Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Charter Commission Takes On Member Items At Harlem Hearing

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Cleaning up city government was the task at hand Wednesday night as the mayor's charter revision commission held its latest hearing in Harlem.

Panel members used the opportunity to discuss several issues including the much talked about member item system in the City Council.

Under current law, Council members are allowed to direct public funds to favored organizations. However, the system came under fire two years ago when the so-called "slush fund" scandal ended in criminal convictions.

"The issue of Council integrity is too important to be left to the rules of the current Speaker or even to internal Council rules. The charter should be amended to address the problem of member items to specifically why require disclosure between the relationships between members, their staff and people associated with them," said Columbia Law School professor Richard Briffault.

"The system they have set up is really a model for the entire country. Maybe if Speaker Silver and Speaker Pelosi would listen a bit to Speaker Quinn on this issue things would be a little bit better in Albany and in Congress on this issue of discretionary funding," said Mark Davies of the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board.

The panel also discussed the possibility of reforming the city's campaign finance laws.

The charter commission's next hearing will address the development and land use issues in the city.

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