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League of Women Voters of Rensselaer County supports new Troy City Charter
The League of Women Voters of Rensselaer County supports the proposed new charter for the City of Troy and urges Troy voters to support adoption of the charter on November 3.
League co-president Margaret Story complimented the Charter Commission for its work and praised the inclusion of a provision for an independent redistricting committee when district boundaries have to be revised. She said she was disappointed that term limits remain in the proposed Charter, an item opposed by the League, but said that the good points far outweigh that one item.
The new document eliminates pages of outdated and redundant material, shifts some administrative decisions, such as meeting dates and times, from the Charter to the City Code; and is gender neutral. More significant changes include:
- Reduction in the size of the City Council from nine members to seven by eliminating two of the at-large positions;
- Direct election of the City Council president, who will serve a four-year term concurrent with the mayor’s;
- Appointment of an independent redistricting commission to review U.S. Census data and, if necessary, modify district boundaries;
- Combining the Department of Public Works and the Office of Parks and Recreation into a Department of General Services;
- Qualifications for some professional positions were updated; and
- Provisions were made to improve public access to information.
- Elected officials will still be limited to eight years of service: no more than four two-year terms for Council members representing districts; no more than two four-year terms for the mayor and City Council president.
The entire document is available on the City of Troy website, www.troyny.gov. Use the heading “Bulletins”. The current charter is also on the website.
The Charter Revision Commission is a nine-member, nonpartisan panel of volunteer citizens. Ian Silverman, the Troy corporation counsel, chairs the commission. Other members are Flora Carr, William Dowd, Kevin Glasheen (vice chair), Patrick Madden (secretary), Patrick Morphy, Jill Nagy, a member of the League of Women Voters, Kevin Vandenburgh, and Ken Zalewski.
The commission held several public hearings before beginning its work and a final hearing after completing a draft revision. At the hearings, the commission received input from city officials and employees as well as members of the general public. In addition, they received comments by mail and email. All meetings were open to the public and the press.
“The League of Women Voters, a non-partisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.”
August 14, 2015
AREA LEAGUES WITHDRAW FROM FAIR CAMPAIGN PRACTICES GROUP
Four Leagues of Women Voters of the Capital District announced today that they are withdrawing from participation in Fair Campaign Practices for the Capital Region, Inc. that was founded in 1999 to promote fair and honest political campaigns.
Barbara Thomas, designated as spokesperson for the Leagues of Women Voters of Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Schenectady Counties, said the Leagues made the decision “regretfully” but they no longer believe that they can be effective in carrying out the organization’s original purpose which was to improve the tenor of political campaigns in the four counties. Political campaigns are increasingly influenced by Political Action committees (PACs) over which candidates have no control.
According to FCP President Mick Drown, The Interfaith Alliance, Capital District Chapter will continue its participation in Fair Campaign Practices for the Capital Region Inc. (FCP) and plans to recruit other organizations to join with them to carry out the goal of supporting fair campaign practices and educating the public when unfair campaign practices have been used.
As volunteer organizations, the Leagues have had to make difficult decisions on where to focus their resources and have decided to focus on voter registration and education, candidate forums, and work on campaign finance reform, among other issues. In recent years, the Leagues have found it increasingly difficult to recruit its members for board of directors and leadership responsibilities for Fair Campaign Practices. The Leagues also noted a recent decline in complaints to FCP filed by political candidates and a decline in candidates’ willingness to sign pledges to conduct fair campaigns.
FCP was founded by the Leagues of Women Voters of Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Schenectady Counties and the Interfaith Alliance, Capital District Chapter, for the purpose of educating the public about misleading and unfair campaign practices which are used by some candidates to gain an advantage over their opponents. FCP tried to encourage factual accuracy and relevance in campaign literature and advertisements. In its history, FCP heard complaints and issued 52 findings; complaints were filed in the four counties. Each year FCP has asked local political candidates in the four counties to sign a pledge that they would honor principles of fair campaigning and FCP has tried to publicize those principles that result in a climate in which candidates conduct honest campaigns.
LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF NEW YORK (LWVNY.org)
Capitol Beat Blog — Check it Out for the Latest Scoop on the NYS Legislative Session.
This is an informative and entertaining column/blog written by the LWVNYS Legislative Director Barbara Bartoletti. It contains timely updates on legislative action pertaining to League concerns and a bit of political gossip, as well. CLICK HERE for Barbara’s Blog
The agenda focuses on the following:
- Election Law Reform
- Health Care
- Good Government Reform
- Judicial Issues
- Natural Resources
- Women’s Issues
- State Finances and Education
STATE GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY AND LEGISLATIVE WEBSITES
- Open Book New York — This website is part of State Comptroller Thomas DeNapoli’s effort to promote openness in government and help taxpayers learn more about how their tax dollars are spent. Sections include: (1) Track New York’s Stimulus Spending, (2) Search State Agency Spending, (3) Search State Contracts, and (4) Search Local Government Spending.
- New York Open Government (formerly Project Sunlight) — This is Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s open government website. He noted in updating the site that: “Secrecy breeds corruption, while transparency generates confidence. …. [the revamped website] will help the public keep an eye on what their [NYS] government is doing in order to deter corruption and increase confidence in the public sector. This site is a one-stop-shop for New Yorkers desiring up-to-date and comprehensive information about their government.” The website has many of the same features as its predecessor. You can search campaign contributions, lobbying clients, charities, state contracts and more.
- SeeThroughNY — This website is sponsored by the Empire Center for New York State Policy, part of the non-governmental, non-partisan and non-profit Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. The purpose of the site is to give New Yorkers a clearer view of how their state and local tax dollars are spent. You can find out about the NYS Budget. You can also can share, analyze and compare data from counties, cities, towns, villages, and school districts as well as public authorities throughout New York. The information on this website comes from official government sources, but the Empire Center cannot guarantee data accuracy or completeness.
*NYS Legislature Websites:
LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF THE US (lwv.org)
- CLICK HERE to go to the LWV (US) Home page
- CLICK HERE to get current news from LWV (US)
- CLICK HERE to go blogs from LWVUS (US)
The League of Women Voters (US) Work:
- Protecting Voters – Voting Rights, Improving Elections, DC Voting Rights
- Engaging Voters – Registering Voters, Educating Voters
- Reforming Money in Politics – Money In Elections, Ethics and Lobbying
- Defending the Environment – Clean Air Defense, Global Climate Change, Fracking
- Other Work – Reforming Immigration, Advancing Health Care, Gun Safety, Fixing Fiscal Policy, Improving Government, Global DemocracyCLICK HERE for details
OTHER LEAGUES IN THE CAPITAL DISTRICT
To learn what nearby Leagues are doing, check out their websites:
Updated – August 24, 2015