2 Queens residents named to charter revision board

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A Flushing developer and a Rockaway lawyer were named as the borough’s two representatives to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s newly formed city charter revision commission.

Wellington Chen of Flushing and Judah Gribetz of the Rockaways were selected to be part of the committee.

The two join a group of 11 other men and women from throughout the city on a commission chaired by Robert McGuire, who served the city as police commissioner from 1978 to 1983.

The commission was created by Bloomberg to hold public hearings in all five boroughs on possible changes to the city charter.

Any recommended changes must be proposed by early September so they can be put on the ballot for the Nov. 5 election.

The commission will study two mayoral proposals in particular.

Bloomberg has suggested holding nonpartisan elections in New York City, a trend among the nation’s larger cities.

The mayor also has proposed changing the mayoral line of succession. The public advocate currently is next in line for the mayor’s job, but Bloomberg is pushing to have the deputy mayor become first in line.

“New York City’s citizens deserve an efficient government where its officials can be held accountable and where every individual has the opportunity to participate,” Bloomberg said in a release. “These 13 individuals represent the very best of New York: independence, intelligence and integrity.”

Chen, senior vice president of TDC Development and Construction, said he was surprised when he received a phone call asking him to serve on the commission.

“It was very short notice,” Chen said. “Somebody called me up who knows me and said, ‘Do you mind serving on the charter commission?”

Chen, who has served as commissioner of the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals, admitted he knew little about the issues of nonpartisan elections and mayoral line of succession.

“I have no agenda whatsoever,” he said.

“I’m honored to give back to this country,” added Chen, who emigrated from Taiwan. “This country I owe a lot. It’s payback time.”

Gribetz, a former commissioner of the city Buildings Department, served as regional administrator of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Lyndon Johnson.

Gribetz also served on an earlier charter revision commission under Mayor Edward Koch.

“I hope that I’ll be a worthwhile member,” Gribetz said. “I have an open mind.”

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.

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