This City Charter revision process provides New Yorkers with an historic opportunity to take stock of the past twenty years of city government and consider meaningful prospects for greater reform for our local democracy. The City Charter Commission of the City of New York appointed in February 2010 by Mayor Bloomberg should be guided in that task by creating not necessarily more government, but rather government that is more accessible, transparent, and accountable to the citizens it serves.
It is with these principles in mind that Citizens Union presents its current recommendations on city government’s form and function as represented in the City Charter. In making its recommendations, it looks broadly at five major objectives:
1. Ensure Checks & Balances
2. Open Elections
3. Strengthen Accountability
4. Protect Integrity
5. Increase Transparency
Citizens Union approaches its own broad evaluation of city government and recommended City Charter changes with an ardent belief that a strong mayor form of government has been good for the City of New York. It has contributed to the revival of New York City as a vibrant urban center for its residents, neighborhoods and communities, commerce and business, and trade and tourism. But Citizens Union also believes that in a city that is as large and diverse as New York, there needs to be more avenues for shared decision-making and local input.
Improving the form and function of city government to enhance different voices without diminishing the power of a strong mayoral form of city government is no small challenge, but it is one which Citizens Union believes is critical for the continued progress of our city. It is this challenge that frames Citizens Union’s set of recommendations.