Assembly Passes New York City Charter Revision Reforms

Measures would allow more time for deliberation and greater role for city councilmembers
April 23, 2010

Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Mid Island), Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer (D-East Shore/Brooklyn) and Assemblyman Matthew Titone (D-North Shore) announced the Assembly passed legislation aimed at improving New York City’s charter review by providing more time for the public to review charter proposals (A.10172-B) and giving city councilmembers a greater role in the process (A..10055-B).

“The charter review will play a critical role in shaping Staten Island’s future,” Cusick said. “This legislation will give our residents the voice they deserve and the time they need to consider which proposals will be on the ballot.”

The legislation requires the Charter Review Commission to hold public hearings before it begins its work and after it presents its preliminary proposals to the public. It also prevents a commission formed after February 15 in any given year to place proposals on the ballot in that year, unless the commission requests and obtains the consent of the City Council. The current charter panel was formed last month and is working to place proposals on the ballot in November.

“There just isn’t enough time for the panel to consider the public’s concerns and come up with quality proposals by this fall,” Titone said. “We need to put the breaks on the process to ensure the pubic and the commission can carefully deliberate on changes to the city’s charter.”

Assemblywoman Hyer-Spencer sponsored legislation that would allow a two-thirds vote by the New York City Council to prevent a new charter or amendments from being put on the ballot. This year’s Charter Review Commission includes only one Staten Islander among the 15 appointees, and giving councilmembers more influence would help ensure the borough’s interests are represented, Hyer-Spencer said.

“Members of the Charter Revision Commission are chosen by the mayor, not the people, to make important decisions about the way our city works,” Hyer-Spencer said. “Giving Staten Island’s elected officials a greater say in the charter review process will help put the issues that matter to us on the ballot.”