Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Bloomberg: Man on a Wire?

According to the NY Times, it now appears that Mike Bloomberg, contradicting all of his previous definitive statements on the subject, is planning to announce that he will look to over turn the city's term limits law and run for a third term: "After months of speculation about his political future, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg plans to announce on Thursday morning that he will seek a third term as mayor, according to three people who have been told of his plans. The extraordinary move promises to upend New York City’s political world."

In other words, "Let the games begin." As big fans of chaos theory, we look forward with unmitigated glee to what will happen once this particular Pandora's Box is opened. Already the long knives have begun to come out. Here's Comptroller Thompson on the move: "First and foremost, the will of the people should not be ignored. I am opposed to any extension of term limits by legislative fiat. The voters have spoken twice, and an attempt to disregard their voice sends a message that democracy has taken a back seat."

Public Advocate Gotbaum follows suit: "I cannot support extending term limits by anything other than a public vote. It’s up to the people of New York to decide how long they want their elected officials in office, and they’ve already told us twice. It’s an insult to the democratic process and a slap in the face to New Yorkers to now render those votes meaningless."

As expected, the usual suspects are gathering together to spur Mayor Mike on. Here's Old Reliable, no not Lou Gehrig, but the Partnership's Kathy Wylde: "The business community urges the City Council to go forward with legislation to extend term limits by four years and urges the Mayor to sign this legislation into law. New York City and the country face a serious economic crisis and continuity in leadership is crucial at this time."

Pardon us, but since when does Wylde get to arrogate to herself the representation of the entire business community? She sure as hell doesn't represent the small businesses that have routinely been getting the shaft from the very policies that have aggrandized the interests of those Partners that KW advocates for so well.

Here's one of those Masters of the Universe in an earlier Times story: "He has the confidence of the business community and the executive ability to run the city,” said Stephen M. Ross, the chief executive of Related Companies, a major developer. “This is a good time for him to do this. People are scared.” Have we ever seen a more exquisite dramatization of special interest pleading in the city's history?

So just how does, Ross, this "man of the people," know that "people are scared?" Did his chauffeur tell him? Listen to comments from the office of Council member John Liu, someone who really gets just how arrogant this usurpation of democracy really is: "Council Member John Liu has long defended the will of the people as expressed through past public referenda. New Yorkers have voted twice before to limit office-holders to eight years. Regrettably, Mayor Michael Bloomberg now appears to favor changing the term limits without putting the question before the voters again. Although John does not support the concept of term limits, he certainly cannot and will not support the mayor pushing this through. Times are tough but so are New Yorkers. And New York is a lot bigger than one man."

Apparently, not if you're Little Big Man and believe in your own indispensability; but, as Council member DeBlasio reminds us (from the Gotham Gazette): "Even after September 11, 2001 when then-mayor Rudy Giuliani proposed extending his own term, the people of this city overwhelming opposed changing our election system and schedule. There is little doubt that that was the gravest crisis this city has ever faced, and yet the citizens of New York City believed in the strength of our institutions and knew that new leadership would emerge. As has often been noted, American democracy is based on the idea that ours is a government of laws, not of men or women. This issue must be brought to the people.”

So let the fight begin in earnest;and let's see how the mayor really responds, if and when he gets into a nasty New York City street fight. It will also be fascinating to see if his great wealth becomes a disadvantage as he tries to use it to contravene the popular will. Will the 70% approval become evanescent-particularly on the heels of another tax increase?

And we're waiting to see if there will be leaders who will effectively raise their voices to oppose this classic example of political insider trading. Opportunity knocks for the politically enterprising; New Yorkers are in need of a champion.