Opinion: De Blasio’s Centralized Power

Real Fight for NY: Jane Jacobs Decentralization vs de Blasio Centralized Control
By Gary Tilzer

It wasn’t enough for decision-makers to have knowledge of programs and services, “they must understand, and understand thoroughly, specific places,” Jane Jacobs wrote. And that could only be learned from the people who lived there. 

As a solution, Jacobs recommended “administrative districts,” to be run by a “district administrator” which would represent the primary, basic subdivision within city agencies. Her recommendations were taken up in the 1963 New York City Charter, adopted during Wagner’s third term as Mayor.

The Charter extended the neighborhood governance concept to the other boroughs, establishing “Community Planning Boards” with advisory powers throughout the city. These boards eventually became known simply as “Community boards.”

Our transactional Mayor Bill de Blasio, who cannot get his rezoning plan passed by the city’s Community Planning Boards, is simply now going to ignore them and pass his plan using his puppet City Council. The fact that the mayor’s plan is a give-a-way for developers which will increase gentrification displacement is of no concern to the Council, who will be threatened with primaries by the interlocking directories of developers and lobbyists (Uber lobbyists won after they threatened members with primaries) if they don’t vote for the plan.  

The Council is decentralized but unlike the planning boards was elected by centralized interlocking-directories of lobbyists and campaign contributors –all of which was exposed at the recent Silver corruption trial.

Gary Tilzer is a Brooklyn-based blogger who writes True News who can be found on Twitter at @unitedNYblogs.

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