21 October 2008

Bloomberg and Quinn to Bend City to Their Will Thursday

Thursday will be the day that the lights go out in Gotham. Boss Bloomberg and Captain Quinn (Be patient with me; I'm trying out derogatory names) are listening to NO ONE on this one. Should God, the Pope and Warren Buffett tell them they're doing evil, they'd plow forward. Mephistopheles, after all, is waiting in the back room with a pen dipped in blood. And he does NOT like to be kept waiting. From City Room:

Council Sets Term Limits Vote for Thursday

By Sewell Chan AND Fernanda Santos

The City Council has scheduled a Thursday vote on a bill that would extend term limits to allow Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and other city officials to seek a third term in office, nullifying the outcome of two public referendums, in 1993 and 1996, that imposed term limits.

The scheduling of the vote came amid a flurry of recent developments that suggested that public opinion might be turning against the mayor. A Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday morning found that 89 percent of city voters believe that any changes to term limits should be decided by referendum; that 51 percent of voters oppose extending term limits altogether, even if it meant that they could elect Mayor Bloomberg to a third term; and that nonetheless, voters approve of the job that the mayor has been doing by 75 percent to 20 percent.

The developments raised questions about whether the Council’s speaker, Christine C. Quinn, would go forward with a vote on Thursday, as she had originally planned. In scheduling the vote, Ms. Quinn may be signaling that she believes she has enough votes in the 51-member to approve the measure. Then again, both sides continued on Tuesday to frantically lobby undecided lawmakers like Councilman James Sanders Jr.

The Governmental Operations Committee, whose chairman, Councilman Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, is a close ally of Ms. Quinn and Mr. Bloomberg, is now scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. on Thursday. If the committee approves the bill, it will be taken up by the full Council at its 1:30 p.m. meeting that day.

Over 19 and a half hours of hearings on Thursday and Friday, the committee heard testimony on two bills: the mayor’s and an alternative, sponsored by Councilman Bill de Blasio and Councilwoman Letitia James, that would require a public referendum on term limits.

But an amended notice posted on the Council’s bulletin board at City Hall showed that only the mayor’s bill will be voted on when the committee meets.

The council members have five sponsors: Mr. Felder, the committee’s chairman; Councilmen Domenic M. Recchia Jr. and Kendall Stewart, also of Brooklyn; Leroy G. Comrie Jr. of Queens; and G. Oliver Koppell of the Bronx. All are Democrats. (It is customary for the committee chairman to be a sponsor of a bill initiated by the mayor; Mr. Felder has not stated his position on the bill.)

Eric J. Kuo, a spokesman for Mr. Felder, who heads the committee, said that the de Blasio-James bill “will not be considered for a vote at this time.”

Also on Tuesday afternoon, Councilman James S. Oddo of Staten Island, who leads the three-member Republican minority on the Council, came out against the bill to extend term limits, known formally as Introduction 845-A. Mr. Oddo said in a statement:

After almost 20 hours of testimony, many conversations with colleagues, discussions with my constituents, and much personal reflection, I have decided to vote “no” on Intro. 845-A. “Process” does matter. Sometimes process matters a lot. In this case, process is not simply a philosophical exercise or some ethereal meandering; it is the essence of democracy. I recognize that honorable people can differ on this question and that I have come down on a different side than many friends and colleagues who I believe would be very effective continuing to serve their communities for a third term. I have not come to this decision lightly, but for me it is the right way to vote. As a Staten Islander, I vividly recall that in 1993, 65 percent of my home borough voted in favor of secession, only to have city and state political leaders ignore our will as expressed through our vote. I cannot vote in favor of a plan that would do the same.

The term limits debate has divided the Council — and, arguably, the public — like few other issues in recent memory. With the first round of voting on term limits only two days away, both sides continued to press their case.

Opponents of the plan — including nearly all of the city’s good-government groups — have argued that no matter what voters think of term limits or of Mayor Bloomberg, the issue must be placed before the voters, who twice approved limiting officials’ time in office to two four-year terms. The opponents note that the mayor and the Council could summon a charter revision commission, which could place the matter for a public vote in a special election early next year.

Proponents of the plan — including several labor leaders who support Mr. Bloomberg, as well as charitable and educational groups that have benefited from his personal largess — point to the mayor’s approval ratings, which are near their record high (about 75 percent), and argue that his financial expertise is more vital now than ever as the city faces the economic downturn and a sharp drop in revenue. A special election would be costly and impractical, they say.


Anonymous said...

Brooks, I love your site. It's magical and wonderful. But your recent non-stop anti-Bloomberg tirades are leading you down a dark and dangerous, later years Lenny Bruce-ian path. It's just a bit of a broken record. Come on, let's get back to loving this fair city and it's many hidden delights and charms, don't you think?

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Sitefan, you are very possibly right. But you have to understand, I operate under the idea that if Bloomberg is in power for four more years, there won't be any charms of the city left to love. That's why I fight so.