The Ombudsman

“I don’t consider this to be anything other than a victory speech…We changed the whole notion of what the Public Advocate’s office could be…It doesn’t matter what the percentages are, we created a real debate about what the Public Advocate’s office could be and we raised a lot of important ideas…In case you didn’t hear, today the New York Parks Department announced that they will be giving free Wi-Fi in most of the city’s parks today.

This is just a beginning, and I have a lot of people to thank. I am really humbled that so many people got behind me just four months ago…And I want to especially thank my staff…

I don’t believe that one politician can solve the problems of 8 million people, but I can certainly buy everyone here a drink…let’s drink to our future, let’s drink to our city’s future, and let’s drink to the future of idea!”


I realized as I was walking into my neighborhood polling station, that my name is being repeated thousands of times throughout the city in every single voting booth and provisional ballot, or paper ballot, and that the sheer privilege of being offered as a representative to the citizens of New York is incredibly humbling.

Pulling the lever in the voting booth itself and watching a small X appear next to my name, reminded me of all the other times I pulled voting booth levers before, except for one major difference–this time I actually believe in the candidate.

(So much for being humble, my anonymous blog editor just said to me.)
Seriously though, I realize now more than ever how singularly important each and every vote actually is. Not because that one vote could swing an election, although ever since Florida 2000, we know it can. (Especially if it’s the vote of a Supreme Court Justice.) But because there is no greater way that an individual can affirm what it means to participate in a democracy.

I am sorry that our political process is still somewhat archaic and doesn’t allow voters to, for example, leave a comment or a statement along with their vote. Imagine if we could that. It seems a little too simple that in our day and age, all we can do is thumbs-up or thumbs-down, when we have so many ways of expressing our choices and opinions in every other arena.
In the end, that’s actually why I chose to enter this race, to point to a more connected and interactive democracy, that I know will eventually happen. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.


If there’s one thing this election has done for the office of public advocate, it’s made it public again. For the past four years, Betsy Gotbaum has been out of sight, and out of the minds of New Yorkers. But no longer.
As anyone following this race knows, ever since people started asking for her public schedule, she has refused to let the public see where she’s going to be. First her staff said her schedule was on the web. Then they said it was available by email. Neither statement was true. Now, on the basis of her statements in both televised debates, it appears she’s become even more reclusive: she doesn’t want anyone to know where she’s been.
Who knows what she thinks she’s hiding…I mean, we already know what she’s accomplished…oh wait…no we don’t! What has she accomplished? Where has she been?

Now, if you ask Betsy these types of questions she tends to get a bit…well…defensive. She’s got a whole list of excuses, but there’s one that’s gotten more attention than the others. And it’s not that she doesn’t want to release her schedule because it would reveal that she hasn’t actually been doing anything for the past four years. It’s that she can’t release her public schedule because she has…a stalker.

Never mind that Newsday , The Daily News , and The New York Times have all reported that the alleged “stalker” is a former social worker named Tom Weiss. But if her security detail tells her that she can’t reveal her schedule the day of an event, surely she would be willing to reveal her schedule from the past , right? When Andrew asked her this, Betsy barked back, “I’m not talking about the security issue and my schedule anymore.” Her absence as Public Advocate has caught the attention of Newsday columnist, Sheryl McCarthy :

Under Gotbaum, the office has fallen off the radar screen … many of her concerns seem trivial …and I sometimes get the feeling that Gotbaum is grasping for any issues she can find.
“I’m not talking about it anymore.” Is this really the type of answer we want from our public servants?  .

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