web analytics

NY Mayor Eric Adams Submits Formal Testimony Opposing City Council Bill Requiring Advice and Consent on 21 Agency Heads

Mayor Eric Adams formally opposed Intro. 908, a bill requiring City Council’s advice and consent for appointing 21 agency heads, emphasizing that such a change would disrupt the established mayoral authority and accountability in New York City governance. Adams argued that the bill would lead to delays, politicize the appointment process, and hinder the city’s ability to attract and retain talent, ultimately harming service delivery and public trust.

NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams today submitted his formal opposition to Intro. 908 — that would require advice and consent for 21 agency heads — to the New York City Council Committee on Governmental Operations. The testimony below was also submitted at today’s hearing:

“Speaker Adams, Chair Restler, and Members of the Committee on Governmental Operations, State and Federal Legislation.  I am submitting this testimony as mayor of the City of New York to express my concerns regarding Intro. 908, which would require the advice and consent of the City Council for 21 city commissioners.

“As you know, the mayor of New York City has had sole authority to appoint Commissioners and agency heads since 1884 — for 140 years — and for good reason. In March 1884, then Governor Grover Cleveland signed a bill into law placing the responsibility to appoint agency heads solely with the mayor. Governor Cleveland issued a signing statement emphasizing that the principles of good government required this change because New Yorkers are best served by vesting the power of appointment only in the mayor who is “elected by all of the people in the municipality,” not by dividing or sharing that power with legislators who are “responsible only to their constituents in their respective districts.” Cleveland further wrote: “If the chief executive of the city is to be held responsible for its order and good government, he should not be hampered by any interference with his selection of subordinate administrative officers…” and “[t]he plea should never be heard that a bad nomination had been made because it was the only one that could secure confirmation.”

“The real world impacts this legislation, if enacted, would have on every New Yorker across the five boroughs would be vast, and once you think about the proposal you are quick to conclude that it would be undoubtedly bad for New Yorkers.
“Any uncertainty or delay in appointing agency leadership creates the real possibility for harm from delayed service delivery. From emergency management to senior services, to health care continuity, to garbage collection and construction safety — this bill risks diminishing the city’s ability to manage and respond to the service needs that we all hear from the public every day. Right now, we regularly experience significant delays in scheduling confirmation hearings for the relatively small number of nominees to even be considered by the City Council. As we have seen many times, major events have challenged the city such that administrative and political delays could have major, negative impact on the delivery of service and confidence of New Yorkers in their government. You only need to look back to the prior administration when the Health commissioner resigned in the midst of the fight against COVID. Imagine taking several weeks or months for a new commissioner to take their place, and the impacts of that vacuum of leadership would have for the staff of the agency, and New Yorkers at-large.

“On top of those risks, the politicization of the appointment process can have many harmful implications for New York City’s professional governance. While the City is able to attract some of the best talent to lead our agencies, there are significant sacrifices those individuals make in order to serve New Yorkers, whether that is in the form of salary or work-life balance. Adding the uncertainty and potential for public spectacle of an “advice and consent” process to the list of sacrifices would seriously hamper the city’s ability to attract and retain good talent. We have a clear example of how this process can be corrupted by politics when we look to our nation’s capital and see a process that is weaponized and politicized to score cheap political points and is a disservice to the American people. This legislation would have the same effect on New Yorkers.

“Prior to 1884, the city experimented with a system where the city’s legislators — known as the Board of Aldermen – confirmed the mayor’s appointments. To put it plainly, the system proved to be bad government, primarily because it induced a lack of accountability. When there is no one clearly in charge, and therefore no one who can clearly shoulder blame, New Yorkers lose faith in government. This is precisely why the Aldermen system of confirming mayoral appointments was abandoned. In short, it was tried and failed, and the city moved decisively away from it in order to bring more accountability to city government and services.

“The mayor’s power to appoint agency heads has remained intact since 1884. In fact, multiple charter review commissions have reinforced that this mayoral authority is critical both to the mayor’s ability to govern and to the people’s ability to hold the mayor accountable at the polls. In 1975, for example, the Commission found: “It is the mayor whom the public holds accountable for city programs and services. With this responsibility must come authority to select those individuals who are to carry out executive policy.  The role of the city’s legislative bodies should be to evaluate and report on the performance of the mayor’s appointees.”

“There are only two exceptions in all of New York City government for which the City Council has advice and consent for non-board or commission agency head appointments — for Commissioner of the Department of Investigations and the Corporation Counsel. The charter commissions said that those exceptions were made because of the very unique nature of those positions. The DOI Commissioner is responsible for conducting investigations citywide, including “as directed by the mayor or the council.” Additionally, the Council’s recent charter commission distinguished the position of the Corporation Counsel, because that position represents not just the city agencies, but also the City Council and Comptroller. As such, for those two positions, exceptions were made in recognition of the uniqueness of the posts. 

“Lastly, the Council already has significant checks on the mayor’s power, including budget, land use, and oversight. The Council regularly holds oversight hearings, approves of the budgets, and legislates reporting requirements from city agencies. If there ever are shortcomings from any agency, the Council then holds those who have been appointed to do these jobs accountable. If for whatever reason the Council feels that information they are seeking is not being produced, they also have the authority to subpoena the administration to compel us to comply or face legal sanctions by a court. In other words, oversight from the Council already exists. Expanding that oversight to having final say on the mayor’s choice of who they want to lead agencies to carry out the polices that city voters elected them to carry out would be a disservice to New Yorkers for the reasons outlined throughout this testimony.

“I would ask that the Council reflect on the experience and judgment of past governors, mayors, Charter Revision Commissions, and others who have all come to the same conclusion: this proposal is misguided. I urge you to reject this proposal, if brought to a vote. I thank you for the opportunity to share my concerns with Intro. 908. I know that both the Administration and the Council have a shared commitment to good governance that is both reflective and responsive to the needs of all New Yorkers — one that is rooted in accountability and transparency to ensure public trust and to advance the public good.”

May 29, 2024 New York NY

Sources: Midtown Tribune news – NYC.gov
Big New York news BigNY.com

Big New York – New Jersey, Connecticut News Business – Job- Moneymakers – Resume – Services – Hospitals-ITTri-state area –  New York – New York City – Manhattan – Brooklyn – Queens – Staten Island – Bronx – Long Island

Please follow and like us: