Revamping the Role of the Public Advocate
The role of the Public Advocate is an important one. Upon its creation, the position was designed to be the city’s official ombudsman, to make appointments to several boards, and to introduce bills in the City Council. In order to be a true watchdog over city government, the Public Advocate needs to also have true investigatory powers over the various agencies and branches of city government.
As Public Advocate, I will fight to end Common Core:
As an educator for 17 years, I understand the struggles many parents face by being forced to send their children to underperforming schools. To complicate matters, politics is at the forefront of educational policy. Because of this, students continue to be “taught for a test.” Many times, teachers find themselves becoming test-prep tutors, as opposed to educational professionals. I will work with parent and teacher organizations to advocate for the end of Common Core and to advocate for our teaches to have the tools necessary educate our students.
As Public Advocate, I will stand up to aggressively expand the number of Charter Schools:
As a former member of a charter school board of trustees, I know that charter schools work. There is no question that these institutions continue to provide families an opportunity to succeed. I will advocate for increasing the size and number of charter schools to reduce the incredibly long wait almost 100,000 families are now facing to provide a better opportunity for their children.
In first year as advocate, I will lead a city-wide campaign to encourage parent participation in parent-teacher conferences. When parents participate and contribute, students succeed.
The federal government has failed to solve this critical issue. As a son of immigrants and a teacher of many undocumented immigrants, this issue is one that is very important to me personally. Today’s tone over this debate impacts the morale of many good people directly.
Because the overwhelming number of undocumented immigrants are good, hardworking people who are here to provide a better life for their families, I oppose massive inhumane deportations. However, there are some undocumented immigrants who are criminals, and I will be a strong advocate for the city to provide ICE with those charged with crimes.
Often, so-called sanctuary laws protect criminal elements of the undocumented immigrant community who often victimize the same people these laws are said to protect. As your next Public Advocate, I will make the case for re-introducing ICE in our jails with the assurance that there will be no mass deportations of non-criminal undocumented immigrants.
Providing government-issued identification to undocumented immigrants is wrong, and potentially dangerous. As Public Advocate, I will join the lawsuit that would prevent the city from destroying the information it collects from undocumented immigrants before these cards are issued.
Criminal Justice Reform
Instead of reforming Rikers, many in City Hall think the solution is to close the jail and open more jails throughout our boroughs. I will fight this preposterous plan. The last thing children should see on their way to school is a jail. City Hall needs to name a competent Corrections Commissioner who will make the lives and safety of our corrections officers a priority, and who will ensure inmates are treated humanely and with respect.
Protect Our Most Vulnerable from Abuse
ACS and its mismanagement has put the lives of our most vulnerable children at risk. I will work
nonstop to assure these children are safe from abusive conditions.
Assistant District Attorney and Public Defenders Pay Reform
To keep the best and brightest Assistant District Attorneys and Public Defenders, I will advocate to increase the salaries of these public servants. Currently, many work for as little as $15 an hour and have incredible workloads. This leads to incredible turnover and a vacuum in knowledge and experience where the law matters the most.
Quality of Life
The quality of life for New Yorkers has improved in dramatic fashion since the days I was a kid in the Bronx. The current monopoly of ideas in city government has resulted in the decriminalization of many quality of life offenses. It is the Public Advocate’s role to stand up for New Yorkers, and to make sure our neighborhoods are great places to raise a family. New Yorkers should know that public urination, alcohol consumption, drug use and a whole host of other offenses now decriminalized by the echo chamber in City Hall, will be penalized.
Public Housing and The American Dream
Countless numbers of students I have taught and mentored over the years have lived in our city’s public housing. Although public housing was initially meant to serve as a temporary home for the thousands who depend on it, today, that is no longer the case. Many families now remain in public housing for generations. It is time for hardworking families to have the opportunity of home ownership and to fulfill the American dream by having the opportunity to purchase their units with low-interest mortgages.
With crime increasing in many of our public housing developments, now is the time for fresh ideas. Encouraging home ownership would foster an environment of community within public houses, and could be the key to changing the lives of many families.
New Yorkers are tired of pay-to-play politics. City Hall has been a bastion of ethical violations, leading to mistrust. As Public Advocate, I will introduce legislation in the City Council to allow expansion of campaign finance disclosures so that New Yorkers no longer have to go on scavenger hunts to see who is paying to play. I will work with good government groups to develop a database that would allow everyone to see who is getting city contracts and if those people are making donations to elected officials.
Board of Elections
After years of working to reform the inner workings of the Board of Elections, as Public Advocate I have a special perspective on the necessary reforms of this very important agency. Many reforms have been instituted, but long lines continue to be an issue for large-turnout elections. I will partner with the Board to seek solutions to decrease wait time for voters. These include rapid entry and new line management.
Voter turnout continues to decrease in odd year election cycles. The New York City Campaign Finance Board works tirelessly to increase voter turnout by providing a forum for New Yorkers to hear different candidates, yet turnout continues to be low. As Public Advocate, I will revisit nonpartisan elections as a potential way to increase turnout.
In 2013, Assemblyman Crespo and Elections Commissioner Rendino of the Bronx began a Take your Child to Vote Campaign. I would work with good government groups to expand this campaign city-wide so that children are inspired to participate and practice their right to vote.
New York City continues to see incredible over-development. This puts incredible burdens on an already overburdened infrastructure. Politicians continue to over-promise and under-deliver. The truth is we need to work with neighboring counties and state government to improve transportation to and from New York City.
There are hundreds of miles of unused rail in New York City and neighboring areas where vacancy rates will allow for mobility of thousands of families. I will begin the discussion of alleviate the housing crisis by improving commuter rail, ferry and express buses.
Tens of thousands of our fellow New Yorkers today are homeless. These New Yorkers need a hand up, from mental health counseling, substance abuse, financial literacy support and job training. As Public Advocate, I will work with the City Council and state government to expand mental health counseling and job training to improve the lives of these New Yorkers. Simply putting a Band-Aid on this issue by creating new shelters in our neighborhoods is not the answer.