In Defense of Bloomberg’s Commission

Here’s the testimony from Michael Bloomberg’s director of state legislative affairs, Micah Lasher. He defends the current laws giving the mayor and the Commission on Charter Revision near total power over the process, and argued against any delay in posting their proposals on the ballot later this year.

In the Assembly hearing today, state and city lawmakers seemed intent on dilluting the mayor’s power.

With respect to having only the mayor appoint commission members, Lasher argued that sharing such power with other elected officials would lead to less bold ideas from the commission.

“Such commissions would be unlikely to support even the most meritorious solutions to the City’s problems if those solutions might weaken the non-mayoral nominating officials,” he said.

Lasher disagreed with the notion that more time is needed–as Scott Stringer argued –for the commission to research issues, and meaningfully engage the public before putting items on the ballot later this year.

“There is no evidence to suggest that voters need as many as twenty months to contemplate municipal charter revisions,” said Lasher.

As for the commission’s power to “bump” other initiatives off the ballot, Lasher said it’s logical.

“There is real value in enabling mayoral charter commissions,” he said, “to place their proposals before the voters without a cacophony of conflicting or competing proposals. It is, therefore, reasonable that the proposals of charter commissions take precedence over proposals originating through other mechanisms.”

And giving the City Council the ability to veto proposals by the commission would simply dilute the mayor’s power, Lasher argued.

“If enacted, it is likely that voters will never have the opportunity to consider a proposal opposed by the City Council, no matter how meritorious.”

Lasher’s written testimony was submitted to the host of the Assembly’s hearing today, and not delivered in person, so, no chance to see what I’m sure would have been one of the few exciting moments on this issue.