Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Mayoral Nullification

How apt that, on the day before Americans go to the poll to vote for a new president, Michael Bloomberg-with, as Clyde Haberman points out one stroke of the pen-nullifies the votes of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers:

"New York has little to brag about. No less than Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has hopped up and down about the state of preparedness at the city’s Board of Elections. The other day, he called it “an outrage” and “a joke,” though some accuse the mayor of not having done nearly enough to jawbone (and finance) the board toward a higher road. But even if things go horribly wrong on Tuesday, it is worth bearing in mind that no one in New York has done more to nullify votes than Mr. Bloomberg himself. He may reasonably be called the Great Nullifier. He solidified his hold on that title on Monday. With a few pen strokes, he obviated the results of two referendums in which New York voters said in no uncertain terms that they wanted key city officials — the mayor, the public advocate, the comptroller, the 51 City Council members and the 5 borough presidents — to be limited to a maximum of two consecutive four-year terms."

We have said so much about this already that the mayor and his co-conspirators are resembling the expired nag of cliche farms; and the final chapter has yet to be written as legal and electoral challenges will keep this hijacking alive for the foreseeable future. Still, the sheer arrogance of the act continues to gall the public. As the NY Post highlights: "I've never seen a more arrogant man than you," fumed Michael Ribnicki, a retired postal worker from the Upper East Side, delivering his attack just 15 feet from the mayor. Ben Haber, 81, a retired lawyer, sniped, "Seeking a third term had nothing to do with an economic crisis. It had to do with your inflated ego . . . I suggest you run as the hack-party candidate."

The mayor for his part kept up the flim flamming on the about face-citing it as a triumph of pragmatism over ideology; yet, since the mayor appears to have a deficit of any true heart-felt political beliefs, it would be heard to describe this pragmatism as anything but loyalty to self interest. As Haberman points out:

"Certainly, the Great Nullifier advanced no new ideas. As in the past, he said that his grasp at a third term had nothing to do with the clock that is running out on his second term, but had everything to do with the financial crisis that, to his mind, requires continuity in leadership.
“Crisis has a way of forcing us to put pragmatism first,” he said. He applauded the Council’s 29-to-22 vote extending term limits as “choosing substance over process and pragmatism over ideology.” Ignored was the fact that the process he referred to dismissively is known to most people as the democratic process. As for ideology, a
Quinnipiac University poll shows that 9 out of 10 New Yorkers want any change in the term limits law to come through a new referendum, not legislation. That’s not ideology. That’s the people speaking with crystal clarity."

Bloomberg, however, sees clearly only the end of his own tenure-and equates his own departure as a tragedy for all of us. So, as the NY Daily News underscores, Michael the First facing the dying of the light, instead decides to rage against it, conflating his refusal to leave with selflessness: "There's no easy answer, and nobody is irreplaceable," Bloomberg said. "I just think that three terms makes more sense than two. I feel that for the mayor - I may not be reelected, but whomever does get reelected - I think they deserve three terms."

Whatever the merits of this particular argument, one thing is clear: Mike Bloomberg doesn't merit much here but ignominy; and New Yorkers shouldn't forget this galling exercise in vote nullification next November.