Monthly Archives: April 2010

Farewell, Tupper

Tupper Thomas photo: Windsor Terrace Alliance

Back in the days when Ed Koch was mayor and Gordon Davis headed up NYC Parks & Recreation, we went to work for Betsy Barlow, whom Davis had appointed to the new position of Central Park Administrator.

With unparalleled energy and focus, Barlow transformed a small staff office into the Central Park Conservancy, which today provides a way for the moneyed folks who call Central Park their front lawn to contribute to its restoration and maintenance in return for the City’s commitment that the Conservancy will manage it. Continue reading

Charter Revision: What the Mayor Really Wants

Michael Bloomberg

How does Mayor Michael Bloomberg view the goals of his 2010 charter revision commission? Celeste Katz, the new editor of the DN’s Daily Politics blog, answers this in her April 13th piece on the mayor’s changing stance on the future of the Public Advocate and the borough presidents. Katz quotes Bloomberg about the BPs:

“I for one have come to believe that the Borough Presidents really do provide value added. I don’t agree with everything everyone does but on balance the Borough Presidents provide, at a local level, working with community boards and working with the City Council people, a valuable service and whether you could do it more effectively or not, whether they should be allowed to do A, B or C, those are the details.” Continue reading

Monday’s charter commission hearing: deceptively full

Bronx Councilman G. Oliver Koppell, who spoke out against term limits

By Jonathan Berk

At the end of Monday’s Charter Revision Commission public hearing at Hostos Community College in The Bronx, commission chair Matthew Goldstein thanked the public for their “robust” participation over the almost-three-hour session. Indeed, the hearing was full of voices, with 37 speakers from The Bronx’s citizenry, electorate, and civic institutions, saying their part over the course of the evening. But if the chair also was referring to the session’s attendance—which we estimated at no more than 120 people—then “robust” was little more than an optical illusion. Continue reading

The Times Has Spoken

Anthony Crowell, John Banks, Matthew Goldstein

You can be pretty sure that Saturday’s NY Times editorial condemning this year’s abbreviated charter revision timetable got the mayor’s attention.

The editorial directly criticized Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to rush charter revision in order to advance a couple of initiatives he’s especially interested in: term limits and non-partisan elections.

At first glance, these seemingly simple changes to NYC’s political process look like things voters could handle without long analysis and discussion. But political changes, even the simplest ones, can have unintended consequences. Continue reading

Press Coverage of Charter Revision Hearing

NYC Charter Revision Commission

Next-day coverage of the first public hearing of the 2010 NYC Charter Revision Commission was less than global. The most analytic piece may have appeared on silive, the news blog of the Staten Island Advance.

“Surprise sprung by Charter chair; L.I. attorney named to direct panel and Staten Island secession vet tabbed as research director,” was the silive lede. The story, by Peter N. Spencer, discussed the implications of charter chairman Matthew Goldstein’s choice of executive director Lorna B. Goodman and research director Joseph P. Viteritti for key commission staff roles. Continue reading

Charter Panel Hears Pitch for Non-partisan Elections

Carl Paladino at NYC Charter Revision Commission Hearing 4/6/10

A surprise visit by Carl Paladino, millionaire Buffalo developer and newly-announced candidate for Governor, provided some media candy at Tuesday evening’s NYC Charter Revision Commission public hearing at the CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan. Paladino’s open disdain for New York’s partisan electoral politics brought passion to the dominant message voiced in Tuesday’s public testimony: Make NYC elections non-partisan. Continue reading

Charter Revision: How to Reduce Conflicts of Interest

Patricia E. Harris

Writing in The NY Times City Room Blog, Michael Barbaro calls attention to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s announcement naming “Patricia E. Harris, the second-most powerful official at City Hall, to be the chief executive and chairwoman of the multibillion-dollar Bloomberg Family Foundation.”

Barbaro notes that “in 2008, Ms. Harris and a City Hall aide, Allison Jaffin, obtained a waiver from the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board to work at the foundation while keeping her job at City Hall, arguing that her work was voluntary and involved minimal use of public resources. At the time, however, she held the title of president.”

Barbaro’s story has drawn dozens of comments from readers, most of them critical of Mayor Bloomberg’s use of his vast personal wealth to influence city policy. Continue reading