Tag Archives: Rudolph Giuliani

How to Restructure City Government

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio

Does it really make sense to cast separate ballots for a mayor and the official who succeeds him in event of mayoral disability (right now, the public advocate)? Or should the charter be revised so voters can cast a single ballot for a team, as they do for President and Vice-President, or for New York State’s governor and lieutenant governor?

One female Democratic district leader in Brooklyn who asked to remain unidentified thinks the team idea makes sense: “Two peas in a pod works fine for 60 days. Right now, it’s the public advocate until the special election, and if he doesn’t know what’s going on with the mayor, you have chaos.” Continue reading

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Charter Revision Alumni Weigh In

F. A. O. Schwarz, Jr. photo courtesy praxagora.com

You wouldn’t expect that a panel discussion by former charter revision commission chairs would be enlightening or amusing, but it was both. Monday’s webcast panel at Baruch College featured former commission chairs Richard Ravitch (1986-88), F.A.O. Schwarz, Jr. (1989), Randy Mastro ( 1999, 2001), Frank Macchiarola (2003), and Ester Fuchs (2005). Current commission chair Matthew Goldstein moderated; several of his colleagues participated in the questioning.

The senior panelists agreed that Mayor Bloomberg’s 2010 commission has no choice but to address term limits (although they couldn’t agree on how), that New York’s strong mayoralty must continue, and that the borough presidents’ offices should be strengthened. What they didn’t agree on — term limits, their impact on minority voting, the fate of the public advocate, and non-partisan elections — provided some lively back-and-forth. Continue reading

Charter Revision: How to Reduce Conflicts of Interest

Patricia E. Harris

Writing in The NY Times City Room Blog, Michael Barbaro calls attention to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s announcement naming “Patricia E. Harris, the second-most powerful official at City Hall, to be the chief executive and chairwoman of the multibillion-dollar Bloomberg Family Foundation.”

Barbaro notes that “in 2008, Ms. Harris and a City Hall aide, Allison Jaffin, obtained a waiver from the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board to work at the foundation while keeping her job at City Hall, arguing that her work was voluntary and involved minimal use of public resources. At the time, however, she held the title of president.”

Barbaro’s story has drawn dozens of comments from readers, most of them critical of Mayor Bloomberg’s use of his vast personal wealth to influence city policy. Continue reading

Government 101, Lesson 2: Why Does NYC Have So Many Traffic Lights?

Well, actually, only about 12,000 of NYC’s 43,000 intersections are “signalized.” The borough with the most traffic lights is Brooklyn, with over 4,000. One report has it that the first red-green light in NYC was installed in 1930.

By the Giuliani administration, the numbers were in the thousands, and the city’s Department of Transportation needed 34 months to evaluate whether an intersection needed one. Giuliani saw the lights as an easy way to curry favor with constituents, so he instructed Transportation Commissioner Christopher Lynn to eliminate a 600-light backlog and cut the study time. Lynn reduced the study time to 12 weeks. During his regime, the number of traffic lights installed went from 56 in 1995 to 169 in 1996, and to a a planned 222 in the first five months of 1997. By early 1997, the city’s traffic lights totaled 10,687. By January, 2006, after Michael Bloomberg had been in office for four years, the number had increased to 11,871. Continue reading

Mayors Are Made, Not Born

Everything about Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is extreme: zero smoking in restaurants, 200 miles of new bike lanes, a million new trees, a hundred million bucks to get re-elected, a 180-degree turnaround on term limits, a 50-state gun control agenda, sharp reductions in parental control over 1,600 schools…. The list goes on and on.

But if you think about it, you’ll realize that Bloomberg’s predecessor, Rudy Giuliani, also was a man of extremes, albeit less creative, more abrasive, and — we think — less convinced of his own omniscience. But he, too, did things in a big way. Continue reading