Divide in the Charter Commission?
May 10th, 2010
Some Charter Revision Commission members seemed split this morning over whether the commission could thoroughly vet the more serious issues scheduled for review and still get them on the November ballot.
The commission approved a resolution today outlining five issue areas to explore and scheduled public hearings and expert panels on those specific topics for May and June. The issues include term limits, voter participation (including nonpartisan elections), land use (especially the ULURP process), balance of powers (including the roles of community boards, the borough presidents and the City Council) and fiscal responsibility.
Just before approving the resolution, the Rev. Joseph M. McShane proposed an amendment to require the commission to revisit its timeline before proposing anything for November’s ballot. To get anything on the ballot this fall, the commission would have to solidify its proposals by September.
Commission Chair Matthew Goldstein rejected McShane’s amendment, saying it was already “embedded” in the document. The commission, Goldstein said, will have a deliberative process.
After the meeting, Goldstein told reporters, “I’ve always said that this year was a much better opportunity, because there will be more and more active participation because we’re going to have statewide elections. If I wanted to bring something or we wanted to bring something, it would make a lot of sense not to lose that opportunity. The opportunity cost would be higher.”
Given the depth of the issues the commission is exploring and the fact that many of its hearings will be held over the sleepier summer months, some wonder whether the commission can adequately review every facet of an issue before the September deadline.
“If it’s something small enough to fully work through than it’s fine,” said Commissioner Hope Cohen, also the associate director of the Center for Urban Innovation at the Regional Plan Association. But, she added, “we are researching and exploring very far reaching issues.”
Once a commission puts anything on the ballot and it goes to the voters, the body automatically disbands, Cohen said. If this commission were to look at issues piecemeal over two election seasons, the mayor would have to recall and name the commission all over again.
When asked if she was confident that every issue would be reviewed thoroughly before going to the voters, Cohen said definitively, “Yes.”By Courtney Gross on May 10, 2010, 1:14 pm
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