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Thursday, September 2, 2010

The New York City Charter Revision Commission Issues A Final Report

The New York City Charter Revision Commission has released its Final Report, which contains two ballot questions approved by the Commission for consideration by voters on Election Day.

Final Report

Download the ballot questions (in PDF)

City Question 1. Term Limits: The proposal would amend the City Charter to:

* Reduce from three to two the maximum number of consecutive full terms that can be served by elected city officials; and

* Make this change in term limits applicable only to those city officials who were first elected at or after the 2010 general election; and

* Prohibit the City Council from altering the term limits of elected city officials then serving in office.

Shall this proposal be adopted?

City Question 2. Elections and Government Administration: The proposal would amend the City Charter to:

* Disclosure of Independent Campaign Spending: Require public disclosure of expenditures made by entities and individuals independent from candidates to influence the outcome of a city election or referendum;

* Ballot Access: Generally reduce the number of petition signatures needed by candidates for city elective office to appear on a ballot;

* Voter Assistance and Campaign Finance Board: Merge voter assistance functions, including a reconstituted Voter Assistance Advisory Committee, into the Campaign Finance Board, and change when Campaign Finance Board member terms begin;

* Conflicts of Interest Law: Require all public servants to receive conflicts of interest training, raise the maximum fine for a public servant who violates the City’s conflicts of interest law, and allow the City to recover any benefits obtained from such violations;

* City Administrative Tribunals: Authorize the Mayor to direct the merger of administrative tribunals and adjudications into the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings and permit the Department of Consumer Affairs to adjudicate all violations issued by that department;

* City Reporting Requirements and Advisory Bodies: Create a commission to review requirements for reports and advisory bodies and waive the requirements, subject to City Council review, where the commission finds they are not of continuing value; and

* Map for Facility Siting: Include in the City’s facilities siting map those transportation and waste management facilities operated by or for governmental entities, or by private entities that provide comparable services.

Shall this proposal be adopted?

Dont forget to check for a detailed discussion of the Charter Revision process and people on the Commission:
City Pragmatist

August 11, 2010
Term Limits to Go on Ballot Again in the City

Come November, New York City voters will be asked to decide one of the most contentious issues in recent political history: whether city leaders should be limited to two terms in office, or to three. A commission responsible for proposing changes to the city’s charter voted Wednesday evening to place the issue on the Nov. 2 ballot.

But the group declined to place another hotly debated issue on the ballot: the idea of instituting nonpartisan elections, a system in which primary races are open to candidates of all parties.

The commission voted unanimously to ask voters if the mayor, comptroller, public advocate, borough presidents and members of the City Council should be limited to two consecutive four-year terms. If the public rejects the measure, the current law allowing three terms will stand.

Much of the debate focused on when a two-term limit, if approved, should go into effect. After a heated back-and-forth, the commission decided to propose making the change applicable to those elected in 2013 and giving sitting members a chance at a third term.

Two years after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg led a successful effort to rewrite term limits laws and run for a third term, the issue still incites passion across the spectrum. Several members of the commission said the measure was necessary to restore public confidence after the mayor’s heavy-handed effort.

“This resolution embodies the rationale and spirit of what the public has stated,” said Kenneth M. Moltner, a lawyer on the commission, which was appointed by Mr. Bloomberg.

But other members said voters should have the opportunity to decide if term limits should be eliminated altogether.

“Term limits are antithetical to our way of life as a republic,” said Stephen J. Fiala, a former City Council member from Staten Island. “New members will never have developed sufficient time or experience.”

Voters will also be asked in November to decide if council members should be barred from changing term limit laws if they apply to incumbents. In 2008, the members approved changes in limits that applied to themselves.

The issue of term limits is well known to New Yorkers. In 1993, voters approved a measure that imposed a limit of two four-year terms. In 1996, they rejected a measure seeking to permit a third term for elected officials.

The commission also agreed to put a range of other issues on the November ballot, including a proposal to reduce by about 50 percent the number of signatures required to get on a ballot. Voters will also decide on a proposal to require disclosure of independent campaign spending of over $1,000.

Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, criticized the commission for not placing issues like independent budgeting for the borough president offices on the ballot.

“The members of the Charter Revision Commission are missing a historic opportunity to restore confidence and interest in government among generations of New Yorkers,” he said in a statement.

Another notable omission from the ballot is the question of nonpartisan elections, a cause once championed by Mr. Bloomberg.

The mayor, a registered independent, spent $7 million of his own money in hopes of persuading voters to support a referendum on nonpartisan elections in 2003. This year he chose to remain silent, after hearing concerns about support for the issue.

Articles from the New York Times about the Charter Revision Commission

New York City Charter 2009
Preliminary Report Press Release
Appendices href="">Preliminary Revisions
New York City Administrative Code

New York state Legislature