Monday, January 04, 2010

Why Isn't This a Crime?

The NY Post reported yesterday about the mayor's New Year's resolution to appoint a new charter revision commission-with "I changed my mind" Lauder playing a key role: "Mayor Bloomberg's plan to call a Charter Revision Commission this year is moving forward -- he recently had a breakfast meeting with cosmetics king Ron Lauder to discuss the topic, the Post has learned. The private meeting between the two billionaires was specifically to talk about a Charter Revision Commission, and came about at the mayor's request, said Lauder spokesman Howard Rubenstein. "Ron reiterated his willingness to be part of the panel. Beyond that, specific details weren't discussed," Rubenstein said."

Sure he is, after all, a deal's a deal, isn't it? Remember back to the Fall of 2008 when there was only one man who could have possibly had the deep pockets to challenge Mike Bloomberg's term limits power grab? And that one man was, of course, one Ron Lauder.

As we pointed out in October-shamelessly borrowing from the reporting of Tom Robbins: "Then there's the tawdry deal with Ron Lauder, a naif who was duped into removing his objections to the power grab with an illegal offer of a job: "But after what Purnick says was heavy lobbying by the pro-Bloomberg business crowd, Lauder bowed to a one-time change in the law in exchange for a small concession: that the mayor agree to name him to a new Charter Review commission panel in 2010—one that would recommend reinstituting term limits."

Which is, of course, an illegal quid pro quo-the offering of something substantial in exchange for political support for Bloomberg's ability to continue in office. And there was even a "Ron Lauder" clausde inserted into the bill. As the NY daily News reported: "Call it a cosmetic change. A last-minute clause has been inserted into a controversial bill to extend term limits to quiet the concerns of billionaire Ronald Lauder. The mayor's proposed law, introduced Tuesday, was amended to say that if the majority of voters in a 2010 referendum prefer it, the law will automatically revert to two terms, according to a revised bill obtained by the Daily News."

How corrupt was that? But since Bloomberg is a billionaire who is above tawdry politics, we guess that he isn't held to the same rules of mere mortals. And there is apparently nothing wrong with changing your mind after pledging in 2002 that you were 100% opposed to any change in the term limits law.

As Clyde Haberman pointed out at the time: "In 2002, a prominent New Yorker’s blood was boiling over an attempt in the City Council to fiddle with the city’s term limits law. It was the voters who had imposed those limits in two separate referendums a few years earlier, this man said. “I would oppose any change in the law that a legislative body tries to make,” he said. Three years later, another effort was under way in the Council to monkey with the law, this time to extend the limit to three terms from two — to 12 years from 8. The prominent New Yorker’s blood was still up. “This is an outrage,” he said in a radio interview. The people had spoken, he said. He added: “There’s no organization that I know that would put somebody in charge for a long period of time. You always want turnover and change. Eight years is great. You learn for four years. You can do for four years.”

So we have a prevaricating, self interested, and deal making politician, who is now set to do the honorable thing-honor the deal he made with Lauder and appoint a close the barn door, horses have left commission. In our view, any Bloomberg commission on term limits that Ron Lauder sits on is ipso facto illegitimate-and should have whatever conclusions it reaches thrown right into a municipal trash can with Mike Bloomberg's name on it.