Tag Archives: Stephen Fiala

Surprise: Charter Commission to Give More Power to the Mayor

NYC Charter Revision: They didn’t say it in so many words, but the 2010 Charter Revision Commission members are heading in the direction of giving the mayor even more power than Mike Bloomberg has today — at the expense of the City Council and government transparency.

How: by creating a new “reporting commission,” putatively to get rid of unnecessary advisory bodies and trim the number of reports the mayor has to submit each year. Some of those reports are not used. But the charter revision commission would give the new reporting commission the power to review (and reject?) any future City Council decision to “extend or enhance” a report the mayor already provides.

Because a majority of the members of the reporting commission would be appointed by — you guessed it — the mayor, he would be able to frustrate the Council if it wants to ask for additional information from his agencies: a loss for the Council and transparency, and a gain for him. Continue reading

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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 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

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

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. Continue reading

Fuchs: Charter Proposals Not Likely This Year

Ester Fuchs

At Tuesday evening’s charter revision forum at Baruch College, panelist Ester Fuchs, chair of Mayor Bloomberg’s 2005 charter revision commission, responded to a question from moderator Doug Muzzio about the timing of proposals to be advanced by a 2010 commission. When would such a commission’s work product go before the voters? “I think it’s going to be over a year…” Fuchs answered. “I don’t think it’s going to be on the ballot this September.”

Fuchs’ projection was not contested by the other panelists at the forum co-sponsored by Citizens Union, possibly because she had suggested inside knowledge earlier in the session. Although the mayor has not yet named the members of this year’s commission, Fuchs, who recently accepted a fellowship at the Partnership for New York City, is expected to play a role.

A long timetable for this year’s charter revision commission would be consistent with the “top to bottom” restructuring considered probable by the Baruch panelists, who included Stephen Fiala, a member of the 2005 commission, Eric Lane, executive director of the landmark 1989 charter revision commission, and William C. Thompson, the former NYC Comptroller who ran unsuccessfully against Michael Bloomberg for mayor in 2009.

We recently speculated about some of the tactics a 2010 commission could use to manipulate voters’ response to its charter proposals. Nothing we heard from Tuesday’s panelists leads us to believe our speculation was baseless.