Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Searching for Inedible Heroes

Just when you might have thought that the editorial hyperbole might have reached its fashionable limits on term limits, along comes the NY Daily News looking for heroes on the city council; talk about looking for love in all the wrong places! Here's what the News is seeking: "The City Council will soon have the opportunity - perhaps Thursday - to demonstrate that it has at last come of age as New York's local legislature...For the good of 8 million citizens - including 4 million registered voters - a majority of the members must enable New Yorkers to have full choices on the 2009 mayoral ballot. The Council must amend the term limits law to permit Mayor Bloomberg to run for a third time."

As the sportscaster Dick Engberg might say, "Oh my!" We never thought that NYC could be confused with the old home, home on the range, but leave it to the Daily News-at least when it comes to Mike Bloomberg-to be heard singing, "Where seldom there's heard a discouraging word..." So it really comes as no shock to find that the News believes that heroism is involved with extending the Imperial reign of Mike I.

And the News cites the testimony of mogul Dick Parson about hard times ahead to reinforce the essentialness of the mayor:

"As the city enters uniquely bad economic times thanks to the Wall Street meltdown, voters deserve the chance to go with Bloomberg for four more years - if they so choose. Time Warner Chairman Richard Parsons, who has been involved with civic affairs for more than 35 years, succinctly described the coming troubles when he testified last week in favor of extending term limits to three terms from two. "It would be hard to overstate the potential of the economic crisis on New York City," he said. "It will make the 1970s fiscal crisis look like a day at the beach." The era was hell - and the city did not recover for the better part of three decades. Even the most vital services - police, subways, sanitation, schools - spiraled downward."

And as the News should remember the city's fiscal crisis was exacerbated by the fact that its leaders tried to tax their way out of trouble. And what do the mayor and the speaker want to do? Why raise taxes in order to "preserve vital services."

Still, this is all becoming more interesting as we await the possible council vote on Thursday; with first term members looking for guarantees that their limited colleagues won't be getting the gold mine while they get the shaft. And this gets more complicated all the time, as unions and billionaires combine in unlikely alliances. Here's today's NY Times: "Meanwhile, the cosmetics heir Ronald S. Lauder, whose support Mr. Bloomberg has carefully cultivated, signaled in an interview that he would vigorously oppose allowing council members now serving their first term to remain in office for three terms. It was his finances and advocacy that led to the establishment of term limits, in 1993 and 1996 referendums. Mr. Lauder’s position, and the implied threat behind it, could make it harder for the Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, to round up enough votes to change the law."

If all of the remaining undecided first termers say No, then the votes aren't there to pass this bill. The smart money's still on the mayor and the speaker, but the search for heroes needs to be called off; it's no longer a rescue mission, its now only about the recovery of the bodies.