Brooklyn Boro

Williams proposes restructuring public advocate’s office

February 13, 2019 By David Brand Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Two candidates for public advocate have proposed restructuring the office to better engage with the community, though they differ on the extent of the outreach.

Brooklyn Councilmember Jumaane Williams and investigative reporter Nomiki Konst said they would establish additional deputy bureaus of the public advocate’s office if elected on Feb. 26. The two candidates spoke Tuesday night at the Western Queens Public Advocate Forum hosted by Hearts Across Queens and PrimedOut NYC.

Williams, a Brooklyn councilmember who narrowly lost the 2018 Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, said he would establish deputy public advocate offices in all five boroughs.

He said he would place the deputy public advocates in communities with the highest concentrations of Civilian Complaint Review Board complaints. The CCRB complaints reflect over-policing and a lack of proactive engagement in the community, he said.

The proposal is not included in Williams’ campaign plan for fostering a “more effective public advocate” office, but builds on his demand for more oversight of police and city agencies in underserved neighborhoods.

“Sunlight is the greatest disinfectant,” Williams wrote on his campaign website.

Nomiki Konst, also a candidate for public advocate, says the office has become “too bureaucratic.” Eagle photo by Victoria Merlino

Konst, who lives in Astoria, said she would “decentralize” the public advocate’s office, which she said has become “too bureaucratic.” She would set up a public advocate’s office in all 59 community districts to provide additional oversight and solicit feedback from everyday New Yorkers.

“You’ll have someone trained in the neighborhood to respond to community needs besides the community board,” she said. “The public advocate needs decentralization.”

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