1. CAMPAIGN FINANCE: The city's landmark campaign finance program is now 13 years old.
a) What is your assessment of how the program is working? What changes, if any, would you seek in that law?
I believe The New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) is doing an excellent job of administering a law that is inequitable and does little, if anything, and to protect the public from the deleterious effect of special-interest money. In 1997, for example, during the race for mayor, former Borough President Ruth Messinger obtained in matching funds $1,281,407, former City Councilman Sal Albanese received $254,2501 while two minority mayoral candidates, Al Sharpton and Eric Ruane-Melendez obtained nothing. The inequities could be even larger this year with the matching funds ratio change from one for one to four for one. The media is replete with stories detailing how special interests are bundling campaign contributions and how an entire industry, real estate, is distributing contributions equally among leading candidates. I would amend the law as follows: Replace matching funds with equal time on Public Access TV and Crosswalks (See reply to Question 4) for all candidates linked to an enhanced and expanded Voter Guide that would include where the candidates stand on significant issues and listing of all TV, Radio appearances and candidate forums plus instructions on how to obtain Voters Directory of non-profit groups (e.g. Citizens Union, Sierra Club, League of Women Voters, etc.), mailing prior to election of a separate Voter Guide listing and defining all contributions.
b) In 1998, the law was amended in several ways. These include a four-to-one match of smaller contributions from city residents; a ban on corporate contributions; a requirement that candidates disclose if contributors are doing business with the city; and a requirement that political action committees register with the board to qualify as contributors. What is your opinion of the impact of these changes?
Obviously the impact of these changes has not discouraged special interests, but it has made the matching funds costs far more expensive to the city treasury
2. ETHICS RULES: The city charter's conflicts of interest rules were last revised in 1988.
a) What changes, if any, do you support in the city's current conflicts of interest provisions?
New York City's conflict of interest rules are inadequate as recognized by the "New York State Commissioner on Government Integrity," headed by Dean John Feerick of Fordham Law School, formerly head of Citizens Union Foundation. The Feerick commission recommended "a ban on the solicitation of campaign contributions from those who led business dealings with the city, and a ban on the making contributions by those who led business dealings with the City."
b) The charter's "revolving door" rules prohibit former city employees from representing paying clients before their former agency for one year after leaving city service. Similar revolving door prohibition on the state level is for two years; five years on some federal level. Do you believe the city's current revolving door provisions are adequate?
They are grossly inadequate. The mediocre level of services delivered by New York City in comparison to those delivered when LaGuardia was mayor reflect patronage employees in high positions preparing themselves for raiding the city treasury once they are on the other side of the "revolving door." Elimination of patronage, having all agencies run by career civil servants and- awarding of contracts through a strict method of sealed bidding or by quasi-judicial officers would contribute towards cleaner government.
3. CITY HALL STEPS: There has been an ongoing controversy on access to City Hall and its steps, with Mayor Giuliani
citing security concerns to impose a permit system for groups seeking to hold news conferences and other events on the steps and plaza area.
What would be your policy on the use of City Hall for these activities? Do you support, oppose or have another position on the current
permitting regulations? A bill -- Intro 657-A -- is pending in the City Council to suspend the permitting requirements for groups under a certain
number. Do you support, oppose or have another position on the bill?
My policy on the use of City Hall and its steps would be to make it as easy as possible for groups to hold news conferences and stage other events. Intro 657-A is a step forward
4. CROSSWALKS: In 1993, the city created the Crosswalks channels, which cablecasts the public activities of the mayor,
City Council, other officials and city agencies.
a) What, if any, changes would you make in Crosswalks coverage and operations?
Similar to Boston where it works well and has been praised by the New York Times sister newspaper, the Boston Globe, I would make Crosswalks available to candidates for political and party office on an interactive TV equal time basis. The public access channels under the control of the Borough Presidents would also be involved. If such a plan war in effect today, the city treasury could save the estimated inequitably distributed $65 to $100 million cost of the current matching fund expenditure for the city's Campaign Finance Program, much of which ends up in uninformative puff advertising and the pockets of consultants, pollsters and election law lawyers.
b) In recent years, the city has used its Crosswalks channels in a variety of ways. These include cablecast of track races to assist the Off Track Betting Corporation; leasing the channels to commercial foreign language program; and for CUNY television. Would you continue these uses? What other kind of programming would you envision for Crosswalks?
I would end cablecasts of track races. Government should not promote gambling. I would like to make available Crosswalks and Public Access Channels to the Friends of WBAI and cultural institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, etc.
5. PUBLIC INFORMATION: The 1989 charter created a Commission on Public Information and Communication, chaired by the Public
Advocate. It mission includes: reviewing city information policies and the use of new communications technologies for the city; and issuing
advisory opinions on Open Meetings and Freedom of Information requests. It has not been funded since 1991 and has rarely met in recent years.
a) What role, if any, do you see COPIC serving during the next four years?
I believe the first part of this question is best addressed to candidates for Public Advocate. Funding should be restored
b) What other steps would you take to assist New Yorkers in obtaining information about government activities and services?
By executive order all activities of the government would be accessible to the media and the public.
6. WHISTEBLOWERS: What additional protections, if any, would you support to protect city employees who report government
corruption, waste or inefficiency?
The Human Rights Commission would have authority to handle civil liberty complaints in the same manner as civil rights complaints. As Mayor, I would encourage whistleblowing.
7. CONTRACTING: New York City purchases more than $7 billion a year in goods and services. The new charter made sweeping
changes in the way the city contracts, placing basic authority for the award of city contracts with the office of the mayor. What steps have you
taken and would you take to insure efficient and ethical city contracting?
Much of the contracting is either useless or could be done by civil service at a savings of easily 75 percent, according to a 1992 Parks Department study. All other contracts should be done by sealed bidding. The Feerick Commission On Government Integrity recommended an end to Request for Proposals (RFPs). This should be enacted promptly. A major problem for clean government is the fact that no bid contractors sit on the boards of advocacy groups, including sponsors of this questionnaire, that are supposed to be advocating government reform. This is at least partly responsible for the mushrooming contracting out costs that the city has faced in recent years. Reducing contracting, privatization and patronage will free funding for providing New York City with a satisfactory human and physical infrastructure.
8. DEPARTMENT OF INVESTIGATION: The Commissioner of Investigations serves at the pleasure of the mayor. Some have argued that
granting the commissioner a fixed term would increase their independence; others have said that it is important for the commissioner to be fully
accountable to a mayor and thus removable when necessary. Do you support, oppose or have another position on having the commissioner serve
for a fixed term?
The Department of Investigation should be completely free of interference of the mayor or other elected officials. The Commissioner and all employees should hold civil service rank.
9. PRIVATE FUNDS: There has been continuing controversies about the use of private funds in government projects.
a) Past mayors have set up private corporations to solicit funds for summit meetings, travel abroad, parades, inaugurations and other events. What is your view on the appropriate role for the use of private funds to support these initiatives?
There is no appropriate role for private funds to support these initiatives, many of which should be abandoned for less two organizations such as the Association for a Better New York.
b) City parks officials came under fire for requiring groups wishing to use parks for private events to pay differing fees to benefit a private parks foundation. How would you handle this situation?
The groups should pay reasonable costs for the events. Private parks foundations should solicit their own money.
10. POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT: What are or would be your guidelines for insuring that government staff and resources
not be abused for political campaign purposes?
In accordance with the policies of Richard Childs, Samuel Seabury and other Citizens Union leaders, patronage would be abolished and government staff and resources would not be involved in political campaigns except as individuals exerting their First Amendment rights.
11. VOTER REGISTRATION: Nearly two million New Yorkers who are eligible to vote are not registered to vote. In 2000, the
city enacted a Pro-Voter law to strengthen voter registration activities by city agencies, including the non-partisan Voter Assistance Commission.
As mayor, what steps would you take to encourage voter registration and participation? What role do you see for the Voter
The mayor should use his bully pulpit to press for maximum registration. This will be a top order of business.
12. INDEPENDENT BUDGET OFFICE: Both former Mayor Dinkins and Mayor Giuliani opposed establishing an Independent Budget
Office, saying it was unnecessary despite civic and editorial support for the office. The IBO was eventually set up in 1995 by court order.
Do you support, oppose or have another position on the continued existence of the IBO?
I recently, with the assistance of the Independent Budget Office, uncovered a $701 million shortfall in the New York City pension fund (NYCER). This office should be maintained and properly funded.
13. ELECTIONS: What steps would you take as mayor to improve and modernize how city elections are run by the Board of
Actually, The Board of Elections is not a badly run agency by current New York City standards. The employees are courteous, helpful and knowledgeable to candidates and others seeking information. The outdated equipment the Board of Elections employs is largely the fault of the mayor, the former Board of Estimate and the City Council. All employees should be civil service. The Campaign Finance Board is also a well-run agency by city standards with courteous, helpful and knowledgeable staff. Laws that require amending restrict both agencies.
14. TERM LIMITS: Term limits for all elected officials are due to take effect his year. Do you support, oppose or have
another position on the city's term limits law?
I supported term limits both times it was on the ballot and would back it again while recognizing it is not a panacea. Term limits could be amended for New York City Council elections if proportional representation would be restored as I advocate.
15. OTHER STEPS: What other steps, not discussed in answer to any of the above questions, would you take to enhance the
integrity of city government, to fight corruption, and to reduce potential conflicts of interest in city government?
Elimination of patronage, privatization and no bid contracting would go a long way towards enhancing the integrity of city government. That will be a first order of business of the next administration if I am mayor. The influence of no bid contractors, and recycled patronage employees on civic groups, including sponsors of this questionnaire, is properly beyond the reach of the mayor. The integrity of city government would be enhanced if these civic groups compared their own miniscule records in fighting corruption and wasteful government with the titanic results of Citizens Union, The City Club, etc. when, during the 1930s and 1940s, they were under the influence of Richard Childs, Samuel Seabury, George Hallet and others of like mind (and no bid contractors and recycled patronage employees played no role).