Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Will the New York City Council Circumvent the Will of the People?

Before I post the information below -- sent to me as an email this afternoon -- I'd like to write a little bit about term limits.

To me, the idea of term limits was always redolent of the Passive-Aggressive School of Politics -- the Coddling School, too. I happen to believe, for one thing, strongly in the idea of institutional knowledge, that in any endeavor one mustn't throw the baby out with the bathwater, and that the people, the ordinary citizenry, the Joe the Plummers, are the ones who must exert power in this nation, be it at the presidential, gubernatorial, mayoral or dog catcher levels. Therefore, the movement toward term limits that swept the country more than a decade ago always struck me as profoundly anti-American and certainly anti-democratic. It bespoke of a nation in a state of perpetual fury against entrenched incumbents and interests that came to be convinced that it isn't about throwing the bums out by actually vetting candidates and voting but instead about a system of valuing institutional change rather than institutional memory. It's lazy and it's dumb and it's more harmful to the government, I believe, than it is helpful.

That New York City was suckered -- twice! -- into voting for term limits always made me angry, especially since it was bankrolled by Ron Lauder. But still, it was voted on and the veracity of the vote was never in question.

Now Mayor Bloomberg would like another term and, Gee, I can't imagine that the City Council wouldn't want more time in office if they could get it. And so the City Council is set to vote very soon on overturning the will of the people -- eliminating term limits so that Bloomberg can run for one more term and so can the Council members. I keep reading about how this is set up to be a one-time thing, necessitated by the economic, social and foreign-policy crises we're in, but do you buy that? I don't. Now we're in the Sophistry School of Politics.

Fortunately, efforts are underway to make it clear to the New York City Council that it must not act like the Soviet Politburo. I received today, reprinted below, a letter that asks people to visit a website and sign a petition designed to honor democracy. I didn't like the outcome of those term limit votes, as I say. But the citizenry voted for it and if it is going to be eliminate or modified, it is only appropriate that the citizenry have the opportunity to do so. Why is the mayor so afraid of anything otherwise?

Please read below.

Twice, New Yorkers have voted overwhelmingly for terms limits in New York City.

Now, Mayor Bloomberg and some City Council members are plotting to extend term limits without the voters' permission -- instead of dealing with the real issues.

Your City Council member Peter Vallone hasn't said if he thinks term limits should be up to voters or the politicians. We need the Council to serve us, not themselves.

Go to www.itsourdecision.org today. Sign the petition, and send a message to Councilmember Vallone: let the Voters decide!

No matter how you feel about term limits, one thing is clear: the voters have spoken, and the politicians need to listen.

This isn't about whether Mayor Bloomberg or Councilmember Vallone have been effective leaders or whether they deserve another term.

This is about respecting the rules, and respecting the will of the people. If voters want to overturn term limits, that's our decision, not theirs.

That's why we've teamed up with the Working Families Party to make sure New Yorkers have their say.

Go to www.itsourdecision.org. We need 26 members of the Council to stand up for democracy, and if Councilmember Vallone stands up for the people we can get it done. On our website you can see where every City Council member stands and get the latest updates from our campaign to make sure the people's vote is respected.

Log on to www.itsourdecision.org. It may be the last vote the Mayor and the City Council let you get.


Congressman Anthony Weiner
Michael Schenkler, Publisher, Queens Tribune

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Anonymous said...

If Mayor Bloomberg spent half the energy he's exerted in this effort to censor the voice of the people on stimulating the CURRENT NYC economy, instead, his so-called expertize would be rendered redundant. Oh, that's right: he wants to keep arguing that we just can't live without him.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this the same Mayor who blew up the housing bubble so big (I think his motto was dig, baby, dig!), it finally burst ? So, now he thinks we should let him mind the store AGAIN ?

Anonymous said...

We can only hope the Mayor's audacity, and that of any Council Member who would dare vote along with him to suspend democracy, comes back to haunt them all next November.

Anonymous said...

The British got it right this time: any financial institution that solicits the government's aid must first purge itself of those who were in charge when they stuffed their closets with toxic securities. The point is: anybody who stood by and watched the credit crisis fester should be tossed out on his butt. If the Mayor really does have the big business brain he claims to have (and his billions are a pretty good indication that he does), this necessarily means that he knew what was happening and did NOTHING. Bloomberg had his chance to prove his indispensibility and he blew it ! Now, it's time for Mike to go make money in the private sector and leave democracy alone.