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Adams allows bill expanding New York City Council’s authority to become law

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(The Center Square) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams has allowed a bill to expand the City Council’s authority to go into effect, but the move could ultimately be blunted by a pending review of the city’s charter.

The “advice-and-consent” legislation will expand City Council members’ authority to approve or block mayoral-appointed commissioner positions if voters decide through a citywide voter referendum whether to add another 20 commissioner posts to a list requiring the mayor to seek council approval before being appointed. Adams allowed the bill to become law without his signature at the end of a 30-day deadline to take action.

City Council President Adrienne Adams has heralded the legislation as a “good government” measure that will bring the city’s appointment process for commissioners “out of the shadows” and improve transparency.

“Advice and consent is a safeguard of good government, ensuring the city’s agency leaders are qualified and their priority is the public interest,” Adams, a Democrat, said in a recent statement.

“When you cut through the noise, the truth is that advice and consent is a common feature of representative democracy in cities and states across this country, including New York, and New York City is an outlier.”

To be sure, the new law’s impact could be blunted by the Charter Revision Commission, which Adams created to review the city’s governing charter. The commission is set to meet in November to consider a proposal from Adams that would delay a vote on the measure until 2025.

Mayor Adams, a Democrat, has pushed back hard against the council’s efforts to expand its authority over commission appointments, warning that they will delay and politicize the process.

“Our administration’s opposition to this bill has already been submitted into the record,” City Hall spokesperson Liz Garcia said in a statement. “So while we respect the council’s authority to explore this measure, we welcome the opportunity to collaborate on other, more efficient ways to improve the way government serves New Yorkers, and look forward to working with our partners on our many shared goals moving forward.”

But City Council spokesperson Julia Agos said voters should have the final say on the proposal, suggesting that Adams’ decision to allow the measure to become a law is “tacit approval” of the legislation “or a blatant admission that his Charter Revision Commission’s mission is simply to block New Yorkers from exercising this democratic right.”

“The commission should avoid rushing what should be a serious constitutional process to interfere in voters’ rights, and instead utilize its full term into next year to thoroughly review the entire charter and put forward thoughtful proposals to improve government for 2025 through more meaningful assessment and public engagement,” she said in a statement.

Under current law, the Council has the authority to veto about a dozen commission appointments, including the city’s Corporation Counsel, Department of Investigations Commissioner, and head of the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

The wrangling over expanding the “advise and consent” law is the latest development in a widening intra-party rift between Adams and the Democratic-led Council, which recently overrode the mayor’s vetoes of a police stop bill and a ban on solitary confinement in city jails and a series of budget cuts. Councilors have also blasted his move to appoint Randy Mastro — an ex-Rudy Guiliani aide — to serve as the top attorney for city government.

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