(Wall Street Journal) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing massive cuts to the budgets of the city’s top government watchdog and the borough presidents, a move his administration defended as fiscally necessary and his critics denounced as a political power play.
In the fine print of the mayor’s preliminary budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning July 1, Mr. Bloomberg recommended cutting the public advocate’s budget by 20% and each of the borough presidents’ budgets by as much as 36%. The public advocate and the five borough presidents are independently elected officials, but their budgets are at the mercy of the mayor and the City Council. The mayor has a long history of proposing cuts to these offices, and, in most cases, but not all, the council has restored a large portion of what Mr. Bloomberg recommended cutting.
“It is outrageous that we are part of this political budget dance that impacts our ability to do our job effectively,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, whose office is slated to lose a third of its budget. Mr. Stringer, a potential 2013 mayoral candidate, said the constant threat of cuts creates a chilling effect aimed at dissuading elected officials from criticizing the mayor or the council.