Tag Archives: NY City Council

“Good Government” Comes to Flatbush

The Citizens Union, NYC’s oldest “good government” group and “public partner” of the 2010 NYC Charter Revision Commission, will get a chance to present its recommendations to the commission and the public on Monday, July 19, at 6:00 PM at Gershwin Theater at Brooklyn College. The session will be webcast.

The Citizens Union already has conveyed its 49 charter recommendations in a 114-page report entitled “Increasing Avenues for Participation in Governing and Elections in New York City,” released on June 30. Monday’s session will set aside time for discussion of these recommendations by Citizens Union Executive Director Dick Dadey and CU senior staff members Alex Camarda and Rachael Fauss, and questions by commission members. Continue reading

Scissura: Practice What You Preach

2010 NYC Charter Revision Commission

The 2010 NYC Charter Revision Commission spent much of its July 12 meeting agonizing over ways to restore the public’s faith in government and increase voter participation. It did not acknowledge that voter apathy may stem from the public’s resignation that billionaires will continue to control the Mayor’s office, and that selection of City Council members may make little difference in shaping City Hall’s major decisions.

The webcast meeting had been convened to discuss the commission staff’s July 9 preliminary report. But as quickly as the staff’s proposal for instant run-off voting — IRV — appeared on the pages of that report, it got jettisoned when chairman Matthew Goldstein’s colleagues complained that they never had discussed it. Continue reading

Charter Commission Reveals Ballot Issues

Lorna B. Goodman

Mayor Michael Bloomberg will like what his charter revision commission plans to place on November’s ballot.

After a whirlwind round of 13 public hearings, meetings and panel discussions, and consideration of testimony from hundreds of individuals and groups, the 2010 NYC Charter Revision Commission has narrowed its ballot agenda to include term limits, which satisfies Bloomberg’s 2008 commitment to billionaire term limits advocate Ron Lauder, along with several other changes that could subtly shift power towards Bloomberg’s end of City Hall.

The selected issues are laid out in a July 9 staff report, which the commission will discuss at its 6:00 PM July 12 public meeting at the Surrogate’s Courthouse in Manhattan. Continue reading

Community Boards: A Vicious Circle

Ira B. Harkavy

Ira Harkavy, Florence Nathanson, Esther Lopato and Helen Henkin were community board members back in the day when board membership meant more than echoing the mayor’s priorities or being ignored.

The three women are gone; Harkavy, who quit as chairman of Brooklyn Community Board 14 to run for the bench, is retired from a long and respected judicial career during which he inspired a Hollywood film by sentencing a landlord to live in his own tenement.

All of them were “plugged in” (Harkavy, for example, concurrently led CB14, the Madison Jewish Center, the Brooklyn College campus foundation and alumni association, the Brooklyn College Hillel House, and the Midwood Development Corporation); all adhered to the highest ethical standards; all commanded respect and all used their formidable intellectual and moral powers to ensure that City Hall paid attention to the needs of Flatbush and Midwood, the neighborhoods their board comprised. Continue reading

Brad Hoylman Responds

Brad Hoylman

Brad Hoylman took the time to phone us to explain his June 10 Charter Revision Commission invited testimony. He asked why we oppose his proposal — indistinguishable from that of Manhattan BP Scott Stringer — to force each community board to hire a planner to provide technical support on land use, transportation, liquor license, or sidewalk café issues.

Hoylman said having such a planner on staff would give community boards “teeth” — in our view, an overstatement — and would help boards “inhibit new development” as well as support it. Taking his assertions at face value, we tried to explain our concerns. Continue reading

Who is Brad Hoylman?

Brad Hoylman

The strongest push to hobble NYC’s community boards by forcing them to hire dedicated planners and revert to a narrower “planning board” role (an idea we strongly oppose) came not from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, but from the former chairman of Manhattan Community Board 2, Brad Hoylman, who was one of five invited “experts” who spoke at the Charter Revision Commission’s June 10 session on Government Structure in Staten Island. Why the commission chose Hoylman as a featured guest became evident upon examination of his credentials. Continue reading

Charter Revision: Speaking Truth to Power

Father Richard Gorman

It took four hours until anyone — expert witnesses, charter commission members, or one of the evening’s 21 informal speakers — finally zeroed in on why voter participation has plummeted in NYC over the last two decades:

“Maybe the reason why people don’t vote is they don’t think it’s worth the trouble of going to vote for a government that increasingly shuts them out.”

The speaker was Father Richard Gorman, chairman of Community Board 12 in The Bronx. Unfortunately, by the time he spoke, at 10:05 PM, the panelists, half the commissioners, and almost all the main-stream press, had deserted the Lehman College auditorium. The few audience members who lingered were mayoral aides or one-issue advocates for non-partisan elections. Continue reading