ARTICLE: PANEL TWO: 1989: CHARTER COMMISSION'S POLICIES, PROCESSES, CHOICES, AND STRATEGIES   THE POLICY AND POLITICS OF CHARTER MAKING: THE STORY OF NEW YORK CITY'S 1989 CHARTER Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 1998 New York Law School Law Review
New York Law School Law Review

ARTICLE: PANEL TWO: 1989: CHARTER COMMISSION'S POLICIES, PROCESSES, CHOICES, AND STRATEGIES
 
THE POLICY AND POLITICS OF CHARTER MAKING: THE STORY OF NEW YORK CITY'S 1989 CHARTER

1998

42 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 723

Author

Frederick A. O. Schwarz, Jr. & Eric Lane *

Excerpt

Introduction
 
On November 7, 1989, the voters of the City of New York approved, by a vote of fifty-five percent to forty-five percent, the broadest and most radical changes to their Charter since 1901. 1 These changes abolished the City's historic Board of Estimate, while preserving a borough voice in government, expanding and increasing the powers of the City Council, retooling almost all of the City's significant decision-making processes, and adding a myriad of other changes. 2 These changes were the product of a revision process that started in mid-1987 with the first hearings of an initial Charter revision commission, 3 and moved to an intense and dramatic pace after March 23, 1989, when the Supreme Court declared the voting system of the Board of Estimate unconstitutional in Board of Estimate v. Morris. 4

We were fortunate enough to play central roles in that process of change. Frederick A. O. Schwarz, Jr., was chairman of the Schwarz Charter Revision Commission (the "Commission"), which was established in January 1989, and succeeded an earlier commission that expired in November 1988. 5 Eric Lane served as executive director and counsel to both commissions. For both of us, the Charter experience was among the most challenging of our careers. We both had had substantial governmental experience - Schwarz as chief counsel to the Church Committee in the mid-1970s, 6 and as corporation counsel to the City of New York from 1982 through 1986, and Lane as counsel to the State Senate Democratic minority from ...
 
 
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