2010-01-08 / Editorial/Opinion

Quietly Moving Towards A Charter Revision Commission

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg pushed last year for a change in the Term Limits Law that would allow him to serve a third term even though the law limited city office holders to two terms, most people believed that billionaire Ron Lauder, the man who brokered the law in the first place, would fight tooth and nail to keep the two term limit. When Lauder backed the mayor, there were many questions asked, at least until it was revealed that Lauder backed the mayor in return for a promise that the mayor would call a Charter Revision Commission this year and that Lauder would be a charter member of that commission. Now that the mayor has been sworn in for his third, he has already begun the necessary groundwork to call a commission, which could radically change the way government works in New York City. In fact, published reports say that Bloomberg and Lauder met earlier this week to talk about the commission and Lauder’s role. We also assume that they discussed particulars, but those details have not surfaced. There are a number of things that need to be done in this period of fiscal scarcity. First of all, any new charter should do away with several political positions, including the five borough presidents and the public advocate. They are vestigial organs, left over from the last charter revision commission, which met in 1995 and created the public advocate position in the first place. All six of those politicians are in show jobs that have very little power but cost taxpayers millions of dollars. We would also like to see a rule that the public schools must follow state curriculum mandates, which explicitly state how many periods a weeks students must take important subjects such as science and social studies. Those regulations are now regularly flouted by a Department of Education more interested in reading and mathematics test scores than in education. Also in need of change are the laws governing land use. Now, the impacted communities have little say in what the mayor and his minions have planned for their neighborhood. Final ly, we should go back to the two-term limit. It most likely will, unless Bloom berg has his eye on a fourth term.

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