Monday, August 25, 2008

Fighting Unlimited Gall

In today's NY Sun, the paper focuses on the concern being generated by the stealth campaign to alter term limits: "With speculation heating up that the City Council will attempt to vote to extend term limits, a 1961 Buffalo court case is on its way to the center of the fight.
After years of scant mention, the case — in which the state Court of Appeals ruled that Buffalo's council could repeal a term limits law passed by referendum — is again being talked about around City Hall, where it is cited as evidence that New York's council has the authority to extend its term limits, even though New Yorkers twice voted in favor of a two-term limit."

There is considerable speculation that the Buffalo case is a poor precedent for the current effort. According to NYPIRG's Gene Russianoff: "While the Buffalo council voted to amend a term limits law that had been approved by referendum decades earlier, the New York City Council would be attempting to override a decision made by city voters in 1993 and again in 1996. "I think there's a big difference between a 35-year-old referendum from an earlier generation and something that has been approved by the voters" more recently, Mr. Russianoff said."

Our good friend, and peerless election lawyer, Gerry Goldfeder, disagrees: "An election lawyer at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, Jerry Goldfeder, said that if the council did extend term limits, it would be difficult to mount a strong legal argument against the vote..."It would obviously change the political landscape dramatically, but no candidate would be prohibited from running for an office for which they had been raising money," he said. "There would just be additional candidates, including, perhaps, incumbents."

All of this, of course, will lead to a huge political battle that will take on the city council and its incumbent protecting actions like no other in our memory. We agree with Norm Siegel here: "If the mayor and the speaker engage in an unholy alliance to undo the people's will, I think there will be people throughout the city who will be angry about that," he said. "There would be a political backlash for people who went and did it."

If a battle is to begin on this issue, it better begin soon-before the swells at the NYC Partnership get get a head wind on their effort to insure the perpetuation of their agenda and their mayor for life who has been dedicated to the aggrandizement of the city's permanent government. Russianoff gets the last word here: "A senior attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group, Gene Russianoff, said it would be "undemocratic" for the council to overturn a ballot initiative approved by city voters, and said there was a "good chance" his group would join a fight against such a vote in court."