City Council gains ground in expanding authority over Mayoral appointments as Mayor Adams declines veto

Mayor Eric Adams.
Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

City Council legislation that would significantly expand the body’s say over mayoral appointments to top commissioner posts advanced one step closer to becoming law Tuesday morning with Mayor Eric Adams declining to veto the measure by a July 8 deadline.

The measure, which passed the council by an overwhelming 46 to 4 vote margin last month, would give the chamber the power to approve or deny more of the mayor’s appointments to lead city agencies — like the Departments of Social Services and Buildings. Currently, the council only has the authority — known as “advice and consent” — over the approval of two agency leadership posts; the legislation would expand it to an additional 20.

Even though the legislation has cleared both the council and the mayor, it must still be approved by New York City voters via a ballot referendum to become law.

Team Adams’s lack of action on Monday came as a surprise to council leadership, as the city’s top executive has made no secret of his dislike for the measure. The council had been bracing to override the mayor’s veto sometime this month.

However, the mayor’s City Charter Revision Commission, which he convened in May, could block the legislation from appearing on the November general election ballot if it advances its own measures by an Aug. 5 deadline. That is due to a quirk in the City Charter that gives proposals advanced by a Charter Revision Commission precedence over those put forward by the council.

Council leadership has openly accused the administration of launching the commission solely for the purpose of blocking the legislation. But the mayor and his top aides have bristled at the accusation, arguing instead that they formed the panel in response to community concerns about the council’s handling of public safety legislation and the city’s finances.

Given the mayor’s decision not to veto the measure, City Council spokesperson Julia Agos said in a statement that voters should now have the chance to “be the final voice” on whether to enact it.

“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.”

The commission published its first report late last month. It contained recommendations like assessing the “fiscal impact” of City Council bills far earlier in the legislative process and with the possible input of City Hall, as well as requiring more public engagement on measures related to public safety.

The mayor, during his weekly Tuesday news conference, said he declined to veto the measure so as to avoid another public “back and forth” with the City Council, while denying that his decision was tied to the Charter Revision Commission.

“I have discovered that this administration’s success has been overshadowed by all of these back-and-forth debates,” the mayor said. “I’m just not doing that anymore. You know, I’m giving you guys 8 days of coverage on a bill [that] the average New Yorker when I walk down the block, they’re stopping me in the subway station and saying ‘hey, Eric what are doing with the advice and consent bill?'”

The mayor and his team have blasted the measure, citing concerns it would hinder city agencies’ ability to deliver services to New Yorkers while they wait for new leadership to be confirmed. He has also charged it would politicize the process.

Speaker Adams has said those arguments do not hold water as the bill stipulates the council must act upon a mayoral nominee within a 30-day window of the nomination. Furthermore, she has said, it makes clear that an agency’s first deputy commissioner or a mayoral designee will run a city agency in an acting capacity until a new leader is chosen.