Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Charter Review Commission draft: a handy reading guide

Late last week the semifinal draft of the proposed revised charter was posted on the city's website. The Charter Review Commission is looking for public input before a final version is sent to the Board of Elections for the November ballot referendum. It can be found here.

A public hearing is scheduled for August 10 at 6 p.m. at City Hall. Previous public hearings have been sparsely attended. There is also a City Council Law Committee Meeting August 5 at 5:30 p.m. at which the changes will be discussed with commission members.

In the coming days, The Record will be talking with department heads, Charter Review Commission members, City Council members, past and present city officials and others to gather comments and thoughts on the proposed revisions.

The most obvious changes include the size of the city council (reduced from nine members to seven), the direct election of the City Council President (as opposed to the at-large council member with the most votes), the extended term of the Council President (four years rather than two) and the creation of the Department of General Services, which would combine the Department of Public Works with Parks and Recreation.

By eliminating redundancies, the commission cut the size of the document by roughly one third.

At the bottom of this post is an executive summary of the proposed changes written by Charter Review Commission member William Dowd, a former Times Union editor.

Because so much changed, including the structure and order of the document, it's difficult to compare the changes with the current charter side-by-side.

Dowd said every change was a consensus decision. which he described as "mind boggling."

In 2008, both the City Council and Mayor Harry Tutunjian appointed separate Charter Review Commissions. A court decision determined only the mayor's commission's proposed charter would be included in the November referendum. That was voted down.

Both those proposed charter revisions from 2008 can be found here.

Stay tuned for a more in-depth story coming in The Record. Residents can also submit comments by sending an email to or by mail to Commission Chairman Ian Silverman at City Hall, 433 River Street, Troy NY 12180.

Feel free to also send comments or questions to me at or comment on this post. Happy reading.

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