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New York Government
 
 
 

Since its consolidation in 1898, New York City has been a metropolitan municipality with a "strong" mayor-council form of government. The government of New York is more centralised than that of most other US cities. In New York City, the central government is responsible for public education, correctional institutions, libraries, public safety, recreational facilities, sanitation, water supply and welfare services. The mayor and councillors are elected to four year terms.

The Mayor is responsible for all city services, police and fire protection, enforcement of all city and state laws within the city, and administration of public property and most public agencies. The mayor is directly elected by popular vote for a four year term, and faces a two-term limit. The mayor is Michael Bloomberg, a former Democrat and current independent elected as a Republican in 2001 and re-elected in 2005 with 59% of the vote. He is known for taking control of the city's education system from the state, rezoning and economic development, sound fiscal management, and aggressive public health policy. In his second term he has made school reform, poverty reduction, and strict gun control central priorities of his administration. Together with Boston mayor Thomas Menino, in 2006 he founded the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, an organisation with the goal of "making the public safer by getting illegal guns off the streets." The Democratic Party holds the majority of public offices. 66% of registered voters in the city are Democrats. New York City has not been won by a Republican in a statewide or presidential election since 1924. Party platforms centre on affordable housing, education and economic development, and labour politics are of importance in the city.

Legislative power in New York City is vested in the New York City Council. Bills passed by a simple majority are sent to the mayor, who may sign them into law. If the mayor vetoes a bill, the Council has 30 days to override the veto by a two-thirds majority vote.

The Council is a unicameral body consisting of 51 Council members, whose districts are defined by geographic population boundaries that each contain approximately 157,000 people. Council members are elected every four years, except that after every census held in years divisible by twenty, districts are redrawn, requiring two consecutive two-year terms, the second of which is held in the redrawn districts.

The Speaker of the Council, selected by the 51 Council members, is often considered the second most powerful post in New York City's government after the Mayor. The Council has several committees with oversight of various functions of the city government. Each council member sits on at least three standing, select or sub-committees. The standing committees meet at least once per month. The Speaker of the Council, the Majority Leader, and the Minority Leader are all ex officio members of every committee.

New York's court system is very complex, and contains vestiges of long-forgotten jurisdictions. The courts are creatures of the State government. The court of basic general jurisdiction is State Supreme Court, which hears felonies and major misdemeanours, significant lawsuits, and governmental and elections matters. The court is divided into judicial districts and exists independently of the City government. Supreme Court Judges are elected.

Surrogate's Court handles probate and guardianship matters. It is a county court and also exists independently from the City. Surrogates are elected, two each from Manhattan and Brooklyn, one each from the other three boroughs.

New York City itself is responsible for civil, criminal, and family court systems. All have a presence in each borough and have city-wide jurisdiction.

The New York City Civil Court handles all small claims cases (up to US$5,000) and all civil cases in the city with a monetary value up to US$25,000, as well as residential and commercial landlord-tenant disputes. Judges of the Civil Court are elected to 10 year terms in either borough-wide or district elections.

The New York City Criminal Court is the beginning level trial court of criminal cases in the city. The court handles arraignments, misdemeanours and minor felony cases. Criminal motions are also handled in this court, along with some jury trials. Major felony cases are referred to the New York State Supreme Court. Judges of the Criminal Court are appointed by the Mayor to 10 year terms.

The New York City Family Court hears matters involving children and families. Its jurisdiction includes custody and visitation, support, family offense (domestic violence), persons in need of supervision, delinquency, child protective proceedings (abuse and neglect), foster care approval and review, termination of parental rights, adoption and guardianship. Judges of the Family Court are appointed by the Mayor to 10 year terms.

The Red Hook Community Justice Center in Brooklyn opened in 2000 as the nation's first multi-jurisdictional community court. Built to alleviate the chronic lack of access to justice services in the isolated Red Hook area, the court combines family court, civil and housing court and minor criminal court functions and takes a community development approach to justice through such programs as the Youth Court where teenagers are trained and act as mediators to help their peers resolve disputes.

The flag of the New York City is a vertical tricolor of blue, white, and orange charged in the centre bar with municipal seal in blue. The tricolour design is taken from the flag of the United Netherlands used in 1625, the year New Amsterdam was settled on the island of Manhattan.

 

 
 


 



 


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