City Charter Commission Meets at Borough Hall Tomorrow Evening: All Invited

This in from the office of Public Advocate Bill de Blasio:

Although the New York City Charter Commission is currently amending our city’s constitution, most New Yorkers are oblivious to these upcoming changes. Since March, the Commission has held eight public hearings, but only 1,000 people — .012% of the City’s population — have shown up. This lack of public engagement in such an important issue may have major effects on how New York City government is run.

The Public Advocate’s office is encouraging all New Yorkers to urge the Commission to make the charter revision process as democratic as possible. The Charter Commission’s next public hearing is tomorrow at 6 p.m. in the Brooklyn Borough Hall. We hope you can make it.

If you can’t make it, the Commission will be webcasting the hearing live at:

Also, you and your readers can sign on to the online petition calling for a more democratic charter revision process:

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  • David on Middagh

    Stupid question: Does every revision of the City Charter need to appear on voter ballots for approval? Or is that just one mechanism for amendment?

  • David on Middagh

    I went to this meeting. Not all seats were taken, which is strange, considering how many people were outraged (a lot, I thought) when the mayor & city council extended the term limits that had been set in the voting booths by public ballot.

    In principle, I oppose term limits for the mayor & city council members.

  • Claude Scales

    DoM: To answer the question in your first post, gothamgazette has the following:

    “The charter is a ‘fluid’ document, which is often amended, sometimes by city voters, most frequently by local law — as the council did in its October 2008 vote to revise the charter’s term limits provision. A popular vote is required if the amendment relates to the manner of voting for elective office (not the term or tenure of those offices), creates a new elective office or redistributes power.”

    Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the meeting. Was there any interesting discussion?

  • David on Middagh

    Thanks for the info, Claude. After testimony from three experts (two of them argued that the benefits of term limits weren’t at all obvious vis-a-vis quality of legislation & voter satisfaction with elected officials), several current/former city council members commented, as well as others. Interestingly, some commenters who were against TL’s believed that the previously expressed will of the voters should nevertheless be respected.

    One of the experts pleaded that if term limits were going to appear in the voting booths again, then if a voter were pro, he would have to choose a *three* terms limit for council members and *two* terms for the mayor. This would restore the proper executive/legislative tension, since it’s easier for the mayor to build administrative power with appointments and such than for disparate council members to get to know each other and rally together in proper oppositions. (This expert was one of the two who didn’t see clear benefits in limits.)