Monday, October 27, 2008

Deconstructing David

One of the truly mystifying votes on term limits last week was the one cast in favor of the bill by David Yassky of Park Slope-one that has outraged that liberal, reform minded constituency, and does little to advance the councilman's city wide ambitions. So, why did he do it? For the life of us we can't really say. Neither does City Room: "In Park Slope, there was speculation as to why a politician once opposed to the legislation would then shift from being undecided to, ultimately, a supporter. Was Mr. Yassky seeking support for his plan to run for city comptroller one day? Were there promises made by the mayor or the City Council speaker?

On the one hand, it complicates any re-election bid, guaranteeing as it does that he will have a strong challenger with a grass roots wind at his/her sails. On the other, when seen in conjunction with his aborted attempt at amending the Bloomberg bill, he comes across as an ineffectual quasi-reformer; not the best position to be in when you're looking to run city wide: "In his district, reaction to Mr. Yassky’s support of the mayor’s plan has been immediate and vehement. After the vote, on Thursday night Mr. Yassky attended meetings of two Democratic clubs in the district, where he was met by dozens of voters with sentiment ranging from disappointment to fury."

All of which left David in the awkward position of being a Bloomberg defender:

"When asked if he planned to support the mayor next year, he said, “I have always voted for and supported Democrats and I would expect to do that in 2009.” He added, stating the obvious, “I don’t know who the Democratic candidate will be.” Is it possible that Mr. Bloomberg might seek to run on the Democratic line? “That’s something that has crossed my mind; I think that much of his governance has been consistent with Democratic principles,” Mr. Yassky said. “If you consider the decision to raise revenue rather than slash services, his environmental and affordable housing policies, they are consistent with Democratic

Yikes, this is the guy, the chair of the Small Business Committee, who has excoriated the mayor for imperiously legislating through regulation at the expense of neighborhood retailers. We see some very rocky terrain ahead for David; but it's a road that he has decided to travel so we assume he's prepared for the dangers ahead. Given the initial shock in his district, howerver, we're not really sure he is: "Nonetheless, Mr. Yassky’s vote seemed to have sent shock waves in his district, which stretches from Park Slope through Brooklyn Heights and Greenpoint. It is a district widely viewed as the epicenter of reform politics in Brooklyn, and a district where the notion of an extension of term limits without a vote of the public was highly unpopular."

Just one of many for whom last week's vote will reverberate for weeks, months and years to come. A fascinating laboratory for all of us observers of local NYC politics.