Monday, April 9, 2018

NYC Council Charter Revision Commission Update

The New York City Council is moving ahead with a Bill to create a Charter Revision Commission to Review the City Charter, the City’s Governing Document, with a Committee Vote on the Bill set for Tuesday, and the Full Council likely to Vote it through on Wednesday. The Council’s Commission is a separate effort from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s own Commission, called by the Mayor a few weeks ago.

On Tuesday, the Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations will hold a Hearing on the latest Version of its Bill, whose Prime Sponsors are Public Advocate Letitia James (D), Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-3rd District) and Council Member Ben Kallos (D-5th District) at the request of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (D). James and Brewer initially put forth the idea last year, and Johnson got behind the effort after being Elected Speaker in January, when a New Council was seated.

The Committee, Chaired by Council Member Fernando Cabrera (D-14th District), is set to Vote through the Adjusted Bill, which has added several Measures since the First Hearing in Mid-March, and a Spokesperson for Johnson confirmed in an Email that the Bill is set to pass the Full Council.

The Council’s Commission will have 15 Members charged with Analyzing the Broad Structure and Functions of City Government, and is expected to carry out its work into Next year. It’s Recommendations will be Presented to Voters in the form of Referenda, which Brewer, James, and others are hoping to see included on the Ballot for the 2019 General Election.

Of the 15 Members, Four each will be appointed by the Mayor and Council Speaker, while One each will be chosen by the Five Borough Presidents, the Public Advocate, and the Comptroller. The Speaker will also Appoint the Chair of the Commission. All those Elected Officials have come out in Support of the Proposal, except for mayor de Blasio, who has insisted on a more Limited Mandate for his own Commission, which some suspect he Organized to Preempt the Brewer-James-Johnson effort. Though by Law it can Review any Aspect of City Government, de Blasio’s Commission is tasked by the Mayor with looking at Election Administration, Voter Participation, and Reducing the Influence of Money in Politics.

De Blasio has said he wants his Commission’s Recommendations on the Ballot this November.

Seemingly in response to the Mayor’s reluctance to join the Council’s effort, the latest Version of the Council’s Proposal was Amended to require that Appointments be made in 60 days or Forfeited. The Bill also added Transparency Provisions which Government Reform Advocates had called for at the March 16th Hearing on the Bill. The Commission will be subject to the State Freedom of Information Law, and will have to maintain a Website with Hearing Agendas and Transcripts, and Webcast Hearings.

"We are pleased the Council has made amendments Reinvent Albany favored,” said Alex Camarda, Senior Policy Advisor for Reinvent Albany, one of the Groups that testified at the March Hearing. “This is a good sign a Council-convened commission will be open and transparent.”

Proponents of the Council’s Commission envision that it will Explore everything from the Power of the City Council in City Budgeting and over Mayoral Appointees to greater Scrutiny for City Agencies and the Role of Communities in the City’s Land Use Process.

On March 15th, a day before the Council’s Hearing, de Blasio announced some of Appointments:

Dr. Matthew Goldstein, Chair, is Chancellor of the City University of New York. Previously, he had served as President of Baruch College; President of the Research Foundation; and as Acting Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of CUNY. Prior to being named Chancellor, he was President of Adelphi University. He earned his Doctorate from the University of Connecticut in Mathematical Statistics and a Bachelor’s Degree in Statistics and Mathematics from The City College of the City University of New York. He lives in Manhattan.

John H. Banks, Vice Chair, is currently Vice-President for Government Relations at Con Edison. He was initially named Director of Government Relations at Con Edison in 1999, returned to the City Council as its Chief of Staff in 2000, and moved to his current position in 2002. He is a Member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board and lives in Brooklyn.

Angela Mariana Freyre, Secretary, is Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Nielsen Media Research. She serves as a Member of the City’s Conflicts of Interest Board. She lives in Manhattan.

Anthony Perez Cassino is an Attorney at the firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, where he also oversees Pro Bono Activities. He has Served as the Director of Pro Bono Services for the New York State Bar Association and as an Aide and Counsel to Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz. He is a Community Leader and former City Council Candidate who Served as Chairman of Bronx Community Board 8 from 2004-2008; Board Chairman of the Riverdale Nursery School & Family Center; and the Founder of Two Organizations: The Coalition of Riverdale/Kingsbridge Schools and the Northwest Bronx Democratic Alliance. He lives in the Bronx.

Betty Y. Chen is a Vice President for Planning, Design and Preservation at the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation and a Member of the City Planning Commission. Prior to joining the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation, Ms. Chen worked for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, where she was Responsible for the Development of the World Trade Center Master Plan. She was also a former Project Architect with the New York Firm, Tod Williams, Billie Tsien Architects. She lives in Manhattan.

David Chen is the Executive Director of the Chinese-American Planning Council Inc., and is the Founding Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Chung Pak Local Development Corporation. He is also a Member of the Board of the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation and Served as a Commissioner on the 2004-2005 Charter Revision Commission. He lives in Brooklyn.

Hope Cohen is Associate Director of the Regional Plan Association’s Center for Urban Innovation. Previously, she was Deputy
Director of the Manhattan Institute's Center for Rethinking Development, where she focused principally on Issues of Urban Environment and Infrastructure, and served previously at MTA New York City Transit. Since 1995, she has Served as a Member of Manhattan’s Community Board 7, including as Board Chairperson. She lives in Manhattan.

Anthony Crowell is Counselor to the Mayor. He Served as a Commissioner on the 2004-2005 Charter Revision Commission; Chief Counsel to the 2003 Commission; Co-Executive Director to the 2002 Commission; General Counsel to the 2001 Commission; and Counsel to the 1999 Commission. He previously Served as Assistant Corporation Counsel. Before Joining the City, he Managed Government Affairs and Policy at the International City/County Management Association in Washington, D.C. He Serves as Board Chair of the Brooklyn Public Library and is an Adjunct Professor of State and Local Government Law at Brooklyn Law School and New York Law School. He lives in Brooklyn.

Stephen Fiala is Richmond County Clerk and Commissioner of Jurors, and a former City Council Member who Served on 2004-2005 Charter Revision Commission. He lives in Staten Island.

Ernest Hart currently Serves as Chief Operating Officer for the Columbia University Medical Center and as Chair of Civilian Complaint Review Board. Mr. Hart’s Career extends across many Agencies of Government, including the New York City Departments of Citywide Administrative Services, Sanitation, Personnel, the Public Employment Relations Board, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Mr Hart also served as Chief of Staff and Counsel to Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, as well as the Chair of the New York City Equal Employment Practices Commission and as a Member of the New York City Board of Collective Bargaining. He currently Serves on the Supreme Court Appellate Division, 1st Department’s Committee on Character and Fitness, on the Queens Borough Public Library Board of Trustees. He has also been an Adjunct Professor of Law at New York Law School. He lives in Queens.

Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., is the President of Fordham University, where he had previously Served as Dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill, a Professor of Theology and a Member of the Board of Trustees. Father McShane has also Served as President of the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. In June 2008, he was Appointed to the Commission on Metropolitan Transportation Authority Financing by New York Governor David A. Paterson. He lives in the Bronx.

Kenneth M. Moltner is currently Counsel in the Litigation Department of Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C. after Practicing at the Firm formerly known as LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, LLP and Shea & Gould. He is an Adjunct Professor at the Continuing Education Programs at New York University and Hunter College and has Presented Continuing Legal Education Lectures at the New York City Bar Association and the New York County Lawyers’ Association. He was formerly Chair of Community Board 8 in Manhattan and has been Active in the Movement for Term Limits. He lives in Manhattan.

Kathryn Patterson is a Member of the City’s Campaign Finance Board and Served on the 2003 Charter Revision Commission. She is a former Law Partner at the Firm Coudert Brothers. She lives in Manhattan.

Carlo Scissura is Chief of Staff to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. Previously, he was an Attorney in Full-Time Private Practice and Worked in both the New York State Senate and Assembly. He has Served as a Member of Brooklyn’s Community Board 11, Vice President of Brooklyn’s Community School Board 20, and as President of Brooklyn’s Community Education Council for District 20. He lives in Brooklyn.

Bishop Mitchell G. Taylor is the Senior Pastor of Center of Hope International, a Non-Denominational Church located near the Queensbridge Houses. In addition to his Work as a Pastor, Bishop Taylor is CEO of the East River Development Alliance, a Not-for-Profit Organization he Founded in 2004 to Expand Economic Opportunity for Public Housing Residents. Bishop Taylor was Appointed to the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) in 2009. He lives in Queens.

UPDATE April 12th, 2018

Deborah Archer, a former de Blasio pick for the City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board and wife of former First Deputy Mayor Richard Buery.

Marco Carrion, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit.

Una Clarke, a former City Council Member whose daughter, Yvette Clarke, is a close Political Ally of the Mayor.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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