Monday, October 27, 2008

Term Limits Nausea

On Saturday we learned from the NY Post that the term limits vote really was sickening: "Darlene Mealy - one of only two City Council members to switch sides in the tense term-limits vote - was under such intense pressure and threats that she vomited twice at City Hall before announcing her decision, sources said yesterday." Frankly, we're not surprised, since Mealy went against all of the labor folks who got her elected. And for what?

The Post details what it says is arm twisting from the mayor and the speaker: "She was very upset. She kept saying she has to deliver for her district, and she was tired of being on the losing side," said Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Brooklyn), one of the bill's leading adversaries. Opponents said Mealy was told she would face trouble for trying to sponsor a $25,000 grant for a Brooklyn block association run by her sister in Fiscal Year 2007. Mealy attempted to allocate her council discretionary funds for her sister's group, the Fulton-Atlantic-Ralph-Rochester Community Association (FARR), but the request was mysteriously pulled."

On the other hand, extension proponent Lew Fidler, pushes the immoral equivalency argument: "Even while we were on the floor, Bill Lipton came over to her and tried to flip her back," said Councilman Lew Fidler (D-Brooklyn), a proponent of the bill. He said Mealy told him "people she considered to be political allies were threatening her."

But Big Lew, being pressured by the folks who brought you to the dance, the very people who you should owe some loyalty to, is a lot different from the heat coming from extension supporters-those who hold tightly to the budgetary purse strings.

And let's not forget that the predominately African-American district that Mealy represents is part of the largest cohort of New Yorkers opposed to the council's action. It doesn't take a whole lot of arm twisting to urge an elected to support the popular will, does it?

Here's Andrea Peyser's spot on take: "Still, a stench of inevitability clung to the council chamber like mildew. The mayor yesterday became the first man to profit handsomely from the city's financial mess, doing an end run around voters by threatening that he's the only guy who can lead them out of financial darkness. And, like sheep, the council members, one by one, fell into lock step. I'm no great fan of term limits, but they're the law of the land. And this was a blatant political power grab, executed by a crafty mayor."