Question 1 — Children’s Services
TEXT: Shall the City Charter be amended to make the Administration for
Children’s Services an independent Charter agency to provide for the care and
protection of children?
SUMMARY: Administration for Children’s Services (“ACS”). Currently, the
Charter provides that the City Department of Social Services generally performs
social services functions, including children’s services. Pursuant to an
executive order, ACS was created to provide services related solely to the care
and protection of children. This proposal would establish ACS as a Charter
agency empowered to receive and investigate reports of child abuse and neglect,
to assist families at risk by addressing the causes of abuse and neglect, to
provide children and families with day care and preventative services to avert
the impairment or dissolution of families, to place children in temporary foster
care or permanent adoption when preventative services cannot redress causes of
family neglect, to provide pre-school services, and to ensure that parents who
are legally required to provide child support do so.
PRO: Since ACS became independent from the Human Resources Administration, it
has made numerous reforms. Including ACS in the Charter would help ensure its
CON: ACS already exists as a free-standing agency. The agency has a short
history and needs more time to establish a record of reform. The City Council
can evaluate the need for putting ACS in the Charter and has the power to do so.
Question 2 — Gun Violence and School Safety
TEXT: Shall the City Charter be amended to: (i) create “gun-free” school
safety zones within 1,000 feet of every school; (ii) ban the sale of any type of
gun to persons under the age of 21; and (iii) require Board of Education
employees to report immediately to the Police Department suspected crimes,
including sex offenses and violent crimes, that occur in public schools?
SUMMARY: “Gun-Free” School Safety Zones — Currently, neither the
Charter nor the Administrative Code prohibits gun possession near schools. This
proposal would provide for the creation of “gun-free” school safety zones by
making it illegal for individuals to possess or discharge any gun (including
handguns, pistols, rifles, shotguns, assault weapons, and machine guns) within
1,000 feet of any school, pre-school or day care center in the City. Violators
would face criminal and civil penalties. This proposal, which would provide for
certain exceptions and affirmative defenses, would not apply to police or
federal law enforcement officers.
No guns for persons under the age of 21 — Currently, City law permits
persons under the age of 21 to purchase and possess certain guns, including
rifles and shotguns. This proposal would prohibit persons under the age of 21
from purchasing or possessing any type of gun, including handguns, pistols,
rifles, shotguns, assault weapons and machine guns. Persons under the age of 21
found in possession of any gun, or persons selling or otherwise providing any
gun to persons under the age of 21, would face criminal and civil penalties.
This proposal, which would provide for certain exceptions and affirmative
defenses, would not apply to police or federal law enforcement officers.
School Crime Reporting — Currently, neither the Charter nor the
Administrative Code requires Board of Education employees to report to the
Police Department suspected crimes in the City’s schools. This proposal would
require Board of Education employees to report immediately to the Police
Department any suspected crimes by adults, and any suspected crimes by students
that are sex offenses or violent crimes, that occur in public schools.
Notification of parents or legal guardians would also be required. Any person
who, in good faith, reports such information to the police would receive
immunity from civil liability.
PRO: Gun Sales to Minors — Individuals under the age of 21 are not
sufficiently mature to handle a gun safely. |
CON: Gun Sales to Minors — Individuals aged 18 to 21 pay taxes,
vote, and may be tried as adults. They should also have the right to own a gun
if they so choose.
PRO: School Crime Reporting — The NYPD is better equipped and
qualified than the Board of Education to effectively investigate school crime.|
CON: School Crime Reporting — This law will not properly serve the
needs of the student population. The City Council is the proper venue for
addressing these concerns.
Question 3 — Human Rights
TEXT: Shall the City Charter be amended to: (i) make the Human Rights
Commission a Charter agency to protect civil rights; (ii) make the Office of
Immigrant Affairs a Charter agency to assist immigrants; and (iii) protect
immigrants’ rights to access City services?
SUMMARY: Commission on Human Rights — Currently, the Charter does
not contain any provisions regarding the establishment of a City Commission on
Human Rights to protect civil rights. The Administrative Code, however, provides
for such a commission to enforce the City’s Human Rights Law, which prohibits
unlawful discrimination based on race, color, religion, creed, national origin,
alienage, citizenship, gender, sexual orientation, disability, marital status,
age, status as a victim of domestic violence, and other protected classes. This
proposal would establish the City’s Commission on Human Rights as a Charter
agency empowered to enforce the provisions of the City’s Human Rights Law.
Immigrant Affairs — Currently, neither the Charter nor the Administrative
Code requires the City to protect immigrants’ rights to access City services, to
keep confidential the immigrant status of individuals, or to have an office or
agency dedicated to immigrant affairs. The City has maintained such an office
and such policies have been in place by executive order. This proposal would
establish the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs as a Charter agency to assist
in the development and implementation of City policies and programs dedicated to
immigrants. This proposal would incorporate into the Charter protection of
immigrants’ rights to access City services and would authorize the Mayor to
promulgate rules to require City agencies to maintain the confidentiality of
immigration status and other private information.
PRO: Human Rights Commission — Including the Commission on Human Rights
and its enforcement powers in the Charter ensures its continued existence, and
will make it more difficult for future City leaders to eliminate the Commission,
which fights discrimination.|
CON: Human Rights Commission — The Commission has been in existence for
almost 40 years, with its responsibilities constantly increasing, so placing it
in the Charter is not necessary. The City Council can evaluate the need for
putting the Commission in the Charter and has the power to do so.
PRO: Immigrant Affairs and Language Services — Placing the Mayor’s Office
of Immigrant Affairs and Language Services in the Charter helps insure its
continued existence to respond to the needs of immigrants. Allowing all
immigrants, regardless whether they are here legally, to use basic City services
(such as emergency services, pre-natal care, and education) is a human right of
all people, not just citizens. Ensuring confidentiality will encourage
immigrants to be tested for communicable diseases, educate their children, and
report crimes to the police. |
CON: Immigrant Affairs and Language Services — The changing needs of
immigrants should be evaluated by the City Council before a permanent
bureaucracy is set up. Illegal immigrants should not be able to take advantage
of scarce City services. We should ensure that those who are here legally are
taken care of first. Allowing illegal immigrants to use these services and
ensuring confidentiality may also encourage more illegal immigration.
Question 4 — Public Health
TEXT: Shall the City Charter be amended to integrate the City’s health
and mental health services by creating a unified Department of Public Health as
a Charter agency, and to expand the Board of Health to eleven members to provide
for broader diversity of health, mental health and science professionals on the
SUMMARY: Department of Public Health — Currently, the Charter
provides for a Department of Health (“DOH”) and a Department of Mental Health,
Mental Retardation, and Alcoholism Services (“DMH”). This proposal would
integrate the functions of these two agencies by establishing a Department of
Public Health in the Charter. This new agency would have jurisdiction to
regulate all matters and perform all functions that relate to the City’s public
health, including mental health, mental retardation, alcoholism, and substance
abuse services. The existing operations of DOH and DMH would be given structural
equality in the new agency. One of at least two executive deputy commissioners
would have direct oversight of the new agency’s mental health, mental
retardation, alcoholism, and substance abuse functions, and the new agency would
maintain separate budgetary units for those functions. Also, the Mayor’s Office
of Operations would be required to coordinate services for the mentally retarded
and developmentally disabled in the City, and conduct biennial reviews of the
new agency’s programs for those persons.
Expanding the Board of Health — Currently, the Charter provides that the
Board of Health be comprised of five members (including the Commissioner of
Health). This proposal would increase the Board of Health’s membership from five
to eleven members (including the Commissioner of Public Health) to provide for a
broader diversity of health, mental health and science professionals on the
Board. Five members of the Board would be required to be physicians with at
least ten years experience in clinical medicine, public health administration or
college or university public health teaching. The other five members would be
required to hold advanced degrees in environmental, biological, veterinary,
physical or behavioral health or rehabilitative science, as well as possess at
least ten years of experience in their respective fields. One member of the
Board would also be the chairperson of the Mental Hygiene Advisory Board.
PRO: Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene Services — This merger would improve
coordination and access to comprehensive health care. The two agencies often
treat the same populations, and patients are shuttled between the two.|
CON: Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene Services — Creation of a mega-agency
lumps together the disparate areas
of public health, mental health, and disability concerns, and leaves different
populations vulnerable to being overlooked.
PRO: Board of Health — Expansion will help the City respond to the increasing
complexity of public health issues and allow for a greater membership diversity.|
CON: Board of Health — Expansion to 11 members will create an unwieldy and
Question 5 — Public Safety
TEXT: Shall the City Charter be amended to establish the Emergency
Management Department, Organized Crime Control Commission and Office to Combat
Domestic Violence as Charter agencies to advance public safety?
SUMMARY: Emergency Management Department — Currently, the Charter
does not require coordination of emergency planning and response for acts of
terrorism, natural disasters and other emergencies in the City. Pursuant to an
executive order, the Office of Emergency Management (“OEM”) was created to
perform such functions. This proposal would make OEM a Charter agency by
establishing it as the Emergency Management Department empowered to coordinate
interagency and intergovernmental emergency planning and response in the City.
In addition, the City’s authority to seek court orders allowing it to inspect
properties to prevent public health or safety emergencies, or to respond to
their aftermath, would be clarified.
Organized Crime Control Commission — Currently, the Charter does not
provide any agency with centralized jurisdiction over regulatory matters
relating to the influence of organized crime in specific sectors of the economy.
The Administrative Code provides several City agencies with regulatory,
licensing, and investigative powers in connection with public wholesale food
markets, the private carting industry, and the shipboard gambling industry. This
proposal would consolidate the regulatory, licensing and investigative functions
of the existing City agencies that combat organized crime activities into a
single Organized Crime Control Commission, which would be one Charter agency. It
would also clarify executive authority to oversee a centralized integrity
assessment system, and to provide for vendor prequalification, to deter
corruption in the area of City contracting.
Office to Combat Domestic Violence — Currently, the Charter does not
provide for the coordination of City services to prevent domestic violence and
assist its victims, but a mayoral commission to combat family violence, created
by executive order, currently coordinates such services. This proposal would
establish a new Charter agency, known as the Office to Combat Domestic Violence,
which would be responsible for the coordination of City services responding to
domestic violence. That office would also be responsible for formulating
policies and programs relating to all aspects of service delivery for victims of
PRO: Office of Emergency Management — Including OEM in the Charter would
help ensure the existence of a successful agency.|
CON: Office of Emergency Management — The agency has a short history and
needs more time to establish a record of reform.
PRO: Organized Crime Control Commission — This Commission would eliminate
overlap in the functions of several agencies and enhance coordination efforts to
combat organized crime.|
CON: Organized Crime Control Commission — Mechanisms in several agencies
already deal with organized crime. This Commission would replicate their
PRO: Coordination of Domestic Violence Services — Coordination under the
Mayor’s Office would increase communication among agencies and allow for more
efficient service delivery.|
CON: Coordination of Domestic Violence Services — The Mayor’s Commission
to Combat Family Violence already coordinates domestic violence services among
the private and public sectors.
Highlights of the Major Arguments Regarding
the Process of Charter Revision
PRO: The Charter Revision Commission conducted an open and thorough
review. It held public hearings in each borough, includes highly qualified civic
leaders representing varied backgrounds, and has operated in an independent
Unlike the 1999 Charter Revision Commission proposals, voters can vote on each
CON: The Charter Revision Commission, chosen by the Mayor, was created in
mid-June and did not have enough time to study the effects of its proposals
carefully. Hearings were held in mid-summer, when many people were unavailable
or not paying close attention.
Nearly all of these proposals were proposed by the 1999 Charter Revision
Commission and were rejected by the voters.