Reporter’s Notebook: DeBlasio glossed over public advocate loss in LICH lawsuit victory crow

Judge: State’s closure of LICH was unconstitutional
Photo by Paul Martinka

On Thursday, Public Advocate and Democratic mayoral nominee Bill DeBlasio cheered a court ruling that blocked the state’s closure of Long Island College Hospital, but he glossed over the fact that the ruling explicitly denied him any say in the matter.

Attorneys for DeBlasio trumpeted the fact that Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Johnny Lee Baynes had the opportunity to outline the role of the public advocate when they argued DeBlasio’s suit challenging the closure of the Cobble Hill hospital, but DeBlasio was quiet on the subject when he declared victory on Friday, despite Baynes cutting him out of the contest.

“DeBlasio’s powers derive from, and are circumscribed by, the city charter,” Baynes wrote in the Sept. 12 order. “His powers under the city charter are limited to those over the city agencies and may not extend to encompass State agencies.”

In his ruling, Baynes barred the state from closing the 155-year-old health care facility but also found that DeBlasio lacked standing to bring a lawsuit, basing his decision only on the claims of nurses unions and neighborhood groups.

Baynes cited a previous court decision regarding a dispute between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, in which a judge ruled that the public advocate lacked standing because the authority is run by the state.

DeBlasio’s lawyers had argued that the public advocate, as a representative of all city residents, had a right to sue anyone, and pleaded with Judge Baynes to take their said.

“You would be clarifying for generations to come the role of the public advocate’s office,” lawyer Jim Walden said in court back in August.

Walden did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.