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POWER GRAB!

DEMETRIA IRWIN | 4/12/2011, 4:35 p.m.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's expected October 2 announcement to take on a third term as mayor will turn New York City's 2009 election season upside down. The most controversial, but probably least forbidding, obstacle for Bloomberg to reach a third term is getting the City Council to amend current legislation that limits New York City elected officials to two terms. With two-thirds of City Council members facing the prospect of getting the boot at the end of 2009,the expectation is easy passage of such an amendment, even over the vocal few who are against it.

Brooklyn City Councilman Charles Barron vehemently opposes the amendment and has vowed to vote "No" if it comes before the City Council. "The people have spoken in 1993 and in 1996 on the issue of term limits. We should not make an end run around the will of the people with this amendment. Why would we want to extend Bloomberg's term anyway, when the only people who have benefited from his policies are the rich? City Comptroller Billy Thompson would be a much better caretaker for this city," said Barron. "Bloomberg is saying that his business experience can see the city through this current financial crisis--this financial melt-down happened under his watch!" When asked if he would entertain the possibility of running for a third term if an amendment passes, Barron said he would hold a massive town hall meeting and let his constituents decide whether or not he should run for his seat again. Thompson has been very vocal about this opposition to an amendment to extend term limits. He said, "There is still a two-term maximum, and I intend to run for mayor in 2009."

In a further statement, Thompson characterized such legislation as self-serving on the part of City Council members and doubted that New York specifically needs Bloomberg to get beyond the financial crisis. "Any attempt to change term limits must be done by voter referendum. A backdoor deal undermines the will of New Yorkers. New York City can and will survive when leadership changes. We have faced fiscal crises before, and a number of new leaders stepped into office only a few months after the September 11 attacks, when New York City's economy was in a downward spiral. Democracy is bigger than any one person." Former city Public Advocate Mark Green, who ran against Bloomberg in 2001,condemned the mayor's proposed action as an attempt to "veto" the vote of 8 million voters. He called the move "an antidemocratic, self-dealing power grab." Bloomberg gunning for a third term will have a ripple effect on other elections. It is widely believed that Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is planning on making a run for city comptroller in 2009, and if he does that, City Councilman Robert Jackson would run for Manhattan borough president. But if Thompson stays put instead of running for mayor and Stringer decides to try for a second term as BP, Jackson told the AmNews that he would not run against Stringer and would instead try to essentially office swap with Assemblyman Denny Farrell. When asked how Bloomberg running for a third term would affect his 2009 plans, Stringer had this to say: "My immediate focus right now is to do the best job I can as Manhattan borough president and to work towards electing Barack Obama as president of the United States." State Senator Bill Perkins, a former New York City Council member, told the AmNews that he has always been against term limits, but is opposed to the manner in which the term limits extension is being handled. "It is obscene and wrong to accommodate an individual just because he's wealthy and other wealthy people want him to serve them. The fact of the matter is this is not a call for more democracy. This is a call for more oligarchy. It's the wealthy business class wanting someone from their class to serve them," said Perkins, noting his view that though city council members would benefit from a term-limit extension, this particular action is primarily for Mayor Bloomberg. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, ho is another mayoral hopeful, did not return a request for comment, but has gone on record previously in opposition to extending term limits without a voter referendum. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's expected October 2 announcement to take on a third term as mayor will turn New York City's 2009 election season upside down. The most controversial, but probably least forbidding, obstacle for Bloomberg to reach a third term is getting the City Council to amend current legislation that limits New York City elected officials to two terms. With two-thirds of City Council members facing the prospect of getting the boot at the end of 2009,the expectation is easy passage of such an amendment, even over the vocal few who are against it.