Former Gov. Mario Cuomo, a giant in the Democratic party, on Wednesday endorsed Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D–Park Slope), a life-sized giant, in his bruising race for public advocate.
The support from the three-term governor is a boost of indeterminate value to DeBlasio, the leggy lawmaker who faces stiff competition from better-known former public advocate Mark Green, better-funded Councilman Eric Gioia (D–Queens) and civil liberties lawyer Norman Siegel.
“Bill DeBlasio has a proven record of making government more responsive and responsible,” said Cuomo.
DeBlasio has long ties to the Cuomo clan. In 2001, the former governor endorsed him in his first run for city council. And DeBlasio worked for Mario’s son Andrew, now the attorney general, when the younger Cuomo was the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for President Clinton.
He also benefits from the bad blood between the Cuomos and Green, who earned his reputation as a Cuomo-phobe by bitterly and unsuccessfully campaigning against Andrew Cuomo in the 2006 primary for attorney general.
Mario Cuomo denied that there was any lingering feud, but told the New York Times on Wednesday that he did not like Green’s tactics against his son in the ’06 race.
“I have no animus toward Mark Green, but I was displeased with some of the things that he did in the campaign,” the Gray Lady reported.
Wednesday’s announcement was coupled with DeBlasio unveiling a five-point plan for overhauling city government.
His plan calls for:
• Increasing ballot access for candidates by simplifying the stringent regulations of the Board of Elections.
• Boosting voter turnout by allowing electronic registration, election-day registration, early voting and creating online resources to facilitate civic participation
• Create a Freedom of Information Unit that would help New Yorkers get information from city agencies.
• Posting more data online about the city school system, including daily attendance figures and detailed graduation rates.
• Producing an annual report of city agencies independent of the mayor’s performance reviews.
“I believe the fundamental responsibility of the Public Advocate is to make city government more democratic, transparent and accountable, and that’s exactly what I intend to do,” said DeBlasio.
Of course, the other candidates have produced their own initiatives for improving city government and the lives of their constituents.
Blowing DeBlasio out of the water in terms of quantity of ideas (though not necessarily quality), Green uncorked 100 ideas for improving the city, such as subsidized Internet access for everyone and using the Web to disperse emergency announcements.
Siegel came in next with a 14-point plan crafted specifically to reform the public advocate’s office, which entails holding more press conferences (#3) and opening satellite office of the public advocate in each borough (#5).
Gioia, among other ideas, has said the education system would be improved by adding extracurricular programs and starting universal schooling at age 3.
The four pols running for public advocate have clashed frequently, including a debate held last week by the Community Newspaper Group in conjunction with Brooklyn Independent Television on the BCAT TV Network.
That debate, moderated by Brooklyn Paper Editor Gersh Kuntzman, will air first on Friday, Aug. 21 and repeat on Aug. 25. It will be available online at BoroPolitics.com and bricartsmedia.org/bitspecials.
©2009 Community News Group
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