Power to the Beeps?

Stephen Fiala. Photo from the SI Advance

On the morning of the 2010 NYC Charter Revision Commission’s first public meeting, Tom Wrobleski’s  coverage is ahead of the game. Wrobleski, writing for the Staten Island Advance, says that commission member Stephen Fiala, Richmond County Clerk, intends to explore the possibility of giving more power to the borough presidents.

Although Fiala is skeptical of his prospects for success, we think an opportunity for greater BP power exists. As we commented to Wrobleski, power comes when one elected official needs the support of another to get his initiatives through.

Right now, mayoral appointees dominate the membership of a half-dozen policy-making panels in NYC government. The mayor uses these panels — ranging from the City Planning Commission to the Conflicts of Interest Board — to help him run City Hall.

If these panels were re-shuffled to give the five BPs, perhaps with the help of the City Council and the Public Advocate, the right to appoint a majority of each panel’s members, the mayor would occasionally need each BP to get the city’s business done.

That could give the BPs a bargaining chip they could use in other negotiations, e.g., for better service delivery for their borough’s residents, or for land use policies that balance development against neighborhood preservation.

The 2010 NYC Charter Revision Commission will meet at 5:30 PM today at the NYC College of Technology in Brooklyn.

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