A Pointless Office?

The Story

As she becomes New York’s new attorney general, Letitia James leaves a vacancy in her previous role, that of New York City public advocate. A special election is scheduled next month to identify a temporary successor, and later this year, another election will determine who will fill the office for the remainder of James’s term. The process has raised some questions about the value of an office with few duties and no power.

The Facts You Need to Know

  1. Empty: The office of public advocate was ostensibly designed to replace the powerful role of city council president, but it has no authority. Read more.

  2. Sinecure: The public advocate position has become a well-paid sinecure and launching pad for higher office. Read more.

  3. Cost: The cost of the February special election, including campaign matching funds, will exceed $23 million—about seven times the size of the public advocate’s annual budget. Read more.

“If an office has no useful role and can be eliminated without injury to the public, it should be.”

Stephen Eide, Manhattan Institute senior fellow

Twitter Take

The Past is Present

On Deck? By Seth Barron (March 10, 2017)

“Public advocate Letitia James is ambitious, popular, progressive—and next in line to the mayor’s office.”

And in other news...

“A report by the city’s Department of Investigation laid out troubling evidence of ‘a culture of misconduct, employee mistreatment and favoritism’ by two former managers of the Throggs Neck Houses.”