up to corporate power, abuse, and immunity."

Nader also raised an intriguing question about the "coasting" nature of Green's campaign. "The only way to have a mandate that challenges the power structure is to run on it, but that's clearly not their strategy," he said. If Green is mayor, he will not be able "to say to the corporations, 'I made these promises; I have this mandate.' We're going to see the real Mark after the election."

Green endorsed Al Gore for president in 2000, when Nader ran, but the two were getting along well enough at the end of that campaign that Green was able to broker a pre-election meeting between Nader and another man who's taking his shots at Green this week: Reverend Al Sharpton.

Research assistance: Douglas Gillison, Gregory Bensinger, Brian Bernbaum, Joey Fishkin, Lisa Schneider

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