The three most important reforms for this Charter Revision Commission are:
- Get Big Money Out of New York City Politics – of all the options presented there is only one way that will actually get big money out of New York City politics and that is by matching every small dollar contribution with public dollars. Anything less than matching every small dollar will leave an incentive to seek and accept large dollar contributions that at worst have a corrupting influence and at best create the appearance of impropriety.
- Term Limits for Community Boards – as we seek to empower Community Boards, term limits are necessary to ensure that these bodies reflect their communities and create a culture of getting things done and foster mentoring and the passing on of institutional memory.
- Binding Land Use Powers for Community Boards and Borough Presidents – the Community Boards along with their Borough Board and their Council Member or Borough President must be able to initiate Uniform Land Use Review Procedures (ULURP) completely funded by the City or with a triple no have a veto.
Please note that any reforms to the Community Boards are meaningless without full public matching, as those appointed will still answer to their Council Members and Borough President, whom without it may still have to answer to big moneyed donors and special interests.
Executive Summary of Campaign Finance Recommendations
Get Big Money Out of New York City Politics
Support Match Every Dollar with a Full Public Match – increase the public match from 55% to match every small dollar (approximately 85% of the spending limit).
Support Lower Dollars Matched and Increase Multiplier – reduce the matching of only the first $175 to $100 of a contribution from a city resident with the matching rate increased from 6 to 1 to 10 to 1 for a total of $1,100.
Support Lower Contribution Limits – lower contribution limits to $2,000 for citywide and $1000 for borough and City Council because you should not be able to give more to the Mayor than the President.
New Stop Matching Big Dollar Contributions – Stop matching big donations over $175–ideally lowered to $100–with public dollars and force big money candidates to actually solicit small dollars from residents if they want public matching funds.
New Eliminate War Chests and Kill All the Zombie Committees – bring back prohibitions against non-participant war chests by repealing Local Law 189 of 2016 and requiring candidates in New York City to have only one authorized committee at a time with any remaining funds paid to the city after each election.
Expand Candidates and Voters Now
Support Empower Residents to Run for Office - automatically allow candidates who qualify for public matching to be on the ballot as an alternative to archaic petition requirements.
Support Automatic Voter Registration – government should use all opportunities of interaction to register voters or update voter registration information.
New Separate Voter Assistance and Campaign Finance – the administration of the public matching funds must be done impartially and separated from legislative advocacy, voter registration, and voter engagement.
New Lifetime Term Limits – eliminate the revolving door between the Albany legislature and New York City Council with lifetime term limits for city offices.
Support Act Now – the unique environment of the 2021 election presents the only meaningful opportunity to enact reform.
Executive Summary of Recommendations for Community Boards
Better Representation and Reflection of Community
Support Term Limits for Community Board Members and Leadership – community boards must no longer be a lifetime appointment and must have term limits for membership as well as for leadership positions.
New End Automatic Reappointment with Standardized, Public Applications – applications must be publicly available online and in print with everyone required to submit an application with non-confidential information.
New Ensure Representation with Automatic Removal for Non-Attendance – the Charter currently provides for removal for non-attendance by the community board or the Borough President, which is rarely used, and should be strengthened with automatic vacancies.
New Prohibit the Appointment of Partisan Party Officials or Lobbyists - – de-politicize community boards so they serve the community, not the interests of elected officials, political parties, or the special interests of lobbyists.
Land Use Powers for Community Boards and Borough Presidents
New Binding Land Use Power to Initiate or Veto ULURP – community boards must be able to initiate or veto ULURPs with support from Borough Board and Council Member or Borough President.
Support Urban Planners for Every Community Board – each community board, especially those that do not see a need, would have the resources needed to achieve their Charter mandate for planning.
Support Office of Community Planning – in order to assist and coordinate their Charter mandate for planning, community boards need an office that answers to them and not the Mayor.
Support Member Training – provide community board members with the knowledge they need to be effective with mandatory training on conflicts of interest, budget and the contracting process, zoning and ULURP, Board of Standards and Appeals, as well as landmarks.
Oppose District Boundaries – overlapping boundaries with multiple elected officials strengthens boards and provides better representation while tying boundaries to Constitutional mandates for one person one vote would needlessly gerrymander and split communities.