DC 37 Recommendations on the New York City Charter Amendment Proposals

The New York City Charter is the City’s constitution. It controls how the city spends our tax dollars, how decisions are made about changes to our neighborhoods and the power of our elected officials. This fall, New Yorkers have an important opportunity to amend the charter by voting on ballot proposals covering a wide variety of issues, from elections to police accountability.

Election Day is November 5. Early ballot voting begins October 26.

This year there are five proposals on the ballot to amend the Charter:

Proposal # 1: Elections

  • Establish a “rank choice” voting system for all municipal primary and special elections (Mayor, Comptroller, Public Advocate, Borough President, City Council).
  • Extend the required time period to hold special elections if an office becomes vacant during a term. The time period would change from 45 to 80 days.
  • Amend the timeline for redistricting to ensure that district lines are drawn in a timely manner for future City Council elections.

DC 37 Recommendation: We believe these proposals would eliminate costly runoff elections (the last runoff election, in 2013, cost the city more than $11 million in administration and candidate matching funds), level the playing field for women and minority candidates, and bring balance to the electoral process. VOTE YES.

Proposal # 2: Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB)

  • Add two members to the CCRB, one by appointment of the Public Advocate and the other, a joint appointment by the Mayor and the Speaker of the Council. The joint appointment would serve as the chair of the Board.
  • Establish a minimum budget for the CCRB. This change would increase the CCRB’s personnel to 0.65% of the NYPD headcount, up from 0.578%.
  • Require the Police Commissioner to provide detailed explanation to the CCRB when deviating from CCRB’s disciplinary recommendations.
  • Allow the CCRB to investigate potentially false official statements made by any officer it is investigating and to recommend discipline. (The Police Commissioner retains sole authority over officer discipline.)
  • Authorize subpoena power for the Executive Director of the CCRB

DC 37 Recommendation: The Civilian Complaint Review Board is an impartial board of the New York City government tasked with investigating, mediating, and prosecuting complaints of misconduct on the part of the New York City Police Department. We are strong supporters of the police, but we believe the CCRB exists for valid reasons, and that it, too, needs to be supported in order to be effective. VOTE YES.

Proposal # 3: Ethics & Governance

  • Prohibit elected officials and senior appointed officials from lobbying the city government for two years after leaving city service. (The current city lobbying ban is one year.)
  • Replace two members of the Conflicts of Interest Board currently appointed by the Mayor with one appointed by the Comptroller and one by the Public Advocate (the Mayor still gets three appointments).
  • Prohibit Conflict of Interest Board members from participating in campaigns for local elected officials, limit their lobbying on behalf of business interests and reduce the amount of money that they can contribute to political campaigns.
  • Require that the director of Citywide Minority/Women-owned Business Enterprises report directly to the Mayor.
  • Require City Council input for the Mayor’s appointment of the Corporation Counsel.

DC 37 Recommendation: These are sensible proposals to discourage undue influence and bolster checks & balances within city government. VOTE YES.

Proposal # 4: City Budget

  • Allow the city to use a “rainy day” fund for use in future years.
  • Guarantee the budgets for the Public Advocate and Borough Presidents.
  • Require the Mayor to submit the revenue estimates by April 26th.
  • Require the Mayor to submit budget modifications with the Council within 30 days of an update to the City’s financial plan.

DC 37 Recommendation: At a time when many city agencies are understaffed and the union pushes to resolve issues that have left too many “hard-to-recruit” titles unfilled, we are troubled by the creation of any “fund” that, without proper oversight and accountability, could too-easily divert resources needed to support and maintain public services. VOTE NO.

Proposal # 5: Land Use – Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP)

  • Give affected Community Boards, Borough Presidents and Borough Boards advance notice of ULURP applications by requiring the Department of City Planning to provide a detailed project summary 30 days before the application is certified for public review.
  • Give Community Boards additional time during the summer to review ULURP applications.

DC 37 Recommendation: ULURP is the process by which development projects – projects that can change the face of neighborhoods and communities – move through city government. It is vitally important that our elected officials and community boards have as much information as possible about these projects, and that they receive this information in a timely manner. This proposal would increase transparency and accountability. VOTE YES.

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