We traditionally don’t editorialize about electoral issues on the day that people vote, but Mayor de Blasio’s feckless abuse of his powers to propose changes to the City Charter demands an exception.
City Hall has been putting mayoral aides on leave so they can promote the three questions de Blasio forced onto Tuesday’s ballots. It’s also been spending taxpayer cash to the same end, even buying an expensive “wraparound” ad in a newspaper that called for voters to reject all three “stinkers.”
But the mayor’s been violating norms from the start of this process. He stacked his Charter Reform Commission with donors and cronies, rather than the traditional range of civic experts. And he plainly dictated exactly what the commissioners were to produce.
Not one of the three proposals requires an amendment to the city’s constitution — all could be done legislatively. But if the questions pass, they can’t be undone legislatively.
We’ve already come out against the first two questions. The first jiggers with the city’s campaign-finance laws, its only real purpose being to let de Blasio tell out-of-state progressives that he struck a major blow for “campaign-finance reform.” The second sets up a “civic-engagement commission” that is transparently a no-work jobs program for political hacks.
The third isn’t as transparently awful: It mainly sets term limits for members of community boards.
You can make policy arguments for and against the measure: A few boards have been controlled forever by insiders; limiting the boards would boost the mayor and City Council’s power.
Either way, though, it merits real public debate — in the normal legislative process. It just doesn’t remotely rise to a constitutional level.
New Yorkers don’t revere the City Charter the way Americans do the Constitution, nor should they. But it’s still worth more respect than de Blasio’s cavalier and cynical approach to changing it. That’s more than enough reason to vote no on Questions 1, 2 and 3.
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