Tag Archives: NY mayoral control

(Class) Size Matters, but Power Matters More

Leonie Haimson

Leonie Haimson needs help. New York’s most passionate education blogger has not appreciably changed the way the city’s public schools are run. A persistent critic of Mike Bloomberg’s educational policies, and president of a group called Class Size Matters, Haimson gets noticed but continues to be shrugged off by City Hall.

It doesn’t matter how many “ordinary” New Yorkers agree with Haimson. City voters have almost no power to shape municipal policy. They lost most of their clout two decades ago when they approved a new government structure that gave the mayor almost sole control over the city’s budget, land use, contracts, and, de facto, over the City Council itself. (Most Council members would deny this.)

Even a local referendum to change the city charter can be preempted by the mayor. Today, New Yorkers usually must resort to litigation or to state intervention to derail an initiative the mayor truly wants. Continue reading

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Term Limits: The Rub with re-Democratizing NYC

NY City Hall

One of the perquisites of being Mayor of NYC is that you get to decide who in the city can make millions of dollars. Officially, the path to city deals—for concessions, leases and major development projects—goes through any one of a number of committees, boards and commissions that dole out the city’s money, seemingly (partially) independent of the mayor. Yet, unofficially, or at least a level or two below the surface of public perception, the mayor’s fingerprints are all over the process. For all of these decision-making groups have two things in common: They were established through the 1989 charter revision, and the mayor appoints a majority of their members. Changing this with a new charter revision will be no simple task. Continue reading