In his January 2018 State of the City Address, Mayor de Blasio announced his plan to appoint a Charter Revision Commission tasked with reviewing current City campaign finance laws. This Commission was announced as a component of the Mayor’s broader DemocracyNYC initiative, which is intended to increase New Yorkers’ civic engagement. Late last week, the Mayor officially announced the formation of the Commission, appointing Cesar Perales as Chair, Rachel Godsil as Vice Chair, and Matt Gewolb as Executive Director and Counsel. The Mayor intends to appoint all of the members of the Commission and the remaining members of the Commission are expected to be announced over the next few weeks. The first public meeting of the Commission is expected to be held in early April and the Commission has been instructed to complete its work in time for their proposed amendments to the Charter to be put to a referendum vote in the November 2018 general election. Click here for more information about the Mayor’s announcement.
Over the past months, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Public Advocate Letitia James have also been calling for the City to form a Charter Revision Commission tasked with undertaking a top to bottom review of the City Charter. The City Council has joined the Borough President and Public Advocate in calling for a full review of the Charter and last week, the Council held a Committee on Governmental Operations hearing on Int. 0241-2018, which would establish a separate Charter Revision Commission which would be comprised of 15 members: four appointed by the Mayor and four appointed by the Speaker of the Council. The Public Advocate, Comptroller, and each Borough President would have one appointment. The Speaker of the City Council would then designate one of the appointees as chairperson. The Council has not yet voted on Int. 241-2018 and we understand that the Council is in the process of making minor revisions to the bill in response to feedback received during last week’s hearing. The City has established Charter Revision Commissions periodically over the past 20 years, most recently in 2010, however each of these Commissions has been tasked with reviewing discrete aspects of the Charter and if the Charter Revision Commission moves forward as proposed under the Council’s legislation, it would be the first Commission tasked with reviewing the Charter in its totality since 1989. The Council’s Commission would be tasked with completing its work in time for their proposed changes to be put to a referendum vote in November 2019.
It is our understanding that the Mayor’s Charter Revision Commission is expected to move forward as originally envisioned by the Mayor and that at this time, there are no plans to reconcile the Council and Mayor’s efforts.