Contends that any comprehensive review of city’s constitution focused on fiscal responsibility and public safety should consider two proposals – one to expand budget transparency and other to ensure adequate CCRB budget

City Hall, NY – Today, New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams submitted written testimony to the Charter Revision Commission, urging the Commission to follow through on its obligation to undertake a serious and thorough review of the entire City Charter and adequately engage the public. Speaker Adams urged the Commission not to rush proposals for the 2024 General Election, and instead submit thoughtful proposals for the 2025 General Election. Her testimony highlights that the Commission can legally continue until the 2025 General Election and should allow voters to decide whether to expand the Council’s advice and consent duties in this year’s General Election, rather than undemocratically denying New Yorkers this opportunity.

In her testimony, Speaker Adams indicated that a review of the Charter, focused on advancing fiscal responsibility and public safety, should be used to improve the City’s governance. In line with this goal, the Speaker offered two proposals that any comprehensive view would seriously consider. The proposals are designed to improve budget transparency in agency spending and ensure the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which engages in critical oversight of misconduct by NYPD officers, is adequately and appropriately funded in the city budget.

The complete written testimony can be found online here.

Key takeaways from Speaker Adams’ testimony include:

The Commission Should Proceed Deliberately and Ensure Public Engagement

“[T]he law permits that the Commission can continue to operate until the General Election in 2025, at which time ballot proposals could be considered by voters. There is no sound reason to short-circuit this process and submit one or more questions to the voters before that time, which would be hurried and underdeveloped. A rushed process would only undermine the Commission’s ability to successfully carry out its stated mission of reviewing the entire City Charter and put forward thoughtful proposals. I urge the Commission to avoid this detrimental outcome that would risk significant harm to good governance and democracy in New York City.”

The Commission Should Allow Voters the Opportunity to Vote on Advice and Consent

“In addition to providing the time necessary for the Commission to properly review the entire Charter and thoughtfully consider public ideas for its amendment, the Commission should not simply advance a rushed proposal to deny voters the ability to decide whether to expand City Council advice-and-consent of additional agency commissioners.  

“New Yorkers deserve the right to vote on Int. 908 and denying their ability to exercise it would be undemocratic. It would raise the question of what the Administration and Commission fear in allowing voters to determine this through the democratic process. The Commission has the power to ensure this doesn’t happen and should utilize these powers to do so. Taking more time to consider ideas for Charter revisions comes with the additional benefits of allowing additional time for the public and experts to engage, thoroughly review, and complete public education on the eventual proposals.”

Charter Amendment to Improve Budget Transparency

Speaker Adams recommended a Charter amendment to ensure mayoral administrations adhere to its mandate that units of appropriation correspond more closely to the various functions, activities or programs of each agency as the framers of the Charter intended. Currently, the units of appropriation set forth in the Expense Budget submitted by the Mayor are generally broad and wide-ranging. Multiple agency programs may be contained in one or a handful of units of appropriation and funds are transferred between programs without the required oversight or accountability. Such practices are not in compliance with the standards in the City Charter and undermine transparency for the taxpayers whose money is being spent and the Council’s ability to perform its Charter-mandated budget responsibilities.

Charter Amendment to Ensure Civilian Complaint Review Board Budget

Speaker Adams recommended a Charter amendment to shift the Civilian Complaint Review Board’s (CCRB’s) guaranteed budget model from one based on “guaranteed headcount” in relation to the NYPD to instead a “guaranteed dollar amount” model based on the NYPD budget. This change will allow CCRB to better address their specific staffing and operational needs, providing the necessary flexibility to adapt to the evolving demands of their work.