Friday, September 05, 2008

Not Beyond Certain Limits

Now its Betsy Gotbaum who's taking aim against any legislative tampering with term limits: "Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum is putting her new blog to good use and slamming city lawmakers for thinking about extending term limits. This morning, Gotbaum wrote, "the opinion of one elected official, or a handful for that matter, should be irrelevant. The only thing that matters is that the people of this city have spoken twice on the issue, first voting for and then voting to uphold term limits."

She may be right, but we'd still love to see this in a new referendum-even with the mayor's money backing an alteration. It seems to us, though, that any legislative maneuvering will, as the NY Daily News pointed out yesterday, end in a wonderful string of lawsuits that would really roil the upcoming election cycle: "The City Council can change term limits simply by passing a bill, legal experts told the Daily News, but it would trigger a heck of a legal battle.
Civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel said he's already been contacted by a number of politicians about suing Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council if they change term limits without a voter referendum."

Will the mayor and the council roll the political dice on this? As we've said before, this fight needs a Clint Eastwood-"Make My Day"-style champion. Whoever leads the charge will elevate him or her self to iconic status with the voters. But apparently, it won't be Ollie Koppel, who is poised to introduce a bill that would allow his self perpetuation beyond the current term of office: "City Councilman G. Oliver Koppell said on Thursday that he would introduce legislation “within weeks” that would allow the city’s elected officials to serve three full terms instead of the current two."

Great, just what is needed in the wake of the Slush Fund debacle-naked self-aggrandizement: "In an interview, Mr. Koppell said term limits “cut off people’s careers in politics, which makes no sense.”“If one looks at members of the City Council,” he said, “some of the most creative served for 20 years. The limits, he added, “rob the public of a choice.” Perhaps, but there are also examples of dead weight that lasted for decades because of the power of incumbency. It's probably best to let the people have one more shot at this-along with an addendum that would make the results of a referendum definitive; trumping any future legislative hi jinks.

Let's give Betsy the last word: "I cannot support extending term limits by anything other than a public vote. Despite the popularity of our mayor, I think 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."