Thursday, July 10, 2008

Unchartered Water

The NY Sun is reporting this morning that Mayor Mike is gearing up for some version of charter reform, and there appears to be some nervous rumblings: "Mayor Bloomberg's plan to permanently change the structure of local government is prompting anxiety among public officials and community leaders. There is talk in political circles that a commission to be appointed by the mayor to perform a top-to-bottom review of the city charter would seek to curtail the authority of borough presidents and the public advocate, or do away with their positions altogether. Officials say they also are hearing that the commission may attempt to restructure the charter to remove community boards from the often contentious approval process for development projects."

Well, count us among those who view the prospects of Bloomberg's tinkering with the structure of city government with some degree of trepidation. That's because, in our view, the mayor is no democrat, in the sense that he is a fan of the untidiness of the rough and tumble of democratic politics. Any reform from Bloomberg is likely to result in more top down control-and as far as the land use process is concerned, this would be a giant mistake.

That being said, Bloomberg has already been defeated on non partisan elections, and an effort to make ULURP less accountable to local communities would, we believe, suffer the same fate. The process does need reform, but the changes that we'd like to see would be to insure greater local accountability and not less. As we said once before: "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.