Government of New York City facts for kids
The government of New York City, headquartered at New York City Hall in Lower Manhattan, is organized under the New York City Charter and provides for a "strong" mayor-council system. The mayor is elected to a four-year term and is responsible for the administration of city government. The New York City Council is a unicameral body consisting of 51 members, each elected from a geographic district, normally for four-year terms. All elected officials are limited to a two consecutive-term limit. The court system consists of two city courts and three state courts.
New York City government employs 325,000 people, more than any other city in the United States and more than any U.S. state but three: California, Texas, and New York. The government is more centralized than that of most other U.S. cities, with the city government being responsible for public education, correctional institutions, public safety, recreational facilities, sanitation, water supply, and welfare services. New York City's political geography is unique, consisting of five boroughs, each coterminous with one of five counties of New York State: Brooklyn is Kings County, the Bronx is Bronx County, Manhattan is New York County, Queens is Queens County, and Staten Island is Richmond County. When New York City was consolidated into its present form in 1898, all previous town and county governments within it were abolished in favor of the present five boroughs and a unified, centralized city government. However, each county retains its own district attorney to prosecute crimes, and most of the court system is organized around the counties. Three main public-library systems represent the city's five boroughs, namely Brooklyn Public Library (located in Brooklyn), New York Public Library (a private, non-governmental library located in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island), and Queens Public Library (located in Queens).
The executive branch of New York City consists of the Mayor, and numerous departments, boards and commissions. The Mayor also appoints several deputy mayors to head major offices within the executive branch of the city government. The City Record is the official journal published each weekday (except legal holidays) containing legal notices produced by city agencies, and regulations are compiled in the Rules of the City of New York.
The Mayor is the chief executive officer of the city and a magistrate, appoints and removes all unelected officers and exercise all the powers vested in the city except otherwise provided by law, and is responsible for the effectiveness and integrity of city government operations. The mayor is directly elected by popular vote for a four-year term.
County, borough and community government
New York City is composed of five boroughs or counties, collectively comprising 59 community districts.
Each of the five counties of New York City elects a district attorney for a four-year term, whose duty it is to prosecute all crimes and offenses cognizable by the courts of the county.
The Election Law defines the structure of political parties and requires each party to have county committees (and a state committee). The county committees are composed of at least two members elected from each election district (containing a maximum of 950–1150 registered voters), as well as two members elected from each assembly district within the county (district leaders). The political parties' county executive committees typically select candidates for local offices. The political parties' judicial nominating conventions select candidate New York Supreme Court justices.
Each of the five boroughs has an elected borough president. The borough presidents can have legislation introduced in the council, recommend capital projects, hold public hearings on matters of public interest, make recommendations to the mayor and to other city officials, make recommendations on land use and planning, and make recommendations regarding the performance of contracts providing for the delivery of services, in the interests of the people of their borough.
Each of the five boroughs has a borough board. They are composed of the borough president, Council members from the borough, and the chairperson of each community board in the borough. The borough boards can hold or conduct public or private hearings, adopt by-laws, prepare comprehensive and special purpose plans and make recommendations for land use and planning, mediate disputes and conflicts among two or more community boards, submit a comprehensive statement of the expense and capital budget priorities and needs, evaluate the progress of capital developments and the quality and quantity of services provided by agencies, and otherwise consider the needs of the borough.
Each of the fifty-nine community districts has a community board composed of up to 50 volunteer members appointed by the local borough president, half from nominations by Council members representing the community district (i.e., whose council districts cover part of the community district). Community boards advise on land use and zoning, participate in the city budget process, and address service delivery in their district. Community boards act in an advisory capacity, wielding no official authority to make or enforce laws.
The seal of New York City, adopted in an earlier form in 1686, bears the legend SIGILLVM CIVITATIS NOVI EBORACI, which means simply "The Seal of the City of New York". Eboracum was the Roman name for York, the titular seat of James II as Duke of York. The two supporters represent the unity between Native Americans and colonists, the four windmill sails recall the city's Dutch history as New Amsterdam, and the beavers and flour barrels the city's earliest trade goods (see History of New York City). The crest over the seal is the American eagle, added after the American Revolution. "1625", the date at the bottom, was chosen to emphasize the city's Dutch roots but has been characterized as "arbitrary" and "simply wrong" by notable city historians (New Amsterdam was actually settled in 1624).
The flag of New York City was adopted in 1915. Its blue, white, and orange bands represent the colors of the Dutch flag that flew over the city, then New Amsterdam, between the 1620s and 1660s. Located in the center is a blue print of the official Seal of New York City minus its Latin motto.
There are two official variants of the New York City flag. The Mayor's Office version adds an arc of five five-pointed stars (representing each of the five boroughs) in blue above the seal, and the Councilmanic version adds the word "COUNCIL" in blue below the seal.
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