Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Terminal Impediment?

It really is getting curiouser and curiouser with regards to Tomorrow's term limits vote. According to Liz B, three council members will introduce an amendment to the mayor's bill. The three-Yassky, Brewer and Gerson-are undecided, but were seen by most observers to be eventual No votes; and they still may be. But now a great deal of uncertainty has been introduced into the equation: "

"A well-informed source called in to say that three Council members - David Yassky, Alan Gerson and Gale Brewer - are poised to introduce an amendment to the mayor's term limits bill that could throw a sizable wrench into the works of tomorrow's vote. As I understand it, the amendment would change the last paragraph of the bill, which requires that it would take effect immediately, to require that the measure NOT take effect unless and until it is affirmed by a public referendum. The amendment would also create a special election charter commission that would be tasked with setting up the referendum before the 2009 election."

Now, before all of you opponents get excited, there are those we've talked to who believe that this is simply a ruse-a device that will allow the three members, and maybe one or two others, to push for an amendment that, once it is defeated, will enable the amenders to vote Yes on the mayor's bill. Perhaps so, but not everyone agrees. On the other side, is the belief that the (possibly) four amenders will bring the pro referendum cohort very close to victory; and if so, will force the speaker to pull the vote for tomorrow.

Adding to the explosive mixture is the gathering labor/Working Families Part storm. As City Room points out: "City Council members who are considering voting for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s proposal to extend term limits are receiving strong pressure from labor leaders to oppose the measure. Some leaders of the coalition of labor unions and community and political groups are making it clear that they intend to take aim at certain council members in next year’s elections should the measure pass."

In combination with the proposed amendment, this poses a considerable obstacle for the weak-kneed-not only being forced to vote against a measure that 89% of New Yorkers believe is the right path to follow; but to do so knowing that a strong grass roots coalition is forming to take aim at them. This is particularly problematic for certain first termers who are planning to vote for the mayor's bill. These council members are not in the same cul-du-sac as their term limited colleagues since they do have an additional term ahead.

And the opposition, led in part by Bertha Lewis, is not to be trifled with: “Our position is quite clear,” said Ms. Lewis, who is also a leader within the Working Families Party. “A change in the law has to be done by a referendum. And we’re watching very closely how the members of the City Council vote. And voting in favor of the mayor’s bill are likely to tip the scale when it comes to decisions about who we will support in the 09 elections.”

All of which makes for quite a potentially dramatic denouement in the city council tomorrow. Many political careers could be hanging in the balance. In any case, this is certainly the most unusual political controversy we've seen in our long tenure watching city politics.