Monday, January 21, 2008

Charter F(l)ight?

In yesterday's NY Daily News, Kirsten Danis speculates on the mayor's state of the city comments about launching another attempt at charter revision. Everyone remembers, of course, the great failure of the mayor in 2003 when he attempted to institute non-partisan elections (which reminds us that the mayor's current quixotic attempt to inculcate a national version of bipartisanship has already bombed on Broadway, so it's unlikely to be any more successful as a road show).

Clearly, Mayor Mike is up to something here. Here's Danis' take: "Mayor Bloomberg slipped a bomb disguised as a wonky policy moment into his State of the City speech. About halfway through the address last week, Bloomberg said he planned to set up a charter review commission that would spend 18 months doing a "top-to-bottom review" of the way city government works." What's Bloomberg up to?

Danis feels that there's a good chance that the mayor will take a shot at the vestigial offices of Public Advocate and the borough presidents. But that fight, popular in some good government quarters, may be merely a smokescreen for something more insidious: "Even the threat of getting rid of some of the city's high-profile offices could win the mayor support for what he really wants: putting his stamp on the way government works day-to-day - permanently -- and changing the way land use and development projects are approved."

Well, well. Just how do you think Mayor Mike would want to reform the land use review process? Make it more accountable, kinda of like mirroring the Brodsky proposal on accountable development? No, that's unlikely from someone who has no faith in the voice of any impacted community.

If reform of land use is on the upcoming charter revision agenda, then it will more likely take the "streamlined and efficiency" direction; an approach that will further enervate the ability of the people to be heard. The Manhattan Institute's critique of ULURP comes to mind here. Well, we welcome the mayor if he decides to enter into the land use waters; it will expose his Father Knows Best mentality and ultimately, just as with non-partisan elections, it will be rejected by the voters.