Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Public Advocate De Blasio Calls on Charter Revision Commission to Focus Only on Term Limits in 2010

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio today held a press conference before the Charter Revision Commission’s hearing on term limits calling on the Commission to only place questions regarding term limits on the 2010 ballot, and to reserve action on all other issues until 2012. The Public Advocate also called on the Commission to reject consideration of nonpartisan elections for this year's ballot.

“This year’s charter revision process should have one priority: Giving New Yorkers the final say on term limits,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “Like term limits, nonpartisan elections present profound consequences for our Democratic process, but unlike term limits this issue has not been exhaustively debated for the last two years. I personally believe that nonpartisan elections create a system of politics dominated by wealth and that an issue with such severe consequences should not be put on the ballot without a substantive, thorough, and public process.”

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio also released a comprehensive charter revision proposal that would enhance government transparency and accountability, foster a new level of civic engagement, and help restore the balance of power at City Hall.

A fully copy of the Public Advocate’s proposal is attached. Some of the Public Advocate’s specific Charter reform proposals include:

• Increasing disclosure by making more government operations and decision-making available online including capital and discretionary funding requests, Requests For Proposals, Community Benefits Agreements, the responsiveness of City agencies to Freedom of Information Law requests, lobbyists visits, and other aspects of City government;

• Establishing independent budgets for the Conflicts of Interest Board (COIB), the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), the Comptroller, Borough Presidents, District Attorneys, Community Boards and the Public Advocate and giving the CCRB independent prosecutorial power;

• Instituting reforms such as same-day voter registration and electronic voter registration to encourage broader participation in municipal elections;

• Making the Public Advocate Coordinator of Citywide Civic Engagement as an expansion on the office’s constituent services and organizing work;

• Reforming the City’s enforcement of ballot access laws by providing legal assistance to candidates during the petition process;

• Expanding the Board of Standards and Appeals, which currently only holds Mayoral appointees, to include members appointed by the Public Advocate and the five borough presidents, similar the model of the City Planning Commission;

• Granting subpoena power to the Public Advocate’s office to strengthen its oversight role and empowering the office to track compliance with Community Benefits Agreements;

• Creating a new Department of Inspection to oversee and monitor all building inspections conducted by the Department of Buildings; and

• Strengthening Community Boards by creating a Community Board Resource Center (CBRC) in each borough with at least one full-time staff member, who would serve as the borough's Director of Urban Planning.

At the Charter Revision Commission’s hearing on term limits, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio also submitted signatures from 4,000 New Yorkers calling for the charter revision process to be as open and democratic as possible.