A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from March 28, 2005
Adding “public advocate” to the OED
"Public Advocate" is not in the Oxford English Dictionary. OED is currently revising the letter "P." I'm putting "public advocate" in the dictionary!

"Public Advocate" was used in the 1700s and 1800s, meaning simply an advocate of public issues.

New York City was not the first government to have a "public advocate" elected position. Several states began adding a "public advocate" or "ombudsman" position since the early 1970s. However, those positions have "teeth," such as the power to prosecute. New York City's "public advocate," as created by the city charter, is not at all similar and serves no purpose.

30 January 1993, New York Times, pg. 23:
A City Council committee took the first step to change the Council President's title to public advocate, though the office's trappings and duties will remain the same. A vote on the measure by the full Council is scheduled for Feb. 22. Page 25.

28 March 1993, New York Times, pg. 29:
Question No. 1 in the City Council President Race
Why Would Anyone Want the Job of Mostly Sitting Around Waiting to Break a Tie?
When the City Charter was revised four years ago, the City Council presidency was stripped of its greatest power: two votes on the Board of Estimate. The board was disbanded and (Page 31 - ed.) most of its powers were given to the City Council, where the President does virtually nothing but cast a vote in the extremely unlikely event of a tie.

This winter the Council deflated the office's name to Public Advocate, effective next year. The office's $3.7 million budget is likely to be cut - Council Speaker Peter F. Vallone, who actually runs the Council, has proposed slashing it by $1 million. And the office is probably going to lose even its office, at least at City Hall, since the Speaker is planning to boot the Public Advocate out of his space after the election.

Both Mayor David N. Dinkins and Mr. Vallone have called for outright abolition of the job, which would require a citywide referendum.

Whoever wins the race, an aide to Mr. Vallone said, "will have an office as it slowly gets decimated." hHe added, "The only thing we can't take away is the salary."

13 January 1973, Oshkosh (WI) Daily Northwestern, pg. 2, col. 1:
Creation of state consumer advocate is backed
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Creation of a state Office of Public Advocate to represent consumers gained the endorsement Friday of the state Public Service Commission chairman.

14 October 1974, New York Times, pg. 72:
Byrne's Advisers Credited
WIth Ambitious Programs

Despite Tax-Reform Plan Failure,
Have Devised Laws for Campaign
Funding and a Public Advocate
But the two aides did succeed in getting the Legislature to adopt the nation's first public financing of gubernatorial elections and the creation of an office of public advocate to tell everyone when the Governor was wrong.

5 January 1975, Mansfield (Ohio) News Journal, pg. 4-B, col. 4:
It would be worth two years, he said, to get a bill through to create the cabinet level position of public advocate. A public advocate, he explains, would be half ombudsman and half public defender, having the power to take state departments to court on behalf of state citizens.

23 March 1829, London Times, pg. 5, col. 3:
...when I considered that the noble Duke as the head of His Majesty's Government had been induced, on this occasion, to assume a new character, and to step forward himself as the public advocate of religion and morality.

25 May 1854, Alton (IL) Weekly Courier, pg. 2, col. 1:
So far was we car informed he it was who was the first public advocate for, and overt actor in the movement to organize and settle Nebraska.

24 December 1859, Portsmouth (Ohio) Times, pg. 4, col. 1:
It now turns out that he was at one time, and that not longer ago than 1855, a strenuous pro-slavery man, and a public advocate for the extension of slavery even beyond the limits of the United States.

5 November 1883, Fitchburg (MA) Daily Sentinel, pg. 2, col. 1:
It says: "Remember Gen. Benjamin F. Butler was the first public advocate of the Ten-Hour Law."

30 January 1961, Newark (Ohio) advocate, pg. 4, col. 1:
WITHIN 24 HOURS OF BEING SWORN IN as Secretayr of Labor, Arthur J. Goldberg, the former general counsel of the united labor movement, found himself in the role of public advocate of the crucial issue in labor-management relations - the issue that is largely responsible forthe abnormal unemployment in the country today - automation.

6 January 1962, Salisbury (MD) Times, pg. 4, col. 7:
In the better-planned society, I keep thinking about there will be a public advocate of unpopular views. His responsibility will be to prepare and present arguments no one else dares to use for fear of reprisals and ridicule.

23 November 1973, Walla Walla (WA) Union Bulletin, pg. 4, col. 1:
In the most recent outburst, Ralph Nader, the self-anointed public advocate, has charged that the nuclear program expansion would be "technological suicide."

10 February 1978, New York Times, "Where the Divorced and Widowed Learn to Cope Again," by Anna Quindlen, pg. A22:
"I didn't think I could do anything," Mary Halcott said, before rushing back to the community center where she is a public advocate.

21 December 1980, New York Times, pg. WC2:
An ombudsman - the word is Scandinavian in origin - is a public advocate, an individual who receives complaints from the people about a government's handling of various problems and passes those complaints on to proper agencies.
The ombudsman program, to promote the relationship between government, the university and the community, was devised this fall by members of the State University staff and officials from Lieut. Gov. Mario Cuomo's office.

25 September 1983, Washington Post, pg. K4:
It is out of whack, too, in the case of former repreesentative Bob Bauman, the Maryland conservative who has anything but a "vague identity" now that he is a public advocate for gay rights.

Posted by Barry Popik
Public Advocate (1993 election) • Monday, March 28, 2005 • Permalink

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