Friday, December 30, 2005

A Tongue Lashing in NY Civics

A la Henry Stern

Earlier this year, former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern, gave a well-deserved scolding to those Council Members who seem to have an overblown sense of their own importance and power.

Here's a snippet of this very worthwhile read from the New York Civic:

Why should anyone want to leave the Council, with its six figure salary, including lulus, the lack of any restriction on outside work or income, the ample staffs, the mailing privileges at public expense for self-serving illustrated brochures, and all the privileges and emoluments which come with good pay and light work, which basically consists of intoning 'Aye' upon hearing your surname mentioned on a roll call?

... But the Council insiders are utterly without shame, or regard for the decisions of the electorate. They can be expected, on the basis of past performance, to do everything they can to preserve their privileged positions of pomp and power.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Refs is History

Part Deux

Most recently, we highlighted the language used in the last two term limits ballot measures.

Now we turn to the results:

1993 (Measure enacting term limits)

Voting Yes: 610,000 (59%)
Voting No: 420,000
Abstained: 860,000

1996 (Measure to extend term limits to 12 years)

Voting Yes: 560,000
Voting No: 650,000 (54%)
Abstained: 690,000

Note: During both elections, approximately 1.9 million people turned out to vote.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Here's Where They Stand


It's been a while since we last updated our term limits chart. Here's our latest rendition of where each of your lovely Council Members (and Council Members-elect) stand on the issue of overturning the will of the people.

As far as we can tell, the neys still lead 17-11.

But, if you have any other information that can help us fill in the blanks ... we'll take it!

Simply email with your insights.


Update to the Update: Make that 18-11 as of 12:00am, Thursday, December 29th.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Refs is History

A Look Back

As the Speaker's race comes down to the wire, we thought now would be a good time to take a quick look back at the past two referendums that brought term limits into existence - paying particular attention to the differences in the wording of the two ballot measures.

The first effort driven in 1993 by cosmetics magnate, Ron Lauder, was worded as follows:

Should the New York City Charter be amended by the addition of a new Chapter 50 to provide that a person may not hold the office of mayor, public advocate, comptroller, borough president or City Council member for more than two consecutive terms?

The second, driven by the City Council in 1996, was worded as follows:

The proposed local law would amend current Charter provisions which prohibit the Mayor, Comptroller, Public Advocate, borough presidents and members of the City Council from serving more than two full consecutive terms, including at least one four-year term for Council members, after January 1, 1994. The proposed local law would prohibit those officials from serving more than three full consecutive terms or twelve consecutive years, whichever is greater, after January 1, 1994, except for members of the City Council first elected in the year 2003, who would be prohibited from serving more than ten consecutive years. Shall the proposed local law be approved?


Monday, December 26, 2005

Remember Fiala?

The Councilman Who Saved Term Limits

The date was March 15, 2001. The then 33-year old Republican Council Member from Staten Island's 51st district, Stephen Fiala, cast the deciding vote keeping term limits in place. But before doing so, Fiala gave a long impassioned speech about his vote.

Needless to say, our favorite line was the following:

As wrong as term limits are - and they are - the means prescribed in redressing this wrong are potentially worse.

Read the speech in its entirety here!


Friday, December 23, 2005

Warm Fuzzy Feelings

As History Repeats Itself

Who the hell knows? But a reading through the legislation to repeal term limits in 2001 made us feel a bit funny inside ... perhaps because it could have been written today.

Anyway, enough about our feelings ... here's our favorite line from the legislation, a read we entirely suggest:

The Council therefore finds that the term limits provision adopted by public referendum constitute an inappropriate imposition by the majority of voters on the individual liberties and voting rights of all voters and that this undue power of the majority is contrary to well-established standards of democracy.

There you have it boys and girls!


Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Vox

NYC Dems: Screw the People

Republican Scott Sala of Slant Point and Urban Elephants launched this rant over the past summer about the Council's proposed antics:

I oppose term limits, but I oppose any partisan effort to overturn the people's will. Indeed, true term limits is effectively an election. So I say vote these Democrats out of office before they screw the people of New York further.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Muzzio's Sharp Blade

On the Record

In a broad piece on term limits, James Withers of the New York Blade recaps the recent forum on term limits, and gets this somewhat balanced view of the issue from CUNY Prof Doug Muzzio:

Muzzio thinks there's a simple reason why the City Council wants to tinker with limits: self interest. "“They are there and don't want to leave," Muzzio said. "Or they want to leave on their own terms."

However, Muzzio also offered some healthy critique of voters, noting that their asking for politicians to serve a set amount of years is an easy out.

"“Elections are term limits. Artificial term limits are a labor saving device for a lazy electorate," Muzzio said.

A lazy electorate? Professor Muzio, pleeeeaaase! What up with bitch-slapping the voters?

Simply calling us lazy seems to us ... well ... also a bit lazy, and does a disservice to some of the real systemic issues of the day - ballot bumping, shoddy redistricting, self-serving elected officials (as you point out), a completely screwed up Board of Elections, poorly trained election workers ... and we could go on and on and on.

Don't you think that perhaps these issues might give some voters pause before heading to the polls?


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

We'd Like an Apology

So Says the Southeast Queens Press

In an editorial entitled "Killing the Term Limits Coup," the edit head at the Southeast Queens Press (a publication of the Queens Tribune) doesn't hesitate to call out the Council's latest term limits antics as self-serving, and demands that the seven Speaker candidates apologize for their bad behavior. Here's a snippet:

It is clear to this writer that the voters, if given the opportunity, would never stand for the Council’s self-serving outrage and the Mayor has pledged to give the voters the last word.

Certainly those self-serving members recognize the people would never tolerate their unilateral action. The Mayor’s statement may be enough for them to abandon their attempted power grab.

We call upon the seven Speaker candidates to publicly change their position and apologize to the people of this city.

We ask the Mayor to consider a proposal that would prevent this or any future Council from legislatively disregarding the voted will of the people.


Monday, December 19, 2005

The Daily News and the Jugular

It's Where the Edit Heads are Aiming

In a blistering editorial today, the Daily News cautions Council Members giving the slightest bit of thought to altering their own term limits, that they should be fully prepared to face an all-out assault.

The piece encourages Bloomberg not only to put the term limits issue to another voter referendum, but to give it some company as well:

... the commission could put additional issues to a vote such as requiring all future changes to term limits be done by referendum, or barring Council members from awarding themselves fat stipends for chairing committees, or requiring Council pay raises to be voted upon in advance of primary elections and to take effect only with the seating of a new session, or restoring the limits on union donations, or cutting off public campaign funds from pols who have no serious opposition, or protecting the campaign finance laws from Council meddling.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Case vs. Term Limits

The Wise Guys' Wisdom

This week's New York Observer Wise Guys take aim at Mayor B's supposedly feigned outrage over the Council's term limits maneuvering.

In a piece that attempts to justify the Council's latest tactics, Hofstra Professor Eric Lane (and Special Counsel to outgoing Speaker Gifford Miller) offers these observations:

... "unless you accept that there is something intrinsically good about new people, I don't see the value in [term limits]. There are always going to be bad eggs in the world. But they are just as likely to be bad eggs when they are newly elected."

The popularity of term limits, Mr. Lane added, is fueled by a "“utopian American reform mind-set that instinctively dislikes people who hold power, without any thought as to the consequences of that idea."

We say - very interesting, Professor - but with all do respect, we could not disagree more with how you've characterized our mind-set of reform.


Friday, December 16, 2005

A Batty Change of Heart

On the Record

Howard Mortman of the The National Journal, had this to say of term limits back in 2001:

I used to think term limits were a silly, lazy way to effect change. But now, because of New York City, I've changed sides.

Why? Because, quite frankly, term limits make the establishment go nuts. Absolutely batty. Term limits make the arrogant forget they're arrogant.

Click here to read the piece in its entirety.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Notable Quotable

New York Sun, June 20, 2005

Term limits
may also create perverse political incentives, in which council members, with limited time in office, are preoccupied with making headlines through overly bold initiatives to increase visibility in their districts and around the city.

"There is definitely a sense in the media that some of the actions taken in this body lack gravitas," one council staff member said. "Sometimes it is driven because people feel like they're scrambling." This aide said some council members are very conscious that they have only a short "window" in which to get things accomplished.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Energizer Bunny

Avella Keeps Going and Going...

Washington Square News, the official newspaper of NYU, recently covered the Council's plans to extend their term limits.

In the piece by Kaveri Marathe, maverick Queens Councilman Tony Avella concludes this way:

“This shouldn’t be done, period,” Avella said. “But the only honorable way is by referendum.”


Get Your Hands Off My Term Limits!

Independence Party Gets into the Act

The next Council Speaker will undoubtedly have their hands full!

On Monday, we reported on the newly formed People to Stop a Self Serving Council.

And now, we are told that the next Speaker should add this latest project of The New York City Independence Party to their list of concerns,

Though as we reported on Backroomie, the petition could use a bit of help!


Bring in Da Noise...

Bring in Miller's Funk

Winnie Hu reports in today's New York Times about the on-again, off-again, on-again noise code negotiations. She cites the legislation as the last major item remaining on Mayor B's legislative agenda from his first term.

And then takes a nose dive into Speaker Miller's noise code political posturing. Some now believe that, due in part to term limits, Miller is seeking one last hoorah before his quickly nearing departure from the Council. Though when he was running for Mayor, Gifford had not intention of letting this bill see the light of day.

Robert Bookman, lawyer for the New York Nightlife Association appeared not too sympathetic of Miller's plight:

"We're now on the right track," he said. "The process is starting to work. It should not be cut short. There's no midnight deadline here. No one's going to turn into a pumpkin."


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Vox

Crash Landing

Another day, another voice from the populace. Here's an excerpt of what Gene Callahan, contributor to the Crash Landing blog, recently had to say:

Besides the council members who want to keep their jobs, the change is strongly supported by "union leaders and party bosses," who want to establish longer term relationships with council members. Hey, it's a real drag having to re-bribe new councilors every few years!

To read the posting in its entirety, click here!


Brewin' Up Term Limits Fall

La Prima Sponsor

Here's how Councilwoman Gale Brewer, prime sponsor of the term limits leg, explained her position on term limits in her Citizens Union candidate questionnaire:

I support three consecutive four year terms. People will be better served if there is more expertise in the Council, and that comes with a longer term. In addition, the quick change of Council Members means that smaller nonprofits who take a couple of years to become acquainted with their local legislator will have to invest more scarce staff time into more lobbying with a new elected official on a regular basis. One result of eight year turn over will be an increase in lobbying expenditures by nonprofits.

Honestly, we don't get it! What's so hard about having a non-profit pick-up the phone to call their local Council Member? The only thing we can think of is that the Council Member may not be as quick to respond to just any non-profit. What else are we missing?


Monday, December 12, 2005

A Lawyer, Barber & Coed Walk Into a Bar

Can You Guess What Happens Next?

Duuuhhhh! They form a group called People to Stop a Self Serving Council.

Julia Levy reports on this story in today's New York Sun.

Kenneth Moltner, group co-founder and former head of Community Board 8 doesn't hold back:

"There seems to be in the council an arrogance, just simply an arrogance about it," a founder of the group, Kenneth Moltner, said. "They're shunting democracy for their own self-interest."

And Frank Scala, co-founder #2, had this to say:

"I believe in the word of voters. You have to respect the voters," Frank Scala, who owns La Scala Hair Stylists for Men on Fifth Avenue, said. "I speak with my customers, and they agree with me. Even the customers say, 'I voted for the term limits, so why they want to take it out?'"

While Joe Metzger, political science and history major at NYU - and co-founder #3 - said this:

"If you're going to have term limits, they should be real term limits," Mr. Metzger, who is a Republican District leader in the 75th Assembly District, said.


Do You Know Something...

...That We Do Not?

We're quite certain that you, lovely readers, have information that we do not. And so we'd like to ask for your help!

On behalf of your inquiring minds, PO Boss attempted to reach out via email to just about every single current Council Member. But so far all we've gotten back is a big fat goose egg ... nada, zip, zilch, zero by way of response.

The question we asked was simple:

Will you support or oppose Council efforts to alter term limits legislatively (as opposed to voter referendum, Charter Revision Commission, or otherwise)?

So what we've done is put together a handy reference guide which we'll continuously update (click on the image to enlarge).

As you can see it is partially filled according to research we conducted of positions our Council Members have taken on the record, either through the press or through candidate questionnaires. Admittedly, a few of the positions we marked represent our best guestimations.

So far, the NO crew (as in, we will not undo the will of the people) leads the YES crew 17-9. That leaves us with 25 blanks.

So we invite Council Members (or their staffs) - as well as Council Members-elect - to let us know where you stand, and certainly if we've somehow misstated your position.

But we'd also like to ask that if you - readers - have any relevant information you can share with us as to where a certain Member stands on this issue, that you please do so. We could seriously use your investigative instincts.

Email us your findings at

Note: chart last updated at 4:30pm, Monday, December 12th


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Bloomberg Pushed to Term Limits

Insists Council Stop Bellyaching

David Seifman of the New York Post and Dan Janison of Newsday report today on Mayor Mikey's appearance on his weekly radio show with WABC host John Gambling.

During the show yesterday, Mike was asked about the Council's desire to undo the voters' twice-willed term limitations, and here's what he had to say:

This is an outrage.

Whether you like term limits or not, whether you think they're good or not...
I happen to think that there's no organization I know that would put somebody in charge for a long period of time. You always want turnover and change. Eight years is great. You learn for four years and do for four years.

But to say that you have to stay beyond that...

One of the arguments they make - I love this - is that you have to keep us because otherwise we have to go run for another office that we're not qualified for. As my kids would say ... HUH?

But the public's voted twice, and the public would vote a third time.

It is an outrage if they do this. It is an outrage to just say to the public we don't care what you think.

I hope that common sense comes to them, and that they don't do this. It would be such an outrage.

But if they do it, you can rest assured that there will be a ballot initiative. ...and how they can hold their heads up after that I don't know.

Click here to listen to the entire broadcast.


Friday, December 09, 2005

Money Man Billy T

On the Record

Tonight, Comptroller turn 2009 Mayoral candidate, Billy Thompson, appeared on NY1's Road to City Hall with anchor Davidson Goldin. Asked about the Council's quest to undo their own term limitations, Thompson answered that while he supports extending the Council's term limits to 12 years (3 4-year terms), he thinks "the Council should take it to the voters this time."


Thompson even offered to campaign his heart out, night and day, on behalf of such a ballot measure.


'Nutha Blogga in Da House

Dan J. Berger, Blogga X-trodinaire

Continuing our Vox Populi series, here's what Dan J. Berger, a "20+ Israeli-American who lives in NYC and works for a popular elected official" has to say about matters of terms:

This is beyond ridiculous. I say this not because I agree with term limits, but because I believe in democracy. Voters have twice voted for term limits and removing them now or changing the law in any way would be a slap in the face to the people of this city. If the City Council is so set on expanding term limits, they should put it before the people once again.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Mom and Pop Speak Out

An Indecipherable Lipsky Leaning

Can't say we know exactly which way the bodega-meister, Richard Lipsky, will lean in the term limits battle, but nonetheless thought we'd share the views expressed on his blog this past summer.

A lengthened council term where, undoubtedly a speaker would be in power for a longer period of time, would allow the body to provide a better check on mayoral power. It would, at the same time, rein in some of the St. Vitas Dance that many members now exude in their incessant nervous pursuit of other political opportunities. It would give council members enough time to become serious lawmakers and build a political resume.

Click here to read the entry in its entirety.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Vox Populi

Featuring Blogger KipEsquire (A Stitch in Haste)

On the Council's term delimiting plans:

Here we have politicians, who knew the rules before they ran for office, now deciding that they simply don't like the rules, and now intend to change them — the law and the voters be damned. In other words, they're not rules at all, but mere suggestions.

This is no way to run a city.

There's a reason why some of us have more confidence in unelected judges than we do in elected politicians (or the mob rule of direct democracy). It's because we read the newspapers.

As I've said before: Too many houses, not enough pox.

Click here to read the entire posting.


History Repeats Itself

Stanley Michels, Case in Point

In 2001, The New York Times ran an editorial in support of a referendum on term limits. At the time, Council Member Stanley Michels (and failed 2005 Manhattan BP candidate), was pushing with everything he had to alter his own term limitations.

In part, here's what the Times had to say:

Some Council members have argued that voters have no appreciation for the disruption caused by the term-limits law. While some inefficiencies will be inevitable with such a large turnover in the Council and all citywide offices next year, nobody is staging a coup. There will still be 16 experienced Council members. Moreover, the newcomers will have help. City Hall has many competent staff members, and the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College is among those promising to help new members during the transition. The school will offer seminars, retreats, a guidebook on the workings of the Council and tips on how to run an office.

Councilman Stanley Michels, a leader of the group opposing term limits, has said that his mission is to save the city from this stampede of newcomers. He misses the main point -- that whatever the voters have taken away, only the voters should have the authority to give back. It is true that elections, not term limits, are the best way to oust mediocre officials. But the right way to end term limits is to call another referendum. Mr. Michels's coalition, Council Speaker Peter Vallone and Mr. Giuliani should agree to do just that.


Professor John Mollenkopf

On the 1993 Term Limits Referendum

We asked primo demographer and CUNY Professor, John Mollenkopf, to weigh in on what the base of support for the term limits referendum looked like in 1993.

Here's what he had to say:

In 1993, 1.8 million votes were cast in the mayoral election, but only 728,000 votes were cast on the term limits item. This type of fall off often happens with down-ballot matters.

It [the map showing support for the initiative in 1993] does not seem to show any really consistent racial and ethnic patterns, except that Orthodox Jewish and white Catholic areas were generally least supportive, with results in black areas being mixed, and white liberal and Latino areas generally favorable.

Click on the image (provided to us by Professor Mollenkopf) to enlarge, and see for yourself!


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Waxing Poetic

On The Record

- New York Times, February 6, 2001

The introduction of a bill in the City Council to rescind the city's term limits law for members of the Council has created a firestorm of reaction from a wide spectrum within New York City's political landscape, with many officials and politicians outside of the Council denouncing the legislation.


"They are trying to silence the democratic voice of the people," said Charles Barron, a leadership training consultant who is running for the Council from a district in East New York, Brooklyn.

"When you use a legislative initiative to overturn the will of the people that was expressed in an election, you are attacking democracy. Here is Florida visiting New York. Our votes, once again, don't count."

Mr. Barron has organized a group of a dozen other City Council candidates, along with civic groups and religious organizations, to attend public hearings on the bill and to stage various protests, he said.


"My view is that, this last ditch attempt to overturn term limits demonstrates why term limits were necessary in the first place," said Eric Gioia, a lawyer who is running for the Council seat in Queens currently held by Walter L. McCaffrey, one of the bill's sponsors.

"The people have spoken twice on this and it is the height of arrogance to try to overturn the will of the people," Mr. Gioia said. "Government should not be the last refuge for those who can't find work in the private sector."


The Next 100 Years

A Binding Referendum?

How could you not get a kick out of this? From The New York Times:

To the Editor:

You suggest that "the right way to end term limits" in New York City is to call yet another referendum (editorial, Feb. 10).

As long as there are incumbents determined to maintain their public positions and others who covet these positions, there will be those who advocate term limits and others who oppose them. Whatever the results of any new referendum, there will inevitably be a clarion call in the near future to have the results reversed.

To put this matter to bed, I suggest that it be stipulated that the results of any new referendum be binding for the next 100 years.

In this way, there would be at least a chance that the outcome would be determined by a clash of political principles as opposed to political expedience.

Bronx, Feb. 10, 2001


Laud 'em or Leave 'em


We're guessin' Lauder's not gonna laud 'em nor leave 'em alone.

What makes us say that, you ask? Ummm ... hmmm...

Well, courtesy of The New York Times, we pulled the script from a television commercial that Lauder (aka New Yorkers for Term Limits) ran last time the Council tried to undo the will of the voters.

You be the judge.

"Does your vote count? Not if the City Council erases the votes of a million New Yorkers with its scheme to kill term limits. The papers call it: 'shabby' and 'self-serving' (The New York Times); 'an attempt by shameless pols to keep their spaces at the public trough' (The Daily News); 'fatuous self-promotion' (The New York Post); 'there cannot be a more bogus cause in government today' (Newsday); and 'contempt for voters' (The Wall Street Journal). Call Council Speaker Peter Vallone and demand he protect term limits. Tell him a million New Yorkers can't be wrong."


Monday, December 05, 2005

He Said, She Said, He Said, He Said

At Least We Know Where They Stand

Liu, Quinn, Addabbo and Jackson On The Record
New York Sun, June 20, 2005

"Eight years is plenty of time," a council member from Queens, John Liu, said. The Democrat from Flushing said that while he has never been in favor of the concept of term limits, "The voters have already spoken in two referendums."

"We have term limits - they are called elections," another Manhattan council member, Christine Quinn, said. "Some officials stay in government a long time because that is exactly what their constituents want." Ms. Quinn, who is seeking re-election, said she would support both extending and abolishing term limits for council members.

Ms. Quinn, who indicated she was "very comfortable" about extending term limits without a popular vote, does not worry about that criticism.

"I have, since Day 1, always opposed to term limits. This has nothing to do with my term or tenure in government," she said. "I feel very comfortable being judged on my consistent position."

Council Member Joseph Addabbo Jr. of Queens disagreed.

"To change the law now where it benefits me and others, I don't think it would be fair," he said in an interview. "I would love to entertain the idea, but I think ultimately, whether we agree to do it or not, it has to go back to the people in referendum so they can vote."

Another Manhattan council member, Robert Jackson, disagreed about the need to consult the electorate.

"In my opinion, if we can do it ourselves, that's the easiest way to go," he said. "People will probably challenge it, and go through a legal process - that's the way it has been done in the past. The courts will determine it in the end."


Observer Edit Heads Weigh In

Much Nicer than We Are!

This week's New York Observer renders its opinion on the Council's pending attempt to undo the will of the voters. While the editorial doesn't exactly bitch-slap, it does give Council Members a strong no-go signal:

The problem with the Council’s approach thus far is that members say they will simply pass legislation changing the term-limits law, rather than submit their proposal to the very voters who approved the legislation.

This is a foolish and self-defeating approach. It looks like the Council is, in fact, trying to foil the will of the voters.


Brewer's Old Tune

Not Like New Tune

Old Tune:
Brewer says she only wants to start a discussion. She says a public referendum should accompany any legislation that would give incumbents more time in office.

- Newsday
editorial, June 2005

And New Tune


Sunday, December 04, 2005

NY Post Edit Heads

Amusingly Unamused!

In today's New York Post, the editorial board simply rips the Council a new one:

You could say term limits are why New York City has today's "clown council" in the first place.

All in all, scrap them.

But that doesn't mean - by any stretch of the imagination - that the council has the right to take it upon itself to override the will of the people.

If councilmembers want to get rid of term limits, or even loosen the chains a little, they can't (if they care to maintain one shred of integrity) do so without putting the question before the voters.

The Firestorm Begins

Dadey & Muzzio Not Amused

In today's New York Times, Baruch College Professor Doug Muzzio (who moderated the first Speaker's debate) and Citizens Union Executive Director, Dick Dadey, ream the Council - and the candidates for Speaker - for their intentions to alter term limits without first going to the voters.

"It not only is undemocratic, but amazingly brazen for the Council to think that it can extend term limits without going back to the voters," Mr. Dadey said.

"To do it legislatively is a big mistake," Mr. Muzzio said. "It's bad policy to explicitly overturn the judgment of the voters, and it's bad politics because they're going to get hammered, and rightly so."

We couldn't have said it any better ourselves!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

DN Recounts Council Term Limits Feud

Is CM Avella a PO Boss?

Frank Lombardi of the Daily News interviewed Council Member Avella this week after he sent his colleagues a scathing letter in which he accuses many of them of "plotting" to extend their own term limits without first gaining the public's approval.

In the interview, Avella said he sent the letter - and made it public to the media - because "somebody has to wake them up."

He noted that he and many of the current incumbents were first elected in 2001, when the advent of term limits created dozens of vacancies."

Many were elected because of term limits, and now they want to change the law on their own," he fumed. "It's disgraceful."

Friday, December 02, 2005

Term Limits. What?

Oh. Now We Understand.

While we're at it, here's another blast from the past. This time from Councilwoman Gale Brewer, the prime sponsor of the latest term limits leg.

In a Newsday piece by Ron Howell in August of 2001:

There are those who, despite some doubts, have great hope that term limits and campaign finance reform will lead to major changes in the City Council and the political scene in New York City generally.

"There will be a lot of younger people and more diversity," said Gale Brewer, a liberal activist and former City Council aide, who is considered by many the front-runner in the West Side race for the seat being vacated by Ronnie Eldridge.

"I think there will be a higher priority on affordable housing because we haven't done much on that. And there will be more on education and working with the parents and organizing communities."

Brewer noted the irony that she and others once opposed term limits as a quack idea of right-wingers from California and Kansas.

How Will You Be Voting, Sir?

Just Curious...

We were just rereading some old stuff, you know - from back in the day, when the Council was fresh and new. One of the then newly elected members, Queens Council Member Eric Gioia, had this to say to Jonathan Hicks of the New York Times, about the benefits of term limits:

"It's a great thing to have people from such different backgrounds," said Eric N. Gioia, just elected to the Council in Woodside, Queens. "You have people with different experiences, some in government and some as ordinary citizens. That gives the Council a breadth and depth that will be important."

You Say Tomato

We Say Tomato

Let's call the whole thing off?

So Barrett, is at it, again!

In this week's Village Voice, Wayne Barrett gives Council Members the old smackdown for their intentions to twiddle their term limits.

With Mike Bloomberg settled in at City Hall for four more years, all the action is in the east wing, where the council is awash in self-absorbed intrigue.

In a piece appropriately titled Council Orgy (sounds like), Barrett reminds us why the tinkering of term limits will happen ASAP ...

The obvious theory is to do as much damage as possible to their own reputations as far away from the next election as they conceivably can, betting on public amnesia and jettisoning, for the moment, every opinion but their own.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Avella Takes a Stand

Finally, Some Balls!

According to The Politicker:

Queens Councilman Tony Avella is circulating a letter to colleagues in which he calls extending term limits "a betrayal of the public trust."

"I find the thought of ignoring the wishes of the citizens of this city by plotting to overturn term limits offensive," he writes.

"If the Council succeeds in this attempt and does establish a third term, I will not serve."

We have since obtained copies of the letter. Click on either image to enlarge.

Spkr Vallone Say Extending Term Limits A-Otay!

Gotham's Brains Report

Wonkster, the Gotham Gazette's wonkish side, reports that former Speaker Peter Vallone said that he not only supports extending term limits, but thinks it would be absolutely appropriate for the Council to do so by way of legislative fiat - despite the two voter referenda to the contrary.

Vallone cites Lauder's big ducket$ as fundamentally unfair, inferring that his excessive use of resource$ numbed New Yorkers into acquiescence not once, but twice.

You make the call!

Sun Set to Term Limits

By NY1's Goldin Child

In today's New York Sun, NY1's Road to City Hall anchor Davidson Goldin credits Speaker Miller's political genius with empowering the current term limits saga.

The first to blink is the members' chosen leader, known as the speaker. He wants to run for mayor, but his eight-year limit is up before the mayoral election. In a stroke of political genius, he convinces his colleagues to extend his time by two years. It's a fluke, and the public doesn't really notice.

But that subtle change empowers other council members. If they can so easily modify a measure voters enacted, perhaps they could actually overrule the voters and end term limits altogether. At the very least, some of them say, they can add another term. What politician doesn't like the sound of "Four more years"?

He caps his anti-Council-maneuvering piece by digging at Council Members' attempts to "self-deal" their way out of term limits.

In a sense, ending term limits by legislation is like the council voting out a member elected at the ballot box. Even if the council had that right, voters would surely revolt.

Goldin aptly moderated Monday night's Term Limits Forum at the LGBT Center.