Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yassky in Rehab

As we wrote yesterday, it's real difficult to explain just why a very smart David Yassky voted in favor of the mayor's term limits bill; especially since so many in his district were clearly enraged by the Bloomberg coup. But, if anyone can explain the situation, it's David himself-and that's what he tries to do in a blast e-mail to friends and supporters. As the Daily Politics blog reports:

"In the e-mail, which appears in full after the jump, Yassky called the term limits vote was "the most difficult decision I have faced in the City Council - more than congestion pricing, the garbage plan, or the post-9/11 tax increase. "Like many people, my initial reaction to the Mayor's proposal was outrage. While I have always held that the eight-year term limit was bad policy, it was a policy put in place by referendum and the fairest way to change it was by a subsequent referendum," Yassky wrote. "I was saddened by the Mayor's eagerness to bypass the voters, and I strongly disagreed with his assertion that a referendum was not feasible. Most important, I knew that a Council vote to change term limits would confirm many people's most cynical suspicions about politics and politicians."

So why did he then? "But I do know that we are in a period of extraordinary challenge, and that voters may well value stability and experience in the City government. I became convinced that the right choice at this point in time was to leave open for voters the option of choosing to continue the Bloomberg Administration next November."

Does this explanation ring true? One thing we're sure of is that David's decision wasn't in any way venal. But, we ask ourselves, was it at all prudent? And if the answer is, No, then it could mean real big, and potentially insurmountable troubles, ahead for a bright and dedicated elected official. As the City Room blog reminds us: "Many in the district initially believed that Mr. Yassky, who has long described himself as being part of a progressive group of politicians in Brooklyn, would oppose the mayor’s plan to increase the number of terms that city officials would serve from two to three. They had expected that the councilman would approve of changing the law only by a public referendum, pointing out that the laws resulted from two public votes."

They certainly did; and the backdraft here is indeed incendiary. As one potential opponent, Ken Diamondstone, tells City Room: "He said that Mr. Yassky’s real intention represented “an end run around two referenda, which affirmed the people’s strong stance on limiting the city’s elected official to two terms,” and added that Mr. Yassky “clearly demonstrated that he believes his own interests trump the voice of the voters.”

Just as Marty Conner was swept out by a change wind, it appears that Yassky too will be at the mercy of the political Hawk. It will take real political skill to withstand the reaction.