Friday, October 24, 2008

Council approves Bloomberg’s power grab

The City Council agreed today to extend term limits to three four–year terms by a 29-22 vote. (See how your representative voted.)

Many of the council members who voted for the proposal offered two arguments. The first is that the current financial crisis requires an experienced hand at the helm and who can manage our finances better that our own resident billionaire. Well, that kind of argument didn’t work for Guiliani in 2001 who wanted to extend his term for only 90 days. Bloomberg opposed that suggestion then and continued to oppose extending term limits until very recently.

The second argument goes something like this: The change in the charter does not in any way usurp the democratic process, because the people will continue to have the right to vote for the candidate of their choice in the primaries and the general election in 2009.

But, that’s a bogus argument since incumbents who would have been term-limited will undoubtedly run again and more than likely be the candidate of choice in their party primaries. How many Republicans or Independents will oppose Bloomberg in the primaries? In essence this ruling has limited the field of possible candidates.

Remember, that in 2006 Bloomberg spent a little more than $84 million, setting a record for any campaign other than national campaigns for president. (See what the current presidential candidates are spending. ) Add to that Bloomberg’s ability to control most of the media and Anthony Weiner and Bill Thompson would be little more than a blip on the media radar. And Tony Avella, well, he wouldn't even make a showing.

A Quinnipiac poll found that registered voters generally disapproved of Bloomberg’s plan and overwhelmingly thought that it should be the voters who make the decision and not the City Council. But the mayor autocratically decided that he can go over the heads of the voters and the lapdogs in the council succumbed to the pressure, or made deals with Bloomberg and approved the measure. Up until recently the mayor didn’t support extending term limits. He even vetoed a 2002 bill to amend it, saying it was an attempt by politicians to change the rules for personal gain.

Take a hike Mike!

But, Bloomberg is not invincible. He failed to get a new football stadium built on Manhattan’s West Side. He failed to get the 2012 Summer Olympics and he failed to win over the state Legislature to approve his congestion pricing plan. Consider also the construction crane failures that the DOB botched up. Or, judge him on the effectiveness of the school system he now controls. (Mayoral control sunsets in 2009 and maybe then will we be able to accurately measure any progress.) Or, judge him on the Housing Stability Program that failed miserably to reduce the number of homeless in the city.

Another four years will be more of the same. Take a hike Mike!

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