Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Brooklyn's 2nd City Charter Revision Hearing Discusses Business Ideas Amid Low Turnout

Brooklyn saw its second City Charter Revision Hearing take place at CUNY Medgar Evers College at the end of last month.

Brooklyn saw its second City Charter Revision Hearing take place at CUNY Medgar Evers College at the end of last month. It was a chance for Brooklynites and other New Yorkers to propose provisions as the charter goes through a revision on how the city's government will be run. 

The hearing at Medgar Evers was sparsely attended with about 30 people in the auditorium. There were a few more attending via Zoom. 

Among the testimonies given, the most common surrounded business and the city's economy. The most common proposal was about the Minority-Women Owned-Business-Enterprises (MWBEs). Michael J. Garner, the city's first Chief Diversity Business Owner,  proposed creating an agency for MWBEs outside the city's Small Business Services (SBS). He explained that creating such an agency would help with Mayor Eric Adams' goals for MWBEs to obtain more city contracts.

"We encourage and we ask for your support in fulfilling the goals in the MWBE community," said Garner. "So that the people in the City of New York can vote on this very important initiative of creating a single place where MWBE will be driven, and give us the ability to be held accountable. And so that the city of New York will work for all of its citizens in all of its businesses."

Also supporting the idea of an MWBE agency was Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn (AD 42), the Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight of MWBEs in the New York State Assembly. She told the commission that a separate agency may do better with oversight than the SBS and the Comptroller's office.

"I think the MWBE agency would be a great way and a great agency to do the reporting and grading of all agencies," Bichotte Hermelyn said. "They'll be able to monitor and manage the mentorship program throughout the city. It will streamline and help outreach and certification programs."

The Assemblymember added that since traditional banks tend not to lend to minority-owned businesses, having an agency for MWBEs would allow for alternative financing for those businesses.

Another business and economy-oriented proposal was for The Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment to have more authority to issue film permits. Currently, the Commissioner of the SBS gives the permits. Flatbush resident, Kwame Amoaku, the Deputy Commissioner for the Film Office, explained, Charter 1301 (1)(r) "has the potential to create problems during mayoral transitions where there may be a period without a commissioner."

While listening from the stage, Carlo Scissura, the Chair of the Charter Revision Commission commented on how there is only one business agency, the SBS, when there could have been others over the years. Scissura then said now is time for a little cleaning up. 

Some proposals were not business-oriented. There were two women, Mona Davids and Irene Estrada-Rukaj, the latter who is running for NYS Senate District 36 in the Bronx and Westchester. The two women proposed to repeal or amend the city's sanctuary laws, citing the migrants who commit crimes as the reason. Another woman from Coney Island suggested restoring the city's regional law enforcement. She explained if it never went away, there would be no Stop and Frisk, and "most of the politicians would end up in jail at this point."

At the end, Scissura explained the hearings have no agenda and that the Commission listens to any topic mentioned. 

The final public meeting is on July 25th at Brooklyn's Central Library. Afterward, the commission will consider all suggestions and then vote on which ones should go on the ballot during the next general election cycle on November 5.

You can watch the hearing on YouTube.