Government Reforms

1/ Franchise Independent Voters

Of all the pressing problems facing New York City — increasing crime, economic stagnation, high taxes, rising homelessness, crumbling infrastructure, and poor sanitation — a fundamental issue is at the core: lack of faith in our government and institutions to address and solve these issues.
 
Trust is broken because NY City and state government appears corrupt, indecipherable, and motivated to kick back to special interests, insiders, and their allies. New York’s future depends on restoring its ability to create and implement policy that truly serves the public’s needs. To restore public confidence and reduce the cynicism that has led to abysmally low voter turnout, we must have the will and commitment to enact long overdue reforms.
 
Turnout in New York primaries is abysmally low. In the recent 2022 primaries for Governor and State Assembly, less than 14% of those registered voted. In national elections, New York and other closed primary states have significantly lower turnout than states with open primaries.
 
OneCity Rising endorses Final Five Voting, Final Five Voting NYC a charter initiative that will open New York City’s primaries to all voters regardless of party affiliation, and will franchise independent voters, the fastest growing group of voters throughout the country.
 
An open primary system would franchise more than 2.7 million “ independent “ voters in our state and liberate parties from being tied down and beholden to their most extreme influences. Diversity of opinion would be ignited within parties as more voters would be able to participate in the elections that matter. When confidence in the system itself is restored, we can expect to see significantly greater voter turnout.
 
For New York City elections, we must go directly to voters with a ballot initiative. “Final Five” voting will combine ranked-choice voting with open primaries.
 

2/ Expand Mechanisms for Ballot Initiatives and Referendums

Ballot initiatives and referendums, allowed in 26 states, enable voters to bypass the state legislature by placing proposed statutes and constitutional amendments on the ballot. These measures increase voter engagement and contribute to greater turnout by signaling to voters that their vote will directly affect the outcome of a particular issue.

3/ Empower Truly Independent Ethics Agencies:

Truly independent commissions empowered to enact comprehensive integrity and conflicts of interest policies, along with mechanisms to enforce them, will restore institutional trust and confidence.
 
New York City’s Conflicts of Interest Board (COIB) should be replaced by independent appointees with enforcement powers outside of political influence. Currently, its membership is nominated by elected officials including the mayor, comptroller, and public advocate.
 
The city’s current comptroller, Brad Lander, recently sought guidance from the Board, including an appointee of his own, about whether he faces conflicts in his office’s approval of contracts between the city and members of a nonprofit umbrella group run by his wife. These actions and questions undercut the credibility of the Conflicts of Interest Board to act independently and fairly, and diminishes public confidence..
 

4/ Mandate Oversight of the NYC Comptroller’s Office

Brad Lander, NYC’S Comptroller, is responsible for overseeing NYC’s $100 Billion dollar budget, including $3.2 Billion spent on homeless services, yet he has not audited these providers to ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent efficiently and the providers are achieving successful outcomes.
 
In December 2022, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued a scathing report showing DHS placement practices for the mentally ill population had serious shortcomings: “Too often the department did not properly place homeless individuals with specialized needs in appropriate shelters where they could receive the support they need to get back on their feet and on the path to stable housing. DHS’S shortcomings can have serious implications.
 
As a result, shelters are unsafe and dangerous. Rather than fund mental health beds in hospitals and drug recovery programs, DHS continues to place mentally ill in shelters.  They utilize “safe havens” for the most chronically homeless, many of whom have mental illness and drug addiction, but these programs have no curfews or screening for mental illness, and do not have adequate psychiatric staff on site. (If DHS doesn’t screen for mental illness, it cannot be accused of sending someone to the wrong type of facility.) Concerns raised by community residents that these shelters will be less safe continue to go unheeded.
 
The NYC Comptroller’s Office cannot continue to operate like an authoritarian regime. It must have strict oversight, and the Comptroller must be required, through legislation if necessary, to fulfill the duties of this office.
 

5/ Require The Comptroller to have an Accounting Degree and Accounting Experience

New York City is the tenth largest economy in the world, yet the individual holding the most important fiscal position in the City lacks an accounting degree or any accounting experience.  The City’s pension system lost a staggering $3O Billion since Mr. Lander took office.  This is not sustainable.  We must enact legislation that will require anyone seeking the office of Comptroller to have an accounting degree and significant relevant experience.
 
This list is not exhaustive of all that needs to be done to restore faith and trust in government, but even these pragmatic and reasonable recommendations will take considerable will to implement.
 
Read local press about OneCity’s stance on election reform.
 

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