Friday, August 29, 2008

Dissension in the Ranks?

According to the NY Times, Mayor Mike's getting some push back on his stealth campaign to alter term limits: "As he weighs a bid to rewrite New York City’s term limits, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is encountering an unlikely group of opponents: his own aides. Three of Mr. Bloomberg’s most trusted advisers at City Hall — Deputy Mayors Edward Skyler, Patricia E. Harris and Kevin Sheekey — have confided to associates that they oppose revising the city’s election laws so that he can seek a third term, according to people familiar with the conversations."

If true, good for them-and it appears from the Times story that they're opposing the idea for the right reasons: "The deputy mayors have told associates that any campaign to change term limits, which restrict citywide elected offices to two consecutive four-year terms, could be viewed as an undemocratic end-run around voters, who approved the current laws twice, in 1993 and 1996. They fear that a third term could produce unexpected crises that might tarnish Mr. Bloomberg’s strong record, the fate of Mayor Edward I. Koch’s administration."

It would, as they say undermine the mayor's legacy as someone who is not a typical politician: "Even so, his flirtation with making the change has left his closest advisers unsettled. Their biggest fear is that a mayor who built a reputation as an anti-politician and common-sense problem-solver will appear self-serving and power-hungry." And it would, especially if the effort was thwarted by a legal challenge that would leave the mayor diminished.

This doesn't, of course, stop the toadies from pursuing their dream of continuing an administration that has been real good to the city's power elites: "On the one hand, there are business leaders, like the financier Steven Rattner and the developer Jerry I. Speyer, who are encouraging him to consider running again, arguing that he towers over the potential rivals." What they're really saying is that the city might get a chief executive with more concern for the businesses and people in the neighborhoods that Bloomberg had no idea existed before he was elected mayor.

In any case, the city council action on all of this remains somewhat problematic (and the lost war chests may also factor in)-and we await the return of the conventioneers so that a full public vetting of the issue can be attained. Those of us who, unlike the irritatingly loquacious Ed Koch, believe that the mayoral exit wouldn't be the end of the world by any means, are ready to make the case; and council members with much less cachet than the mayor need to be careful about self aggrandizement.