Monthly Archives: May 2010

Charter Revision: Just Like Jury Duty

Stephen J. Fiala

One surprise from Monday morning’s webcast meeting of the 2010 NYC Charter Revision Commission at the Tweed Courthouse was that Staten Island commission member Stephen J. Fiala emerged as a hard-liner with respect to the commission’s tight schedule. Here’s what happened:

Chairman Matthew Goldstein asked executive director Lorna Goodman to describe the five “issues forums” that the commission will convene starting later this month. These, she said, will center on land use; term limits, voter participation, including consideration of non-partisan elections; “balance of powers,” including the roles of the borough presidents and the community boards; and fiscal integrity.

Goldstein then turned to Fiala to read the resolution by which the commission would formally adopt the commission’s calendar, including another round of public hearings to be held during the summer. After those, he said, the commission will have to make a “pivotal decision” prior to September 2 as to  “whether to cull a subset of issues” to be presented on November’s ballot. Continue reading

Community Board Budgets to be Restored

Mayor Bloomberg’s Fiscal Year 2011 Executive Budget calls for the restoration of community board funding to $198,895.

The restoration comes after almost $60,000 in reductions proposed by the mayor’s Office of Management and Budget earlier this year.

Those proposed reductions prompted many community board members to argue for “baseline budgeting” at April’s charter revision commission public hearings. Many boards also reached out for help to their borough presidents and City Council members. Continue reading

Charter Revision Commission Schedule

The NYC Charter Revision Commission has announced that it will be holding a public meeting — not a hearing for receipt of public testimony — on Monday, May 10, 2010, at 9:00 AM, in the Third Floor conference room at Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers Street, Manhattan.

According to a commission spokesman, the meeting will enable commission members and staff to review the results of April’s public hearings and lay out a schedule for forums at which specific issues will be discussed.

The commission may consider whether to accept a limited number of questions from members of the public at each of the issues forums.

The May 10 meeting will be streamed via live webcast on the charter revision commission’s website, which can be found here.

Stephen Goldsmith: What to Expect?

Stephen Goldsmith

Unlike some previous Bloomberg appointees, Stephen Goldsmith, Bloomberg’s newly-announced deputy mayor and chief operating officer, comes with a well-documented track record one that won’t necessarily please NYC’s municipal unions.

Goldsmith’s appointment last week drew the attention of several media outlets in Indianapolis, where he served as mayor between 1992 and 1999. There, he earned a reputation for privatizing city services and cutting costs, which he parlayed into a senior domestic policy advisor’s position with George W. Bush’s campaign. Among the services delivered by private companies during Goldsmith’s Indianapolis stint were the city’s car-towing operations, golf courses, sewer-bill collections, and document copying. Continue reading

Updates around the city

Brighton Beach Avenue

Just to remind us of the continuing battle between neighborhood preservationists and developers in NYC, Sunday’s NY Times Real Estate section’s “Living In” profile of Brighton Beach noted the beachfront neighborhood’s continuing high-rise development:

“In 2008, responding to community alarm, the city’s Planning Department proposed a 54-block rezoning of the area that would have capped the heights of many structures at four stories. But developers’ opposition proved overwhelming and last June the city withdrew the plan.”

Elsewhere, the city’s 59 community boards — favorite forums for neighborhood preservationists — continue to face severe cuts to their budgets. Our colleague at Bronx Board 12, Father Richard F. Gorman, writes that the latest reduction leaves each community board with a budget lower than the take-home salary of a single Bloomberg commissioner. Despite the infinitesimal impact on the city’s budget, the mayor has not rescinded the cuts.

Last Thursday, the Staten Island Advance reported on NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s address before a Staten Island economic development conference: “The City Charter Revision Commission ‘should grant borough presidents and community boards more of a say over how services are rendered,’ Silver said, adding, ’if there is a pothole on Hylan Boulevard, the borough president ought to be able to get it filled.’” The Advance did not say whether Silver acknowledged that the State legislature has the power to convene a NYC charter revision commission of its own. Continue reading