Friday, October 24, 2008

NYC Abolishes Term Limits (sort of)

I have an ambivalent relationship with term limits for public office: while on the national stage I don't have a problem endorsing it on a case-by-case scenario (I would've seen nothing wrong with a third Clinton term in the White House, for instance) I'm definitely not crazy about it when it comes to our native New York City.

Our friends at Gotham Notes explain why:

We never had Term Limits in NYC before. We had a Democratic machine. Whatever job you got, it was pretty much for life, until a job above you opened up, and they moved you into that one.

The upside was you had a great many years logged in doing this stuff, so you got the hang of it, and usually became pretty good at it. Things ran pretty well since there were nearly no learning curves to deal with, or re-inventing of any wheels. You could get things done pretty well and quickly. Everyone knew the ground rules, and who to call to get something done.

The downside was, it was almost impossible to break into that system from the outside. You came up through the inside and earned your stripes. It was NY's answer to a gated community. For you techies out there, think AOL in the early days of the Web.

So, whose idea was Term Limits? Three guesses...

Rudy Giuliani.

Ironically, after Sept 11th, the man who so vigorously fought for term limits thought it would be a good idea for us to let him stay on for another term more or less. I mean, how were we ever going to survive the aftermath of that awful tragedy without him? Well, we did. And we all felt better for not letting a self-deified mayor change the rules and self-servingly stay on board for another term.

Fast forward 7 years and another crisis for the city; this one of a financial nature. So what does two-term CEO mayor Mike Bloomberg want to take off the table? Yup, you guessed right. Which is why I called bullshit when I first heard the rumblings over a plan to introduce the abolition of term limits. After all, the people of NYC have voted twice in the last 15 years to keep them in place. But nooo.

So, what deal did the Mayor and the City Council agree to? From now on, 3 terms instead of 2 will be the rule. "Oh, and it was too late and would've been too expensive to have the people vote on it so we went ahead and did it anyway," or words to that effect, muttered Hizzoner late Thursday night.


By the way, for those keeping score NO LOCAL REPUBLICAN VOTED IN FAVOR OF THIS MEASURE. So it's all on the Democrats who licked Mike Bloomberg's boots. All 29 of them.

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