Eric Adams

Eric Adams does not veto bill expanding City Council authority

The legislation will go before voters – unless the Charter Revision Commission acts to stop it.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams

New York City Mayor Eric Adams Benny Polatseck/Mayoral Photography Office

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has allowed a measure to go into effect that could expand City Council members’ authority to approve or block mayoral appointed commissioner positions, potentially significantly altering the balance of power at City Hall. 

While the City Council braced for Adams to potentially veto the “advice-and-consent” legislation, the 30-day deadline after the measure’s initial 46-4 passage came and went without mayoral action. Still, the chamber isn’t exactly celebrating. The City Council’s effort to exert more control over the mayor’s high-ranking appointments could still be foiled by the ongoing work of a new Charter Revision Commission formed by the mayor to review the city’s version of a constitution.

The advice-and-consent legislation would allow voters to decide via citywide voter referendum whether to add an additional 20 commissioner positions to a list that requires the mayor to seek City Council approval before he can make an appointment. The measure has spurred a wave of pushback from the Adams administration since its May introduction. Reluctant to relinquish authority, the mayor and his administration have claimed the proposed change would complicate a process that requires speed and efficiency. The City Council has framed it as “a good government measure,” arguing the change gives both the public and members an opportunity to vet mayoral nominees to ensure the best person is appointed to helm city agencies. There’s also precedent. The City Council currently has the power to veto a handful of positions, including corporation counsel and the commissioners of the Department of Investigation and the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

But while the mayor’s inaction means the City Council won’t need to duke it out with the Adams administration in another veto battle, the potential change likely won’t end up on the November ballot as members intended. Adams has already laid the groundwork to potentially counteract the advice-and-consent measure by announcing a new Charter Revision Commission shortly after news of the City Council’s plan broke in May. While the mayor has said his decision to form the 13-member panel – populated with many of his allies – predates City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams’ introduction of the advice-and-consent legislation, critics have charged he hastened to form it to block the council’s efforts.

The commission is currently mulling potential changes to city bylaws that could go on the ballot for voter approval in the November general election, meaning the the City Council would be prevented from adding their referendum to the ballot in the same election. The delay wouldn’t necessarily be indefinite. A contingency plan baked into the bill notes that a referendum would be scheduled for a special election if it ends up being knocked off the November ballot.

City Council spokesperson Julia Agos said in a statement Monday night that voters should be given the opportunity in the 2024 general election to “be the final voice” on whether to put the proposal into effect. 

“Mayor Adams’ inaction is tacit approval of this proposal expanding advice and consent, or a blatant admission that his Charter Revision Commission’s mission is simply to block New Yorkers from exercising this democratic right,” Agos said. “The commission should avoid rushing what should be a serious constitutional process to interfere in voters’ rights, and instead utilize its full term into next year to thoroughly review the entire charter and put forward thoughtful proposals to improve government for 2025 through more meaningful assessment and public engagement.” 

A City Hall spokesperson said the advice-and-consent legislation is one of the few areas where the Adams administration disagrees with its “partners” the City Council. 

“Our administration’s opposition to this bill has already been submitted into the record,” they said. “So while we respect the council’s authority to explore this measure, we welcome the opportunity to collaborate on other, more efficient ways to improve the way government serves New Yorkers, and look forward to working with our partners on our many shared goals moving forward.”

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Adams attributed his decision to not wanting another public “back and forth” with the City Council. He also denied his inaction as having anything to do with the commission.

“I have discovered that this administration’s success has been overshadowed by all of these back-and-forth debates,” he said. “I’m just not doing that anymore.”