While NYC might not have direct democracy, it does have a Charter Revision Commission. This commission gives the people the power to rewrite the City’s constitution — aka the City Charter. In an era where democracy seems under attack, over the course of 24 months, NYC will have hosted TWO Charter Revision Commissions!
The 2019 Commission is truly representative of city government – it consists of appointees of the Mayor, City Council, each Borough President, the Public Advocate, and the Comptroller. This Commission aims to be thorough, transparent, and comprehensive and it will spend the next year hearing from New Yorkers, developing proposals, and finally, making recommendations to go on the ballot in November of 2019.
Do you want to make NYC better? If so, your voice is needed.
First, let us talk about the process. There are three rounds of hearings: initial, theme, expert.
Currently, you can sign up to testify at the last three hearings — Queens, Staten Island, or Manhattan. These are open sessions and you can speak to anything in the Charter that needs to be reviewed. These hearings are designed to let the Commissioners know what areas they should focus on. In your statement, you don’t need to propose a solution, but identifying a related City Charter section is helpful. While your written testimony can as long as you want, verbal testimony should be under THREE minutes.
Note, you do not need to be present at a public hearing to submit testimony. At any time, you can submit your ideas via the Commission’s website at < http://www.charter2019.nyc/contact >.
The last three initial hearings are at:
Queens, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018 at 6:00 pm, Queens Borough Hall, Main Courtroom/Atrium
Staten Island, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018 at 6:00 pm, College of Staten Island, Center for the Arts Williamson Theatre Building 1P – Room 116
Manhattan, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018 at 6:00 pm, City Hall, Council Chambers
You can find out about more events at < http://www.charter2019.nyc/hearings >.
Second, making impactful testimony.
If you are super passionate about an issue, it is important that you deliver testimony at one of the initial borough hearings and/or during the period in which the Commission is holding public meetings to craft its preliminary proposals. Showing up and presenting in person makes a HUGE difference. You do not need to be a citizen nor do you need to be registered to vote to testify.
Again, you don’t need to propose a solution, but identifying a related City Charter section is helpful.
For the 2018 Commission, BetaNYC was fortunate enough to testify twice. Most of this testimony came from our years of research and direct engagement with community boards and the city’s open data. You can read BetaNYC’s testimony here and our “expert” testimony here.
This November, there are three proposals on the ballot. Please read more about these proposals here. In short, you will be able to vote on the following issues:
Campaign Finance: Reduce contribution limits for all candidates for City elected offices, and increase public matching funds for candidates who participate in the public financing program. Contribution limits for participating candidates would be cut by more than 60%, while the matching rate on the “small dollar” portion of contributions to such candidates would increase from 6:1 to 8:1.
Civic Engagement: Establish a Civic Engagement Commission whose mission includes expanding language access at polling sites, developing a citywide participatory budgeting program and supporting and partnering with community organizations in their civic engagement efforts.
Community Boards: Establish term limits on Community Board members and standardize the appointment process to make the Boards more representative of their communities. Boards would also receive additional resources, particularly in urban planning.
In preparation for next week’s Manhattan hearing, BetaNYC is hosting a virtual town hall for you to ask your questions about the 2018 process, thoughts on the 2018 proposals, thoughts on the 2019 commission, and any questions you have about preparing your testimony.
Join the Town Hall
Join the conversation HERE on Monday, 24 Sept 2018 at 7PM ET. You can tune in live below, and ask questions via Slido with the code #BetaCharter.