Public Hearings and Documents of the Staten Island Charter Commission


Introduction

The State Charter Commission on Staten Island Secession was created in November 1990 after 81% of Staten Island voters approved a referendum to study the issue of Staten Island secession from New York City. Chaired by State Senator John Marchi, and with a membership consisting of twelve other prominent political figures and community leaders, the Commission undertook an intensive 2-year study and public discussion of Staten Island secession, culminating in a favorable report to the governor and state legislature and a draft charter for an independent City of Staten Island. Links to those documents, as well as the transcripts of the various public hearings held by the Commission are to be found below.


Documents of the Charter Commission and
Public Hearing Transcripts
(links will open pdf in new window)

Secession Chronology

Jan 1, 1898- Staten Islanders vote 5,631 to1,505 to create a greater New York City- made up of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx.

1901- The New York City Charter creates a Board of Estimate of eight officials- the mayor, comptroller, the five borough presidents, and the president of the Board of Alderman (which became the City Council in 1938). The Board holds enormous decision-making powers in city government.

1982- The New York Civil Liberties Union brings a federal lawsuit protesting the Board of Estimate as an unconstitutional violation of the 14th Amendment. The suit asserts that giving equal power to the borough presidents, who represent disparate populations, violates the Constitution's one-person one-vote principle of equal representation.

Oct. 10, 1987- A day after a federal appeals court upholds a lower court's ruling that the Board of Estimate is unconstitutional, Sen. John Marchi declares his support for the secession of Staten Island from New York City.

Nov. 7, 1989- New York City voters approve a new City Charter, abolishing the Board of Estimate and increasing the membership and powers of the City Council. Staten Island, which voted against the charter, has its representation reduced to a mere three of 51 members in the new City Council.

Dec. 15, 1989- Despite the objections of Mayor Edward Koch and Mayor-elect David Dinkins, Gov. Mario M. Cuomo signs a bill allowing Islanders to hold a referendum to decide whether they want to study secession.

Nov 6, 1990- By an by 81 percent to 19 percent margin, Staten Island voters approve a referendum to study secession. A 13 member state commission is created to study the feasibility of an independent city of Staten Island.

Jan. 22, 1993- The state Charter Commission on Staten Island Secession issues a report for the state Legislature and governor. It concludes, "It is possible to provide current services for a city of Staten Island with the current levels of revenues." The commission also drafted a proposed charter for a City of Staten Island.

Nov. 2, 1993- In a lopsided 65 to 35 percent margin on Election Day, Staten Island residents vote to secede from the City of New York and adopt the proposed charter for a new City of Staten Island.

Feb. 28, 1994- The secession commission presents its legislative proposal for Staten Island's secession to leaders of the Legislature and the governor in Albany.

From the Staten Island Advance 3/1/94, pg A7


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