If They Changed The US Constitution, Wouldn’t You Want To Know?

Well, then why don’t you know about the changes to New York City’s constitution (a.k.a. the charter)?

The Office of the Public Advocate is trying to pressure the city into democratizing a seemingly clandestine process – amending the documents that outline city functions. Though the New York City Charter Commission has held eight meetings since March, a lack of publicity about them has only drawn about 1,000 people in to comment.

And some of the things being considered have serious effects at the local level, including what some say are an attempt by the Bloomberg administration to eliminate community boards. These boards need to be strengthened with more official power in their neighborhoods (and also be elected, not appointed), so that communities can begin to regain control over their own character and future. But instead, the charter is considering stripping back their influence, including their land use powers, which means area residents will be blind to any possible projects in their community. Instead, all decisions made about our neighborhood will originate in Manhattan, far from our streets.

Tonight is another charter meeting at 6 p.m. in Brooklyn Borough Hall (209 Joralemon Street). If you can’t make it, the Commission will be webcasting the hearing live.

Also, you can sign the online petition calling for a more democratic charter revision process.

Below is a letter from the NYC Public Advocate’s office, sent to me yesterday morning:

Although the New York City Charter Commission is currently amending our city’s constitution, most New Yorkers are oblivious to these upcoming changes. Since March, the Commission has held eight public hearings, but only 1,000 people — .012% of the City’s population — have shown up. This lack of public engagement in such an important issue may have major effects on how New York City government is run.
The Public Advocate’s office is encouraging all New Yorkers to urge the Commission to make the charter revision process as democratic as possible. The Charter Commission’s next public hearing is tomorrow at 6 p.m. in the Brooklyn Borough Hall. We hope you can make it.
Our office also produced a video asking New Yorkers to get involved in charter revision by attending tomorrow’s hearing. I would appreciate it if you posted it on your blog: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1GR6YyEr1c
If you can’t make it, the Commission will be webcasting the hearing live at: http://www.nyc.gov/charter.
Also, you and your readers can sign on to the online petition calling for a more democratic charter revision process: http://advocate.nyc.gov/content/petition-charter-revision-commission.