Who's Got The Power? Citizens To Weigh In

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Mayor Bloomberg’s Charter Revision Commission began public hearings this week—the start of a process that could shift the balance of power between the mayor, the City Council and other elected officials.

Photo by: Jarrett Murphy

Mayor Bloomberg’s Charter Revision Commission began public hearings this week—the start of a process that could shift the balance of power between the mayor, the City Council and other elected officials.

Mayor Bloomberg's Charter Revision Commission holds its first public hearing on Tuesday evening in Manhattan—a chance for citizens to weigh in on how a panel with no specific mandate and no set timetable should alter the 400-page rulebook of government in the five boroughs.

Bloomberg appointed the 15-member panel last month, two years after he first set aside city money to review the charter, which determines how power is divided among city officeholders, how much municipal officials are paid, what happens when a city office becomes vacant, how city commissions and boards operate and how the city's land use and budget processes work.

Announcing the commission last month, Bloomberg vowed that, “Every issue will be on the table, and every voice will be heard.” The commission's chair, CUNY chancellor Matthew Goldstein, has said he's been given no specific to-do list from City Hall. But there are hints of what the review—the fourth during Bloomberg's tenure—might focus on.

A City Hall borough presidents and the public advocate. There are perennial calls by candidates, editorial boards and others to eliminate both offices. Bloomberg has consistently sought major cuts in the public advocate's budget.

The charter review is also widely expected to examine term limits, which the City Council in late 2008 extended from two terms to three, overriding two public referenda.

In addition, the commission could reevaluate the city's land use process. In a non-partisan elections, which the mayor tried to implement in a 2003 charter revision. Voters rejected that proposal, but passed charter changes that Bloomberg sought in 2002 and 2005.

At the commission's Charter Revision Commission's website.