This election really is good, because we are going to have
a change in government. A new mayor, a new comptroller,
a new public advocate. When you take into consideration
we have a new campaign finance formula. We are definitely
going to bring in new energy into this government. So the
question seems to me, that after eight years of Rudy Giuliani
what do we do next? Where do we stand, what do we do?
This fundamental question is going to play out throughout
the city elections. I think we as Democrats can define what
is possible going into the twenty-first century, but to
do that we have to look back, and figure out where the Democratic
Party has been. We are a democratic party that fought for
worker safety laws, fought over housing, quality education,
we fought for civil rights, and we believe actively that
people of all different backgrounds, and races, can work
together for the benefit of the city. Something changed
within the Giuliani administration, and within the Democratic
Party, and we've got to get that back. To do that we are
going to have to elect a new generation of leaders that
I think could possibly inspire a new generation of ideas,
and for that reason I run for public advocate.
I believe that in a new government the public advocate
can be at the center of fundamental change. The public advocate
votes on the city planning commission, is involved in land
decisions. I want to build our community, but at the same
time protect our community from over development. The public
advocates can introduce legislation to the council, speak
out, and serve. I want to bring my legislative record of
independence in Albany, because I was the one who led the
fight against the commuter tax. At the same time while being
activist, and independent, I've also been effective. I've
passed laws to protect women against domestic violence,
passed the New York stalking law, the order of protection
bill. Dealing with the republican Senate that's how you
have to be in the City Council. I want to be out in the
streets as the advocate working for people, and neighborhoods.
Whether it's retail, constituent service, or looking at
larger issues having to do with moderating city agencies,
making sure people get the benefits to which they are entitled.
I am trying to create an office that is independent, and
also effective. I think this is an office worth fighting
for, worth running for, and I believe that together as we
go around Manhattan, and around the city, that the best
way to govern is to do what I am trying to do in this campaign.
I am trying to put together a multi-racial, inter-generation
coalition of folks who want to see fundamental change in
our government, who want the public advocate to be able
to take on the mayor, but still be effective in the City
Council, build coalitions, fight for affordable housing,
fight for quality education.
It is wrong that our school children do not get the same
money and opportunity as kids in Long Island, and Upstate
New York. That's got to change. It's wrong that people face
eviction, because we don't have affordable housing. That
has to change. We've got to bring people together. That
definitely has to change. I think I have been involved in
the major issues of our time in the past years.
Q-Can you tell us in a little more
detail what will be the role of public advocate committee,
and how will you expand, or focus that role?
A-I think what we've got to do is use the power that is
there now. I want the public advocate to have a land use
component in the office. I want to use that function in
the office to play a leading role in how we do urban planning.
Force the city planning commission to actually do planning.
We are going to go into Brooklyn, we're going to go into
the Bronx, we are going to take family health plus, and
we're going to sign people up. We are going to tell people
their rights, we're going to take complaints, and then we
are going to look at those complaints, and then we are going
to figure out the trends.
That's what we do in my assembly office. I've written,
authored, spoken out, and written critical reports on issues.
People said "That's a great idea Scott, how did you figure
that out?" My constituents told me. When I went after MCI
for false advertising, my constituents told me. We got them
fined by the federal government for $100,000, and the "10-10"
phony advertising is no longer on TV. So I want to use the
power that's there, with the creativity, and energy that
I think I bring to this debate. To try and figure out a
way to focus this office, make it relevant, but let's use
Let's legislate in the council. Term limits is going to
make this thing wide open. Let's bring in new City Council
members. Let's have a public advocate who understands the
future of New York. Part of building a coalition is how
do you get support to do this. I'm proud to be endorsed
by Deborah Glick, for example, we are partners in Albany,
and we'll be partners if I am public advocate, and we are
going to continue to build on that.
Q-With respect to issues that you
address as public advocate, could you tell us what aspects
of the Giuliani administration did you find most objectionable,
and how would you deal with them as public advocate?
A-First off we got to bring people together. I was arrested
during the Diallo struggle. I worked in Albany with the
Black and Puerto Rican Caucus to bring the police under
control. I think we have to do that. I think we need a public
advocate who can build coalitions, but who can also speak
up for the people who view the police not as friends, but
as enemies. It's really wrong when a mother now tells a
child "Don't worry about the criminals, worry about the
police officers." That's happening in every community of
color around the city. We got to bring this back. I want
to advocate every police officer from SUNY and CUNY, at
making sure that we can attract younger people into the
department whom come from communities.
I support the 48-hour rule. You don't shoot someone 41
times, and give the cops 48 hours to get their story together.
That's got to change. That's an Albany bill that I am co-sponsoring.
I want to work on those issues. I have a passion to build
affordable housing that started in government working to
save the Mitchell Lama housing program. I have a housing
program, eighteen pages. Very boring. Read it. It is subtenant,
and I want to put that plan into effect. How dare Giuliani
to say I am going to give you $600,000,000 to build affordable
housing in the last year of his term. The truth of the matter
is we need a 3 billion dollar public work project to build
I have an idea I'd like you to look at it. I think we've
got a deal with issues like what are we going to do with
our children, and what are we going to do about public school
education, CUNY, and SUNY. We've got to make sure that our
children, the next generation has the same kind of financial
benefits, and the same kind of opportunity as those kids
from Long Island or upstate New York. You know when I was
growing up my mother just said "go to school, go to college,
you are going to compete with some very smart kids from
New York City." Parents now say "It's not about competing
in New York City, it's competing globally." It's because
of that computer, because of the things our kids have to
learn, and it's not acceptable to have a computer in every
classroom. The real issue is to have a computer at every
desk. Who is going to talk about those issues? Our kids
start behind, and our kids are not dumb. I think New York
City kids are the smartest. We got swagger, we've got attitude,
and at least I had that when I was young. Our kids are the
best in the country. I will be on the Board of Education,
the mayor, everybody from Albany to Washington.
Q-How will you deal with issues such
as teacher shortage and police department?
A-We are going to lose 54,000 teachers over the next few
years. The teacher profession has been rated under the profession
of politician. That's wrong. I've served on the communications
committee for seven years. Talked to young teachers in particular
who want to have a career being a public school teacher.
We don't pay them, we don't respect them, and it's the only
profession I know that you have to come in with your own
supplies. Teachers have to do that everyday. It's a system
that means failure. We can not allow that to happen. I will
be an advocate for qualified teachers. I will bring new
teachers into the system. At the same time we have to bring
the resources into the classroom. One of the reasons I think
I'd be a good public advocate is when parents came to me
and said, "Hey wait a minute people from Albany said eighth
graders have to take mandatory exams on how to use a microscope,
and a weight scale in May." They called up and said in my
school there are no microscopes, and weight scales. So we
surveyed the whole city, and found out we don't have them.
So what we did is we set our kids up to fail the exam. If
we don't have a microscope we can't learn about them. If
we have ten kids have to use one microscope that is broken
we can't do it. This is unacceptable, and we cannot have
that exam in May, unless we bring the tools to the table,
so our kids can learn. I want that issue out there.
That's not just being a mayor, or public advocate, that's
being a part of good government. We give large corporations
hundreds of millions of dollars to stay in New York. Good
CEO's think two things. We don't need the bribe. Give us
two things to stay for. Give us affordable housing, give
us quality education, and of course we will want to stay
in New York. The best minds are in New York. I think too
much emphasis is being put on giving the big corporations
the quick fix. There's a role for the public advocate in
this debate, and I would like to be a part of convincing
City government that if we do long range planning on these
issues, that we do save money in the end.
Q-Give us examples of issues that
you have dealt with in the assembly dealing with issues
specifically regarding the City of New York.
A-First off let me tell you a little bit about myself.
My mom ran for City Council when I was a small kid. I've
been influenced by a lot of strong women. I think I felt
very strongly that government, and politics is a way to
affect change. I am a New York City person. I believe in
the city. When school aides go to Long Island and upstate
I fight that battle, When the MTA discriminates against
New York City, I spoke out about that. I believe somebody
has got to speak for us. Somebody's got to say that New
York City fuels the economic engine that makes this state
happen. If you didn't have New York City the rule of New
York would be a wasteland, and the fact remains that we
are not getting our fair share. That's what I fought for
in Albany, that's what I am known for. I'm also picking
on some tough struggles. We've had to convince some Albany
people about civil rights legislation, fighting for the
rights of gays and lesbians. I have been part of that fight.
Mandatory testing for people with HIV and AIDS is a very
difficult battle in Albany. I think that public advocates
with that kind of training can continue to do that.
Q-What specific plans
to you have to save the Mitchell Lama program?
A-I started out fighting to save that program, because
twenty years after initial occupancy these buildings these
buildings can now be bought out by the landlords raising
the rent to fair market value. That's happening on the East
Side, and it's happening throughout the state. The Mitchell
Lama housing program is the most successful housing program
ever devised--150,000 affordable housing units, 400,000
people live in these apartments. The most incredible housing
units because everybody lives there.
African-American people, Latino people, Asian people, Caucasian
people, single people, gay people, lesbian people, you name
it, and everybody lives in Mitchell Lama. It's a great experiment,
and it worked. The people, who moved into those buildings
after W.W.II, moved into slum areas. No one wanted to live
there. No one wanted to live in the West Side or Downtown.
These pioneers came in and built these schools, and built
these day care centers. Now they want to evict the people
that made these communities, and I say that's wrong. My
housing plan talks about building more Mitchell Lama. Mitchell
Lama 2 would take three billion dollars. Force the insurance
companies to get into the housing business. Force California
insurance companies to voluntarily come in. Let's build
a hundred thousand affordable housing units. Now who is
going to build it?
Let's do two things. Community based organizations to build
the housing units, and let's get those young entrepreneurs
in the housing business. Get the best and the brightest
to do it. Let's build affordable community housing. The
Giuliani plan is disgraceful. On the seventh or eighth year
you say here's $600,000,000. What do you spend it on? You
give one little non-for-profit group build 14 housing units.
We lose 14,000 affordable housing units every single year
and we build but 5,000. What's happening is we are jeopardizing
our senior citizen population, our disabled population,
and we are not going to have housing for the new generation
of people moving in here. We are losing the artist, the
creative people, the young students, and I believe that
if I am public advocate we are going to have this public
debate. I am going to use this campaign to talk about how
to get affordable housing.
Q-What do you think about New York
City's anti-smoking laws?
A-I have voted for every law that would restrict smoking.
In Albany, I support the Vallone proposal. Years ago I was
honored by the American Cancer Society because of the role
I played in Albany in terms of position in lobbying the
Q-How do you plan on taking on the
A-I'm responsible for the 4218 program south of 26th street.
Let's create a center program for the Bronx and other communities
that cry out for economic revitalization. The fact remains
that in Albany during the battle to save rent control and
rent stabilization, the real estate lobby spent millions
of dollars giving it to the Republicans in Albany, and Democrats
to buy votes to reduce rent protection.
I was the only Democrat to vote no. We have got to organize.
Twenty years ago when people wore buttons that said "I'm
a tenant and I vote." We got to hold politicians accountable
for that. Campaign finance reform is a step in the right
direction. I think we limit these folks with the city's
campaign finance system, but we got to do that on a state
level. Candidates for a citywide office can take $4,500.
Candidates for governor can take $50,000. Soft money into
the Republican committee, the Democratic committee equals
millions of dollars. We got to stop the money trail.
Q-Are you familiar with preservation?
A-One of the great things about preservation landmark status
is protecting the beauty of our city. I support it. We have
two stock differences over on the Upper West Side. One on
Western Avenue, and one on Central Park West. When I worked
for Jerry Mather as his chief of staff that was one of the
issues we work on. I have been involved in that struggle
for many years, and certainly on the local issues I get
around, and am more familiar with issues. I would certainly
work with you on it. One quick statistic. You all think
that I represent just the Upper West Side, but if you check
the map my district goes down to Gansevoort Street. Now
there is no population south of 14th, but I represent the
piers, and the fish.
Q-Advocate something dealing with
A- I think reducing crime is something a city should do,
and we should be smart on crime take dangerous people preying
on people very seriously. That's why I created the New York
stalking law, which says you can't prey on women, or hunt
them down, because you can go to jail. That's my law. I
think that we deal with criminal justice issues in a bizarre
way. We build prisons in Albany for example not to reduce
crime, or help prisoners, but really as an economic development
engine to build up little communities. They build these
prisons, and then they build stores, and jobs around the
prisons. That's been happening for a long time, for no reason.
In the old days we used to have a military industrial complex,
we now have the prison industrial complex. We build them,
and they will come. There is no plan for zero prison population
growth. We should have that in the city, and we should have
that certainly in Albany. Public Advocate is willing to
speak out on these issues, to play a role in talking about
how we create zero prison population growth, and decreasing
it. Part of that is my fight to conform the Rockefeller
drug laws. Let's do that already. Let's save some of these
lives. Let's recognize that two-thirds of the people in
prison are there, because they have a drug problem, and
let's make room for the truly dangerous. People who prey
on people, people who kill their spouses, people who prey
on people because of bias crimes. Let's open up the prisons
for those people who abuse others, but for God's sake, let's
have a real understanding that we can't keep building prisons
without a plan to create schools, and drug programs for
people. That's what I am going to advocate as Public Advocate.
I got to tell you something. We cannot go after certain
groups of people based on race. Racial profiling in the
city is horrible. The end result is that young man in the
Bronx who was shot 41 times, and it was not just the cops
who did it, it was the whole climate Giuliani began to permeate
among the police force, and among the people. That's going
to change, and I am going to play a role, and I am going
to play a role in the change.