Monday, June 20, 2005

Term Limits

Term Limits have once again become a hot political topic. When it was last deliberated, the Neighborhood Retail Alliance’s Richard Lipsky was quoted in Newsday as saying:
I am philosophically opposed to term limits but, as far as this Council is concerned I’ll make an exception.
Flippancy aside, the frustration expressed was of an entrenched leadership and a lack of creativity and new blood. Term limits have changed all that. For every new member of the Council who appears clueless we have any number of newcomers who bring new energy and fresh ideas to the legislative body. All of this has been positive.

That being said, there is a strong case to be made for lengthening the term of council members from the current eight to a more realistic twelve. The justification for this change inheres to the structure of New York City’s municipal government which gives the mayor extraordinary powers and resources.

A lengthened council term where, undoubtedly a speaker would be in power for a longer period of time, would allow the body to provide a better check on mayoral power. It would, at the same time, rein in some of the St. Vitas Dance that many members now exude in their incessant nervous pursuit of other political opportunities. It would give council members enough time to become serious lawmakers and build a political resume.

While we’re at it we should point out that the ad hominem argument made by former council member Henry Stern should be viewed purely as a manifestation of projection: Pomposity and vacuousness being his major claims to fame (If you want to discount racial discrimination litigation against the Parks Department).