Rockaway political vet tapped to head charter board

By Alex Davidson

Frank J. Macchiarola, a Rockaway Point resident and former city Department of Education schools chancellor, has been appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to chair the city's Charter Revision Commission.

The mayor said he chose Macchiarola, who most recently served as the mediator in the settlement of the Broadway musicians' strike, to help him draft a ballot proposal to amend the city charter to allow for nonpartisan elections. Bloomberg also said the two will work on filling remaining seats on the 13-member commission.

“At a time when we face unprecedented challenges, both financial and operational, it is essential that our institutions of government are organized in a way that is effective and responsive to current and future realities,” said Macchiarola, who has held positions in city government for more than 30 years.

Macchiarola, currently president of St. Francis College in Brooklyn, also served on the city's Campaign Finance Board in 1988, the Tax Study Commission from 1986 to 1990 and as a member of two previous Charter Revision Commissions in 1983 and 1986. He is married and has three sons and three grandchildren.

Macchiarola replaces Robert McGuire as head of the commission. During his tenure, McGuire, a former city police commissioner, and the previous commission drafted a ballot initiative to firm up plans for mayoral succession that was approved by city voters in November.

Macchiarola said the commission will pursue the charge of the mayor and build on the work by the previous four commissions. He said the commission will examine the entire range of the charter and consider a variety of different recommendations.

Bloomberg has publicly declared his support for nonpartisan city elections and had tried with the previous commission to draft a ballot initiative so that the issue could be put to a public vote. Critics said at the time that nonpartisan elections favor rich candidates who do not need a party's financial support or manpower infrastructure.

“I will ask the commission to consider the adoption of nonpartisan elections for city-elected officials, to strengthen the operation of city government, including the areas of budget procurement, and agency reorganization and consolidation,” Bloomberg said. “Although this is a far-ranging set of issues, I believe that there will be ample time both for the commission's deliberations and the public's active involvement.”

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 156

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