NYC Council introduces bill to expand oversight of mayoral hires amid City hall power struggle

NEW YORK — City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams is set to introduce a bill Thursday that would expand her chamber’s ability to weigh in on top mayoral appointments — a measure that has touched off a struggle with Mayor Eric Adams, whose team earlier this week unveiled an effort that could short-circuit the move.

The speaker’s legislation would add 21 agency commissioner positions to the list of top city government roles that the mayor can’t make hires for without first securing support from the Council.

As it currently stands, only a handful of commissioner-level posts are subject to that “advice-and-consent” requirement. That includes the Department of Investigation commissioner and the corporation counsel, who leads the Law Department.

A copy of the bill obtained by the Daily News ahead of the speaker’s planned introduction of it at Thursday afternoon’s full Council meeting proposes expanding the advice-and-consent list to include the heads of the Departments of Buildings, Parks, Sanitation, Transportation, Social Services, Homeless Services, Aging, Housing Preservation and Development, Environmental Protection, Children’s Services and Emergency Management, among others.

Commissioners at uniformed agencies like the NYPD and the FDNY would not be subject to advice-and-consent under the bill.

As the bill involves amending the City Charter, it can’t become law simply via Council adoption, according to an internal Council memo. Rather, city voters would need to vote on it via a ballot referendum after a potential Council adoption.

Asked about the proposed advice-and-consent expansion at a press conference Tuesday, the mayor said he opposes it because he believes in a “strong executive system.”

After the mayor made those remarks, his office announced Tuesday night he had launched a Charter Revision Commission to look into modifying the City Charter so it “can contribute to public safety and provide opportunities for greater community input and transparency when legislation is proposed that would impact public safety.”

Louis Cholden-Brown, an attorney who used to serve as former Council Speaker Corey Johnson‘s chief lawyer, noted the mayor’s Charter Revision Commission may serve a dual purpose.

Any Charter changes advanced by a Revision Commission would need to be approved by city voters via ballot referendum.

If the mayor’s commission gets to work quickly, any such proposed Charter revision could make it onto this November’s general election ballot. If that happens, that would preclude the Council from getting its advice-and-consent proposal onto this November’s ballot, Cholden-Brown said.

“The state municipal home rule law prohibits any other question related ‘directly or indirectly’ to Charter revision from appearing at the same time as a question proposed by a mayoral Charter Revision Commission,” he told The News.

Though he noted the mayor’s Revision Commission could likely serve other purposes, Cholden-Brown argued it’s “an added bonus” that it could stand to block the Council’s advice-and-consent proposal.

In an apparent reference to the mayor’s commission machinations, the internal Council memo provided to The News says the hope is to get the advice-and-consent expansion question onto November’s ballot “or if a mayoral charter revision delays such a vote, then it can be submitted for a subsequent special election.”

The mayor’s office did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.