Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The NYT and the Public Advocates Race

While it is certainly no surprise that the Times endorsed Betsy Gotbaum's re-election bid for the post of Public Advocate, it is useful to contrast the Times' evaluation with the longer review of Betsy's tenure done by the Voice’s Wayne Barrett. Of particular interest to us, and we hadn't heard this before, was Betsy’s public statement of having actually voted for Mike Bloomberg in 2001.

Wayne's take on this was that she was trying to curry favor with the Bloomberg folks. If true, however, it says a lot about her failure to perform, in the Times' view, as a visibly "public" advocate. Whatever one wants to say about her predecessor’s run for mayor, there is no doubt in our mind that Mark Green got as much out of the PA's role as possible while Betsy's performance can only be described as minimalist.

One last point in this regard. It is clear that Betsy comes from the same milieu if not income bracket as the Mayor. They seem to have the same elite, non-neighborhood world view, and thus Betsy seems to have a built-in incapacity to provide the mayor with any useful critical balance.

With the local press failing to perform any appropriate adversary role with city government, and compounding that failure with the total absence of both analysis and outrage over the mayor's obscene spending in his re-election bid, it is essential for the PA to at least strive to be a mayoral hairshirt. Does anyone think that Betsy will ever fulfill this function?