Green for Mayor

Public Advocate Is the Best Choice

He brought the same insight and perspective to office when he was elected the city's first Public Advocate, and unlike many other leaders in his party, he consistently refused to duck battles with Giuliani. A year into the Giuliani administration, Green found that the welfare office was improperly denying benefits to the needy. He blasted Giuliani's first budget for its draconian cuts to recycling, bridge maintenance, libraries, and day-care centers while at the same time the mayor was handing huge tax breaks to major corporations.

The result was that Green's name was placed atop the administration's ever growing enemies list, the budget for his office cut, and the Public Advocate barred from speaking at city housing projects. While others in city government seemed to have difficulty finding their voices when it came to challenging Giuliani, Green stood openly and often courageously alone.

But he has always been more than just a critic. He has rightly prided himself on being a forward-thinking politician, rushing to embrace new technologies, calling on state and city government to aid emerging businesses by cutting utility taxes, making cheaper power available, and creating new high-tech zones.

Mark Green, candidate for mayor
Photo: Julia Xanthos
Mark Green, candidate for mayor

Is he still often too clever by half? Do his overuse of quips, his penchant for green ink, his love of TV cameras often make us cringe? Are we already weary of that ever-raised index finger that always seems to be accompanied by the use of the first-person pronoun? Oh yes. Luckily for him, these are not the things on which most voters decide.

More seriously disturbing has been his rush to adopt new positions in an effort to make himself palatable to moderates, including his call for an end to all parole without even knowing who would be most affected.

But these hesitations are far outweighed by his long record of active concern and assistance for those left behind by the economy, those shut out of government, and the victims of official abuse. They are also put aside in the belief that, in a general election matched against a free-spending billionaire who cares nothing for campaign finance reforms, Green is the most likely to prevail. We urge readers to cast their votes for Mark Green.

Berman for Comptroller

The rationale for the Voice's endorsement of City Councilman Herb Berman for comptroller starts with his opponent, William Thompson. In a diverse city in desperate need for diverse leadership, Thompson at first appeared to be an able and amiable option.

But he could not answer fundamental questions raised in news stories published in this paper about his rather bizarre and disturbing professional history. His gross violations of securities regulations as an investment banker over a period of years, as well as his tainted business associations and misleading submissions to the city's Conflict of Interest Board, disqualify Thompson for this sensitive and significant post.

As chair of the City Council's powerful Finance Committee, Herb Berman has long been an accessible, intelligent, mediating influence in the city's budget process. He brings decades of experience and sound judgment to the job of chief fiscal officer. His progressive roots and fiscal probity indicate that he will continue—in the tradition of outgoing comptroller Alan Hevesi—to use his pension investment, audit, prevailing wage, and budget oversight powers to balance the city's efforts to meet social needs with its ability to pay the bills.

Berman, however, also failed to answer critical questions raised in these news pages about his acceptance of $55,000 in contributions from the Wilpon family and associates at the same time that he steered through the council a minor-league stadium boondoggle for the Mets. While Berman argues that he championed the stadium because it was the only way to rescue a barren Coney Island, he cannot explain why he did nothing to try to alter the terms of a deal that was a giveaway to his benefactors.

Even more troubling was Berman's refusal to take a clear stand during his endorsement interview on a potential billion-dollar city investment in two major-league stadiums—one more for the Wilpons and one for George Steinbrenner. Even though Rudy Giuliani appears just a primary away from announcing these deals, Berman kept telling the Voice that any position he might take now would be "premature." Berman's stadium bluster suggests that he and his sidekick, Council Speaker Peter Vallone, may already have a secret deal with Mayor Baseball.

Despite these errors on the Berman scorecard, we have confidence that over a long four-year season, Herb Berman will do many of the right things necessary to lead and safeguard this city.

Norman Siegel for Public Advocate

It's easy to imagine underachievement in a Public Advocate. The citywide office has a tiny budget, limited ability to investigate, and no enforcement power. Yet its mission is vast: to make government good, both by resolving the day-to-day complaints of individual New Yorkers and by identifying and seeking reform of systemic failings and abuses. The current and only Public Advocate so far, Mark Green, has done a good job. But the possibilities for this young office remain wide open; the potential for innovation, in fact, is exciting. The post requires an individual with an ambitious—even radical—vision for progress, boundless energy, intelligence and insight, genuine empathy for the people he serves, and, perhaps most important, a certain irreverence for convention.

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