Mayor Eric Adams’s city Charter Revision Commission public hearings are still underway, set to conclude with a final report on July 25. The commission aims to collect feedback on how to improve New York City’s constitution, but has been slammed by the City Council and advocates as little more than a “power grab” by the mayor.

Previous charter revision commissions have been responsible for reshaping the entire structure of city government, including how the city votes and runs elections with the introduction of ranked choice voting (RCV); expanding the size and jurisdiction of the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB); and instituting term limits for community board members, the mayor, and other elected city officials.

The charter revision process usually leads to ballot referendums that will go before voters during the year’s general November election.

The current commission chair is Carlo Scissura, who has participated in two charter revision commissions in the past. Scissura also serves as president and CEO of the New York Building Congress, a position he’s held since January 2017. Other charter commissioners include Dr. Hazel N. Dukes, vice chair; Ken Ngai, secretary; and retired 32BJ President Kyle Bragg, Reverend Herbert Daughtry Sr., activist Jackie Rowe-Adams, and We All Really Matter (WARM) founder and CEO Stephanie McGraw.

“From public safety to sanitation and everything in between—that is why it’s so important to hear from members of the public, elected officials, representatives of city agencies, as we consider what recommendations to present to the voters at the general election on November 5,” said Ngai at the July 9 charter revision committee meeting at the Staten Island University Hospital.

Adams tasked charter commissioners with reviewing the city charter in its entirety, with a particular emphasis on public safety and “fiscal responsibility.”

The mayor’s preliminary report outlines how Adams’s mandates often clash with the City Council’s stance, which has been the case several times since Adams took office, over issues like City Fighting Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement (CityFHEPS) housing vouchers, the How Many Stops Act, and the solitary confinement ban in jails.

That’s where the controversy builds.

“People have to vote and they have to get engaged and they have to recognize when there are power grabs happening at the local level,” said Racial Justice Attorney Lurie Daniel Favors. “The mayor right now has a charter commission that has practically put a report [out about] hearings that no one either knew about or attended. I’m curious that they already have a report out, and it’s essentially to go around the City Council.”

Favors added that it’s time to understand, as a community, that Black representation in government is only part of the solution. “I think when you have skinfolk who are acting in ways and initiating policies that wouldn’t be done under a mayor that wasn’t part of the community, we would be in the streets protesting,” said Favors. Others disagree with the power grab notion and believe the Charter Revision Commission is being conducted in good faith, especially by some of the commissioners themselves, who have dedicated time and resources to carrying out the hearings.

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