No secrets at charter review


To the editor:

(re: “Term limits for community boards?” Sept. 27)

Your informative article about term limits contained an unfortunate and uninformed quote from Community Board 8 land use chair Charles Moerdler concerning the extensive, deliberate and transparent public process by which the Charter Revision Commission reached its recommendation, including term limits for community board members and officers.

I know, because I serve on the Charter Review Commission, through I write in my personal capacity, and not on behalf of the commission.

Contrary to Mr. Moerdler’s dark allegation of a “manipulative … opaque … backroom deal,” the Charter Review Commission operated in the bright sunshine of full public disclosure. The commission held multiple public hearings in every borough, including two in the Bronx. It issued a preliminary report and solicited feedback on all of the proposals considered.

This was not a situation in which “you slip it in at the last moment and hope nobody sees,” as Mr. Moerdler assert without any basis. Indeed, your article reports that four borough presidents submitted an extensive opposition to the term limits proposal.

Their analysis was fully considered by the Charter Revision Commission before it voted in support of the term limits proposal.

Reasonable people, including those like Mr. Moerdler who you report has served as CB8’s land use chair for three decades, can disagree on term limits. The commission heard testimony from community board members, citizens, experts and activists from across the city expressing a full range of views on the proposal. The testimony regarding some boards across the city that have not evolved to reflect changing demographics in their communities and that do not reflect best practices in terms of membership selection and rotation of leadership positions, was too compelling to ignore.

Modernizing community board procedures will only benefit grassroots government. Community Board 8 is chock full of people who care about their community, and who have the neighborhood experience and professional expertise to serve as community board members and leaders.

No one is indispensable — especially for the two years out of every 10 years in which the term limits proposal will apply to community board members and leaders.

Let’s have an intelligent debate regarding the charter revision proposal that voters will decide on election day in November. But baseless allegations of “backroom dealing” regarding the extensive and totally public Charter Review Commission process do not substantively inform and educate the voting public.

John Siegal

The author lives in the area covered by Community Board 8, and serves on the Charter Revision Commission.

John Siegal