Mayor de Blasio’s handpicked Charter Revision Commission held its first public hearing Wednesday with little fanfare as a only nine people testified.
Although de Blasio asked the commission to concentrate on campaign finance reform, most members of the public who spoke at McKee High School on Staten Island addressed other topics.
Staten Island Chamber of Commerce President Linda Baran said the charter should be changed to “give more local control back to the boroughs,” power that was lost three decades ago when the city switched to a strong mayor form of government.
Following her testimony, Carlo Scissura, a commission member who heads New York Building Congress, suggested the commission review possibly “strengthening” the relatively obscure five borough boards –which have little power and include borough presidents, council members and community board representatives.
Alex Camarda, senior policy advisor of the good government group Reinvent Albany, asked the commission to “consider significantly restricting donations to city-affiliated nonprofits” — such as the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City — and city agencies by companies and individuals who conduct business with the city.
Other suggestions included creating a citywide “preferential voting” system to avoid run-off elections in which voters list their top three selections in order on a ballot rather than pick one candidate.
Over the next two weeks, public hearings will also be held in the four other boroughs. The next one is April 30 at Bronx Community College.
The mayoral commission’s proposals would be on the ballot this November. Members said they hoped to also receive input from the City Council — even though the Council has formed its own Charter Revision Commission to address a wider swath of issues.
The Council’s commission won’t be able to put proposals on the ballot until 2019.
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