NEW YORK, NEW YORK — An 11th-hour threat by City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams could throw a wrench in the passage of a budget the mayor claims will cut the NYPD by $1 billion.
Williams tweeted Tuesday that the budget — scheduled for a vote later that day — ignores police reformers' demands of reducing the NYPD's funding and redefining public safety for schools.
His criticisms were nothing new, but he added a kicker.
"Unless it meets those needs, I will use my Charter authority to prevent the budget from being executed," he wrote.
As we near the final budget vote, it has become clear that this budget ignores some of the most critical elements of reducing NYPD funding and redefining public safety.Unless it meets those needs, I will use my Charter authority to prevent the budget from being executed.More: pic.twitter.com/Bv0nyUuXhE
— Office of the Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams (@nycpa) June 30, 2020
Williams demanded the budget put a hiring freeze in place on the NYPD and that Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council commit to transition away from the current school safety model.
It wasn't immediately clear what, if any, effect Williams' gambit would have on the already-contentious budget process.
De Blasio argued the budget needed to address an anticipated $9 billion hole from the new coronavirus pandemic, and warned of potentially painful cuts and layoffs.
He also had to contend with a growing protest movement to shift funds from the NYPD toward other, often long-underfunded social services. Those protests gained momentum after the killing of George Floyd.
Williams, an activist and public official, has long championed the movement's causes. He also has become a harsh de Blasio critic — he tore into the mayor at a Brooklyn memorial for George Floyd where a crowd also dramatically booed and turned their backs on him.
De Blasio on Monday seemed to acquiesce to protesters' call to defund the police by $1 billion. But critics, including several City Council members, quickly dismissed the mayor's plan as smoke and mirrors.
The proposal only shifted the NYPD's budget to other departments, they argued. School safety officers, for example, would remain, just now under the Department of Education's umbrella, they said.
It's not a "real cut" to the NYPD, tweeted Council Member Carlos Menchaca.
"This budget is not a victory for the people," he wrote. "Teachers and social service providers are going to lose their jobs, but not one cop will be fired because of this budget. That’s not justice. That’s not the sacrifice this moment demands."