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NY Post
New York Post
5 Aug 2023

NextImg:NYC pols plot to abolish Jumaane Williams’ public advocate office

A pair of City Council members are pushing to abolish the public advocate office because they feel it’s a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Queens Councilman Robert Holden told The Post he plans to team up with fellow moderate Democratic Councilman Kalman Yeger of Brooklyn and introduce legislation in the coming months that would force Democratic socialist Jumaane Williams to find a new job.

The public advocate’s $5 million-plus office budget could go to “more essential services” like funding cops and firefighters, added Holden, who’s butted heads politically with “defund the police” supporter Williams for years.

“We have to tighten our belts as a city – especially with this migrant crisis – so that office should be the first to go,” said Holden. “The office does nothing anyway, and no one is ever around to pick up the phone when you call because Jumaane has so many of them working remotely.”

The public advocate oversees 63 staffers and is mostly seen as a watchdog for city government.

Bob Holden says the public advocate’s office is duplicative, and that the City Council acts as a watchdog on the mayor.
William Farrington

Office holders also get their own taxpayer-funded NYPD security detail with a private driver.

Under Williams, the office has been primarily used as a bully pulpit, including when he infamously stoked Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 by pushing anti-cop rhetoric, critics say.

Holden said the City Council “already has oversight over the mayor,” making the public advocate office duplicative.

In November 2018, Yeger introduced similar legislation that stalled.


Kalman Yeger has also previously tried to eliminate the public advocate’s office.
Stefan Jeremiah for NY Post

If such legislation gets approved, voters would still have the final say by law in a referendum.

Some Council sources said Williams shouldn’t be too concerned about losing his $184,800-a-year job because the public advocate’s office has long been viewed as a cushy landing spot for term-limited pols.

Holden got into a social media war with Williams last Sunday after Williams claimed Holden “chickened out” of attending an Instagram forum the public advocate hosted on public safety.

Holden then ripped Williams as “the biggest coward in government” for giving a mere two-hour notice on an off-day he was spending with his grandkids.

Jumaane Williams.

Williams claimed Holden “chickened out” of attending an Instagram forum the public advocate hosted on public safety.
Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

The public advocate office was created in 1993, following a government overhaul four years earlier that did away with the City Council president post.

Even back then, questions were raised on whether the office duplicated the services of the city’s 59 community boards.

Then-Councilman John Fusco (D-Staten Island) pushed a bill to get rid of the office the same year it was created, but it went nowhere.

A spokesman for Williams declined to address the latest bid to eliminate the post but said: “our office will continue to work hard for the city of New York.”

Yeger could not be reached for comment.